Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Convoys wharf planning application part I: what's your view?

Given the vast amount of information contained within the planning application for Convoys Wharf, I'm hoping to comment on some of the more salient points - building density, transport, heritage & archeology etc - over the coming weeks, other commitments permitting.

To kick off and give you an immediate feel for the in-your-face visual impact the proposed development will have on the landscape, a few of the renderings which can be found in a much larger document here.

Such renderings would have been extremely useful at the 'public consultation' so why weren't they shown? Take a look and see if you can guess the answer. (You can click on all the images to make them bigger).

The view from the Greenwich Observatory to St Paul's is what's known as a 'protected vista' in that no development is allowed to block it. On this rendering St Paul's is marked in red so that you can spot it among the towers that hem it in from both sides.

View from Millennium Quay:

View from Abinger Grove:

View from the Foreshore:

View from Greenwich pier:

View from Pepys Park:

View from the Royal Naval College, Greenwich:

View from Deptford High Street:

View from Pointer's Close (Isle of Dogs): this one is particularly worth clicking to take a closer look at. Note that it's not just the three towers which will have a visual impact on the local area - the surrounding blocks are also of a significant size. The existing tower block is shown on the right hand side, and gives a true idea of scale.

View from Plough Way:

Sound Tracks: East London Line music festival 17 September

The Amersham Arms in New Cross is one of three music venues on the East London Line which is taking part in the Sound Tracks music festival on 17 September. The New Cross Inn will also host events under the Sound Tracks banner. And festival goers travelling from New Cross to the other venues in Dalston and Shoreditch will be entertained by gigs on the 'travelling stage' of the ELL trains themselves.

The press release explains:
Join the Sound Tracks party on Saturday 17th September and spend the evening on a musical journey via the London Overground’s East London Line. The inaugural Sound Tracks Festival takes you on a voyage taking in three of East London’s innovative music venues: Cafe Oto in Dalston; Concrete in Shoreditch and the Amersham Arms in New Cross. What’s more, two supporting venues will host events under the Sound
Tracks banner - the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden and the New Cross Inn.
Bands headlining the 100% independent festival include abstract dance music innovator Fantastic Mr. Fox, rhythmic jazz quartet Shabaka & The Sons of Kemet, and energetic garage punk frontwoman Marina Gasolina, formerly of Baile Funk band Bonde do Role.

Event organisers Amanda Lwin & Carolina Garcia were inspired to create the festival after realising that the recently extended railway line joins up places with rich musical identities. “The East London Line perfectly links up some of London’s best venues for independent music” say the urbanist / musician duo, “New music
is migrating outwards from central London: Sound Tracks Festival is about joining the dots”.

Meanwhile, the new London Overground trains have an extra-special part to play. Live performances will be taking place on the ‘Travelling Stage’ inside the trains, travelling up and down the East London Line. A range of upcoming acts will be playing short acoustic sets for festival-goers and commuters alike, with permission from Transport for London and the train operator, LOROL. This stage links up the main venues, each of which is less than three minutes walk from its Overground station.

Performances at Sound Tracks Festival will start from 7pm on 17th September 2011 at Cafe Oto, Concrete Space and Amersham Arms and go on till late. Wristbands allowing entry to all venues are £8.50 in advance (£12.50 once Early Bird tickets are gone). Some associated events are free - please check the website for details.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Deptford carriage ramp/St Paul's House/Octavius Street redevelopment

In a rather unseemly rush, a whole host of new planning applications flooded into Lewisham's planning department this month. One of these was Convoy's Wharf, of which more later.

The other major application was for the redevelopment of the land around Deptford Station - the so-called Deptford Project which includes St Paul's House on the High Street, the land behind it, the listed carriage ramp which leads up to the station platforms, and the tranche of land on the other side, which is on Octavius Street.

A planning application was submitted back in 2005 at the same time as the station redevelopment application, but never progressed any further. The latest proposal features some significant changes to the original.

For a start, I believe the original application related only to the carriage ramp refurbishment, public realm improvements and the nine-storey building on Octavius Street; the latest application includes St Paul's House on the High Street, which is to be redeveloped and extended. Two restaurant units are proposed at ground level, one at the front and one at the rear, with three 'town houses' in the new building at the back, and eight 'affordable' units above the high street restaurant unit.

Above a couple of aerials of the St Paul's House development; the eight-storey block for some reason is only shown in faint outline, but you can still get some idea of the enormous scale of the block.

Below is the view from behind (from the corner behind the Deptford Project cafe). Do click on the picture to make it bigger and you will see the architect has labelled the shop units 'Iceland', 'Jewellery' and rather snarkily, behind the tree, 'Betting shop' (where currently no betting shop exists. Thanks for the vote of confidence guys).

The previous plan was to convert the arches in the existing (listed) carriage ramp into 14 'live/work' units, and behind that, build a nine-storey block containing 101 apartments. The new plan has done away with the live/work units - instead the arches will now just be converted into 'workshops' - and the block has been reduced to eight storeys. Whether or not this involves a reduction in height (or just an increase in storey height) I cannot say but they have certainly shoe-horned in a few more apartments to whack up the return - 121 apartments of which 14 are studios, 37 are 1 bed and 70 are 2 bed. You can click on the pictures to make them bigger, and see the scale of the new buildings - particularly the Octavius Street block.

The number of parking spaces are minimised - 26 will be provided (in a 'stacking system' - whatever that means) for the coop housing next door to replace those which have been lost to the new building, as well as six wheelchair-accessible spaces, and one parking space for each of the three town houses. Presumably you can't sell a town house without a parking space, even one right next to a high street shopping area. It seems likely that with some 140 new apartments on the site, there will be increased pressure on parking along Idonia Street and surrounds; the developer is committed to contributing to the cost of investigating implementation of a controlled parking zone on these streets, which is unlikely to go down well with other local residents.

Two car club spaces will be installed - also on neighbouring streets - and 126 bike parking spaces provided on the site.

Planning documents are available here (planning application reference DC/11/78175) although so far I have been unable to find a design & access statement.

Sue has also posted about this over on Crosswhatfields blog and mentioned the 'community involvement' statement in the application. If you went to the 'consultation' you'll remember it involved sticky, coloured labels and could not really be viewed as any kind of scientific survey, although the developers seem to have got lots of bar charts and graphs out of the results. You might want to have a look and see what conclusions they have drawn about your views.

Comments on or objections to the planning application should be submitted to Mark Furlonger, Planning Service, 5th Floor Laurence House, 1 Catford Road, London SE6 4RU, by fax to 020 8314 3127 or by email to Please print your name, do not sign it. You should also send a copy to your ward councillor(s).

Deadline for comments is 15 September 2011.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Extra Bones shop and free lunchtime music

The Utrophia temporary residency of the former job centre on Deptford High Street includes the Extra Bones shop run by Andrew Kerr, which opened recently. Andrew sells homemade artwork, zines and 'objects' as well as having a trading post box where you can bring something and swap it for something else to use creatively.

The shop/gallery also has a programme of free lunchtime live music performances over the next few weeks.

I missed the first performance last Friday, although judging by the film clip on the Extra Bones blog I'm not sure it would have been my cup of tea, but I was interested to see that next week's lunchtime concert will feature folk singer Sam Lee. Sam sings traditional folk songs in his hauntingly beautiful voice, which will send shivers down your spine. If you are around next Friday, don't miss it.

Here he is singing with Jon Boden on Folk Music at Christmas.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Cafe Frizzante, Surrey Docks City Farm

I've been in here a couple of times for coffee and soft drinks, but this week I dropped in looking for a light lunch and a break from the rain.

The cafe overlooks the very heart of Surrey Docks City Farm; the addictive goat mountain which is the scene of goaty frolics and can be very entertaining. As well as half a dozen tables inside the cafe, there's an outdoor area with four or five tables and plenty of room for push-chairs.

There's reasonably extensive breakfast and brunch menus, with special lunch dishes and a soup of the day on offer - pea and ham today. I had the special lunch which was parma ham with mixed salad leaves and 'heritage' tomatoes which was served with a dressing and a slice of toasted sourdough bread. The vegetarian option was the same but with feta cheese instead of the ham.

The leaves - which along with the tomatoes are grown in vegetable plots around the boundaries of the farm - were tasty and very fresh. They included basil, beetroot leaves and something I didn't recognise that had a very distinctive aniseedy flavour, as well as lettuce leaves. The 'heritage' tomatoes came in various colours - red, yellow, green and even purply - and were also very tasty and fresh.

Washed down with a bottle of Chegworth Valley apple and blackcurrant juice it suited me very well, although I thought the portion size of the lunch was rather frugal for the £8 price tag.

The cafe is open Wed-Sunday from 10-4.30pm and is in the middle of the Surrey Docks City Farm - you can get in from either the river path or via the main entrance on Rotherhithe Street. On Sunday they serve a roast dinner, which I hope to sample some time soon.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Octopump beer festival - more details

Thanks to the Royal Albert for sending me more information about the beers that they intend to offer at the upcoming Octopump festival*.

This is not an exhaustive list, we are promised more ciders and possibly other beers too, subject to availability:

Nick says it's 'almost certain' they'll be featuring:

Old Chestnut/c.1790 India Pale Ale from Dark Star(couldn't find this on the website tho)
Amarillo from Milk Street
Avalanche from Fyne Ales (gutted I won't get to try this - save me some? pls?)
Ramble Tamble from Triple FFF Brewery
Elsie Mo from Castle Rock Brewery
P.G. Steam from RCH Brewery

Other breweries they are hoping to feature should include some of these:
Kent Brewery
Hogs Back (cup of TEA anyone?)
Twickenham Ales
The brand new London Fields Brewery

As regards ciders and perrys, there will definitely be something from Severn Cider, I'm told, as well as two or three others which are currently being confirmed.

All very exciting - they are aiming for between 12 and 14 different beers and ciders over the three day period.

2-4 September 2011

Royal Albert Pub
460 New Cross Road
SE14 6TJ
020 8692 3737


*To some extent I wish they hadn't as I'm now regretting that I'll be out of town for the entire period :-(

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Beer, food and crafts..

...three vital aspects of life if truth be told.

I have advance news that the former Deptford Deli at 4 Tanners Hill is set to reopen as 'Blossoming T', an 'art and craft gallery cafe, with art exhibitions, arts and crafts to sell and workshops for adults and children' according to business owner Cinzia Callegari. She says 'food will be simple organic fairtrade whenever it's possible, or from my allotment; tea, herbal tea served in vintage tea pots and cups...and hopefully organic wine from Italy.' She is also hoping to have live music once a month.

I do hope that she has better luck than the previous occupants Deptford Deli and Deptford Properly - from what I've heard, the property suffers problems with flooding and the landlord has in the past been unwilling to improve the situation. Hopefully it will be third time lucky - I like the sound of Cinzia's venture; tea and knitting (and cakes, we trust!) can be a winning combination!

Secondly, news that the Royal Albert pub on New Cross Road is planning a mini beer festival to celebrate the arrival of four new hand pumps at the bar, bringing the number up to eight.

'Octopump' will take place from 2-4 September and includes a range of beers and ciders on tap, music and BBQ, as well as the arrival of a bar billiards table. If you don't know how to play, you might want to get in a few practice sessions down at the Dog & Bell in advance. There's no news as yet on which beers and ciders will be on offer; RA management if you want to add this in the comments, please feel free!

Finally news of plans for a new 'Brockley' Saturday market. I have put Brockley in inverted commas here as the proposed location is the car park next to Lewisham College on Lewisham Way - not really Brockley in my view, but then again not really New Cross and not really Lewisham. I guess calling it St John's Market would have prompted lots of questions of 'where?'. There's only vague information so far - a facebook page and basic website exist so if you are interested you should probably bookmark them. Of course we have plenty of market in Deptford every Saturday, and although I do often get frustrated at the lack of local seasonal fruit that's on sale - rarely see greengages or russet apples for example - I probably wouldn't bother going all the way up there just for that. I guess it will be handy for people living in St John's and New Cross though.

Friday, 19 August 2011

New Cross People's Library and Saturday knitting club

The New Cross People's Library is now officially open for activities and book issue, under the temporary six-week licence it has been granted. You will note that I highlighted the Saturday knitting club too because, well, I like knitting!

For the next few weeks, opening times are as follows;- Tuesdays 10am - 5pm, Thursdays 10am - 7pm and Saturdays 10am-5pm.

On weekdays it is offering:
- activities for the under-fives (including story reading and related activity).
- the summer reading challenge
- Manga drawing techniques and street art colouring-in

On Saturdays:
- storyteller at 11.30am, followed by related activity
- Manga drawing techniques and street art colouring-in
- knitting club at 2pm
- newspapers

Book issue will be available at all times that the library is open.

On Thursday 25th August 6-7pm there will be a session from Gwen, a local ex-librarian, who will be in the Library to give us advice.

The website is here for more information. The New Cross People's Library is also still seeking volunteers - more information on the website.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Douglas Square mural

Deptford X has revealed the four shortlisted designs for the new mural in Douglas Square. The public are being invited to vote for their favourite on the Deptford X website here; although what influence the results of the voting will have is not made clear, it seems the panel of judges are 'just interested' in what you think.
No closing date is stated either.

There's no information about the artists themselves - I assume this is deliberate to prevent any bias - although each has provided a statement about their designs, which are published on the website alongside the images. You can click on the images below to see them at a bigger scale, or go to the Deptford X website for full information.

A: Portals of Deptford
'proposes taking the windows and doors of Deptford and opening them up into different worlds'
'represents how the people of Lewisham thrive through their creativity and great spirit'

The proposal also includes the four electrical cabinets which will become pedestals for the sculptures of the angels and skulls which are to be made from putty, apparently. I do question the longevity of this particular aspect of the proposal.

B: 'A cultural and colourful feast for the eyes' these 'poster-ised' photos will be largely black and white with spot colour highlights. 'Many of them music-related, evoking the rhythms and sounds of south east London' and including 'playful icons and objects collected from Deptford market'.

C: An rather different proposal which involves getting local people involved during Deptford X to do the painting 'by numbers'.
'Image based on spontaneous photographs taken at the market mixing angles, textures and scales'

D: The Albany Toile
This design has probably got the most interesting artist's statement, but I'm not sure it would work as a mural - being more like a wallpaper design (in fact it reminds me a bit of the wallpaper in the Duke!)
Links to twin towns, local industries, the Gut Girls, the Albany and the market are all intertwined with the design, but I'm afraid it doesn't really work as a mural.

Cast your own vote here. Whether it will be too late or whether it will count for anything, your guess is as good as mine!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Betfred loses planning appeal

Thanks to Bill on Deptford Misc for tipping me off to the fact that the planning inspector published his decision on this case yesterday.

If you remember, the problem for Betfred was that the original planning permission only allowed a building society to occupy the former Halifax premises. Betfred had to make a planning application to widen the type of businesses allowed to occupy the premises so that it would include all so-called 'financial services' that form part of class A2 use today (banks, betting shops, pawnbrokers etc).

Although in fact Betfred's appeal to widen the planning usage class has been 'allowed', the planning inspector has placed a condition that this should EXCLUDE betting shops.

Ironically he disagreed with those of us who argued that it would undermine the vitality and viability of Deptford High Street (since it did not involve the loss of a retail unit) but was spectacularly damning of the impact it would have on the levels of crime and anti-social behaviour on the street.

It's particularly interesting that the anecdotal evidence was given significant weight by the inspector, and that although he noted the police records were not detailed, they were also important.

"It is true the information provided is anecdotal rather than “formal” with exact
details of dates and incidents. However, the frequency of the views expressed
paint a clear picture of the nature of the problems experienced with betting
offices in Deptford High Street."

"There is a strong body of evidence from local residents and shopkeepers that
the existing betting offices in the Core Area give rise to anti-social behaviour,
crime and disturbance. Representations refer to feelings of being intimidated
and threatened by groups of people ‘hanging around’ outside other betting
offices. There is a persistent thread of concerns about associated drinking,
drug taking and begging as well as reports of verbal abuse, fighting and
shouting. As far as many of those living and working locally are concerned
there is a clear link between these happenings and the existing betting offices."

"The evidence of the Police is also instructive. Both the Sergeant for the New
Cross Safer Neighbourhood Team and the Licensing Officer oppose the
proposal. The position ‘on the ground’ is confirmed by the Police in terms of
complaints about existing premises and of harassment, alarm and distress
caused to the public by beggars, drinkers and drug users. The Sergeant
believes that another such venue would add to crime in the area."

"Drawing things together the evidence shows that betting offices in the area are
associated with crime but whether this is abnormally serious has not been
established. More persuasive are the accounts of people familiar with the area
about disorder associated with existing premises. In general terms there is no
reason to suppose that those visiting betting offices would be more likely to
commit a crime or to behave in an anti-social manner than anyone else.
However, for whatever reason, the evidence that premises in Deptford High
Street act as a ‘magnet’ for miscreants is compelling."

" additional premises would simply add to problems and should not be supported."

In his conclusions the inspector said: "It would be likely to give rise to anti-social behaviour and disturbance to local residents and users of the town centre. There is also a risk of an increase in crime. As a result use of the High Street would become less safe and pleasant."

This is excellent news for Deptford High Street, but I hope that this decision will also set a precedent for other areas which are experiencing similar levels of crime and disorder related to proliferation of betting shops. It seems to me that it should also have some resonance for the decision-making process relating to licensing of betting shops - where potential impact on crime and disorder are supposed to be considered.

The full details are on the planning inspectorate website here - click on 'decision' and you will be taken to a page where you can download the decision letter.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Deptford news

Deptford was featured in the Mail on Sunday this week after its personal finance section raised the issue of betting shops taking over from high street banks.

The article is here if you want to read it and/or comment. It touches on the planning issues and focuses more on the loss of facilities for bank customers than anything else, but I guess that's the remit of the personal finance team. Keeping the issue live is vital, and this article is important in doing so.

On Friday a tug boat capsized just off Convoy's Wharf and one crew member was lost - at time of writing the body has still not been recovered. I had walked to Greenwich to catch the Thames Clipper into town with some visitors, but the river was closed to boats and we had to head along the river to one of the piers closer to town. It was a grim walk with the river path lined with fireman and rescue crews looking out for the missing man. Following the recent death of a crew member on the Woolwich Ferry, a sad reminder of the dangers of the river.

To add to the general gruesomeness of the week, a decomposing body was found in a suitcase on the estate near Bridge House Meadows, on the fringes of New Cross.

In New Cross, the volunteers behind the New Cross People's Library have just been given a licence to hold activities for learning in the New Cross Library. I was too late to blog about the open day that took place yesterday (Saturday) but they were intending to open up for four hours and have some children's literacy activities and get people signed up to participate in future events. As of yet they do not have the facilities to loan out books, but have plans for other events. If you want to volunteer please contact

Also in New Cross; a press release from The London Theatre:

The London Theatre - New Cross is a new 36/50 seat fringe theatre at 443 New Cross Road, SE14 6TA which is due to open at the end of September with a weekend of plays and a stand up comedy club night hosted by The London Comedy Course who are also based at this venue.
Opening plays include 'The Bear' by Chekhov which will be performed in Russian and the hit aviation comedy 'Club Class'. The venue is also a rehearsal studio for local theatre groups and home of 'Shakespeare in The Park' who undertake large scale UK tours in major theatres. Next door a new art gallery is being built.
The artistic policy of the theatre is to bring well known but rarely-performed plays to the stage and provide cheap theatre hire space to theatre companies.
The venue is a former sound studio and nightclub and the new theatre obtained its licence a few weeks ago for entertainment from Lewisham Council.

Finally just to point out that there is a new website for the campaign against plans by Thames Water to dig a shaft on the green site next to St Paul's Church, as part of the Thames Tunnel proposals. The meeting planned for last week was cancelled after the rioting, but a new date is expected to be set soon. More information here.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Thames Tunnel meeting cancelled

According to Crosswhatfields blog tonight's meeting about the Thames Tunnel has been cancelled.

Riot damage in Deptford

I am somewhat relieved to report that the majority of the damage that Deptford businesses sustained last night seems to have been to the banks and bookies, and chains such as Tesco and Greggs, with the exception of our jeweller W Samuel whose shutters were damaged and jewellery boxes strewn across the street. I am hoping that the shop's goods were tucked away in a safe somewhere and these were just empty boxes.

This is by no means good news of course; these businesses still have to spend money repairing the damage, people who work in the shops and banks and the people who use them are inconvenienced, confidence is shattered and in general there is an air of disbelief and nervousness in our neighbourhood today.

Of course some knob also thought it was funny to burn a car in the middle of Douglas Square so the brand new asphalt that was put down a few months ago will be badly damaged and we are going to be tripping up over it for weeks to come, no doubt.

I know that our community will draw on its strength to repair both the physical and mental scars but I remain deeply concerned about the root causes of this unrest. That's a post for another day when time allows, but I am not convinced that it's just a case of the easy labels of 'mob rule' and 'anarchy' that the papers are suggesting.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Deptford pudding

Ever wondered what Deptford pudding is? Or who produces Deptford honey? Or perhaps you are intrigued by English greengages?

Alternatively you might just like looking at lovely pictures of food...!

David Porter has recently started writing a blog about 'local food, wherever you are' and has named it Deptford Pudding because, as he says, he knows the recipe. He lives close to Deptford and has written about some very local foods such as honey produced on Deptford Creek and elsewhere; some that are a bit further afield such as samphire from North Kent; and slightly mysterious English foods such as bloaters, and liquorice. They are all fascinating posts which have been well researched and are accompanied by beautiful photographs which can't fail to set your mouth watering.

I think Deptford Pudding might be making an appearance on the menu Chez Deptford Dame in the near future.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Thames tunnel proposals for Coffey Street

On Tuesday 9 August at 7.30pm there is a public meeting at the Salvation Army hall on Mary Ann Gardens. A representative from Thames Water will be there to try and answer questions from local residents, and clarify the situation regarding the proposals for use of Coffey Street as a construction site for part of the Thames Tunnel.

I went to the public consultation back in June and spent a long time talking to the engineers about the proposals to try and understand the reasons behind them, and the implications for this bit of land and for the immediate area.

Since the site on Coffey Street is not intended to be one of the main drive shafts for the tunnel, nor a drive shaft for a connector tunnel, and because it is a fairly recent proposal, the amount of information about the scope of works and permanent structures that will be left is still fairly vague (I suspect Thames Water may still be working on this itself).

It's possible to draw assumptions from the huge amount of information available on Thames Water's consultation site, but I am also wary that there is nothing to be gained by repeating these assumptions as fact. Here's what I know so far, with the extent of my assumptions set out alongside.

The Thames Tunnel or 'super sewer' itself will NOT pass under Deptford. Assuming the preferred route is chosen, the 'super sewer' will run from west to east London (to Abbey Mills pumping station) mostly under the Thames. It will not come anywhere near Deptford.

(click to see this bigger)

However, the purpose of the tunnel is to pick up all the effluent from a number of combined storm overflows which currently flows into the river after heavy rain. There are two CSOs in this part of south east London which need to be connected into the main tunnel - one which runs from Greenwich Pumping Station to the foreshore at Greenwich, and one from Deptford which overflows at Borthwick Wharf. Thames Water's preferred method of picking up this effluent is to build a tunnel from Greenwich Pumping Station (the site just over the Creek on the right hand side) to Borthwick Wharf (numbers 21 and 22 on the map) and then to Rotherhithe where it will be linked into the main tunnel.

Thames Water is having to investigate alternatives to the Borthwick Wharf site because the Environment Agency is not keen on the proposal to build a permanent structure on the foreshore, and road access to Borthwick Wharf is restricted. Although building the shaft at Borthwick Wharf will allow spoil to be taken away on the river and some materials to be delivered that way, a good deal of deliveries will still need to be by road. Local residents have also objected to the proposal.

But because this shaft has to be built above the line of the existing CSO, there are a limited number of alternatives.

The Coffey Street site is being investigated as an alternative for the shaft. However even if this site is chosen, tunnel boring machines will NOT be brought to Coffey Street as some protestors are claiming. The site at Coffey Street is intended to be a shaft only, which will be dug to the depth of the existing overflow sewer, and will be used to make the connection between the new connector tunnel and the existing combined storm overflow.

The tunnel boring machine will be brought to the site at Greenwich. A larger shaft will be built here, down which the tunnel boring machine will be lowered. The machine will then tunnel its way towards the shaft at Deptford (at a depth of about 45m) and on towards Rotherhithe.

The only spoil that will be brought out of the site at Deptford will be from the shaft, not from the tunnel construction itself. All the spoil from the tunnel construction will be taken back to the site at Greenwich, where Thames Water hopes to put it on barges on the Creek and ship it on to the river. That having been said, the Coffey Street site will still generate a considerable amount of spoil during its construction, since the shaft will be about 45m deep and will take about a year to build.

I was told that the Coffey Street site will be active initially for about a year, while the shaft is constructed. After this there will be a period of several years during which the shaft will have to remain open for access, but no further excavation will take place. Then the permanent structure will be built and the site reinstated. I was told the entire process was expected to take about five years from start to finish.

One of the major complaints by protestors is that construction work will continue at the site for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for seven years. In its general consultation documents Thames Water has said that 'the main tunnel drive and reception shaft sites, and other key activities, may be required to be constructed on a continuous 24 hour cycle 7 day a week basis.' This site is neither a main tunnel drive shaft nor a reception shaft; whether it falls into 'other key activities' is not known. However the only work to be carried out here is the construction of the shaft, this will take about a year.

While the 'super sewer' will be about 7.5m in diameter, the CSO interceptor tunnels such as the one proposed for Deptford will be much smaller, some 2.2m to 4.5m in diameter.

The other main bone of contention, and in my opinion the one that is the most worrying, is what permanent works will be left on the site. Assuming that exactly the same facilities are needed as would be if the shaft was built at Borthwick Wharf, expect a building something like the brown one you can see on this rendering (there are figures on it too for scale - you can click to make it bigger).

The visual impact that the proposed work will have on St Paul's Church - one of Deptford's most glorious pieces of architecture and historically-significant buildings - does not even seem to have been given a thought. The church is already rather squeezed by the superhighway that is Deptford Church Street; thankfully the railway viaduct exists to mask the worst of the impact of the Resolution Way flats, but they still loom large and ugly over the top.

For a start, Thames Water needs to produce more detailed renderings of the permanent structure that it proposes to leave at the site. These renderings should include St Paul's Church, to enable the visual impact to be assessed without difficulty.

Finally, some aspects of the planned implementation process for the Thames Tunnel worry me greatly. If, as the government has indicated, the project will be not be subject to normal planning rules, then this should be another main focus of protests.

Last weekend's photocall organised by local residents brought a huge influx of Labour councillors to Deptford, which was nice. I'll be honest I was a little surprised at the level of support shown by councillors I've never even heard of and those I've heard of but have rarely been able to raise responses from on other local issues. Perhaps the presence of the deputy mayor had something to do with this show of support.

Whatever they are here for, it's all good and I commend the protestors on the extremely hard work they are putting into this campaign. It's important not to get distracted by bad science and claims about stinks and super sewers; let's focus on the facts that are available, and ask for further explanation of the situation pertinent to Deptford and this site in particular, to enable a useful debate and if necessary, a strong campaign.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

South East London mural walk Saturday 6 August

This weekend the London Mural Preservation Society is leading a walk around Deptford, Surrey Quays and New Cross to look at some of the area's murals and find out more about them.

The free walk begins at Canada Water station (Jubilee and London Overground) – meet at the top of the escalators – at 1pm on Saturday 6th August, finishing at around 4pm in Deptford with a visit to the pub. The walk includes the mural in Surrey Quays shopping centre which is featured on the blog here - and which I never knew existed (probably since I usually do my best to avoid the shopping centre...)

More information about the walk and also the society here.

Meanwhile read about mural-related shenanigans over on Crosswhatfields blog, where one of Deptford's most famous murals is under threat.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Around Deptford

Just a periodic reminder that if you are interested in local news, gossip and goings on, there are plenty of other good blogs in the area that you should keep up to date with. Although there's often some crossover, I try not to repeat things that have been posted elsewhere unless I'm particularly keen on them, so it's a good idea to keep a bloglist of what else is going on.

For example:

Crosswhatfields reported recently on:

The new Deptford Project garden


the continuing link between our local Convoy's Wharf development and disgraced media corporation News International

Transpontine announces the imminent arrival of Come the Revolution, a cafe on New Cross Road backed by People Before Profit and with some confusing links to estate agent Housemartins, a connection which has Brockley Central commenters intrigued.

Transpontine also reported on the opening night of the high street's latest art space Utrophia, and published a fascinating report on the history and future of Laurie Grove baths.

Further afield from Deptford there are plenty of other hyperlocal bloggers, whose posts may well be of interest to you depending on your specific location, passion or, dare I say it, obsession. They range from the geographically-focussed Brockley Central, 853, Charlton Champion, From the murky depths, the Greenwich Phantom and the Blackheath Bugle to specialists such as Deptford Market, Shipwright's palace and London's lost garden. Have a browse in my sidebar on the right hand column, you'll be sure to find something of interest.