Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Sun Wharf on Creekside – happening sooner than expected!

Click to enlarge

We touched on Sun Wharf as part of our coverage of the Kent Wharf redevelopment application. Public consultation for Kent Wharf in July 2014 was followed by submission of an application in December 2014 which was passed in March 2015 and work is now well under way. Included in the Bellway Homes' application was an "indicative masterplan" for the entire stretch of land bordering Deptford Creek and Creekside, going all the way down to the railway. It would add a further 242 homes. See Crossfields Estate shaded in red (our addition):

Indicative masterplan, Dec 2014
The Kent Wharf plans mainly showed the present development in context with Laban, as well as Jones Catering Supplies and Cockpit Arts.

Kent Wharf plans, Dec 2014

With Jones in possession of a lease till 2022, it seemed we might be spared the continuous onslaught of construction work on Creekside. There might be a bit of a breather before Sun Wharf began.

But it would appear from the above public consultation that all obstacles have been removed and Bellway Homes can plough ahead with their masterplan. Jones may have been offered an alternative site to continue their lease (or their lease has been bought out), and Cockpit Arts have been seduced into getting a new 'purpose-built facility'. The speed with which the Kent Wharf plans turned into reality suggests public consultation at this time means the rest of the masterplan could begin at Sun Wharf in around 2018, around the time Faircharm and Kent Wharf arrive at completion.

As we predicted then, a tower of 14 storeys could easily rise to 18. Here's 2014's building heights:

Indicative masterplan, Dec 2014 (click to enlarge)
Indicative masterplan, Dec 2014

And here's the (only) picture on the front of the consultation leaflet (black biro is ours). My! How that tower has grown! And gone is that old Cockpit building with the Love Over Gold mural – now they're tucked into the development and overshadowed by a 9 (?) storey building! Looks like a lot more than 242 homes now...

Sun Wharf, Feb 2016 (click to enlarge)

Whilst these rapid changes on Creekside could be viewed with excitement by some, it's rather depressing for local residents – not everyone is out at work every day, and going by the noise and pollution already being created by demolition works at Faircharm (which we'll cover in another post) the prospect of another five years of being stuck in the middle of a building site is not a happy one. On one side is Thames Tunnel at their Deptford Church Street site (making a right old racket for Farrer House), and on the other, five new developments on the Creek, plus more Thames Tunnel work across the Creek. There's also another potential Creekside development when No.3 Creekside is sold (quite possibly to Bluecroft who have already bought the MOT Centre).

The Faircharm development has already generated convoys of HGVs queuing all the way up Creekside to take away demolition materials, but that is nothing compared to the 180 lorry trips per day planned for when construction begins. Whilst Workspace plc have cheated their way out of using the Creek to transport spoil and materials at Faircharm (not 'financially viable'), Bellway Homes at Sun Wharf should have less of an excuse – except they have not used the Creek at Kent Wharf, and there is also the little matter of Thames Tideway Tunnel's plans to use the Creek themselves. Oh, and did we mention the noise? And the floor shaking and the cracks appearing...

What can we get from all this redevelopment? New 'townscapes', a buzzing new street full of cafes and mini supermarkets perhaps? Even nearer gyms, a few galleries? More parking congestion? A one-way street? At least there might be a few more much needed homes for families at Sun Wharf, which is more than you can say for the Faircharm development. Will the Love Over Gold mural be preserved? Those who value it may have to put up a fight as it's unlikely that Cockpit Arts will argue for its retention. What will happen to Cockpit's craftspeople – will they be the first to be offered new creative spaces in Faircharm and Kent Wharf while their building is demolished? (We'll have to ask our designer friends)...

View our Pollution Survey (May 2014) results here to get an idea of what's in store while this fantastic brand new environment is being created on our doorstep. Meanwhile find out more on Wednesday 24th Feb (3.30-7.30 at Creekside Centre) and on Saturday 27th Feb (11–3 at Laban).

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Deptford High Street North consultation : Wed 3rd Feb, 3pm – 7.30pm

Lewisham Council are working in partnership with TfL to deliver improvements to the north part of Deptford High Street and are presently consulting. An exhibition of their consultant Project Centre's initial ideas are on show tomorrow at Deptford Lounge from 3pm – 7.30pm. The exhibition boards are also available to view and comment on at the Council's "consultation portal".

As the Deptford Dame has already commented, the plans appear to fall short of preventing the road being used as a rat run or being safer for pedestrians and cyclists. An early bird, she is particularly concerned about the speed and quantity of traffic in the early mornings that thunders up Giffin Street to get to Edward Street (which it uses to avoid Evelyn Street). She points out that introducing a narrow one-way entry from Evelyn Street will not stop the Edward Street rat run. And that there is already a 20mph speed limit in place but it's ignored in the early morning when there are no parked cars for speeding vehicles to negotiate (overnight parking is not permitted).

We can verify that the rat-running continues all day and is especially bad in the early evenings when the traffic is going in the opposite direction, with a different but equally detrimental effect: rather than speeding dangerously it is stationery. This is because of the TOTAL FAILURE of the new TfL 'improvements' at Deptford Broadway, where traffic light sequencing seems to favour the east/west running A2 at the expense of north/south traffic (some of which is local, but mostly it's trying to get on to the A2 and now far fewer cars are allowed to feed in each time). Despite this the A2 still backs up to New Cross just as badly or worse than it did before.

Daytime tailbacks in high street
Early evening tailbacks on Giffin St, outside Wavelengths

The Broadway scheme was introduced with the benefit of finally providing properly signalled pedestrian crossings and to introduce cycle lanes (which have reduced the space for vehicles). The result is peak-time gridlock along Deptford Church Street in the early evenings, and of course an increase in rat-running along Deptford High Street, Giffin Street and Creekside, where traffic backs up as it queues to get onto Church Street. The 47 bus might as well throw away its timetable at rush hour as it sits queuing with the cars and increased number of construction vehicles, from the Birds Nest to the Broadway, without the luxury of a dedicated bus lane. No need to labour the point about the chronic effect of stationery diesel vehicles on the health of residents living adjacent to both Church Street and the smaller roads and children attending the local schools.

We warned Thames Tideway Tunnel about the potential for gridlock and rat-running in this area in 2012 (here and here for examples) when they proposed a partial closure of Deptford Church Street to accommodate their works at Crossfields Street/St Paul's Church. Our argument was based on the occasional closure of Rotherhithe or Blackwall tunnels or accidents anywhere on the surrounding network. As we pointed out at the time, TTT's plans were backed up by out-of-date traffic data provided by TfL, but the St Paul's site got the go ahead and the partial road closures will still go ahead. Only now, thanks to TfL's appalling traffic management at the Broadway, horrendous tail backs are a daily reality and can only get worse.

Evening gridlock on Deptford Church Street due to TfL's Broadway junction light sequencing
An accident at the Broadway on 18 January: Deptford Church St north lane closed for hours

Perhaps the new sequencing is to stop traffic heading south into Lewisham via Brookmill Road where it will meet the horrendous Lewisham Gateway, but whatever the overall plan, it doesn't inspire confidence for the high street north proposals. TfL are offering £2.8m to implement the scheme; there is also £500k from section 106 funding for Convoys Wharf available purely for high street improvements (and separate from the improved Evelyn Street junction which will come later).

Meanwhile, a local business in Ffinch Street, Shultz-Wiremu, have commented that high shops near them had received a request from the Council asking for access to their basements, presumably as part of a structural survey of the above ground pavements. But the shops had no idea why their basements needed surveying and had no knowledge of the consultation on this new scheme. Shultz-Wiremu are appalled at the increased frequency of construction vehicles using the high street and, like the Deptford Dame (who reckons that none of the people devising the scheme, or those advising them, "have done their homework"), they feel the proposals emphasise trivial issues whilst not fully addressing the main problem. Hopefully the consulting team will learn something of value from the people attending the exhibition (or filling in the online survey) who actually use the street.

The intention to repeat the paving plan implemented in the south of the street (where pavements are extended into the carriageway to accommodate parking) may at least put a halt to the present congestion (as well as the usual driver fuckwittery that goes on with parking spaces) whilst it is being built, though it will be a nightmare for residents and traders. Paving works in Douglas Way and Giffin Square were swiftly followed by repaving the south end (as a result of the timing of two different funding awards), but the whole thing took so bloody long that trade as well as traffic was brought to a standstill. It is not clear whether the south street improvements have proved a success – it has very little traffic now that it is one way. It's proposed the north end will remain two-way up to Edward Street, but with some parts narrowing to slow speeds. What effect this will have on the articulated delivery vehicles visiting Poundland and Iceland is anyone's guess. The plan is dotted with trees all the way up; these would be situated in the extended paving (presumably avoiding basements and utility services) and may also prove an obstacle to impatient drivers. Or not. Local suggestions include a ban on diesel vehicles and, more radically, closing the market gates at rush hour.

But any successful reductions on the high street will just make Deptford Church Street and Creekside worse for Crossfields residents...


Road surfacing works have been taking place in Deptford Church Street. Contrary to popular belief this road is Lewisham's responsibility although it is part of TfL's Strategic Network. The work began at 11pm and went on till 4am last Thursday and since then has started as early as 9pm – and the road has been partially closed as each lane is dealt with. There is no doubt that the work is required and is being conducted fairly efficiently, but some of the machinery being used is so loud it can be heard two blocks away in people's living rooms. There was no notification to residents and no notice of road closures. God only knows who is responsible.


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Smoke on the Thames Water!

Thames Water's first contribution to local community infrastructure has ignited passions locally. The smoker's den, constructed by Murphy's on Crossfields Green, seems a very unpromising start to the £4bn super sewer project, being built soon on our doorstep.  The plywood shed at the corner of Coffey Street and Crossfields Street (pictured above) seems designed to shelter the teachers of St Joseph's from the elements as they take their daily drag.  We can only hope that the tunnel itself is constructed a little better, though we know that it's of equally limited value!  For full story see here.

Monday, January 18, 2016

High street HSBC bank to close

Those with accounts based at our local branch of HSBC should by now have received a letter from the bank stating their account will be transferred to Lewisham branch*. The Deptford High Street branch is due to close in April, apparently because not enough people are using it. Of course, the increase in online banking means many current account holders may not use the bank for anything other than cashing the rare cheque or using the cash point. There are now three or four alternative free cash points they can use, and cheques can be paid in at any branch.

But many high street traders are not at all happy about the closure, as most of these small businesses can't afford to operate card transactions and rely on the bank for depositing cash takings. One cafe owner complained that he had not that long ago had to move from the Halifax (closed in 2010) to the HSBC and would now have to change to the one and only remaining bank, Barclays, which is well known for its long queues. The alternative is to spend extra time legging it over to Lewisham (and back). Another trader declared that "when a bank shuts, so does the high street".

More worrying, though, is the future of this modestly handsome old building that sits at the civic heart of the street. As with the Halifax, its planning class is A2 Professional Services (eg Financial services) and the most likely new tenant or owner could well be a betting shop or pawnbroker (who somehow fit into this category). The old Halifax (rumoured to be soon taken over by an expanding Greggs) eventually escaped becoming a Betfred because of a special condition in the building's planning permission (only discovered by Lewisham Planning after a long and concerted community campaign run by this blog and assisted by Dame Joan Ruddock in Parliament and after Betfred had already appealed against planning refusal).

Perhaps empire building pub managers Antic will step in to create a new bar instead. Or might we see another Vietnamese or Asian restaurant? Perhaps it could be turned into an Asset of Community Value or a branch of London Mutual or Lewisham Credit Plus... Either way, we can't have another a betting shop! Perhaps a change of planning class can stop this?

*They may not have a letter since the Royal Mail has been spectacularly bad recently – we've had experience of more than two letters posted in the middle of November only turning up last week!