Monday, 26 December 2011

Greenwich pier redevelopment

With all the shenanigans and rebuilding going on along the Greenwich waterfront I usually avoid it like the plague. Last time I was there I was nearly run over by a man reversing a large digger across the public footpath without a banksman, right in front of a big sign that said 'No reversing without a banksman'.

But Christmas eve seemed like a good time to nip through on the Thames path and catch up with what was happening.

Here's some photos of what I found on the waterfront of our local World Heritage Site - the purpose of the structure being a new ticket office, and restaurant units to house Zizzi, Nando's and Byron chain restaurants (ie pizzas, chicken and burgers - albeit with great views).

Aghast at the thought that Greenwich Council had approved the designs for such deeply mediocre structures so close to the Cutty Sark and the Royal Naval College, I sought out the planning application. It was difficult to establish the details since none of the documents relating to the original application were available on the website, but the images shown below were sourced from the website of the original architect.

Here's the blurb, also from the architect's website:

On the embarkation pier in Greenwich, Conran & Partners are creating three new timber, glass and copper pavilions. The central pavilion forms a new ticketing kiosk and glass roofed waiting space for boat users, and the two outer pavilions contain restaurants and a café. A public roof terrace on each gives outdoor dining space and a new vantage point for the Cutty Sark away from the bustle of tourist traffic.

It remains to be seen whether the addition of the architectural fins/sunshades shown on the rendering will actually materialise - and if it does, whether it will improve the buildings by an acceptable degree.  One thing that is already clear is that the 'copper' cladding intended to be used on these 'pavilions' is not being applied - the gold coloured cladding (you can see it on the top right of the building in the first photo) is more akin to the material that graces the Deptford Lounge.

I sincerely hope that the facade we are currently seeing is not a 'value engineered' version of the original design - in such a prominent location it would surely be aesthetic suicide? Even the architect's renderings do not fill me with enthusiasm - it does look rather like a missed opportunity to create something stunning at this World Heritage site.

Update: I took this photo of the rendering on the hoardings when I passed the site the other day. As you can see it is very different to the original - gone is the copper cladding and the 'fins' have been cut back to little more than raised ribs around the outside of the building. Again I can't find any details of the changes on the Greenwich Council planning website.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Betfred application turned down for a second time

While it's by no means the end of the saga, it's good to get news just before Christmas that Betfred's second application to open a betting shop on Deptford High Street has been turned down by Lewisham Council.

The previous application to open a betting shop in the former Halifax bank property was turned down earlier this year, after the planning inspectorate ruled that the change of use was allowed, but specifically excluded betting shops from this reclassification.

Betfred since submitted another application for change of use to allow a betting shop, arguing that the inspector's decision was unfair. With the application refused by the council, they will no doubt appeal again, so watch this space.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Wavelengths customer forum

Since Fusion Lifestyle took over the management of Deptford's Wavelengths leisure centre I've noticed some creeping improvements (improved cleanliness) and some things that are still the same (those damned cold showers in the fitness pool).

However even with the ongoing problems I've noticed attempts being made to investigate and hopefully solve the issues, which is a good sign as far as I'm concerned.

If you want to find out more, the new manager of the centre is holding a customer forum next Wednesday evening between about 6pm and 8pm. Apparently this is planned to be a regular event which will be repeated once a month or so, at different times of day and on different days, to give as many customers as possible the opportunity to raise issues and ask questions.

I understand that work on the showers is under way right now and hopefully some time soon we'll no longer have to trek to the leisure pool for a hot shower, or shiver as we wash our hair. Plans for the relocated and expanded gym are afoot, with dance studio and additional class space, and Fusion is also putting forward proposals to rip out the famous 'health suite' and replace it with new facilities.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Creekside conservation area proposals

Lewisham Council has now made more information available online about its proposals to create a new conservation area covering Creekside and the Crossfields estate.

The character appraisal document is certainly worth a read if you have any interest in the history of Deptford, there's quite a lot of research gone into this and it explains some of the history of Deptford Creek and its many wharves, as well as the development of the Crossfields estate which is considered a fine example of London County Council's early social housing estates and marks the start of the redevelopment of inner city slum areas.

The council is holding a public consultation event next year at the Creekside Centre, on 7 January 2012 from 11am-3pm if you want to find out more about the implications this move would have for the area.

There's also an online survey with about four questions with yes/no answer options which are fine for those of you whose responses are cut and dried. If you want to contribute something a bit more useful there's also a box at the end for any other comments, or of course you can write direct to the planning conservation office, the contact details for which are on the council's website.

Naturally the creation of a conservation area should in theory offer protection against the loss of Creekside's unique character - although some commenters have already raised the issue of lack of enforcement on our other main conservation area, Deptford High Street.

On the High Street we are seeing a creeping erosion of the characteristics that make it worthy of protection, and enforcement by the council seems to be sorely lacking. Landlords are ripping out old windows and shopfronts with impunity, whacking in their replacement frames and solid security shutters without even bothering to wait for planning permission to be granted. And when planning applications are rejected, as in the case of Paddy Power's alterations to the former Deptford Arms, the council does not seem to be willing or able to enforce its own decisions.

With proposed changes afoot, such as Workspace's plans for the Faircharm Estate and rumours that Railtrack wants to replace our landmark lifting bridge (which no longer lifts but still acts as a landmark) it is unsurprising that the council is looking at ways to protect Creekside.

However the existence of the Creekside 'village' development and the fact that the other side of the Creek is in Greenwich borough does raise several questions such as: is it too little too late? and what (if any) implications would it have for plans by Greenwich to redevelop the other side of the Creek?

Friday, 9 December 2011

Bugs and bats

Can't tell your ladybirds from your shield bugs? Got a keen interest in bats (whether in your belfry or elsewhere)? Want to know more about local wildlife?

In which case you're in luck; Lewisham's ecological regeneration manager, Nick Pond, is seeking keen naturalists who would like to get some free ecological training next spring/summer 2012.

He is currently managing a funded project called Rivers & People (which I wrote about earlier this year in relation to some of the events here) and wants to gauge local interest in training in survey techniques.

If there is enough interest to make the project viable, he wants to train naturalists in survey techniques so that the borough can encourage a trained body of volunteers to collect ecological species data and generate more complete records of protected species for Lewisham and its environs.

The training for the funding will come from a Big Lottery grant called Access to Nature, and it will take place in a number of locations in the borough. These are likely to be the Creekside Centre in Deptford), Devonshire Road Nature Reserve SE23 and possibly at the Horniman Museum and/or at LWT Wildlife Garden Centre in Southwark.

For more info contact or call 0208 314 2007.

You might also be interested to know that Lewisham has a new blog for all things nature-conservation-related - you can find it here.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Creekside consultations

Consultation on two major schemes/proposals which could have a dramatic effect on the Creekside area are due to take place/start this week.

The first relates to plans to redevelop the Faircharm estate, which I have written about previously, while the second comes from Lewisham Council and is a proposal to create a new designated conservation area on Creekside.

Faircharm owner Workspace is holding an onsite drop-in session tomorrow afternoon and evening to consult over its redevelopment plans, while the council is about to launch its public consultation process for the Creekside conservation area.

Crosswhatfields has more details of both of these here.

Evelyn Assembly 14 December

Those with an interest in/passion for matters of planning and regeneration will surely be interested in the upcoming Evelyn Assembly which is taking place next Wednesday 14th December.

Lewisham Council's head of planning, John Miller, will be talking about regeneration in Deptford, followed by a presentation by local campaigners Deptford is... offering an alternative vision for the Convoys Wharf redevelopment.

Considering the amount of redevelopment taking place in Deptford right now, I reckon Mr Miller could have his work cut out keeping within the timings of the event (7-8.30pm) although the programme does say that "he will provide a presentation which shows the various application schemes, environmental improvements and works in Deptford High Street. There will also be an opportunity to see the proposed plans for the Convoys Wharf development, including drawings of what the site might look like and information about timescales and planning permission processes.
There will be an opportunity to discuss the development during table discussions as well as a chance for questions and answers during the feedback session."

It looks like a good opportunity to find out exactly what's going on in the town centre and immediate surrounds, as well as a chance to ask any questions you might have. The alternative proposals for Convoys Wharf are currently gaining a great deal of momentum, so it is a good chance to find out what's being proposed.

And if none of that appeals, hell you might want to attend just for the opportunity to catch a glimpse of one of those elusive Evelyn Ward councillors...!

2000 Community Action Centre
199-201 Grove St

Wednesday 14 December 2011
7.00pm – 8.30pm

Registration from 6.30pm;
free refreshments

Deptford soil at Utrophia

Utrophia's next show ‘Deptford Soil’ is an exhibition of work by local artists affiliated with the McMillan Herb Garden, a non-profit organisation which runs creative workshops for young people in the Deptford area.

This exhibition celebrates different aspects of Deptford culture and illustrates the personal creative processes born from residing in SE8. Exhibits are not confined to reflecting the physical nature of the area, or the people who inhabit it, but also explore individual responses to the greater world community through art, music and design.

Mick Bonfield, Carolyn Moon, Michael Tudor, Merlin Hayward, Richard Walker, Gordon Furn, Dave Aylward, Fred Aylward, Joy Bonfield Colombara, Dave Eyre, Diane Jones, Mark Moynihan, The Green Rebels

A series of events accompany the exhibition, to ease you gently (or perhaps not so gently) into the christmas spirit.

Saturday 10th December 7pm - prompt
Home Grown Film Night presents
Hide and seek (1972)
Deptford's 'Jack in the Green' (2006-2011)
'Gone house ghost house 117 elegies' (2005)
A split screen with live sound track from Rabbit.

Sunday 11th December 5-7pm

Wednesday 14th December 6-9pm
Mid View
Music from The Missing Puddings and The Conformists
Compere Joe Bazouki

Saturday 24th December
End of the Road 12-4pm
Music TBC