Something weird going on with comments

Which means that I appear not to be able to try and answer Richard’s question about whether there are plans to reduce the services going through Lewisham.

What I was trying to say is:

From what I’ve read on and The Forest Hill Society’s blog I don’t think the changes affect services coming through Lewisham. Could be wrong though.

As you say getting the transport infrastructure right with big development projects is critical to their success, and at least with the Gateway and surrounding areas there is an existing hub to build upon. Not the case for Convoy’s Wharf, where developers will have to think harder!

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About Andrew Brown

I live in Lewisham, South East London, and spent 9 years as a Labour councillor in the borough between 1997 and 2006.
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22 Responses to Something weird going on with comments

  1. BrockleyNick says:

    Hi Andrew

    I’m a little confused by it all as well – I’ve never seen anything official about plans to reduce services in to London Bridge from Brockley, Forest Hill, etc. However, the Forest Hill campaigners are convinced that this is a real danger – that Southern Rail is trying to lobby for a reduction. Therefore, I am applying the precautionary principle and supporting their campaign to prevent any reduction.

    Certainly, the figures I got from TfL and published today, about the enormous growth in passenger numbers forecast suggest that any reduction in services would be lunacy.

    http://brockleycentral.blogspot.com

  2. hi again andrew

    your comment “at least with the Gateway and surrounding areas there is an existing hub to build upon” *may* be superficially correct.

    I’m open to correction, but there is little chance there will be more or expanded rail services added in the near or middle distant futures and the Gateway will almost certainly put the final nail into the coffin of either the dlr or trams extending south from lewisham.

    There are plans for expanding the bus service with 10 new routes proposed through Lewisham, this, allied to the lengthier route that will come about if the ‘low-h’ road system comes about will not only mean that people will have to walk further for some bus stops but the buses will produce more pollution as they (slowly) travel through the system.

    And of course, the cost of that travel is set to rise. I’m sure you read in todays Guardian that ‘the cost of a season ticket is set to rise 1% above inflation for the forseeable future’. The price of a ordinary off-peak return to London from Ladywell recently rose by 50%!

    here’s a good thought – How do we (this is a politican speaking) encourage people to get out of their cars and onto public transport?

    Answer: put the fares up!

  3. andrewkbrown says:

    Hi Richard, I’m not sure, but I thought there were going to be additional carriages on the DLR. Which I think were happening in any case, but doesn’t that give you hope that there may be possibilities for improving public transport to and from Lewisham?

    As for the incentive to change onto public transport I suspect there are a complex set of things that motivate us, but will concede that cost is probably quite a big one.

  4. Sorry for the delay Andrew

    I’m sure there are *and have to be* possibilities for improving transport, both public and private, in Lewisham.

    The fact that the council offered Lewisham residents, as part of their community involvement) an unproven (and unprovable) road solution (low-h) doesn’t fill me with hope though . . .

    Little more than a cursory glance at the proposed road system will be enough to convince most people with no knowledge of this kind of planning (like myself) that this option is foolhardy.

    For example, at the moment the roundabout does provide the option of not entering the system when you are turning left, for instance, coming down Loampit Vale and turning left towards tescos will mean that effectively you don’t enter the system. In the future, if the plans go ahead, you will have to enter a system that at the junction of Molesworth Street and Rennel Street (as it will be) the traffic is reduced to one lane, in fact, most of the *longer* journey through the town centre is reduced to one lane.

    This is starting to stretch the point a bit, but, for example, if you live in one of the tower blocks and need to pop out to Tescos, and you have to go by car, perhaps because you are disabled or have children, then turning out of the underground car parking will be simple, as it is left-turn only. Getting back into the car park will be more problematic however as there isn’t a right turn into the car park from the north. So, you’ll probably have to go past the car park, turn right into rennel street, turn left into molesworth street, go down and turn around the roundabout by the library, come up molesworth street, turn right into rennel street and left at the end of rennel street and then into the car park – little bit convoluted!

    Now then, if you think of the delivery lorries etc etc who will have to delivery to the ‘exciting new shops’ (boots etc) in the new shopping precinct having the take the same route – well, work it out!

    And of course, what happens to the old boots when it moves from where it is now and into the new shopping area? It will probably close down, and the other shops? This signals the slow death of the existing shopping centre or its reduction to a ‘£ shop mall’!

    I don’t mind a £ shop myself, in moderation, but Lewisham may suffer a ‘death by £ shop’ situation.

    I’ll leave you with that thought

  5. andrewkbrown says:

    Interesting thoughts Richard. I think that the concerns about the death of the High Street are shared by Council planners. Certainly I heard them express them, and I expect that retailers will be looking hard at the plans and thinking about their position as they come forward. As we all should.

    As you may have seen from other posts on the blog I’m not a driver so I’m not going to try to discuss whether the road layout will improve things. Walking home from New Cross though all I can say is I’ve got hope they don’t make things worse as the traffic down Loampit Vale and in to Lewisham Way is pretty bad almost every evening.

  6. Max says:

    I always wondered if this plan doesn’t just have enough retail space to kill the market and the shopping centre but possibly not enough to replace it.

  7. andrewkbrown says:

    You are a suspicious and pessimistic man Max, but that doesn’t seem to be the aim. At least if you read the UDP and the related documents.

    Indeed the aim would appear to be to invest in the market so that it can compete. And the stated policy aim of the council for the shopping centre is:

    To support and improve the vitality and viability of Lewisham town centre, with a view to achieving Metropolitan status.

    If we don’t see that being brought forward I suspect the owners of the shopping centre will take the council to court for breaking their policy commitments.

  8. Max says:

    I am suspicious at times and that is well known and it’s an asset to my personality but I am not pessimistic. I only wander what future there is for the Riverdale Shopping Centre if there is a large amount of new and smarter shops just across the road.
    The UDP can state all the great commitments of this world (and one would be surprised if it doesn’t do so) but that doesn’t mean that that will actually happen.
    You don’t need to go anywhere to see that, the current status of the Town Centre is the brightest example of a redevelopment trumpeted with the most resounding Town Hall rhetoric and that resulted in something that as soon as it was put in place was in need of being scrapped again.

  9. Couple of comments on those previos issues

    In a written question to the council for the meeting on 22/11/06 the question was asked whether an assessment had been made of the impact of a new retail development on existing retailers and the Council answered (in part) “Goverment Guidance states that there is no need to consider the impact of retail investment on existing retail trade. Competition between retailers (whether they are independent traders, multiple retailers or market traders) is not a relevant planning consideration”. Of course, the Council will always appear to be supportive but they can fall back on this when their backs are against a wall.

    And Andrew, beware of leading people towards ‘related documents’ if you want a nice little statement from ‘related documents’ and the importance the Council attach to ignoring them when it deems appropriate we can turn to the London Plan:

    “The London Plan considers that Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) is the same as Green Belt in terms of protection from development and serves similar purposes. Development that involves the loss of MOL in return for the creation of new open space elsewhere will not be considered appropriate.”

    There is a loss of *at least* 2500 sq m of open green space in the Gateway area, and probably at least another 2000 sq m of unnaccounted land – this includes land deemed MOL.

    Don’t let the council kid you that this land is acounted for by Cornmill Gardens either – Cornmill Gardens does not represent any increase of green open space wirthin the Sundermead estate – land has just been shuffled about to accomodate the new buildings.

    And again, as far as the UDP is concerned, I am in possession of a copy of a letter from Ken Livingstone to Steve Bullock where Ken claims he has grounds to declare the Lewisham UDP illegal. Can’t quote from it exactly because I’ve passed it on to a colleague, but suffice to say, Ken wasn’t impressed.

  10. Max says:

    So, according to this answer at Council if the redevelopment of the Town Centre brings the unwanted consequence of bankrupting a few shop-keepers and making the shopping centre even sadder than it is today that’s just an accident and nobody can be held responsible.

    Without irony, what does “a view to achieving Metropolitan status” means?

  11. Hi Max

    yes, in a nutshell, that’s it.

    In the Councils tiny mind they think that “achieving Metropolitan status” means having a developer ‘develop’ Lewisham. In fact, whats going on is that the developer(s) have seen Lewisham as a prime target, not the least due to the ineptitude (and perhaps the naked ambition of at least one ex-councillor) of the Council, and are going to do what they can to squeeze the life out of Lewisham and run off with the money.

    I’d love to know whats going on with Land Securities, they must be up to something!

    They must know that success for the Gateway = ruin for them, *unless* they’ve cuddled up in bed with AMEC.

    That said, and even more curiously, at one of our residents meetings recently, a familiar face of opposition from central Lewisham, said that Land Securities has been very heartened by our objections!

    A mole in Land Securities would be very welcome!

  12. andrewkbrown says:

    Now which ambitious ex-councillor is that Richard? And what was he or she ambitious for? Could it have been they were ambitious for Lewisham?

    I know that we know live in an age where politicians have to be in it for some nefarious reason, rather than as a public service. And an age where if we disagree with someone it must be because they are some sort of evil idiot, but please let’s avoid the ad hominem abuse can we?

  13. Andrew, there was a ‘perhaps’ in the sentence – don’t jump the gun – or maybe you know more than you’re willing to share?

  14. andrewkbrown says:

    Yes I’m too touchy about these things. Red rag to a bull I’m afraid. Sorry.

  15. Lone Ranger says:

    Getting back on track…re the East London Line and train services to Central London the Sydenham Society held a meeting where Peter Field from TFL talked about the new service via Forest Hill.

    He said the railways were planning to reduce the service once the ELL is in place.

    He also gave figures, indicating the likely percentage of passengers travelling to Canary Wharf for work rather than the centre of London.

    http://www.sydenham.org.uk/news_ellx_01.html

  16. Lone Ranger says:

    The response to Cllr Andrew Milton’s Lewisham Gateway enquires included the following regarding the existing shopping centre, “discussions with the new owners (Land Securities) are taking place considering wider proposals for the centre.”

    It is not clear who is making the proposals the council or Land Securities.

    The Debenham’s store has been ‘under review’ for two years now, also the offices of Citibank Tower are currently empty. Both are at the northern end of the shopping centre…would it make sense to convert the tower into flats (such as Eros House) or demolish it and completely re-vamp the existing shopping centre so it faces Lewisham Gateway.

    Considering a member of Citibank is/was on the Urban Regeneration Board I’m surprised no one seems aware of what is happening at Citibank Tower.

  17. Hi Andrew etc again

    The plan to pursue having a Debenhams has now been abandoned by Land Securities – at least I saw a web link a while ago to this effect – it looked official and everything. Unfortunately I can’t find the link now, although the story was headed “Developer Land Securities has pulled the plug on Aukett Fitzroy Robinson’s scheme to design a new Debenhams store in Lewisham” and dated 2/2/07.

    A bit more diligent searching might reveal it . . .

    But I also heard some time ago that the Council were very obstructive to Slough estates (as they were then) in their pursuit of this – the didn’t want them to gain more power in the centre of Lewisham than they already had, apparently.

    Andrew, you may be able to enlighten us about this as it was going on when you were a councillor and certainly involved one of your Labour colleagues (no red rags being hung out here!)

    I have also been told that, yes, the Citibank building is empty, and, no, Citibank would never consider releasing it for any other use other than their own. They hold on to it in case their main building in Canary Wharf is rendered unusable (by terrorist attack etc) and they could easily use Lewisham as a stop gap until such time as ithey could go somewhere else.

    So, it seems like Lewisham is stuck with it.

    Within the gateway plans itself they are planning for the day when you can go directly and seamlessly from the new development to the other. As the plans stand at the moment (although the developers are resubmitting their plans so this could change) the main pedestrian link between the two sites is via a large crossing in the middle of Rennel Street. Of course, the southern side will lead you straight into the service road behind Boots so isn’t especially inviting.

    There is a public meeting tonight held by the Central Lib Dems which will be discussing among other things the gateway and various other elements of the development – it might be interesting to go (although I can’t make it). Link here for details if you’re interested:
    http://leepedialite.blogspot.com/2007/01/blackheath-lee-green-lewisham-central.html

  18. andrewkbrown says:

    I’m afraid I’ve no knowledge about the relationship between the Council and Slough Estates.

    I’d also point out that the meeting this evening isn’t a Lib Dem meeting its a Council Area Forum and so will include Cllr Edward Mark. These meetings are held yearly and are an opportunity for councillors to hear from local people, and similarly provide information on issues of interest.

    Looking at what Paul has written on his blog I don’t think the Gateway will be a substantial agenda item as all he promises is information. Last year there was a major presentation on the Gateway, but as you only get one shot a year at this sort of meeting they may have thought repetition wasn’t the way to go.

  19. Beg your pardon for the inaccuracies, however the:

    Presentation on the future of parking and traffic in Lewisham by Darien Goodwin (Head of Transport, Lewisham Council)

    could be interesting, as the ‘low-h’ road scheme *is* the future of traffic in Lewisham at the very least!

    Ask them how potential residents get in and out of the proposed car parks

    ask them about the length of the journey through the system

    ask them about buses travelling to the lay off point in thurston road

    ask them if it’s the single lanes in the present road system and how many single lanes there are in the new system

    so many questions, so little time!

  20. andrewkbrown says:

    It’ll have to be someone else as I’m not a resident in that area and have a prior appointment this evening.

    And I suspect that Darien’s time will be spent talking CPZs as much as low-h’s.

  21. Lone Ranger says:

    This is the item regarding the Debenham’s store. Ironically the store was originally planned to be opened by February 2007. The store was originally announced in the local press by Bridget Prentice, as I believe she had been involved in the discussions.

    http://www.ajplus.co.uk/news/news_article/?aid=57517&sid=49

    So Citibank who are/were on the regen board think it’s good for the area to have an empty tower block in the centre, to be used only in an energency. Does that send out a good or bad signal about Lewisham?

  22. Max says:

    On the contrary, we’re a low profile target. I feel safer now.

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