Join our Hatcham online hustings – New Cross Ward by-election

This is your chance to hear from the main prospective candidates for New Cross Ward ahead of the vote on May 6th. The Hatcham Society is holding an online hustings on the 22nd April at 7.30pm over Zoom.

Picture of the New Cross Ward boundary (local council map)

Please register below to receive the Zoom link on the morning of the 22nd April (Thursday). The hustings will start with 5 minute speeches from each candidate about what changes they would like to see in Hatcham and the wider New Cross ward. Your questions, which have been sent in through the form below, will then be put to each candidate and there will be time for audience questions after this.

The following candidates (in alphabetical order) are looking to take over Cllr Joe Dromey’s (Labour) seat at the Town Hall after he stepped down earlier in the year. Please note, the full council elections are set to take place next year.

Andrea Carey – Lewisham Greens

Bunmi Wajero – Lewisham Liberal Democrats (TBC)

Chris Wilford – Lewisham Conservatives

Samantha Latouche – Labour Party

Please note, this husting is for local residents to hear from candidates, so please do not attend if your intention is just to attack a candidate due to their Party.

Bunting of Hope at Eckington Gardens

From our friends at hARTslane studios:


Take part in the “Bunting of Hope” at Eckington Gardens!

After nearly a year of national lockdown, hARTslane invites the people of Hatcham to spread kindness and hope within the community through The Bunting of Hope.

The project is inspired by the Tibetan prayer flags typically carrying mantras (sacred words) for peace, compassion, good fortune, strength or wisdom.

They can be found over mountain passes and along mountain ridges. Tibetans believe that these flags bless the air with their mantras and their messages of goodwill are carried with the wind and spread to the rest of the world.

The Bunting of Hope at Eckington Gardens is open to local residents and creative people, young and old, with a reassuring or uplifting message or words of wisdom to share and to brighten someone’s day. No need to be an artist, this is an opportunity for everyone to be creative, whilst upcycling old clothes and fabrics.


There are many ways to be part of it:

Make your own Bunting of Hope flag (approximately 30x40cm) at home and pin it to the bunting line using safety pins or thread & needle.

You have an idea but not the sewing material? hARTslane can provide you with that if you send an email to: info@hartslane.org

You’d like to take part but don’t know how to sew? Send an email with your idea/quote and hArtslane’s team will visualise it on the fabric for you.

Watch the video tutorial here (https://youtu.be/5TZh-4pXOVs) to discover how you can
make a flag for the Bunting of Hope. 

MORE INFO:

DATES: The Bunting of Hope will be up from 6th – 31st of March 2021
LOCATION: Eckington Gardens, near Casella Road entrance, SE14 5QN
SOCIAL: Take a picture and tell us what you think on Instagram #buntingofhope

hARTslane

Based in Hatcham, hARTslane is a socially engaged art organisation with a focus on engagement and participation. You may know them through the wonderful “100 Wishes of Hatcham”, a ceramic Delft blue wall at the bottom of the ramp to Sainsbury’s made with the creative community of Hatcham.

We Object: The Montague Arms

A planning application has been submitted to demolish the much-loved Montague Arms and make a Frankenstein’s monster of a building in its place. The pub isn’t in the Hatcham Conservation area, but we wrote to object anyway. If anyone is keen to do an Asset of Community Value bid on the pub, let us know, and we’ll support you! Great things have been done with the Ivy House in Nunhead and great things are happening with the Ravensbourne Arms in Lewisham thanks to an ACV bid.

You can read our full response, submitted to the Lewisham Planning Department below, but please don’t copy and paste it when writing your own response to the council. Your response has to be individualised, or the council will ignore it! Write to planning@lewisham.gov.uk quoting application DC/20/119425. Don’t forget to write which policies (national, london, local) that you think the application goes against….


Dear Lewisham Planning Department,

The Hatcham Society strongly opposes application ​DC/20/119425, demolition of existing building and erection of 4 storey building plus roof space at 289 Queens Road SE15 (The Montague Arms). I appreciate that the pub does not lie within the boundaries of the Hatcham Conservation Area but since it is so close to our boundary we felt compelled to write an official response to the application.

We appreciate that under the plans, the developer QR DEVELOPMENT LTD / KNT Development Ltd have proposed a 100m​2 ​‘commercial’ space alongside a 50m​2 ​‘office’ space in the ground floor of the property. This is perhaps a way of justifying the proposed loss of a historic music venue and pub space. We would like to make clear from the outset that these proposed spaces will not compensate for the loss of a historic music venue and locally cherished pub. This is because the size of the proposed ‘commercial’ space will not be large enough to host the type of gigs and social gatherings that were previously housed at the Montague Arms. According to a​ rental listing of the Montague Arms from 2019​, the ground floor of the current pub provides 2,414 sq ft or 224m​2 ​of space – the proposed ‘commercial’ space constitutes less than half of this and will not provide the same amenities – stage, audience area, bar, seating area – that the current space provides.

We object to the application on the following grounds:

National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)

The NPPF recognises the important role of public houses within the community. Paragraph 92 of the NPPF states that to deliver the social, recreational and cultural facilities and services the community needs, planning policies and decisions should

a) plan positively for the provision and use of shared space, community facilities (such as local shops, meeting places, sports venues, cultural buildings, public houses and places of worship) and other local services to enhance the sustainability of communities and residential environments.

The Hatcham Society believes that if the application for the demolition of the pub is granted, it will contravene Paragraph 92 of the NPPF because the new design – due to the aforementioned loss of space – will not plan positively for the provision of a public house.

The ‘New’ London Plan (2021)

The ‘New’ London plan is on course to become the most relevant plan following the Secretary of Housing’s letter dated 29 January 2021, so the Hatcham Society will only consider this latest plan within our response to ​application DC/20/119425. We consider the latest London Plan, first published in 2016, now supersedes the previous one from 2011.

Policy HC6 B6 recognises the need to protect and support evening and night-time cultural venues such as pubs, night clubs, theatres, cinemas and music and other arts venues.
The policy justification states the night-time economy is becoming increasingly important to London’s economy. The Mayor is keen to promote London as a 24-hour global city, taking advantage of London’s competitive edge and attractiveness for businesses and people looking to expand beyond the usual daytime economy into night-time economic opportunities. The evening and night time economy can make a significant contribution to town centre vitality and viability. It generates jobs and improves incomes from leisure and tourism activities, contributing not just to the vitality of the town centre but also making it safer by increasing activity and providing ‘passive-surveillance’.

Emerging London Plan Policy HC7 (Protecting Public Houses) states that: HC7 A1. Boroughs should protect public houses where; they have a heritage, economic, social or cultural value to local communities, or where they contribute to wider policy objectives for town centres, night time economy areas, cultural quarters and Creative Enterprise Zones. HC7 B. Applications that propose the loss of public houses with heritage, cultural, economic or social value should be refused unless there is authoritative marketing evidence that demonstrates that there is no realistic prospect of the building being used as a pub in the foreseeable future.

The Hatcham Society does not believe that the new ‘commercial’ space proposed by KNT Development Ltd will ever contribute to the night-time economy whereas the current Montague Arms building has the potential to do so once again. Hundreds gathered at the venue for a gig by the musician ​King Krule just three years ago​, showing that the venue has the capacity to attract large numbers if managed properly. King Krule, who was nominated for the Mercury Prize in 2018, played at the Montague Arms early in his career, demonstrating that its stage once offered a platform to emerging artists who are now the bedrock of London’s thriving cultural scene. If the proposed development is allowed, London will have lost another vital cultural venue. It’s highly doubtful whether similar artists will want to play at the redeveloped ‘commercial’ space with its greatly diminished size and loss of history.

The Montague Arms is culturally important when it comes to music history as it played host to The Fall’s Mark E Smith, Nick Cave and Shane MacGowan. Culturally significant bands including Gang of Four, Band of Holy Joy (formed in New Cross in 1984), Sludgefeast, and Gnarwolves have also graced the stage. Architecturally, it is a beautiful example of an interwar pub and with investment, it can be converted into a glorious historic asset once more. However, everything will be lost for good if it is demolished.

The application by KNT Development Ltd has failed to demonstrate “that there is no realistic prospect of the building being used as a pub in the foreseeable future.” The fact that there is an active rental listing for the building from as recently as 2019 for £60,000pa demonstrates that the current pub does ​have a realistic prospect of being used as a pub in the future. ​Without full evidence that the ​applicant has made a genuine attempt to market the pub as a going concern, the application to demolish and rebuild the site should be rejected.

The borough recently lost the nearby White Hart as a live music venue. The Council should be doing what it can to protect these live music venues, and should not agree to the demolition of the Montague Arms. You must protect one of the last remaining music venues in this corner of Lewisham and do all you can to support its return to a thriving music venue.

Draft Lewisham Local Plan (2021)

Policy 8.112 of Lewisham’s emerging Local Plan states: Development proposals involving the demolition or loss of an existing public house, including through change of use, must submit evidence to demonstrate that the pub is not financially viable and there is no reasonable prospect of the premises remaining in this use, or an alternative community use. We will expect to see full details of patronage levels and trading accounts over the past 3 years, including accounts from previous management where appropriate. In addition, applicants must provide a statement documenting the steps taken by the owner or operator to respond to viability concerns, including falling patronage levels and profit margins. This might cover considerations given to business diversification (for example, expanding the food and beverage offer), promotions or building refurbishment. Finally, proposals will need to provide proof of a marketing exercise covering a minimum continuous period of three-years, including details of commercial agents, advertisements and lease terms offered. During this time the pub must be actively marketing at a reasonable local market rent. We will consider whether any ties or restrictive covenants have affected interest. Proposals will be resisted where there is good reason to believe that the viability of the pub has been compromised by deliberate neglect or mismanagement.

The Hatcham Conservation Society has not seen any evidence of the aforementioned requirements outlined in 8.112 in the application for the Montague Arms within the planning application documents and we cannot see how this application, even if adapted and expanded upon by the applicant, can ever be approved by Lewisham Council. We therefore ask Lewisham Council to reject the application and for the applicant to re-think their plans to demolish this cherished pub and instead work towards restoring it and turning it into a viable music venue once more.

Sincerely,
The Hatcham Conservation Society

Eckington Gardens: The wonderful Hatcham park

Shareener Browne

The importance of green spaces came into sharp focus during ‘lockdown’. They were places where we could stretch our legs, find a respite from our housemates and enjoy some nature. Yes, ‘nature’ usually consists of watching a fat squirrel sidestepping a pigeon in Zone 2 but it’s better than nothing.

Hatcham has very few green spaces and by far the biggest is Eckington Gardens. It’s no Telegraph Hill park when it comes to panoramic views of London, but it’s still very much loved and we don’t have to climb a 90-degree hill to access it.

The park features a fenced-off area for dogs, a play area, a basketball court and is a welcoming place for families and children. But there is a large grassy area which always seems to be underused despite there being nothing wrong with it. The barren raised concrete platform, reportedly once a paddling pool for kids, is calling out to be turned into something else.

Eckington Gardens was born from destruction. A WWII bomb saw the former homes there considered “derelict” and the area was rebuilt into a park in 1974.

For the past few years, Shereener Browne has been the dutiful and hardworking chairwoman of the Friends of Eckington Gardens. The resident-led group of volunteers meets regularly (outside of Covid..) to plant bulbs, spruce bushes, and clear rubbish. Without them, the park wouldn’t look half as decent as it does today.

Not only do they put their time into pruning but they are always finding ways to improve the park by putting in funding bids. Their previous work has seen tables installed for picnics in the summer.

Shareener of Friends of Eckington Gardens

Shareener, who is not only a lawyer but an actor and the founder of the groundbreaking theatre group Orisun Productions, is on the lookout for new volunteers to join the Friends of Eckington Gardens.

They’ve also come into some funding recently and are calling on residents to decide how the money should be spent. To find out more and to have a voice on the park’s future, join the Friend’s volunteer Facebook group here or email the friends at contact@eckingtongardens.org

The slide has seen better days…
The former lido could be a performance stage, converted back into a lido, an area for table tennis?

Art in the time of lockdown, Hatcham edition

In the 1995 comic book Ghost World, a phantom graffiti artist haunts the main character Enid by daubing garages and walls near her LA home during a summer of change. Edith never manages to catch up with the artist but he leaves a lasting impression on the LA suburb by injecting surrealism into an already odd world.

From Dan Clowes’s Ghost World

The lockdown period has seen a quiet grenade thrown into Hatcham with an explosion of art onto our streets.

Early lockdown saw the start to discarded mattresses being transformed into an underwater seascape of fishes with bloated lips subsisting on rubbish. With most recycling centres and rubbish dumps closed because of the pandemic, people (some of the worst kind) started leaving their detritus and unwanted household goods on the streets. I even had a nasty encounter after confronting a fly-tipper on the street who called me a “bitch, who needs to get a life”. Both of these things are true.

The creator of the mattress pieces, whose works can be seen all throughout Hatcham, doesn’t tag his work but a neighbour who spoke to him was told his name is “Pascal”. Thank you Pascal the fish man for injecting some much needed surrealism and humour onto our streets and turning trash into something interesting. 

Then there was photocopy man. Photocopy man, a Hatcham resident, used a simple printer to create a portal into another world on Sainsbury’s wall. He was considerate, taking down the paper after it rained and turned into pulp. 

When I spoke to him, he didn’t want to give his name, but he lives in Hatcham

Flys love a good tip, a fact not lost on the brilliant Barnie Emma. Harts Lane is a real hot spot for public wee-ers who like to get their hobbly nobblies out with no shame, especially when it’s warm. Barnie, who also produced the brilliant Charles Dickens piece off Hatcham Park Road which forms the background to the website, tragically lost her partner to lung cancer and created a wonderful series of illustrations on grief. Anyone who has lost someone close to them can empathise with the little snaily. 

From Barnie’s website here (I can’t find the photo I took)

The amazing Matlakas is BACK! His beautiful mural, a Guernica-esque masterpiece, adorned the wall by the second-hand store on New Cross Road a few years ago. Believe it or not, this area is still part of the Hatcham conservation area. It was sad to see the white and black mural be covered up but I noticed a new Matlakas piece earlier this month. There’s a definite fly theme going on in Hatcham but I guess that’s because we’re going through a shitty time. My hand and camera got stuck in the fence posts taking the photo raising some eyebrows from passersby.

New Matlakas on the bottom left
Slightly close up photo of the new piece

This was the brilliant mural which was once there by Matlakas…

Photo taken from his website here

We’re so lucky to have so many wonderful artists in Hatcham. I’m hoping to write a seperate post on the artists behind window 135 New Cross Road soon….

Art by Henrietta Armstrong from Window 135

Have I missed any art that has sprung up in Hatcham? Do you know who Pascal is ? Let me know in the comments! 

A journey through the lost (and still present) music venues of Hatcham, Deptford and New Cross

by Hatcham resident Mark Dyer

New Cross and Deptford have had many music venues over the years, some endure but some like the Goldsmiths Tavern have gone – it is now the New Cross House pub.

The Post 1970s punk rock scene, the early 1980s punk and the anarcho-punk scene were strongly represented in South East London, especially in Nettleton Road in Hatcham.

Test Department were formed in 1981 from a group of people living at 8 Nettleton Road.

They broke new ground with their ‘metal bashing’ industrial sound, using scrap metal for percussion. Their support for the Miners’ Strike is documented in their 1984 LP, ‘Shoulder to Shoulder’, recorded with the South Wales Striking Miners Choir.

Other Nettleton Road notables; Colin Jerwood, lead singer with anarcho-punk band Conflict was born there.

Mitch ‘Jail Bait’ Flacko of Hagar The Womb lived there.

Sharon ‘Mouse’ Beaumont of Psychic TV lived there.

Sharon Mouse formerly of Nettleton Road

If you don’t use the pubs and venues, you lose them …. or the developers just move in with a bucket load of cash…

The topic of London’s disappearing pubs and smaller music venues is well documented and they are still going under. The aforementioned Goldsmith’s Tavern in the 1980’s hosted alternative cabaret nights as well as gigs, and the Goldsmith’s Student Union put on various bands of the era.

The Dew Drop was situated at 72 Clifton Rise, and next door to what is now Deptford Green School. In the early 1990s, this was a pub for punk rockers, squatters, bikers, Jamaican gents playing cards, and summertime fallout into Fordham
Park. The Dew Drop is also quoted in Wonk Unit’s song Lewisham … “p###d out of our heads down the Dew Drop Inn…”, it is now flats

From Flickr Matt Martin https://www.flickr.com/photos/matt1965/5247497854/


The Montague Arms was, (technically still is as it hasn’t been demolished yet), at 289, Queens Road (New Cross / Peckham border), closed in 2018, an eclectic mix of ownership, bands and club nights. Bands include Gang of Four, Band of Holy Joy (formed in New Cross in 1984), Sludgefeast, and Gnarwolves who played the last ever gig hosted at the Montague. An infamous NME pop summit convened there in 1989, with Mark E Smith (The Fall), Nick Cave, and Shane MacGowan (The Pogues), great merriment ensued apparently. The reason for closure in 2018 is unclear and the site has remained closed and looks doomed for demolition unless someone can rescue it.

There aren’t many venues left in New Cross, and knowing some of the promoters it is an effort to put a gig on in the first place, advanced ticket sales can be the indicator whether a gig will be viable or cancelled. So support your local venues, and other watering holes, some have already gone, been redeveloped into flats, or re-invented as gastro pubs more
interested in providing a posh meal than a cultural experience.

The following venues familiar to me are important in supporting smaller bands, and are terrific in promoting a very active music scene in London, and outside of Camden.

New Cross Inn
An inn has been on this site for 400 years and puts on gigs up to seven nights a week. All genres from Hip Hop through rockabilly to punk, bands from all over the world. Prior to and post the annual Blackpool Rebellion punk rock festival many bands pass through on their way to Blackpool or on their way home, e.g. Bad Cop Bad Cop, DOA, MDC, Choking
Susan from USA, and well-known homegrown punk bands such as Peter and the Test Tube Babies, Maid of Ace, Ramonas, Discharge, and Wonk Unit. Downstairs is Stocks Bar to escape the mayhem upstairs.

From New Cross Inn

The Venue
Originally a cinema, and then concert venue for acts, including Oasis, Suede, Pulp and Radiohead. In the early 1990s Sub Pop Records from Seattle, WA. whose roster included Nirvana back then, made it to New Cross, with their record company tour headlined by the Dwarves, support from Reverend Horton Heat and Supersuckers. South London’s finest at the time was Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine who played here twice in 1991, pre-dating their seminal ode to the area, ‘The Only Living Boy In New Cross’ released in April 1992 and reaching the lofty heights of #7 in the UK Singles Chart. Nowadays it is a popular student night club venue, with numerous tribute acts performing, like the Antarctic
Monkeys and Faux Fighters.

The Birds Nest
Just a short walk up the New Cross Road in Deptford, Squeeze and Dire Straits ‘squeezed’ into this great venue back in the day. As well as busker nights many punk and rock bands play there including the Restarts, Pizzatramp, and Yur Mum. All gigs are free so everyone is encouraged to drink, and buy the band’s merchandise to make the events viable.

Sources:

http://transpont.blogspot.com/2007/01/nettleton-road-nexus.html 
http://transpont.blogspot.com/search/label/Ambulance%20Station
 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarcho-punk 
http://www.analternativegathering.info/
https://www.closedpubs.co.uk/london/se14_newcross_dewdropinn.html
 https://wonk-unit.bandcamp.com/track/lewisham
 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Montague_Arms 
https://thequietus.com/articles/09277-mark-e-smith-nick-cave-shane-macgowan-nme-interview?fbclid=IwAR0M4iJIVXtSXAALijvjya_HVIHgojx2bcf9__LBLfIICOUCl2M40fDCWvM 
https://www.facebook.com/thebirdsnestpub 
https://www.facebook.com/newcrossinnlondon
 https://www.newcrossinn.com/ 
https://www.facebook.com/groups/GirlsWannaRock 
https://www.facebook.com/events/2455176844719226/ – Girls Wanna Rock @ Amersham Arms
http://www.analternativegathering.info/ 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Cross 
https://www.southlondonclub.co.uk/blog/a-brief-history-of-the-venue-in-new-cross

Objection: The Sainsbury’s fence battle rages on

As normality slowly begins its return, rightly or wrongly, so do the planning battles. The Planning Inspector will finally be looking at the metal fence Sainsbury’s erected, without planning permission, on the patch of land next to their petrol station in New Cross Gate. It was back in February 2019 when the fence went up, surprising neighbours and shoppers alike.

The mini fire of Hatcham, May 2020

Any fence that is taller than one metre next to a public highway must receive planning permission before going up. This is because of public safety, what if the view of the road for pedestrians or drivers becomes restricted? We think this is a dangerous crossing for pedestrians due to a lack of lights and the fence doesn’t make it easier to see if any cars are looking to turn into the Sainsbury’s car park.

The patch of land actually falls within the Hatcham Conservation area which means there are restrictions on what could be built there. Essentially, developments must “enhance or preserve” the area. It’s hard to see how a metallic, pokey, daunting fence could contribute positively to the area. We know, we know, the advertising boards aren’t much to look at either but they came up long before we were around as a society. I think they went up before I even knew planning laws existed…

On Saturday, there was a small fire in the bushes enclosed by the fence. I think it must have been from a discarded cigarette, but because the fence was there residents couldn’t stop the spread of the fire but instead had to call the fire brigade. The crew from New Cross Fire station thankfully came within minutes. With the abnormally hot weather not stopping any time soon and a petrol station less than 30 metres away there needs to be a re-think of the fence to make it more accessible in case of similar emergencies.

Firefighters vs the Fence

Lewisham Council issued an enforcement notice for Sainsburys to take down the fence because:

“The development by virtue of its scale, siting, and design has resulted in substantial harm to the appearance of the surrounding environment and is considered to be a bulky and incongruous addition, dominating the street scene and detrimental to the Hatcham Conservation Area contrary to the NPPF (2018) Policies 7.4 and 7.8 of the London Plan (2016), DM Policies 30 and 36 of the Development Management Plan (2014), Core Strategy Policy 15 (2012) and the Hatcham Conservation Area Character Appraisal.”

Sainsbury’s have responded to the appeal by saying: “those matters have not occurred”.

Please respond to the Planning Inspectorate by 1/07/2020 with why you believe the fence should stay or go. It’s best if you refer to the council’s planning policies which they have cited above in your response. Quote reference APP/C5690/C/19/3230266 to ECAT@planninginspectorate.gov.uk Or you can respond on the Planning Inspectorate portal here

You can view the Hatcham Conservation Society’s response to the fence here (but please don’t copy and paste it for your response as it won’t have much weight). Individual responses are the most important in this case.

“Guerilla” gardening in Harts Lane

What the beginning of Harts Lane looks like on May 24, 2020

On Monday, I noticed that someone had planted some flowers and a shrub under the beautiful cherry tree which marks the beginning of Hatcham to the east. This patch of land is usually dominated by rubbish or a broken washing machine – gifts from unscrupulous fly-tippers.

I said a silent “thank you” to the anonymous green-fingered Hatchamite who had used some of their time to try to make this patch of land a bit more bearable.

Today, I decided to leave my mark on the soil. I dug a small hole and placed a pink flower I bought from the junk shop in New Cross Road into one corner. I picked out some broken pieces of glass, cigarette butts, and old terracotta pieces from the soil and scraped off some dirt from the surrounding pavements with a stiff brush.

As I crouched on the ground, watering can in my hand, a plump starling sat on the branches of the cherry tree to pick out some fruit to eat.

I was surprised by the remarks I received from various people cycling by. “It’s beautiful,” “good job”, “wow”. I felt guilty for taking credit for the work someone else had started.

I believe the Hatcham Conservation society should strive to make our area accessible and more beautiful for locals. We’ve long campaigned for a redesign of this section of Harts Lane to make it easier for cyclists, those with prams and wheelchair users to access Hatcham. There’s currently no dropped curb here making it impossible for wheelchair users to fit through the narrow pavement when it’s clogged with rubbish.

Lewisham council has around £260,000 to spend in New Cross. This is all money from the “community infrastructure levy”, a sort of tax developers have to pay to the local authority to have a development approved. We have asked for some of this money to go into this part of Hatcham.

A parklet – a parking space which has been transformed into a mini park – could also be wonderful in this spot of Hatcham. It would provide a place for nature to have a home and people to sit down and rest on their way home from shopping or work.

From Meristem: “Plants not Pollution”

The design company, Meristem, makes wonderful parklets. They have a form on their website where people can request them here. It’s not known whether the local authority will have to pay for them or if the design company offers them for free. But it might be worth applying if you have the time.

In the meantime, residents should take matters into their own hands. There are dozens of other tree pits in Hatcham waiting to be spruced up with some hardy plants. Guerilla gardening is not a new thing – it’s been happening for decades. Why not take a handful of wildflower seeds and bury them on a desolate patch of public land? The bees will thank you. Just make sure you water the plant.

Is there anywhere else in Hatcham you think would benefit from a parklet or better road design? Perhaps a parklet would be useful on New Cross Road where it’s extremely congested? Please give your suggestions in the comments or email Emily@Hatchamsociety.com

Hatcham has a new Vicar: welcome to Fr Grant Bolton-Debbage!

It goes without saying that we’re currently living through a strange time, but Hatcham has been offered some semblance of stability with a new permanent vicar.

Fr Grant and Fr Francis who are offering tea and a chat to locals (in a socially distanced manner) during the outbreak

Fr Grant is the newly installed incumbent vicar for the historic All Saints Church in New Cross Road after the retirement of Fr Owen Beament two years ago. Fr Grant, who is originally from Norfolk and studied theology at Durham University, was unable to enter his new church until one-and-a-half weeks ago due to lockdown restrictions.

He and the other working vicar, Fr Francis, are now busy coming up with community outreach projects. They will be hopefully offering free food, tea, and a socially distanced chat for all that need it from next week.

Fr Grant, who is well acquainted with New Cross because his grandmother lives here, said he appreciated the “huge zest for life” locals have.

He said: “I’m looking forward to embedding in a community that actually does seek the welfare of everybody here. That’s the most wonderful thing I’ve seen so far. It’s amazing. Everywhere I turn there’s society groups and centres seeking to make sure justice prevails, that’s what we hope for in a community.”

He warned that the re-opening of the church for services will be “phased” with things perhaps not getting back to normal until the end of the year. In the meantime, All Saints Church, which belongs to the Church of England, is offering services on Facebook live alongside a coffee and chat session through Zoom, an online video conferencing website. You can find more details on their Facebook page here.

All Saints Church in New Cross Road (unknown year)

He aims to make the church, which was built in 1869, more accessible to residents who may be disabled. “What’s amazing is that the community of the church and the parishioners are just wonderful,” he said.  

Fr Grant is 34 years old and was previously an Assistant Priest at Holy Trinity Sloane Square and St Saviour Upper Chelsea.

We at the Hatcham Conservation Society wish him the best of luck in his new role!

Edit: I’ve just found out that Fr Grant is an incredible singer/songwriter too! Fingers crossed for a choir once the pandemic is finished.

Lewisham Council’s Supplementary Planning Document – a potential traffic disaster for Hatcham

The Town Hall released their draft supplementary planning document for New Cross Gate back in October 2019 – we’re still waiting for the consultation results which have been understandably delayed due to the Covid 19 outbreak. But I think it’s important to refresh residents’ memories of the horrors within the plans.

From the council’s SPD (draft) which you can download here

What worries us currently is the proposed changes as outlined in the draft Supplementary Planning document which can be downloaded here.

From the council’s draft Supplementary Planning Document (October 2019)

These changes propose the re-opening of Harts Lane and Hatcham Park Road to traffic from New Cross Road to service the new development called Hatcham works (currently where the Dreams and TK Maxx are located). They also propose a bus stand on Harts Lane and “secondary access” for cars into Hatcham works through Hatcham Park Road. If these plans go ahead, it will prove devastating for Hatcham in terms of air quality and noise.

What the Covid outbreak has shown us in recent weeks is the dire need for unpolluted residential streets. As laid out in the Guardian earlier this month, higher Covid-19 death rates are more prevalent in areas with high levels of air pollution. Pollution damages the lungs and heart which makes the virus far more deadly.

Nettleton Road and Harts Lane were closed to through-traffic back in 2004 after a resident-led campaign to improve the quality of life in the area. Longstanding residents have told us about how awful it was to live in Hatcham with thousands of cars and lorries using the residential streets as a shortcut to Bermondsey every day.

Supplementary planning documents “add further details” to Local Plans and are considered “material considerations”. These documents offer practical guidance on how a Local Plan can come into existence. The New Cross Area Framework Local Plan was approved by the council back in April 2019. Sadly, the Hatcham Society was not yet in existence back then and many residents weren’t even aware of the council’s plans and were not able to input their views during the consultation stage. The aim of the New Cross Area Framework is to promote the Bakerloo line extension into New Cross Gate and to create new housing around the expanded station alongside the promotion of a new supermarket. We see this as a positive change – Lewisham is in desperate need of genuinely affordable housing and better travel infrastructure which promotes fewer cars on the roads. But this should not come at the expense of ruining the lives of residents in Hatcham. We believe that any traffic coming into the new Hatcham Works should do so directly from New Cross Road and not quiet side streets.

It is highly doubtful that a Bakerloo line extension will happen within the next decade given the dire state of TFL’s finances that has seen a £1 billion bailout package from the government. It would be awful if these road changes are imposed on long before any development of the site.

The Hatcham Conservation Society provided a comprehensive response to the council’s supplementary planning document consultation months ago. We also gathered 111 signatures from residents against the plans of re-opening up any of our roads to extra traffic.

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