Friday, February 26, 2016

Commenting on the Tidemill (old school) redevelopment

Tidemill site masterplan (p31 of Design & Access Statement). Our annotation of existing buildings in pink.


The Tidemill redevelopment is part of Lewisham's 'regeneration' masterplan for Deptford Town Centre and has been on the drawing board for ten years. It has finally been submitted to Planning and you can 'comment' on it by writing to Planning (include your full name and address and the application reference DC_16_095039). The deadline is 2nd March, but 'objections' can be received up until it goes to the Strategic Planning Committee (the date is unannounced as yet). But if you feel strongly, don't delay, object today!

The application can be found here: http://planning.lewisham.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=_LEWIS_DCAPR_82154 . There are 92 documents (under "Documents") – download the 4 x Design & Access Statements to start with. It's where all the pretty pictures are.

Lewisham's Deptford Town Centre plan includes the new Tidemill school and Deptford Lounge development. These were "funded by the future redevelopment of the old school site for housing" (p.18). How does that work then?

The Council has partnered with developer Sherrygreen Homes and housing association Family Mosaic to build out the 'old school site'. It is not clear to the layman how this partnership works. Presently the land and existing buildings are owned by Lewisham. Presumably Sherrygreen will stump up the cash for construction and take a profit on the private homes built, whilst Family Mosaic will administer the affordable homes (including an off-loaded block of tenants currently managed by Lewisham Homes). Or will Family Mosaic also run and maintain the whole site? Who will private leaseholders pay their ground rent and maintenance charges to? Is the land to be sold, or does Lewisham lease it? How do Lewisham make money from this scheme to fund the now well established Deptford Lounge and Tidemill School? What is the track record here, when the school governors immediately turned Tidemill into an Academy, and that other town centre co-development (the station/Deptford Project) ended up with flats being sold almost entirely off-plan in Hong Kong?

Affordable housing

210 homes are proposed. 176 of these will be private. The plan boasts 16.2% 'affordable' homes. That's 34, of which 8 will be 'shared ownership', leaving only 26 'affordable' rents (with 12 family homes). However, the existing Lewisham Homes block on Reginald Road will be demolished and its tenants rehoused in the new development – there are 16 flats at 2-30a Reginald Road, of which 13 are still council tenants. Therefore there will only be 13 NEW 'affordable' rental properties. That's only 6% – NOT 16.2%! This must be the lowest number of new affordable homes made available out of all the new developments in Deptford – and it's a Council-led project. So much for solving the housing crisis.*

A diagram of 'tenure' on p.34 of the Design & Access Statement shows that there are only 18 units available for 'social rent'. If you minus the 13 rehoused tenants then there are only 5 NEW flats for social rent. Is this the best deal Lewisham can get out Sherrygreen Homes?! Of course, after 3 years they all have the Right To Buy, which makes a mockery of Sir Steve Bullock's latest boast of building 250 new council homes. Only yesterday Crossfields residents received a glossy 8-page leaflet from Her Majesty's Government enticing tenants into grabbing their discount of "up to £103,900" to buy their flat. RTB includes Housing Association tenants now, of course. Whilst new tenants here may not easily find the extra £300-£500k to buy their new homes, cheaper public housing in the area is depleting at a rate of knots.

*UPDATE 4 March: The Deptford Dame's new post explains how the developer has stitched up the Council on the affordable homes quota...

Design

There have been some dreadful design layouts previously on the table which have been modified by Lewisham's Design Review Panel. The GLA have also had an input; a couple of local public 'consultations' may have had a modicum of impact too, though a second consultation with affected residents was very poorly attended – no doubt because they were all extremely depressed, and not because they approve. The layout has certainly grown less dense, and heights in certain places have been modified, but Reginald Road residents still face 5-6 storeys and there is a very questionable extension to the school proposed which will have an enormous impact on the existing Frankham House (more below). The high street will also lose a much needed parking area. There aren't a lot of detailed drawings at this stage so it's a bit hard to comment on the actual design.

Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden

The Tidemill garden was originally created by Crossfields resident and Tidemill teacher, the late Jani Llewellyn, who transformed the school playing field in the 1990s. The new plans involve chopping down ALL the trees she planted, including two magnificent now mature Indian bean trees. According to the Design & Access Statement, 36 trees will be removed in all. Another document specifically about tree removal shows 73 trees being removed, with 64 new trees planted. This leaves a net deficiency in the number of trees in Deptford.

Trees to be removed – click to enlarge
Since the school decanted to the Deptford Lounge, it has been lovingly cared for by the 'Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden' group, one of the few good things to grow out of the meantime use of the site. Although public access to the garden has been rather restricted, the group have been good at getting funding, growing food and running educational events and workshops. The garden's continued existence has allowed wildlife to thrive and offered a highly necessary lung to combat the horrendous pollution from one of London's most congested roads.

Naturally, the garden group are up-in-arms about the loss of green space – you can join their campaign here. They have prepared a document for download which provides an interesting analysis of the application in terms of its breaches of the London Plan, Lewisham's own Core Strategy and its own Leisure & Open Spaces Report. It's a very good reminder of how Lewisham pays no attention to its own policies.

OTWG also have a petition: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-old-tidemill-wildlife-garden

The application claims the group were consulted and their ideas incorporated into the plans. The result falls miles short of the group's ideals and borders on the ridiculous with a "Reginald Road Pocket Garden". Despite identifying the green area on the corner of Reginald Road as a "buffer" from the busy main road, the developer now invites us to enjoy a landscaped garden next to one of the most polluted roads in the city, planted with new trees that will plunge all surrounding flats into darkness.

'Reginald Road Pocket Garden' – click to enlarge
Small public park areas have been included in the plans (see p.49 for the Landscape Masterplan) as well as a "communal garden" which is designed to be more private, with access from Frankham House car park or from the new "pocket garden". But access from both is via a "controlled access gate". What's that when it's at home? Locked tightly shut, we expect. Especially if private owners are paying for its maintenance.

Communal gardens behind flats – click to enlarge

Frankham House will in any case be fenced off from the new development by a 6ft barrier, the highest wall on the site...(see p.64 for Proposed Boundary Treatments).


Frankham House

Frankham House comes off rather badly in these plans. Apart from unwittingly bordering a noisy and dusty construction site for the next 3-4 years, their entire outlook is going to change. Plus ca change, you might say. But how would you like a massive blank brick wall as tall as your block looming up in front of your kitchen window after enjoying such a lovely view (!) for so long?

Current 4th floor view from Frankham House
Potential view from 4th floor Frankham


The old school caretaker's house next to the school is to be demolished, and in its place, an extension will be added to the school that has no windows on the side (because of overlooking). Whilst the temporary (so no longer answerable) conservation officer wrote a glowing report on the school buildings themselves, he deemed the school caretaker's house too common an example of its kind to be worth retaining. What a gift to Lewisham's profit-driven partnering developer, Sherrygreen Homes!

Existing north elevation (our red shading)

Proposed north elevation (our red shading)


Click to enlarge. Note the gap between Frankham and the new extension is smaller than the one between the two school buildings and most of the space between all the other buildings. Also note there are much taller buildings proposed behind that butt up to the south end of Frankham but not included in this drawing.
 
The application states that "the historic core of Deptford still survives and is protected by the conservation area designation" (p.8). When the Creekside Conservation Zone (that envelopes Crossfields Estate of which Frankham is a part) was established in 2012 to mitigate against the worst aspects of the proposed new developments on Creekside, Frankham House was initially excluded despite being built around the same time. Residents begged to be included. They had heard rumours that the council block in Reginald Road was going to be demolished and feared the same fate.

The Creekside designation succeeded in reigning in the roadside heights of the new Faircharm Creative Quarter development because the old factory buildings' facades had to be retained. But there appear to be no supplementary planning documents that can be used to stop further developments from canyonising (or Croydonising) the rest of Creekside, and away from the Creek, being part of a Conservation Zone offers no relief to Frankham House either – even from a Council-led development.

Update: A "pocket park" has been proposed for the high street end of the development. Why not keep the old caretaker's house (it may not be a unique example of its kind but is certainly unique in Deptford), surround it with a "pocket park" and build the extension at the other end of the old school blocks? Just an idea...

What are the benefits?

In its preamble, the application talks of the council's plans to regenerate the riverside, town centre and housing estates, which "signal the revival of Deptford's economy" (p.17). No jobs though – not that sort of economy, silly! – but lots of new and wealthier citizens not necessarily shopping locally but definitely increasing the borough's council tax revenue.

As with all the other developments in the area, there are certainly no benefits for Deptford in adding thousands more people to an already bursting transport network, taking away what little green space we have, overshadowing existing residents, providing no additional doctors or schools, filling the air with brick dust, and adding to the huge number of construction vehicles that are already polluting our roads and poisoning us and our children.

Time to update our Fifty Shades of Grey route map again! Here it is with 2014's pollution readings...

Click to enlarge

Oh, and here's another petition, ironically from the Newbould 'Guardians', who the Council bought in (not brought) instead of offering the old school buildings to local artists – because Lewisham's Property Services thought they'd go more quietly when the time came to chuck them out...hahaha!
https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-old-tidemill-school-deptford-s-creative-community-space Update: we have been asked to make a correction to clarify that the "Save Deptford" campaign was initiated by 'friends' of the 'creative' Guardians in the old school, not the Guardians themselves (who one can assume would be in breach of their contracts).

Sign them all! Or write to planning.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Crossfields TRA meeting this Sunday 21 Feb, 11am

Click to enlarge
New year, new Tenants & Residents Association! Meeting this coming Sunday at 11am in the newly refurbished Pink Palace, 1 Frankham House. Plenty to talk about! All welcome.

Update: Check the TRA's new website for news and meeting minutes: https://crossfielders.wordpress.com/


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Violent sexual assault on Crossfields linked to Peckham attacks ?

Update 13 Feb : £10,000 Reward offered

On New Year's Day, Crossfields residents were greeted with the shocking news that a 'violent assault' had taken place on the estate the night before, when police conducted a door-to-door enquiry asking for witnesses. Information was vague: was it a young woman or teenager? Between 3am to 6am or was it nearer 5am? Was it a rape? Where exactly? Was it a resident? (Apparently not)...

The grassy area behind Wilshaw was taped off by police, a small tent was erected and a patrol car sat nearby on Creekside for three or more days. No further information was forthcoming, although a small number of Wilshaw House residents received an incident notice through their doors the following week. No one else did, so if you were out on New Year's Day (or tucked up in bed with a hangover and didn't answer the door), you'd be none the wiser.

Several young (and not so young) women artists frequent APT and Arthub Studios right next to the crime scene but neither of these premises were informed. Creative types work odd hours and holidays, so likewise, Cockpit Arts further along the street. On New Year's Eve, the Birds Nest pub was open all night. Did one of their punters get followed home from the pub? This blogger was walking home carefree from the night bus in New Cross at 4 in the morning but not via Creekside. Crosswhatfields resorted to Twitter to find out more, but Lewisham MPS (@MPSLewisham) knew nothing.

On 2nd January, the Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) launched an appeal on Twitter, which the Deptford Dame retweeted (otherwise we would not have seen it):  
"Detectives are appealing for information and witnesses after a woman was seriously assaulted in Deptford in the early hours of New Year's Day. Police were called to a south London hospital at 06.20hrs on Friday 1 January, after a woman had been brought to the hospital by family members. The victim, aged in her late teens, remains in a stable condition. Enquiries continue to establish if there was any sexual motive for the attack. As such, the investigation is being led by detectives from the Sexual Offences, Exploitation and Child Abuse Command. At this stage, officers must retain an open mind as to any motive. Police enquiries are ongoing to establish the circumstances. Officers are appealing for anyone who saw anything suspicious in the area of Creekside and Deptford Church Street between 03:00hrs and 06:00hrs on Friday 1 January to contact the incident room on 020 8721 4617. To remain anonymous, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111."  
This was retweeted by 125 of its 380,000 followers (0.03%). @MPSLewisham tweeted the appeal on Jan 3rd and got 5 retweets from its 23,000 followers (0.02%).

On Sunday 3rd, a resident found a pair of nearly new women's boots in one of the rubbish bins not that far from the incident site – which seemed to indicate that not much of a search of the surrounding area had taken place. She handed these to the waiting patrol car but, having been disturbed from their mobile phone games, its occupants were more concerned that she'd crossed through the police tape and "contaminated" the incident site. The following week, a police van unloaded a team to 'search' the grassy area but did not search the rest of the estate; one rookie was overheard saying "What on earth are we expected to find if they've already looked here?".

To date, Crossfields residents have been given no further information. There have been no incident notices pinned up or delivered. Female residents might assume the assailant had been found and that it's safe to leave their homes – or alternatively, they may still be extremely worried, or they may not be aware there was any danger at all. We now see that two further appeals were tweeted by the Met on 11th Jan, but were not necessarily seen or retweeted by local tweeters. This time the Met was releasing a CCTV image of a man they wanted to speak to. 4 seconds of CCTV video was available to view, although no information was given as to where it was filmed. The image was retweeted 55 times, the appeal 70 times. This was quite a development in the case, but Lewisham MPS did not tweet or retweet it at all.

Click to enlarge

This time the Met's appeal read: "Detectives are appealing for help to identify and trace a man seen on CCTV. They are also appealing for anyone who was in the area at the time of the offence to contact them with what they saw or heard. In particular they would like to speak to two potential witnesses who would have been in the immediate vicinity of Creekside, at the junction with Deptford Church Street, between 04:50hrs and 04:55hrs...Did you see anyone acting suspiciously or running in the street? Do you know the man in these images? If you are this man we would like to speak with you..."

Three weeks after the attack, the tape and tent had been removed. Rather oddly, residents as far away as St Johns got a leaflet through their doors about the assault – with SERIOUS RAPE typed in big black letters on it but not much more info than that – yet already more info than we were getting in Creekside!

Earlier this week, the incident site was visited by people in suits (rather than uniforms), which seems to have heralded more news...Today, the News Shopper reported: Women urged to keep safe after violent Deptford assault linked to others in south London, as police suggest sexual motive

The story also appeared in the Evening Standard. From this report, we now know that the Deptford victim was 18 years old, was attacked from behind before being physically assaulted, suffered injuries to her head and face, and no property was stolen. Two incidents in Peckham earlier in December are being linked because the assaults were similar, though the victims are much older. Police have suggested there was sexual motive even though none of the attacks were actually sexual. According to the Met's latest appeal (also today, co-inciding with their press release), 'intelligence work' led to the link, and "while currently there is no forensic evidence linking them as sexual attacks, all three are now being investigated by the Sexual Offences, Exploitation and Child Abuse Command's Serious and Complex Case Team".

This news has been tweeted by Lewisham MPS today and has so far been retweeted 10 times. They also retweeted the Met's tweet. The CCTV photo isn't any clearer but can now be recognised as Deptford Church Street near the Broadway, so the suspect (or not) is heading south from the Birds Nest roundabout...

Click to enlarge

Not everyone reads the News Shopper or other local papers (especially when they're not delivered free like they are elsewhere in the borough), and certainly not everyone is on Twitter. And even if they were, not everyone's following the police, and apart from that, it's easy to miss one single tweet. The Met tweet about crime all over London and much of it is irrelevant to locals, who might like to know what dangers lurk locally. You'd expect local crime news to come from local police. But the point (if you haven't guessed) is that this dependence on Twitter (to which you cannot report crime and which is not staffed 24 hours) takes precedence over more conventional methods: there are no incident notices pinned up anywhere in the area whatsoever – nothing in shop windows or bars, for instance, where people might actually see the appeal and respond if they can.

In this assault case, it appears the (centralised) investigating team are not making the most of local police resources to gather evidence by way of witness appeals via conventional methods, and the local police are the last to know what the (centralised) investigating team are up to regarding a crime on their own patch.* Why are we only hearing about it tonight on BBC London News – or reading about it in The Standard – ONE ENTIRE MONTH AFTER the same image of a possible suspect had already been presented on Twitter (when it concerned only one woman in Deptford)?

Why are these crimes are being investigated by the 'Sexual Offences, Exploitation and Child Abuse Command's Serious and Complex Case Team' ? Who are those guys? Isn't their remit rather too broad to be effective (it includes sex trafficking and peodophilia)? The link with the Peckham attacks is most strange considering how many assaults go on all the time, and we wonder if police resourcing is so deranged (by Tory cuts?) that they've had to create or hype up the links and suspicion of sexual motive to gain access to funds for publicity otherwise not available. After all, men DO assault women without thoughts of raping them, but perhaps the press don't pick up on a story unless it is sexually related? Or can't the Met understand that some men just like hitting women?

And why were constables assigned to sit in a patrol car for days on end guarding the taped off site and playing mobile phone games when they could have been doing more door-to-door? And more importantly, why wasn't the advice below – that appeared in the News Shopper and Evening Standard today – circulated to all local women back in early January?

•    Prepare and consider your travel arrangements carefully and ensure someone knows where you are going, who you are with and when you might be home.

•    Look as assertive as you can, walk with confidence and be aware of your surroundings and who is around you.

•    Avoid short cuts and dark isolated areas, vary your routine and be discreet handling cash, phones and wearing jewellery in a public place.

•    Never take your safety for granted and look after your friends so that they don’t become vulnerable. Remember your personal safety is more important than your phone or other valuables.

•    Keep your bags close to you and secured with zips closed. Check your belongings and your pockets regularly.

•    Wearing headphones and talking on the phone can make you unaware of your immediate surroundings - this makes you appear vulnerable and gives an advantage to a criminal.
•    If you feel uneasy about an individual or situation, trust your instincts and leave the area and head towards a public place such as a shop.
BE SAFE.

(Edited and update 12 Feb 2016)


***

*Related comment
This very same LACK OF INFORMATION from local police led to a spate of burglaries (at least 9 in 8 weeks) on Crossfields last year while scaffolding was up. Because very few people knew they were happening and didn't take extra precautions, the opportunistic thieves just kept coming back. While it was not newsworthy enough for Twitter, no one even knew which local SNT team were dealing with the crimes – it should have been New Cross SNT, but Evelyn SNT often responded (thanks to misinformation from Lewisham Homes). Neither team knew what crimes the other team was investigating. Evelyn SNT's monthly online crime map did not cover Crossfields, and New Cross SNT's map did not report those dealt with by Evelyn. The full extent of the robberies cannot be viewed (and the crime maps are in any case collated a month behind rather than in real time). Lewisham Homes did very little to let anyone know how vulnerable we were, and refused to accept the burglaries were happening as a result of the dark cover provided by the scaffolding they'd put up and were responsible for (and which, when the scaffold was also used for access to back windows, was not alarmed). And, of course, no one knows if anyone was caught...

***

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 an untouched 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 as early as 2018, around the time Faircharm and Kent Wharf are reaching 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 the 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 there will be a lot more than 242 homes now in the highly dense development...

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, 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 recently 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 – but 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).

* We asked a friend at Cockpit and she had no idea of the plans.
 

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.

••••