Monday, December 22, 2014

Kent Wharf Planning Application – deadline for comments January 8th + other Creekside developments

As 'near neighbours' Crossfields residents have been invited to comment on this application (which we last mentioned in September). All should have received the formal letter from Lewisham Planning for application DC/14/89953.

Mixed use development at Kent Wharf and 24a Creekside SE8 comprising the construction of three buildings ranging from 6 to 16 storeys incorporating balconies and terraces comprising 1,375 sq.m of commercial floorspace (use classes B1/D1/D2), 143 residential units (Use Class C3) public and private amenity space, together with associated landscaping, refuse stores, 184 cycle spaces, 3 car parking spaces, associated highway works and plant.

The illustration above shows the development in isolation to the other FOUR new towers planned for this end of the Creek (see below).

According to the Lewisham Planning Portal, the application from Bellway Homes was received by Planning on November 26th. A trick often employed by developers is to submit an application at Christmas time when everyone is too busy to notice or do anything about it. So we get a letter from Planning on 19th December with a deadline to comment by 8th January.

Of these 20 days, three are bank holidays – so that's really only 17 days. But worse still, Planning has not put up ANY documents related to this application. We called the planning officer in charge of it this morning to find out when the drawings and detail would be added to the website, only to be told he is on annual leave. One of his colleagues said the documents were being scanned and would be available to view tomorrow.

So, that brings the time for commenting down to 14 days. The same thing happened two years ago with the Faircharm development. On that occasion Lewisham Planning decided to extend the deadline (see our Jan 2013 post) – they disliked this application so much and requested so many revisions that the deadline was eventually extended till May. Long before that, they had attempted to mitigate the worst aspects of Workspace's plans by designating the area a Conservation Zone. Ultimately, they passed the application, claiming to be 'at the mercy of market forces'.

However, they have already been working with Bellway Homes on various aspects of the Kent Wharf site, so they are probably fairly happy with the application. Apparently at Lewisham's request, earlier versions of the development have altered so that the 12 storey tower originally positioned on the Deptford Creek waterside has moved to the road side edge of the plot. Four more floors have been added, which is presumably a compromise for either more affordable housing units, or for more space to be given over to creative business units / artists studios (which were lost in the Faircharm proposals).

Finch House residents may certainly have something to say about the heights of the buildings; the rest of us may want to lobby for the Creek to be used for the transportation of construction materials, if nothing else. To view the application, keep checking the Planning Portal for DC/14/89953. Click the Documents tab to view any drawings and relevant details that might appear after today. It will be interesting to see if Bellway Homes have submitted any drawings which show their development as rather titchy and benign in relation to the others planned at Creekside Village...


Kent Wharf is not the only new development planned for this end of Creekside – just the only one that has reached application stage. Locals should also have received a flyer about Creekside Village East and the public exhibition being staged by Kitewood on Saturday 10th Jan (12–4pm) and Monday 12 Jan (2-4pm) at the Laban. www.creeksideeast.co.uk

As Kitewood's website / flyer states, this is in addition to separate proposals from Essential Living for Greenwich Creekside East. Apparently there was a public exhibition of their plans on 6th December but we were not informed about it – probably because, although it is practically on our doorstep, the development falls within Greenwich Council's remit. The exhibition boards can be viewed at www.greenwichcreeksideeast.co.uk and you are invited to let them know your views by emailing michaels@curtinandco.com (see the visual below).

Again, we are not shown a visual that shows all five towers of the three different developments all together – nor any view that includes the SIXTH tower a few blocks down (and much closer to Crossfields) that will be built at Faircharm.

The Deptford Dame has very recently posted about Greenwich Creekside East – essential reading on Essential Living's plans. And although all this stuff has been on the cards for some time, it is still rather shocking to contemplate the phenomenal changes that lie ahead! Crossfields is now a building site as MITIE proceed inexorably slowly with their 'Decent Homes' programme. It's unlikely to be finished before the end of summer 2015, by which time work may have finally begun at Faircharm. There is no escape! Merry Christmas!



Friday, December 19, 2014

No lights on Ha'Penny Hatch for past three months (Lewisham side)

While on Deptford High Street there is a shortage of Christmas lights, at the Ha'Penny Hatch where Lewisham meets Greenwich over Deptford Creek, there have been NO LIGHTS AT ALL since the beginning of October (or is it longer?).

The picture above is from 9th November. There's no change. Fortunately, as far as we know, with darkness descending at 4pm or sooner, the only remotely bad thing that has happened is graffiti artists having a party or two (and leaving all their litter, which is also never cleared up). But it's almost three months since this path has been lit.

Usually this is the sort of thing you could post to Love Lewisham, but it is not so simple. Firstly this path has no postcode – so they can't find it and you can't use their interactive map to report it. More importantly, neither can the police if something awful happens here in the darkness.

Secondly, you have to report the number of the nearest lamppost that has a number written on it (back on Crossfields) because none of the lampposts on the path have numbers. We would normally have been reported it ourselves, but we have been waiting to see how long it takes for someone else to do it for a change – or to see if Lewisham notice it themselves!

It's a very important path since it forms part of the GLA's Cycle Quietways. In fact TWO so-called Quietways are offered at the Creekside end of the route across the Ha'Penny Hatch (one of which is through Crossfields – the maintenance of some of the path has been paid for by the leaseholders who were never even consulted). Strangely, that path is the responsibility of Greenwich Council even though it's in Lewishame, and roadworks to accommodate it across Deptford Church St are still being carried out by Greenwich, months after the work was started. Lewisham Homes wasn't even told about it. (Not that them knowing now makes any difference since they would hardly tell us).

However, cyclists using the Ha'Penny Hatch usually have their own lights. Pedestrians do not.

(This story was originally posted as part of the previous post).

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Do They Know It's Christmas? Where are the festive lights on our High Street?

OK, so the cuts have taken their toll. No Xmas lights for Deptford High Street.

Just the south end – the lights came on (as they have for the past week) just as the Wednesday market was finishing today. Nothing in Giffin Square or Douglas Way. Obviously no Christmas tree here, that would be excessive (and of course attracts street drinkers, so we can't have that). Nothing from the Giffin St junction down to the very bottom (or very important north) of the high street where there are a couple of lampposts with a twist of lights as it meets Evelyn Street. In fact there is a twist of lights down there with no bulbs attached to their sockets.

Cuts? Incompetence? Lack of care? Couldn't one of Deptford's millionaires sponsor some lights? Did no one from Lewisham ask HSBC? Barclays? Poundland? 99p Store? Iceland? Tesco? Cathedral (cashing in already on Deptford)? Hutchison Whampoa (Convoys Wharf owners about to cash in)...Waitrose even? Just who the f**k is running this high street anyway? The "Deptford Society" don't appear to know. Who at Lewisham is responsible?

No doubt Lewisham Gateway (latest phase 0% affordable housing), Lewisham centre and Catford are bountifully lit up (we've no idea because we avoid these areas like the plague). But Deptford, non! And no bloody explanation or apology either!

Update 19th December: 
(We've edited this post. A related story about no lights on the Ha'Penny Hatch is now a separate post).

Our mate Fred called the council but didn't really get a definitive answer – the chap he spoke to didn't really know and could only guess. There might be three reasons, he said. 1. The lights were found to be not fit for purpose (bulbs missing?). 2. It might be Skanska's fault (they have the contract for street lighting). Skanska have put in new lamps at the south end of the street but have not yet replaced the old lampposts at the north end. 3. It was more likely to do with cut backs. On average, Xmas lights might cost between £12-£15k (to run or to install, he didn't say). Residents could apply for money from Ward Assembly funding, get their Ward Councillors to apply for funds. Or residents could approach a developer to sponsor.

As one commenter below has said, we're an enterprising and creative community in Deptford. If we had known in advance there would be such a poor show, we might have found an alternative way to bring a bit of festive cheer to the rest of the street.

Update 22 December: Five more lampposts were lit up yesterday...


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Sunday 14 Dec : Deptford Fowlers Molly + London Pantomime Horse Race



Deptford Fowlers Troop do a kind of morris dancing as part of a tradition associated with Plough Monday, the first Monday after Epiphany. Molly dancing began with out of work ploughboys touring around villages offering the landowners the opportunity to pay them to dance instead of plough (since there would be no ploughing till Spring). If the landowners refused them money, they might find their garden lawns ploughed up, so the dancers would conceal their identities by blacking their faces with soot and dressing up in a variation of their Sunday best, with one of the members – the Molly – dressed up as a woman.

Basically it's a pub crawl with music and dance and a bit of dressing up! If you fancy joining the festivities, here's the schedule:

12.00: at the Royal Albert, 460 New Cross Road with dance commencing at 12.30. 
1.30: dance at the Little Crown, 495 New Cross Road
2.30: dance at the Job Centre, 120-122 Deptford High St
3.30: dance at the Dog and Bell, 116 Prince St

Deptford Fowlers Troop also celebrate Mayday when the Deptford Jack in the Green tours south London and the City. The video above is shot outside the Dog and Bell, their spiritual home. If the dancing starts a little too early for you, you can catch them at the Dog & Bell later, and meanwhile, head down the road to Greenwich for the annual Pantomime Horse Race...

Now in its fifth year, this Greenwich event has grown in size (though the contestants remain smallish in numbers – they're hoping for between 20 and 40 this year). Lots of comedians and showbiz personalities get involved.

This year the festivities begin with a science fiction themed opening ceremony at 11am. Stormtroopers (including Darth Vader) will march from the Cutty Sark to Devonport House where the race will start at 1pm. The panto nags then race to the Union Bar on Royal Hill. An after-race party hosted by comedian Stephen Frost starts at 2.30pm at the Greenwich Tavern next to Greenwich Park (£12 on the door). The event raises money for Demelza Children's Hospice – for more details and to see the route go the website!



Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Do you need help with computers?

The Digital Lab is a new club-type space for Crossfields tenants who need some advice and help with using their digital devices, whether it's a laptop, tablet or smartphone (Android or iPhone).

Local IT trainer Paul Clayton will be setting up a club at the Pink Palace in the new year but in order to get this off the ground, he needs to know how many Crossfields residents are interested.

Paul says "Residents can come to the club with their own devices, or pop in and use the laptops and tablets I'll be setting up. I'll be doing a couple of talks about useful topics such as using wifi and keeping your laptop cleaned up. Internet will be provided via a 3G modem – which limits the numbers of people who can be online to around five – but all are welcome. You may just want to pick up some tips on typing! I'll have some accessibility software, big keyboards and trackballs which are useful for older people or people with low vision, and for those with limited movement. So, if anyone gets a digital gadget for Christmas this year, the club will be a perfect place to show it who is boss!".

The hope is to get it started in late January. Paul already has some interested tenants, but needs a few more to make a case to get funding before setting the date and time. It's intended that the drop-ins will last 6-8 weeks.

If you or someone you know is struggling with their gadgets, get in touch with Paul on 07958 251448 or email paul.clayton@soulchip.co.uk.
www.soulchip.co.uk