Tag Archives: society

The ferret’s name is Silver

Open Letter to Dave and his Ferret

And the Blackheath Society is holding a picnic on the heath to celebrate their 75th birthday. It’s on the 24th June 12.30pm-3.30pm

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Better Blackheath Village

Blackheath Society have published their Better Blackheath Village Project (pdf). Here’s a quick run down of the winners and losers:

Saints:
India Jane (pleasing shopfront apparently.. I say a displeasing lack of DVDs)
Pizza Express Restaurantisation, but loved by most.

Sinners:
BLOODY FOXTONS (And their poxy illuminated signs.)
Costcutter (Ugly Fascias).
Montpelier Coffee (illegal A frames? Not top of my list, but fair enough…)
The universally hated bus lane.
The Crown: No Jumbrellas please.
Locale: Society is annoyed about the planning permission. (Never mind the food).
Lewisham Council: Still handing out late night licenses willy nilly.
Network Rail: Want to build crap flats next to the station instead of getting the trains to run on time. Blackheath Society rightly unimpressed.
Library Square: The vultures are still circling. Nobody is prepared to admit who the vultures belong to.
Library block: Still very much in favour of knocking down the old library and building something else there it seems. How about another library?
Post Office: Society not totally averse to the idea of closing the sorting office. With it will come crappy opening hours for picking up undelivered mail.

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Pay a tenner to find out what will happen to your library

Arcangelo Corelli from Wikipedia
The email below appeared from The Blackheath Society today. Why on earth the privileged members of the Blackheath Society should get a first look at the proposed library changes is beyond me. The library is a publicly owned service, funded by everyone who pays taxes, not just by the members of a small (but extremely useful) society. Maybe it’s the connection between the proposals and a classical music concert that irritates me. Is the library’s future only of interest to people who enjoy listening to Concerti Grossi? The proposals should be permanently displayed in the library, not at a concert like this.

Library plans to be outlined at Age Exchange Concert

Society members will be able to hear an early preview of the future plans for the Blackheath Village Library if they attend the annual Age Exchange (AE) charity concert at St Margaret’s Church on Saturday 19 February.

The mayor of Lewisham is due to announce a series of wide-ranging budget cuts in the second half of February, which will include decisions on each of the borough’s five libraries threatened with closure, and which will be ratified by the full council on 1 March.

It is hoped he will agree to Lewisham’s support for the Blackheath project which would create a new Community Centre, including a new library and Reminiscence Centre (RC) in the existing AE buildings, as Blackheath Village Library would close by the end of May at the latest.

The proposal is backed by the Society, the Village Residents Group and the Library Users’ Group, and Lewisham Council officers have expressed full support for the scheme.

AE is putting up most of the £500,000 required to upgrade the building and financial support from Lewisham is likely to be limited to a one-off grant to help with transitional costs. For this reason there is likely to be a fundraising campaign asking local residents and other supporters to become Friends and pledge a modest annual subscription of £30. Full details will be provided in the Society’s next newsletter in March.

The chair of the AE trustees, Sir Ian Mills, will outline the new proposals before the concert and you will also have an opportunity to view a 3-D model illustrating how the proposed upgraded RC will work.

The concert at the church in Lee Terrace given by Simon and Jenny Standage starts at 7.30pm and a glass of wine is included in the £10 price from 7pm onwards.

It will feature works by Corelli, Matteis, Leclair, Locatelli, Biber and Tartini and be organised around the theme of Angels and Devils. Tickets can be purchased from Age Exchange in the Village or booked by phone from Meg Hamilton on 020 8318 9105.

More about the concert here (pdf) from the Age Exchange site

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Details of the proposed Piazza Square

Buildings to be removed in the Blackheath Square Piazza proposal

Buildings to be removed in the Blackheath Square Piazza proposal

Following the fuss on the previous post about the plans to develop the car park behind the library, I thought I’d try and take a look at the proposals.  Four times I’ve tried to get into the Blackheath Halls, and every single time they were closed!  I’ve finally managed, and thought I’d put the photos and captions up here, so that more people can see them.  They don’t appear to be on the Blackheath Society’s website, which is unfortunate, as it seems to have led some commenters to suspect a “stitch up”.

I’m putting the photos up here, as I think they have public benefit.  If the copyright holders want them removed, I will take them down.

The proposals seem to have many good points, but it is such a shame that they aren’t pushing ahead for the original plan – to cover a large proportion of the railway next to the chip shop and turn it into a large, pedestrian only space.  It would have been brilliant.  I can understand the concerns that have been raised about new buildings – the site is “underused”, as they describe it (I’m still not sure I agree with that concept – the trains certainly aren’t “underused” in the mornings – increasing population density has many knock-on effects).

In the end, it seems that the proposals have a sense of a “pact with the devil” about them – property developers are good at pushing for what they want, whereas local societies (even effective ones, such as Blackheath’s) will never be a match for their professional bargaining skills.  What they need is do find a wealthy local benefactor, who would fund the original plans, and suggest naming the square after him/her…  Ferrari Square? :)

They’ve asked for comments on the proposals – so please do give them, firstly to their email address blackheath.soc@lineone.net and also here if you have time to do both.  If anyone knows anything about the area (B) “owned by a family trust”, I’d be interested – it seems a very discreet way of writing about the ownership of the land.

Anyway – here’s the best I could do with my blurry camera-phone:

History of the site:

The site where Blackheath Village Library now stands was from 1863 until 1845 occupied by a much larger building – the 1,000 seat Methodist church with 120ft tower and a Sunday school to the north.  In 1945 a WW2 bomb destroyed the church and many surrounding buildings.

1920s map of how the carpark area looked

Ordnance Survey plan of about 1920 showing the Methodist church and Sunday school.

In 1961 the present “library block” filled the gap, but from several points of view filled it unsatisfactorily.  At two storeys, it is dwarfed by the neighbouring Barclays Bank, stylistically it is weak and unappealing.

In development terms, the building and the private and public car parks behind it represent a gross under-use of a key site in the heart of the Village.

To the north and east of the site, houses which had been damaged beyond repair at the western ends of Wemyss Road, and Blackheath Grove were replaced by five and four storey blocks of flats in the 1950s.  These were joined in the 1990s by a four storey block “The Point”, with basement car parking on the site of the former Express Dairy bottling plant.

Proposals:

The idea of a “piazza” in the heart of Blackheath Village sprang from public consultation on the Blackheath Society’s 2001 proposals for improving the Village.  Our initial ideas were ambitious: a huge raft over the railway stretching from the bridge to the post office, paid for by accompanying development.  But the amount of development needed to pay for such a raft would have dwarfed existing buildings.

What we are now suggesting – our “Plan B” – is more modest but in many ways better.  It demolishes the present library block and substitutes a new development, set further back and partly on the site of the existing public car park.  It would be taller than the existing building but comparable in height to its neighbours Barclays Bank and the Grove House flats.

The Blackheath Society would not, of course, undertake the development.  Our role is to show what is possible, likely to receive planning permission, and acceptable to Blackheath people.  We would then, with the owners of the site – Lewisham Council and a family trust – seek a developer or development partner to carry the scheme forward.

Ownership of the land on the proposed Blackheath Square Piazza

The current proposal focuses on the public cark park (A) owned by Lewisham council, and the library block and its private car park (B) owned by a family trust. Part of Blackheath Grove (C) would be incorporated into the new square.

Railway wall plan

Despite the acknowledged costs and difficulties of building over the railway cutting, we believe that a good case can be made for a small, prefabricated, lightweight pedestrian deck by the chip shop. Together with a ramped footpath down towards the Post Office, the deck would ease pedestrian movement between the Village and the Square. The could be combined with the redevelopment of the chip shop to provide a three-storey (unreadable - #### ###) building fronting the deck. The existing parapet wall would be partially removed to give access and a clearer view through to the square.

Initial design for Blackheath Square Piazza

Initial ideas looked at a wider area including the yard to the north and the railway cutting to the south. The illustration shows how buildings and a deck over the railway could have looked.

Blackheath Square piazza railway cutting

Photo showing the railway area, part of which would be covered.

A dissenting view of the plans for the square in Blackheath

A dissenting view of the plans for the square in Blackheath

Another plan of the area

Another plan of the area, hopelessly blurry, sorry...

The exhibition at the Blackheath Halls

The exhibition at the Blackheath Halls

An artist's impression of how the Blackheath Square could look

Where is the post office?!

The idea of a “piazza” in the heart of Blackheath Village sprang from public consultation on the Blackheath Society’s

2001 proposals for improving the Village.  Our initial ideas were ambitious: a huge raft over the railway stretching

from the bridge to the post office, paid for by accompanying development.  But the amount of development needed

to pay for such a raft would have dwarfed existing buildings.

What we are now suggesting – our “Plan B” – is more modest but in many ways better.  It demolishes the present

library block and substitutes a new development, set further back and partly on the site of the existing public car

park.  It would be taller than the existing building but comparable in height to its neighbours Barclays Bank and the

Grove House flats.

The Blackheath Society would not, of course, undertake the development.  Our role is to show what is possible, likely

to receive planning permission, and acceptable to Blackheath people.  We would then, with the owners of the site -

Lewisham Council and a family trust – seek a developer or development partner to carry the scheme forward.

plan caption:
The current proposal focuses on the public cark park (A) owned by Lewisham council, and the library block and its

private car park (B) owned by a family trust.  Part of Blackheath Grove (C) would be incorporated into the new

square.

wall plan:
Despite the acknowledged costs and difficulties of building over the railway cutting, we believe that a good case can

be made for a small, prefabricated, lightweight pedestrian deck by the chip shop.  Together with a ramped foothpath

down towards the Post Office, the deck would ease pedestrian movement between the Village and the Square.  The

could be combined with the redevelopment of the chip shop to provide a three-storey #### ### building fronting

the deck.  The existing parapet wall would be partially removed to give access and a clearer view through to the

square.

nice plan

Initial ideas looked at a wider area including the yard to the north and the railway cutting to the south.  The

illustration shows how buildings and a deck over the railway could have looked.

History of the site:
The site where Blackheath Village Library now stands was from 1863 until 1845 occupied by a much larger building -

the 1,000 seat Methodist church with 120ft tower and a Sunday school to the north.  In 1945 a WW2 bomb destroyed

the church and many surrounding buildings.

In 1961 the present “library block” filled the gap, but from several points of view filled it unsatisfactorily.  At two

storeys, it is dwarfed by the neighbouring Barclays Bank, stylistically it is weak and unappealing.

In development terms, the buidling and the private and public car parks behind it represent a gross under-use of a

key site in the heart of the Village.

To the north and east of the site, houses which had been damaged beyond repair at the western ends of Wemyss

Road, and Blackheath Grove were replaced by five and four storey blocks of flats in the 1950s.  These were joined in

the 1990s by a four storey block “The Point”, with basement car parking on the site of the former Express Dairy

bottling plant.

OSplan:
Ordnance Survey plan of about 1920 showing the Methodist church and Sunday school.

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No barrier to entry

So, looks like I’ve missed a lot since I went away to get married. Here’s a one of the more interesting Blackheath bits:

853blog had a great post criticising the weakness of local media in the SE, and Greenwich Time specifically. Also raises some very good points about the cost of entry into local societies, such as The Blackheath Society and The Westcombe Society. Whilst these groups have reasonably low membership fees (Blackheath’s is £15 per year – can’t find any record of Westcombe’s), it effectively acts as a barrier to entry for all local residents.

In some respects there are comparisons to be made between local papers and local residents societies. Both began in a similar time in history, when distribution and organisation of information was expensive, and had variable costs depending upon the number of users. The changes needed for the press to adapt to the information age have been endlessly written about, but maybe the same is true of local societies? There could be a case for making them entirely free – most of the infrastructure costs that they used to rely on are now available online next to nothing.

I don’t understand why they don’t open up their historical archives for everyone, not just subscribers, or a few people in a small room to admire. The Blackheath Society has a spectacular collection of historical photos, that should be made available to all. In this era, to restrict them to analogue only copies is backward at best, and runs the risk of alienating younger potential volunteers getting involved.

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