Sunday, May 15, 2016

Lascelles' funeral: Friday 27th May

RIP Lascelles Barrington Hoilett
Following our previous post on the passing of dear Crossfields resident, Las, we can now announce the details of his funeral and a celebration of his life.

Friday 27th May 2016
Honor Oak Crematorium
Brockley Way

Please note: 
The funeral cortege will depart from Castell House on Crossfields at around 10.30am, so residents can pay their respects – especially if they are unable to attend the funeral.

The family requests that rather than buy flowers, donations can be made to Bench Outreach, who often helped Las out.

Friday 27th May
Birds Nest Pub
32 Deptford Church Street

Following the service at the Crematorium, all who knew Las are invited to the reception at his local – the Birds Nest pub, where all his family and friends can get together and memories can be shared whilst partaking of refreshments. 

Inconsiderate Constructors – living on a building site

Anyone can register with the Considerate Constructors Scheme...but does it mean anything?

Perhaps the problem is a developer wanting to cram so much onto a site that construction is only possible by using areas outside the site to facilitate it.

Either way, the inconvenience caused to any neighbours of a construction site are not considered relevant when making objections to a planning application. Existing residents may be extremely inconvenienced for up to two years without compensation.

The logistics of construction are included in an application, but generally sorted out after planning is granted. A Construction Methodology Statement is also submitted, the detail of which is generic and could apply to any site. Such statements usually include the following nebulous promises:

• Coordinated delivery times and efficient traffic management to prevent queues of traffic accessing the site.

Yeah, right. See previous posts here and here.

Ensuring all plant has sound reduction measures (mufflers, baffles or silencers)

The noise can be relentless, and exceeded reasonable decibel levels on many occasions during demolition at Faircharm. There was and is no sound reduction employed – if there is, it is not enough.

• Utilising construction techniques that minimise the production of noise. 

See above. During demoliton, the machines used to break up concrete caused buildings to shake. Vibrations equivalent to mini earthquakes were felt by residents and those working nearby. Cracks appeared in brickwork. Ornaments fell off shelves.

• Using Acoustic hoarding where necessary.

No Acoustic hoardings have been erected on Creekside to protect residents. Taller hoardings are required to prevent dust as well.

Faircharm, February 2016

Ensure that all materials transported to and from site are in enclosed containers or fully sheeted. Ensuring loads are covered where spoil or demolition material is being removed.

Covered or not, at Kent Wharf back in November 2015, the road looked like this for a whole month before it was cleaned up and wheel washing was finally introduced.

No wheel washing at Kent Wharf

Outside Faircharm, the trucks and cement mixers can't get in or out of the site without driving on the pavement and spreading their loads. Wheel washing as they leave the site makes very little difference.

The road and pavement are almost white with dust. The dust lies several microns deep on all the parked cars and reaches into the communal recesses of Wilshaw and Holden House up as far as the fourth floor. The caretakers have complained that there is ten times as much dust to clean up on communal stairs and walkways.

A car vacates a parking space after a rainy period, revealing the dust it's been concealing.

Residents, local workers and pedestrians are breathing in all that dust. Potholes are growing daily. The wheels of passing trucks kick up the dust when it's dry.

After rain, the street cleaner has to shovel mud. The rubble and dust goes down the drains, potentially blocking them.

During dry periods the works are to be damped down to control the generation of dust.

Faircharm's site manager claimed to have no access to water on site and had to order in “extra tankers” of water to damp down dust. Nevertheless dust is still prevalent and not being dampened.

Asbestos removal took place without full cover. This was reported to Lewisham Environmental Health who took no action and did not even respond. The construction site manager had tests conducted that vindicated the lack of cover, but extreme health worries were engendered among residents and local workers in the meantime. See previous post.

• Provide regular road cleaning using road sweepers or brushes to control dust and mud.

Once in a blue moon...

A bit of sweeping up outside the entrance – last witnessed in March

With so many sites like this in the area, a cash-starved local authority is unable to monitor the work. It is also likely that any Section 106 money clawed from the developer by the Council (in mitigation, to benefit the local neighbourhood) will not be spent around here – if it is, it will probably be used to fix the road that has been thoroughly ruined by construction.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Creekside construction watch: Faircharm

Work began at Faircharm in November 2015 with demolition of most of the three large buildings on the site. The front facades of two of the original buildings facing Creekside are being kept as a result of advice from Lewisham's Conservation Officer at planning stage. The work was carried out by Ling Demolition under the site management of appointed constructors Bouygues. During this process, the noise and dust were horrendous – buildings vibrated, walls cracked...

The land has since undergone preparation for foundations to be laid – a quieter process onsite, but not on the road, as concrete mixers line up almost daily (see previous post). Meanwhile, here are some episodes from earlier in the year...

The Postbox

Hoardings began to be erected back in August 2015 and soon Creekside's eastern pavement (which borders the site) was lost to pedestrians. The only bit of pavement left was where the fence made allowance for a Royal Mail postbox. Once chock full of mail when serving the former trading estate, since the businesses moved out in 2014 it has remained in use to Crossfields estate residents and surrounding users such as APT and ArtHub Studios as the only postbox in the area within reasonable walking distance.

Site hoardings and parked cars made collection from the postbox impossible

In December 2015, the Post Office closed it. Hardly surprising since the hoardings around it were labelled with stickers saying WARNING - KEEP OUT - DEMOLITION. Some found the closure rather inconvenient – especially elderly residents with mobility problems.

We complained to the Bouygues site manager who had not even noticed the box was closed. He contacted the post office and was told the delivery office manager had visited the box and deemed it unsafe for the drivers to collect. Obviously, the Post Office has a duty of care to look after its workers.

But the real reason – not made clear by the post office, and as we had to point out to Bouygues – was that the hoarding around the box didn't allow enough space to open the post box to retrieve mail. And cars were parking right up close to the hoarding, making it difficult for both posters and post office to even get near the box.

We asked Bouygues to widen the space and stop cars from parking near it – and inform the post office they had done so. But there was a delay in moving the hoarding because Bouygues also wanted to combine this subcontracting with erecting hoarding at Creekside Centre – it was the centre's fault this had not been done, apparently. The box was finally reopened on 27 January, but the busiest time for the postbox – Christmas – had come and gone.

The postbox reopened at the end of January after the site hoarding was opened up.

Non-newsletters, trucks and the Creek...

Friendly correspondence with the Bouygues site manager soon turned into regular nagging as complaints grew. Newsletter updates were promised from Bouygues but were only delivered to the residents directly facing the development despite the work affecting more than half the estate.

Muck shifting vehicles could not get into the site without extensive manoeuvres

The bollards put up by the constructors to stop cars parking next to the postbox turned out to also serve the convenient purpose of facilitating easier access for the trucks entering and exiting the site. Each truck had been having to do a three or four point turn to get into the entrance. In the third week of January, the site entrance was widened. Some trucks are still taking up road space by reversing in; there is no room on the site for such manoeuvres.

Faircharm entrance finally widened

However, HGVs collecting demolition materials had already begun queuing in convoy up the road waiting to get on site – on some days as far as the Birds Nest pub, and many of them waiting longer than 30 minutes.

Dumper trucks queuing in convoy from January, blocking the road and public entrances
They blocked the entrances to APT Gallery and Studios and kept their engines running – in contravention of Rule 123 of the Highway Code. No one from Bouygues told them not to. We involved local councillor Joe Dromey who confirmed that Lewisham did not have the resources to police and enforce the problem and suggested we politely ask the drivers themselves to do this. Bouygues apologised that they didn't know that APT Gallery was a public venue; the message eventually filtered through and a gap was left for the gallery entrance. More recently, however, concrete mixers (whose engines can't be turned off) form the queues. Trucks continue to use the road, spilling loads and spreading dirt.

March 2016: muck trucks queuing all the way to the Birds Nest pub

In November 2015, we'd been assured we'd be told when "lorries will begin to take materials away in bulk" and complained about the queues. The response was that it was not "bulk muckshift" but just a couple of days of taking away crushed materials – at that time, the removal of demolition materials "had not been planned" and we'd be told when the real work started. But we weren't, of course.

The plan was to crush materials on site, whilst some of it was already being moved off the site by the "bin lorries". Wheel washing would be in place to avoid mud on the road, and all vehicles would turn left out of the site (southwards to Deptford Church St), as agreed with Lewisham Planning. The excuse for the fact that some lorries were turning right out of the site was that they had either come to the wrong site, or there was an accident (or too much congestion) at the Bird's Nest roundabout.

In November we asked whether Deptford Creek would be used in the removal of the demolition materials; it was a condition of the developer's planning permission that they carried out a feasibility study on transporting spoil and materials by river, rather than the 80 lorries a day they otherwise planned to have leaving and arriving at the site and clogging up our narrow back road.

As predicted, the developer had wriggled out of the more environmentally clean option of using the Creek – the feasibility study had concluded it was not 'economically viable' as the Creek could only be used "either side of high tide", plus they had to be "5 metres away from the DLR and would only have one place to site barges" – the place where Creekside Discovery Centre muster for their river walks. (Again, Creekside Centre was being blamed). In fact, the rule about being 5 metres from the DLR does not apply to vessels on the Creek, but to structures on land – and the place they can't use is where they have built their compound offices.

February 2016: demolition continues

Asbestos and dust

We also badgered the Site Manager about the dust the demolition was causing, and more worryingly, the removal of asbestos concrete roofing right opposite the estate.

Asbestos removal on the roofs – worker protected but no screens to protect the public
An operative wearing full protective clothing was seen bashing the roof out only yards away from residents' flats. The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) guidelines state that asbestos cement roofing is of medium risk and does not require an enclosure, except "when it is extensive and difficult to remove, resulting in much breakage and debris, or the work is close to occupied or sensitive areas" (p.90 of the HSE's guide).

Our concerns were passed to Ling Demolition who proceeded to carry out air monitoring tests almost immediately. Testing was carried out in close vicinity to the work (on the workers themselves) but not outside the perimeters of the site. However we were assured that "fibre concentrations at the sample locations were within control limits" and "fibre levels will not be greater at locations further afield".

December 2015: dust out of control, coating the surrounding area.

Meanwhile, our concerns about dust (coating the estate, the road, the pavements, Creekside Centre and Ha'Penny Hatch), was put down to excessive wind and a poor supply of water to the site. A 'water suppression system' was fitted to the 'high reach machine' but as a result of our complaints, additional equipment had to be ordered and 'extra water' brought in. Dust continues to be a problem however.

Presumably, Creekside Discovery Centre are satisfied with all these measures, as they have a duty of care to the young people visiting the centre, and would not run their programme if they had any serious concerns. But Wilshaw and Holden House residents who bear the brunt of most of this work have complained that better screening should have been erected to protect them from the dust. More than one resident contacted Lewisham's Environmental Services and got absolutely nowhere with their complaint. Ultimately, Bouygues have a good reputation as a 'considerate builder' to maintain. But it's not looking that good to us.

Cranes arrive...

An April newsletter from Bouygues confirmed that demolition was complete, marking the end of an exceptionally noisy period during which 'groundworkers' had installed 4 'piling mats'. This was followed by the 'groundworkers' casting the substructure works and constructing bases for two tower cranes which were erected at the beginning of April. They join the other two already installed at Kent Wharf – where the same process has been tormenting residents in the north of Crossfields, and presumably all at the Laban.

View from Ha'Penny Hatch, 8 April: the second crane is installed, indicating the building heights

Friday, April 29, 2016

Creekside Truck Park

A resident emailed us last week with the following:

"Knowing that you like a spot of NIMBY outrage I thought I'd send you this photo of Creekside Truck Park. 5 x 8-wheeled tippers (empty), 1 x artic full of steel, 2x white vans – one of the white vans completely blocking the pavement. Queue of cars in both directions struggling to get round the obstructed corner, observed Thursday 14th April at 08:20. Cheers, San".

Creekside Truck Park
Well, yes, San, we know. It's not quite NIMBYism though, is it. A post (or three) is well overdue. We have lots of documentation, just not much time to write... But since today was a spectacular example of the fuckwittery that goes on with HGVs on Creekside, we'll stick to talking about the roads in this first post of many...

Theoretically, Crossfielders are living next to and surrounded by building sites. However, the conditions created by the construction work going on at Faircharm, Kent Wharf and two Tideway Tunnel sites makes many of us feel like we're actually living on a building site.

No sooner had scaffolding come down on most Crossfields blocks five months ago – after noisy, dusty and highly controversial external works had finished on the estate itself and most of which was unnecessary – than work began in Creekside at Kent Wharf (Bellway Homes) and Faircharm Trading Estate (Workspace plc).

Residents who grapple with the vagaries of the public transport system when they go out to work are lucky to miss the all-day noise – unless they have late starts. In most cases everyone's morning alarm is the sound of trucks queuing up outside the window, a sound heard two blocks away. Having missed the extraordinarily loud noises during the day, when commuters get home they can enjoy the new layer of dust on their doorsteps, windows, paths and road.

Retired folk, shift workers, the unemployed and local workers have no escape. And it can only get worse as summer approaches when residents open their windows to let more dust and noise into their homes. Those living right opposite the Faircharm and Kent Wharf developments may find themselves adopting a rather unhealthy siege mentality, if they don't already. This was today's offering (movie to follow):

Average day on Creekside
Two of several cement mixers lined up along Creekside (they can't turn off their engines!)
The cement mixers began gathering on Creekside at around 8.30am and were still queuing at 2pm. Without any notice.

Not just Faircharm...

Without any notice whatsoever, for the past two weeks Creekside has been closed to through traffic by Murphys, the contractors for Tideway Tunnel.

Whilst inconvenient for local residents, this has the upside of stopping the road being used as a rat-run when this week Deptford Church Street was partially closed by – guess who – Murphys.

Tideway Tunnel did give notice for that – the first newsletter said it would be overnight with the future prospect of an 11 month closure; a subsequent letter said it wouldn't just be overnight but in fact would be for the next 8 months. A road sign at the start of the newly marked northbound single lane says 52 weeks (er...that's 12 months), whilst at the start of the single file southbound lane it says 48 weeks.

So far, traffic has run fairly smoothly; the 47 bus's Wavelengths stops on either side of the road have been moved south where there is room for overtaking (but with NO SHELTERS – not good at all). HGVs have been spotted sneaking up Frankham and Giffin Street (using the high street as a rat-run – but that was already happening), whilst emergency vehicles have been slowed down, as we predicted. In quiet moments, flashy types have been seen showing off as they expertly navigate the snaking single lanes at rally driving speeds.

But on the whole, it looks as if traffic may be avoiding the area and possibly clogging up routes and rat-runs in the surrounding area instead. Of course, the real test will be when there is an accident elsewhere or one of the tunnels is closed.

Meanwhile, traffic on Creekside is often blocked by lorries entering and exiting Faircharm, holding up local residents' arrival and exit. Not that they can find a parking space when they return during the day, since spaces are filled with construction workers' cars – despite signs for Residents Only parking. Residents Permits (rejected by generous but short-sighted residents previously) may be a priority now, if not for the future – since there will be no parking on the new developments.

We'll take a more detailed look at the woes of living in a construction site in a next post or two (there are no joys). We'd love to know what Lewisham Council think, and hope they will be able to help, though it all seems to be out of their control.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Meet The Lenox Project and Sayes Court Garden this Saturday 23rd April

The Lenox Project (aka Build The Lenox) and Sayes Court Garden are the community projects which fought long and hard to gain a place on Convoys Wharf, site of the former Deptford Dockyard now owned by multinational conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa who intend to build 3500 luxury flats there.

The Lenox Project, on the other hand, intends to build and sail a replica 17th century royal naval ship, create a dockyard museum, and establish a centre of excellence for historic shipbuilding and restoration, creating employment and apprenticeships for young and old in every aspect of the project – from carpentry to the arts, digital design and engineering to sailing the high seas. The original Lenox was built and launched in Deptford Dockyard in 1678 at a time of great scientific discovery. Read more at

Sayes Court Garden want to build on the legacy of John Evelyn, Deptford's famous horticulturalist and diarist whose original Deptford garden, Sayes Court, gave birth to new scientific ideas and cultural changes. With support from the National Trust, they aim to create outdoor and indoor spaces that explore 21st century ideas around sustainability, climate change, health and nature with the idea of the garden as a living laboratory and tool for thought. Read more at (aka


Since Boris Johnson 'called in' and decided on the Convoys Wharf application on 31st March 2014 nothing much has happened on the Convoys Wharf site except an increase in security to prevent travellers gaining occupation. As yet, no detailed building designs have been submitted.

Meanwhile, the two home-grown heritage projects who Boris made a condition of planning as part of the obligatory Section 106 agreement, have been up working up their plans – despite having received hardly a penny of the Section 106 monies paid to Lewisham Council on their behalf to date.

The Lenox Project were first required to undergo an independent feasibility study to determine where on the site they could establish themselves – this was only completed in December 2015, some 18 months later. Unfazed, the project has subsequently published a revised Vision document which focuses on the chosen location – at the north west corner of the site next to Pepys Park, the opposite end to where the ship was originally built.

Sayes Court Garden have since been holding schools workshops and working with students from Greenwich University, liaising with architects, planners and designers, and contributing to national and international exhibitions, lectures and discussions.

Both projects hope to bring local people up-to-date with their latest news at Deptford Lounge on Saturday 23rd April, 12.30–3pm. Go and say hello to them!