Thursday, 15 December 2011

Welcome to Kidbrooke Village (10 months on)

Things haven't improved much here in Kidbrooke Village since the billboards were installed at the station 10 months ago.

In fact in many ways they've just got worse:

The demolition teams have come in, demolishing in the process a major gas pipe which left much of Kidbrooke cut off last month.

I was at the station that night and a woman came up to me, distraught about not being able to walk home because of the police corden across Kidbrooke Park Road.

She could have taken a short cut through the Ferrier Estate but didn't want to in the darkness. And who can blame her?

Even in the daytime, the place has an eery 28 Days Later feel to it, with only a few green billboards to remind you that civilisation is still here:

There are still people hanging on here legally and otherwise. And if you walk through the estate you will sometimes see their lights, hear their music or read their signs:

But the demolition crews are moving in. This Estate is Being Demolished. And all their marks will soon be gone.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Will the boundary review turn Eltham blue?

Eltham could be set to elect a Conservative MP at the next election after new election boundaries come into effect.

Changes announced today would add two strongly Conservative wards from Bexley borough to the Eltham constituency.

David Cameron had expected to win Eltham outright at the last election and selected a member of his "A list" to contest the seat.

However, David Gold lost by little over 2000 votes to long-serving Labour MP Clive Efford.

At the last local elections Conservative councillors in these wards piled up around 3000 votes each:

Old boundaries

New boundaries

Obviously the next election is a long way off, and lots will depend on the performance of the political parties nationally.

But if these boundary changes do come into effect then the election of a Conservative MP for Eltham (and therefore Kidbrooke) looks a very good bet indeed.

You can take part in the boundary review consultation over here.

-Update- Clive Efford is rather unimpressed.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Kidbrooke's only Library "bloody awful" claims Greenwich Council

Kidbrooke's only library is a "bloody awful place" a leading Greenwich Councillor has claimed when asked about plans to demolish it.

Greenwich Council's cabinet member for culture John Fahy told

"Yes, but I mean, the library in the Ferrier was only open two days a week. It’s a bloody awful place in terms of the quality of the books we have in there so it’s not fit for purpose."

Fahy's comments are not only insensitive to those losing their local library but also factually wrong.

According to the Council's own website the library was open for not two but *six* days a week. 

And as a member of the library I can attest that although quite small it is not "bloody awful."

Admittedly the selection of books wasn't great but surely the council could have been improved that at any time by er, supplying them with better ones?

And however poor the library might have been, it was a hundred times better than having no library at all, which is exactly what Greenwich Council are now leaving us with.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

£500,000 for school boiler that could last just 5 years

Greenwich Council is to spend over £500,000 on a new heating system for a school that will be demolished in as little as five years time.

Wingfield Primary School is currently heated by the Ferrier Estate's centralised boiler and heating system which will be shut down at the start of October.

Berkeley Homes had planned to shut it down as early as this Easter, but the council have not managed to provide a replacement by that time.

They have now agreed to defer the shutdown until October 1st which will allow the council to provide a new boiler for the school at a total cost of £528,199:

The replacement will be paid for out of the Council's maintenance budget and not by Berkeley Homes.

The huge cost of what is only a stop-gap solution will raise further criticism that the redevelopment of the Ferrier Estate has not been properly thought through.

Wingfield school is set for demolition in five to seven years time whereupon it will be moved to a new location near Sutcliffe Park.

The other school on The Ferrier Estate the Holy Family Primary School will stay at its current location.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

"Moderate value" trees chopped down on the Ferrier Estate

It's not just buidings and communities that are coming down in the Ferrier Estate but long-established trees as well.

The above photo was taken yesterday afternoon on the edge of the soon to be demolished Pinto Way.

Here's an old satellite view of the trees from Google:

According to the Kidbrooke Village Masterplan these were "Category B trees" and "located on the future building footprint."

In other words they were "of moderate quality and value" and in the path of the oncoming bulldozer. So they've gone.

I stood on the stump of one of the felled trees in order to take the picture below:

I was shouted at by one of the workers as I took the picture and the fencing has since been moved to the other side of the stump.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Ferrier Estate podcast: destruction or regeneration?

I spent Tuesday evening speaking to the good people at In the Meantime about the demolition of the Ferrier Estate and the planned regeneration of the area.

In preparation for the podcast we talked to current and former residents on the estate and the Chairman of Berkeley Homes John Anderson.

There was lots for us to discuss from the brave new world promised at the estate's beginnings to the destruction of the current community in the name of "regeneration." 

I'd like to thank the residents for giving us so much of their time and Matt and Owen for putting it all together.

There's lots in there which I will hopefully be coming back to on this site later in greater detail.

So head over to In the Meantime where you can listen to or download the entire documentary.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Far East buyers get first pick of new Kidbrooke Homes

Asian buyers have been offered homes on the new Kidbrooke Village estate six months before UK residents it has emerged.

"The house builder launched the first private homes at Kidbrooke Village for sale in Asia six months ago. The first new homes, starting from £207,000 will only be available to buy in the UK from March."

Representatives from Berekley boasted about promoting the village in the Far East at the Kidbrooke Stakeholders meeting I attended last month.

How Kidbrooke Village is being marketed to Malaysian investors

The weak pound and a growing Eastern economy has meant that almost half of all new builds in the capital are now reportedly being sold to Asian buyers.

Developers are selling unbuilt housing "off plan" to Asian investors often at a lower price than they would have been sold on completion.

According to one developer:

"One of the reasons overseas buyers purchase off plan is to benefit from the potential future growth in values. If we had taken the scheme out to Asia during the latter stages of construction, there would not be the same amount of interest."

At the stakeholders meeting last month a member of the audience claimed that this had happened at the Millennium Village in Greenwich. 

They said that the strategy had created a transitory community, where people disappear at weekends, rent for short periods, and leave properties vacant for months on end.

Could the same be about to happen in Kidbrooke?

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Greenwich Council lies about Kidbrooke library closure

Greenwich Council declared last night that all it's libraries would remain open, somehow forgetting to mention that they plan to demolish one here in Kidbrooke later this year.

In answer to a question on the council's austerity budget, Councillor John Fahy claimed that:

"There will be no cuts to the library service in Greenwich."

The leader of the council Chris Roberts went one step further claiming that:

"all our libraries will remain open."

Except far from remaining open, Kidbrooke's only library in Telemann Square will actually be closed for demolition later this year.

And rather than there be "no cuts to the library service" Greenwich Council admitted at a public meeting last month that the library will not be rebuilt in the future either.

Plans to close, demolish and then not replace the Ferrier Library have been allowed to go ahead without so much as a comment from the local press or protestors.

And with most people unaware of the library's imminent closure, Greenwich Council now seem willing to pretend that it isn't happening at all.

Which is a shame because when people do find out about planned cuts they can often make a difference to the council's plans.

After months of campaigning against the closure of the Maryon Wilson animal park, Chris Roberts told the council last night that:

"To those concerned with the animal park, the same is true but no changes are proposed this year. I understand its value to very many people but I would say to anyone who has concerns, we don't want to see the animal centre close next March and I don't actually believe that it will. But if it is loved as much as people tell us then we will want to work with those who are willing to see how we can help to keep it open with your greater involvement.
However, I would say this to anyone who does love the park and also retains a liking for this coalition and what it is doing to our public services: this is the time to step forward and prove that "The Big Society"... is a concept that actually has real meaning."

Which is all good political rhetoric, but if Kidbrooke residents aren't told the truth about what the council are planning to do to our library, then how can we be expected to step forward and help out?

-Update- This was tweeted by Greenwich Council three weeks ago:

Friday, 18 February 2011

Ferrier Library will not be rebuilt admits Greenwich Council

Kidbrooke's only library will be closed for demolition this year and there are no plans to rebuild it, councillors and developers admitted last night.

Speaking at a meeting with local residents, representatives of Berkeley Homes and Greenwich Council said that the Ferrier library will close by October this year.

They admitted that there no plans for a replacement, but said that the option of having new library facilities within another community building had been "neither ruled in or out."

The news will be a big disappointment to those who still use the library and the employees who had hoped that a new library was being considered.

Yesterday, neighbouring Lewisham Council announced the closure of another local library in Blackheath Village along with four other libraries in the borough.

Three years ago Greenwich Council also accidentally announced plans to close four libraries in Greenwich borough.

So far only the closure of Ferrier Library has been confirmed.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Welcome to "Kidbrooke Village"

So Berkeley Homes have painted the closed shutters at Kidbrooke Station purple, and a put up a few billboards:

Well I guess it's a slight improvement on what was there before:

But I'm not sure it's quite got the villagey atmosphere Berkeley shareholders are looking for just yet.

More on the rebranding of Kidbrooke from Darryl.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Blackheath Cator Estate becoming a gated estate

Gates closed at morning rush hour on Morden Road
"To maintain the exclusive nature of their estate, the Cators erected lodge houses at each of the main entrances. These were occupied by resident keepers engaged to ward off beggars and itinerant salesmen" - Neil Rhind: A Fair Estate

"There are things about Blackheath that I don't particularly like. It can be stuffy. It's about people protecting their little fiefdoms." One of Blake's pet gripes is the [Cator Estate] which used to have a squash club and tennis courts as well as other amenities when he lived there. "But now it's become a residential ghetto and could be even more draconian with plans to prevent through traffic. There's talk of putting in an automatic barrier so only people who live on the estate will be able to go through. To me it's a logistical nightmare and I'm against gated communities." - Blake Morrison 

Starting from next month both gates from the Heath into the Blackheath Cator Estate will be closed to all non-residents during rush hours.

For a three month trial period, anybody without a permit will be turned away by either closed gates, or uniformed staff, and forced to drive back through Blackheath village instead:

The entrance at Blackheath Park will remain open but most people wanting to take their kids to Brooklands School and the surrounding area will have longer and more difficult journeys.

Man performing SE London's most boring job at Pond Road, Blackheath

The move will increase traffic through the already congested Blackheath Village roads, slow down emergency vehicles, and frustrate deliveries.

And all for the sake of making an already exclusive estate, just that little bit more exclusive.

It's a strange obsession this gate-mania, and such is its grip, that residents on one road within the estate  want another gate to create a gated community within the gated community.

And while there's no sign of those automated gates mentioned by Blake Morrison yet, it surely can only be a matter of time:

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Greenwich Council tenants hit by higher rents and charges

Greenwich Council tenants will pay up to £15 more a week in rent and charges, it was announced last night.

Tenants will see an average increase of £5 a week on their rent from April. The council say that this will still leave them "amongst the lowest in London."

However the council are also planning to introduce new "Tenants Service Charges" of up to £10 a week.

If both are introduced, tenants could see their accommodation costs rising by up to 18% on top of an average rent of £85 a week.

Labour councillors said at last night's meeting that they had "no alternative" but to implement government plans to raise rents to 80 per cent of market value.

They also hit out at criticism from the Conservatives, saying that people would see through their attempts to be seen as "the tenants friend."

However, at the same time that Greenwich council tenants are being asked to pay more, the council has also announced that council tax will be frozen for the third year in a row.

By competing with other boroughs to continually freeze their council tax, they have created a black hole which they are now seeking to fill in part by introducing new charges for council tenants.

Whilst freezing the council tax gives the council good front pages for Greenwich Time, it is simply not sustainable in a time of huge government cuts.

By artificially keeping council tax down, Greenwich will simply have to introduce more indirect charges elsewhere and the poorest will pay more as a proportion of their income.

Needless to say the news of these rent increases and charges has not been included in this week's Greenwich Time.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Ferrier Estate residents offered a "tin-roofed shack"

The News Shopper has an interesting story about two Ferrier residents apparently offered a "tin-roofed shack" by Greenwich Council.

I've since been down to have a look at the property and as my photo below shows it's not in quite as bad a condition as the News Shopper's old picture above suggests:

However I can certainly understand why they refused it.

The houses are tiny and appear to be temporary post-war prefabs much like those famously up for demolition on the Excalibur estate in Catford.

And if I was being evicted from one doomed housing estate I'd be extremely reluctant to move to another one.

That said, there's no doubt that the "tin-roofed shacks" are in a far better location on the Coldharbour estate than those properties left on the post-apocalyptic Ferrier.

Amongst a settled community and adjacent to well-used open spaces, living in the "shacks" would certainly be an improvement in at least some respects.

So what do you think? Were Greenwich Council right to offer this property to Ferrier residents?

Monday, 3 January 2011

The Kidbrooke Kite now has a Facebook page

Head over here or just click "like" on the sidebar to get regular updates to your Facebook account.