Posts Tagged ‘deptford’
There’s much to be proud of in Deptford these days. A thriving creative community, one of London’s most distinctive street markets, a rich naval heritage and the feistiest community spirit this side of the Thames. Or, indeed, on their side of Deptford Creek, which is what divides Deptford from its eastern neighbour, Greenwich. I’ve been doing a bit of work alongside the Don’t Dump on Deptford’s Heart campaign lately and been hugely impressed with their tenacity and determination to defend their neighbourhood. What’s not to like?
One oddity, though, is that Deptford has long been split between between two boroughs. In 1900, the parish of Deptford St Paul went to form the Metropolitan Borough of Deptford, while the parish of Deptford St Nicholas became part of the Metropolitan Borough of Greenwich. In the 1960s those boroughs became Lewisham and Greenwich, and in 1994 the boundary was moved slightly to the east, shifting Convoys Wharf – the old royal dockyard – into Lewisham borough.
Despite all this change, the creek has always been the boundary between Deptford, SE8, and Greenwich, SE10. But despite living in a unique and rather special part of London, some residents want out. They want to be considered part of Greenwich.
They’re clearly confused.
Sorry chum, the border down Watergate Street is the Lewisham/Greenwich borough boundary. The border goes just past the SE8 delivery office for Royal Mail, funnily enough. Just like it runs down the middle of Blackheath Village, too – and they’re not demanding to be called “Greenwich”.
But who are the culprits? Estate agents, who’ve sold properties in SE8 as being in “Greenwich” for years, and the highways department of Greenwich Council, who stuck a sign outside Sainsbury’s in Deptford a couple of years ago bearing the legend “West Greenwich”. Mind you, it originally said “East Greenwich”, so what do they know?
And then there are bits that as as wrong as the petitioners’ geography. Greenwich charges a lower rate of council tax than Lewisham – the average Band D in Greenwich is £1,283.91, in Lewisham it’s £1,363.35. I’m not really sure another £1.50 a week on your council tax will have an impact on your house price.
Another falsehood. Your postcode alone cannot affect your credit score.
But if you live in Deptford, the nearest town to you would be… Deptford.
Is that legally possible?
I live in Charlton. Can I have an SE10 postcode, please? And so on.
Ah-ha! Here’s Dave to put ‘em right.
Of course, we all know postal areas have their quirks – ask residents of SE13 who pay council tax to Greenwich and SE10-dwellers who pay to Lewisham. And Royal Mail almost always refuses these requests anyway. So maybe the ideal solution to this was proposed over two decades ago, when Deptford Power Station was still standing and Greenwich borough extended up Evelyn Street, and the boundaries were being reviewed.
Now you see, if only the boundary commission had taken up Lewisham’s suggestion – our friends wouldn’t be so confused today. As it stands, they’ll just have to move house if they want to live in Greenwich – just like everybody else.
Sunday update: Also worth seeing Transpontine’s take on this.
It’s a development which will have massive implications for Greenwich, yet there remains surprisingly little concern east of the creek about the enormous plans for Deptford’s Convoys Wharf, which will tower over the views from Greenwich Park and Cutty Sark Gardens (above).
With three enormous towers of 26, 32 and 40 storeys, the plans would change the skyline forever; and by squeezing 3,500 homes onto the site (3,000 likely to be sold abroad, just 12% going to the local community), riverside Deptford would be transformed. Into what, though, nobody quite knows.
Furthermore, this isn’t just any old patch of derelict land – this is the site of the first royal dockyard, founded in 1513, and arguably the beginning of Greenwich’s links with royalty. The site’s now on the World Monuments Fund’s watch list.
So, it was right and proper that Lewisham Council took its time on the scheme. Until Hong Kong-based developer Hutchison Whampoa threw a wobbly and went running to Boris Johnson, that is.
Now the mayor has decided to call in the application himself, taking the decision away from Lewisham Council and putting it in his hands. Considering Johnson’s track record in backing big developers, and his recent trip to China, you could forgive those who think this one of the more whiffy decisions to come out of City Hall.
It’s not as if critics don’t have alternative ideas for the site. Diarist John Evelyn once kept a legendary garden here. Campaigners want the site to include a recreation of Sayes Court Garden. Most excitingly of all, the Build The Lenox project wants to have a visitor attraction here, centred around building a Tudor era warship in the old dockyard.
At the moment the historic dockyard at Deptford has no working links with its wonderful history. Building a ship which was a significant part of the dockyard’s past would regenerate the area and help restore the eminence Deptford once enjoyed. It would also help bridge the maritime cultural gap with Greenwich. For a modest entrance fee, visitors would be able to see the ship being built and some of the traditional skills used to build her. They would experience all this in close proximity to structures that were contemporary to her construction, such as the Master Shipwright’s house and other surviving buildings.
While locals were hoping Lewisham Council could force Hutchison Whampoa to incorporate these ideas into the Convoys development, Johnson’s intervention puts all this at risk.
As well as the Lenox site, there’s also an excellent analysis of the issue at Deptford Is…. Anyone who cares about Greenwich should be caring about this issue too – because the consequences of what happens at Convoys Wharf will be felt far beyond a small corner of riverside Deptford.
New plans to redevelop Convoys Wharf in Deptford are about to be submitted to Lewisham Council, so London’s monopoly evening newspaper very kindly copied and pasted one of the developers’ press releases.
Why would London want another Shoreditch, for heaven’s sake?
(Cliche watch: It’s nine years since the Standard called New Cross “the new Hoxton“.)
Anyone on the east side of Deptford Creek who hasn’t been keeping up with the Convoys story should be brushing up on it now. With 46-storey towers looming over the riverfront, and 3,500 new flats – with the only new transport infrastructure being diverted bus and river bus routes – this makes recent plans for Greenwich and Woolwich look like child’s play.
It’ll have a huge impact on the Greenwich town centre heritage site, but the wider effect on the local infrastructure threatens to be even more damaging than some of the other poorly thought-through developments in this area. See the Deptford Dame for more.
But hey, new Shoreditch!
“Not kept pace with those of other riverside areas,” eh? Silly Deptford for being Chelsea Harbour. Well, not yet.
Deptford Is… has much more informed Convoys commentary than I could ever provide, while for imaginative ideas of what to do with the Convoys site, take a look at the Sayes Court Garden project (which wants to recreate John Evelyn’s 17th Century garden) and Build the Lenox – a scheme to get the old dockyard building a ship again. Both ideas aim to build on the tourist appeal of Greenwich, and deserve support.
Apologies for the short notice, but if you use Westcombe Park, Maze Hill, Greenwich or Deptford stations you should know about this – there’s a meeting on Tuesday at Davy’s Wine Bar, Greenwich High Road (7pm) about the possibility of setting up a rail users’ group for the Greenwich line, following the success of the Charlton Rail Users’ Group just down the line.
A rep from Southeastern will be there, along with someone from the Charlton group to explain how they did it. The initiative comes from the Westcombe Society (Westcombe Park and Maze Hill) and is supported by the Greenwich Society (er, Greenwich); where Deptford fits into this is unclear, but issues with the new station there suggest SE8-ers should be represented too.
The impetus for this is the disruption that rebuilding works at London Bridge station will cause (with many trains not stopping there for a couple of years) – to find out more, pop along if you can.
It hasn’t been the best of weekends to enjoy it, but the Thames Path is one of the best things about this part of London. If you take the borough as a whole, Greenwich borough has the longest riverfront in London, and as well as a walking route, it’s a designated cycle route too.
A scrutiny panel of councillors has been looking into ways of improving it as a cycle route, and officers have come up with a report – you can read it here (4MB PDF). It features some good ideas, such as sorting out the irritating cobbles at Greenwich Millennium Village, changing signs so they read “North Greenwich” rather than “Blackwall Point”, and (yes!) installing cycle stands outside the Pelton Arms pub.
Councillors are meeting on Tuesday night to discuss it – and the public’s welcome to come along and ask questions if they want. A lot of attention will be on plugging the gap between the Thames Barrier in Charlton and King Henry’s Wharf in Woolwich, something which would dramatically change the way the path is seen – as well as helping people access the fantastic Second Floor Arts facility at Warspite Road.
That said, hopefully there’ll be room for my own gripe to be addressed – sticking some signs up to get pedestrians out of the cycle path by the cable car (and cyclists out of the pedestrian bits), where markings were worn away by the cable car contractors and not reinstated, while the pedestrian bit was never marked.
I’ve seen some sights commuting along the path over recent months, and sooner or later someone is going to come a cropper – or prompt someone else to come to grief – some day for paying more attention to their iPad than their surroundings.
My other gripe is that it doesn’t do much about improving access to the path – but this seems like an encouraging start.
I was in the London Transport Museum shop the other day, admiring the Tube map of Team GB’s Olympic medallists – yours for a mere fifty quid. But then it was pointed out to me – something was missing…
Yup, the DLR’s retreated north of the river for the first time in 13 years. Still, it’s not like they held any Olympic events around here, is it? Oops.
This video, from Lewisham Cyclists, was doing the rounds a couple of weeks back, but perhaps it needs a bit of post-Olympics attention. Would you want to ride a bike along here? Turn the sound up for the commentary.
This is the junction of Greenwich High Road, Deptford Bridge, Deals Gateway and Blackheath Road, right on the border between Deptford and Greenwich. This is what cyclists who leave the housing at Deals Gateway are expected to deal with – being left stuck in a box junction in the middle of the A2.
It’s the ideal spot for politicians to sit on their backsides and do nothing – it sits just off the border of Greenwich and Lewisham boroughs, and the A2 that cuts across this junction is the responsibility of Transport for London. But London Assembly members Darren Johnson (who’s also a local councillor) and Len Duvall have both put this to Boris Johnson – and so far, have had no joy.
I’ve done a piece for Snipe about whether the mayor can keep his promises on making the capital safer for cyclists. If an obviously dangerous junction like this can’t get sorted out – and it’s not on TfL’s list – then you do have to wonder if the mayor’s simply taking trusting campaigners for a ride.
A whole month late with this one, but for me, it’s probably been for the best. I’ve finally caught up with the BBC/Open University Secret History of Our Streets documentary on Deptford High Street, which is still in iPlayer.
Like the other documentaries in the series – last week’s one on Reverdy Road in Bermondsey was a fascinating watch – it relies on local characters to tell the vivid stories of social change in the capital’s streets. There’s plenty of those on Deptford High Street.
But the Deptford one whipped up a storm – and in retrospect, it’s easy to see why. It focuses on the planning disasters of the 1960s which saw many of Deptford’s old streets torn down and replaced with housing estates, and in particular the destruction of Reginald Street, at the south end of the high street. Former Lewisham councillor Nicholas Taylor is seen on screen saying the streets were slums, and it’s easy to get the impression he backed their demolition, particularly as one ex-Reginald Road resident is seen criticising an individual for taking the decision.
But the decision was taken long before he entered politics, in the dying days of the old Deptford council and the early days of the current Lewisham Council in the mid-1960s. Even more peculiarly, the programme then claims Deptford has been in terminal decline ever since, showing a street pastor out among the drunks sat at the anchor at the junction of New Cross Road. While Deptford has had, and has its problems, anyone who’s known the area over the past decade will know that’s simply not the case.
For me, I was trying to work out which was stock footage and which was actually footage of Deptford – and while there’s a wealth of fascinating anecdotes and film from the time, it’s easy to see how Mr Taylor feels stitched up – and a bit of local knowledge fills in the rest of the story.
Nicholas Taylor’s son Martin has put together Deptford: Putting The Record Straight to try to get an apology out of the BBC. It’s a fascinating read, even if you haven;t seen the programme. The story’s been ignored by the local press (of course), but the new Lewisham branch of the National Union of Journalists has taken up the issue. Martin Taylor’s speaking at its next meeting, at the Dog and Bell in Deptford on 19 July.
One thing in the programme did stay in my mind, though – the mention of the County of London Plan, the 1943 scheme to completely redevelop much of the capital and carve it up with ring roads, of which the Blackwall Tunnel approaches were among the few to be built, and assigning a purpose for each individual community. While Deptford was certainly badly hurt by the planners, it’s horrible to think what could have happened to the rest of south-east London…
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again on Sunday, and I’ll say it again now. There’s no better morning to be in this part of south-east London than London Marathon day. A rolling carnival of human endeavour, sporting excellence and charity follies, it’s something that brings out the best in this corner of the world. Richard Branson and the Evening Standard had a wheeze to re-route it away from this area, but thankfully it came to nothing.
But has anyone on the route heard anything from the organisers this year? For many of us, the marathon’s a Sunday morning lock-in, a day you may need to plan in advance for. I live in the locked-in area and have heard nothing. The other night I had a call from a pal who lives on the route and had also heard nothing.
I asked on Twitter, and the unanimous response, from mile one to mile eight at Rotherhithe was… we’ve had nothing through our doors.
Now, I understand some car owners have had notes on their windscreens asking them to shift their motors, but that’s it. You might say that since the marathon’s more than 30 years old, everyone knows about it – but they don’t. Plenty of people think they can drive out of the lock-in area as soon as the runners pass, some even try to catch buses while the race is on.
So lots of publicity for the Get Ahead Of The Games website launched on Monday detailing exactly where in London the transport network will be a little bit sticky during the Olympics. Apparently we’re now due “a multi-media advertising campaign [to] communicate directly with the travelling public, offering tips, travel information and advice on how to reduce, reroute, retime or remode their journeys”. Nice.
But something’s missing. Sure, Boris has managed to get his cable car on the map above… but why does this campaign only use the Tube map, and not the full rail and Tube map? Where’s the information about Southeastern’s service cuts and how to get around those? It’s as if this campaign has been drawn up by the Evening Standard or Time Out, not authorities that are supposed to be responsible for all of London.
Let’s be frank here, for all this blog’s general excitement about the Olympics, the Greenwich area is going to take a big hit in terms of transport disruption – probably the biggest outside the Olympic Park. It’s not going to be the end of the world, but it will be a bit of a pain in the bum. Yet somehow, between TfL, the mayor’s office, LOCOG, the government and the Olympic Delivery Authority, there’s very little interest in communicating the disruption that faces us during the summer.
It’s all very well warning that Covent Garden will be busy because people will want to go to the theatre (hold the front page!) but what about someone wanting to take a train from a half-closed Maze Hill, or a disrupted Deptford? There’s nothing here for them. Why are they less important than those who use Fulham Broadway? (“Exceptionally busy on 28 and 29 July,” apparently.)
Over recent months, it seems that the mainline network in London is the forgotten part of the Olympics transport jigsaw – those I’ve spoken to at LOCOG haven’t really seemed alert to Southeastern’s cuts through Greenwich, and the lack of information for mainline travellers just seem to compound the impression that nobody’s taking an overall view of the situation. Poor show.