Friday, September 12, 2014

Thames Tunnel decision – a blow for Deptford

You may have heard on the news that the government have given the go ahead for the Thames Tideway Tunnel. And if you visit this blog often you'll know there's been a local campaign to stop Thames Water building a 17m wide 48m deep shaft on the Crossfields green space on Deptford Church Street.

The campaign initiated by Don't Dump on Deptford's Heart started in 2011. This year we reported in detail the well attended Open Floor Hearings held by the Planning Inspectorate at Deptford Lounge in February. Also that month, along with a small number of Crossfields residents and others, we took part in some air quality testing to map the pollution levels on Deptford Church Street, surrounding areas and beyond. We announced the shocking results in May. The aim was show to how the partial closure of Deptford Church Street required to build a tunnel shaft at this site would have a severe impact on local residents.

Whilst the final decision on the Thames Tunnel was in the hands of the Secretaries of State, the Deptford High Street Garden Association began to develop a container garden on the Deptford Church Street site.

The campaign by Don't Dump on Deptford's Heart (with assistance this year from Joan Ruddock MP, plus Joe Dromey and Brenda Dacre who have since become New Cross councillors), the opposition of Lewisham Council, plus the work done by a few folk on Crossfields, all seems to have made an impression on the Examining Authority. In their view "the use of the Green as a work site would be a serious loss to the local community" and even with the mitigation measures proposed by Thames Water, there will be significant impacts on St Joseph's School and St Paul's Church. But...

The Secretaries of State Decision Letter and Statement of Reasons can be found here. A paragraph on Air Quality mentions the local air quality testing we did in February:
"(para 28) The independent Deptford air quality surveys contained within representations from J.Ruddock MP / S. Lawes agree with the findings of the Applicant that Deptford’s current air quality has pollutants in excess of EU targets. The Report states that the construction phase of the tunnel will add to pollution levels in Deptford. The ExA conclude that this increase will not be substantial and the Secretaries of State agree with this and are content that the impact is acceptable". 
The section on Deptford Church Street can be found in paragraphs 113-115:
"113. The Secretaries of State accept that the ExA’s examination revealed limitations with this site, particularly in terms of loss of open space in an area of deprivation and in respect of noise impacts on St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Primary School and on St Paul’s Church, for a period of three and half years during construction."

"114. The Secretaries of State acknowledge that the ExA consider the loss of open space at this site to be a matter weighing against making the Order. They agree with the ExA, that Crossfield Amenity Green is not surplus to requirements and that even the temporary period in which it will be used as a work site will represent a serious loss to the community. However, the Secretaries of State agree with the ExA that the impact will be mitigated and the adverse impact on the landscape will be reversed . They also note that it will be open to the local authority to secure with the Applicant through the consent process under section 61 of the Control of Pollution Act 23 1974, additional mitigation measures in the form of noise enclosures, to help minimise noise impacts predicted on receptors."

"115. The Secretaries of State agree that the alternative sites considered offer no less significant impacts, that the need for, and benefits of, the project overall outweigh the adverse effects and the temporary loss of open space, and are satisfied that impacts are mitigated as far as practicable since some disruption is unavoidable in a project of this scale."
The actual Planning Inspectorate's recommendations on which the Secretaries of State have based their decision can be found here. Skip through the huge report to page 357 to find out what they said about the site at Deptford Church Street.

Because campaigners had focused on the only alternative presented by Thames Water (another 'interceptor site' at Borthwick Wharf) the panel restricted themselves to considering only that alternative. They did not look in detail at previously suggested alternatives. And they did not think Borthwick Wharf was suitable either because it was so close to people's homes. Never mind that one residential home at Millennium Quay was given the same weighting (as a "receptor") as one whole school of a few hundred children at Deptford Church Street!

The panel noted that Thames Water had not presented the alternative "of avoiding the use of an interception site by redirecting the storm overflow direct to Greenwich Pumping Station, which is only approximately 400m from the Deptford Church Street site". Unbeknownst to us, the panel questioned Thames Water on this but they demonstrated that such a proposal was much worse – including the requirement to demolish the Birds Nest pub!

The Planning Inspectorate concluded that "a suitable alternative is not before us" and consequently the government have approved the Deptford Church Street site.

Now, as the news sinks in, there's a bit of fighting talk about judicial reviews on the whole project, or trying to get better mitigation locally. If you want to contribute to the debate, get in touch with our local councillor Joe Dromey.

But the Thames Tideway Tunnel isn't the only juggernaut heading our way. Whilst the development at Convoys Wharf (which, from a Crossfields point of view, will bring hundreds of HGVs thundering down our road) can be partly blamed on the policies of the current Mayor of London, Lewisham Council's own plans for our little area are not that short of a steamroller...

London Design Festival in Deptford

The London Design Festival is an annual event which both celebrates and promotes London as the "design capital of the world". It starts tomorrow 13th September and runs till the 21st. Check out events all over the city at the LDF website.

Three local events include:

The Living Installation in Giffin Square
Sat 13th September, 9am-4pm
Local designer Linda Florence will create a 60s living room in the square and fill it with stuff she's sourced in Deptford Market and the high street. More info at and

The Intertidal Cinema at Deptford Creek
Sat 13th 9.30-10.15pm, Sun 14th 9.40-10.40pm, Mon 15th 10.15-11pm
Hannah Fasching shows two films she has made about Deptford which overlay local peoples' narratives onto scenes of its architecture and landscape. Both can be viewed from the Ha'Penny Hatch footpath – one film is screened in an arch and another is cleverly projected onto the river bed.

Contemporary Craft & Art Weekend at Greenwich Market
Sat & Sun 13th & 14th September, 10am-5.30pm
Designers and makers will be demonstrating their crafts, including rag rug making, ironmongery, furniture making. For more info see Meet the Makers. Plus up to 80 designer makers in the market and exhibitions at the surrounding galleries.

Totally Thames festival throughout September

Usually known as the Thames Festival, Totally Thames is organised by the Thames Festival Trust and is a month long celebration of the river. Go to the events page to find out what's on.

There are a lot of free events and activities in and around Potters Fields Park this weekend (Tower Bridge) with a music stage at the Blue Ribbon Village and the Kids' Choir at the Scoop. Watermen and lightermen battle it out in the Barge Driving Races on Sunday 14th, and the Great River Race takes place on 27th September.

There are also Archaeological Walks on the banks of the Thames, and tickets are still available for one on Monday 15th (12pm-2pm) in Deptford, which will examine the history of shipbuilding at the Royal Dockyard, with a muddy walk along the foreshore below Convoys Wharf.

Party in the Park : Saturday 13th September 1-9pm

Party in the Park is a free festival organised by local community groups in New Cross, Deptford and the surrounding areas. With its roots in the legendary Deptford Urban Free Festival, today’s incarnation is a community event for all ages with family events, food stalls as well as the best local musical acts.

Fordham Park plays host to a diverse and talented line up of bands and artists including: Ras Keith, North 37 & Jazzman John, Rhiannon The Nightmare, Parshmaune, Rags Rudi, Blurt, Magic City Trio, The Ongoing Project plus many more – including one of the originals back from the Urban Free days Back To The Planet!
Plus performances from: Wala Wubeeba African Drum & Dance and Januka Quadrille
Also: Village green games & fairground sideshows with Madcap Coalition Urban Village Fete, Dr Burnheart Gloss, as well as stalls from local businesses.

Loads more info at
Twitter @pitpnxd

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Another Kent Wharf consultation

The proposed new development at Kent Wharf – next to the Laban on Creekside – has undergone some changes since their last presentation in July, and you can view an exhibition of these updates at the Laban on Monday 8th September between 4pm-8pm. Presumably this is still prior to Bellway Homes submitting its planning application, which they intended to do in September.

This should be of particular interest to residents of Finch and Congers House on Crossfields who will be most affected by the development. You can view the information which was presented in July here.

Update 8th September: 

BAD NEWS! Another 4 storeys added to the tower! Now it's 16 storeys...
The new changes are now available to view on their website.

Soon another 135 homes can enjoy the all night banging and HGV movements of Jones Catering – they won't be leaving until 2020. When they do – and Bellway Homes takes over the site – Finch, Congers and Farrer House residents can look forward to yet more construction works!