Achilles Stop and Listen Campaign Update
If anyone is under the illusion that Lewisham Council care about the Achilles Street area and the people who live and work there – all of the residents, shops, cafes, restaurants, small independent businesses and community groups who are under the threat of demolition – don’t be fooled by the tea, cake and cosy designs in the newly refurbished tenants hall and a flurry of long standing repairs getting a bit of attention. This is just a tactic to get us to vote for the demolition of our homes and our neighbour’s homes.
Changing the Boundaries – Clifton Rise & Fordham Park
Clifton Rise – On Wednesday 31 July, Clifton Rise were informed by Lewisham Council that they were no longer included in the Achilles Street area redevelopment plans. Having put the people on the East side of Clifton Rise through three and a half years of worry about their futures – uncertainty about their livelihoods, employees, place of worship – Lewisham Council couldn’t even be bothered to address the letters individually nor acknowledge, let alone apologise for, the stress and anxiety they have caused to peoples’ lives.
Fordham Park – On the 6th July the Achilles Campaign invited local musician and artist David Aylward to highlight the boundary of the Achilles Street area under threat of demolition. The campaign wanted to highlight the scale of the ‘redevelopment’ and that a big chunk of Fordham Park would be lost. Three weeks later Lewisham announced that they have now changed the boundary to their plans and are no longer including the park in their ‘redevelopment’ proposals.
What’s the New Plan?
Well the short answer is that there isn’t one! Whilst it’s good to hear that the park has been cut out of the Council’s plans (Given Lewisham’s long track record of destroying green spaces in the North of the Borough) and that uncertainty over peoples’ futures on Clifton Rise has been removed for the moment. The changes to the boundary of the ‘redevelopment’ means only one thing, the Council will be trying to cram more and more housing into less and less space. The boundary changes mean that Lewisham will have approximately a third less land to build on and they’re still aiming to squeeze more than 450 housing units into this smaller space.
Fenton House Tenants Hall and Studio Raw PR Company
As you will have probably noticed the tenants hall in Fenton House, which Lewisham have left empty and neglected for fourteen years, has been brought back in to use to promote the Council’s plan for demolition. It’s interesting to see that Lewisham can find the money to refurbish and open up the tenants hall, not as a facility for tenants and residents nor as a home for people on the Council’s housing waiting list, but as a headquarters to persuade residents to vote for the demolition of their own homes. Lewisham have also been able to find the money to employ a PR company called Studio Raw to help them achieve their aim of demolition. Studio Raw is a Deptford based PR, branding and place making company who, amongst other things, work for property developers paving the way for gentrification. Studio Raw’s past clients include Lendlease who are the developers who demolished the Heygate Estate at the Elephant and Castle; and Cathedral who have built housing in Deptford High Street with no homes for social rent.
Studio Raw, along with Council officers, have been in the tenants hall in Fenton House every Wednesday since mid June, promoting Lewisham’s plan for demolition. They have been gathering information from residents, which will be used to shape the ‘offer’ the Council makes in the ballot this autumn. So, don’t be fooled by the tea, cakes and cosy chats; Studio Raw are employed by the Council and there to do the Council’s bidding, which is to maximise their chances of getting people to vote for demolition. Also, don’t be fooled by the misinformation being presented in the tenants’ hall. An example of this is the timeline they have written on the wall, which states that 81% of residents are supportive of the Council’s proposals, these figures are not true. The facts are that Lewisham knocked on the doors of all 87 residents, with a team of door knockers over two days, 28 residents opened their doors and responded to some vague questions about the ‘redevelopment proposals’. From this exercise Lewisham managed to get their statistic that ‘81% of residents are supportive of the Council’s proposals’. This is deliberately misleading and raises the question of trust, in a Council and a PR company employed on their behalf, who seem desperate to promote the demolition of our homes and local community.
Where Do Things Stand Now?
As things stand residents are going to be asked to vote on the demolition of theirs and their neighbour’s homes and the local small businesses, which are going to be replaced by a development that nobody knows what it’s going to look like; and based on ‘offers’ that appear to have no legal guarantees. This is all being run by a Council who has been happy to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on designing and promoting the demolition of our homes and the destruction of our local community; and not a penny on giving residents and the local community a real choice or say in what happens to their homes and local area. Many people directly affected by the proposals are getting denied the right to a vote by Lewisham Council.
New Campaign Video
Most Saturdays we will be on the stall on New Cross Road 11.30 am-1.30pm come by and say hello!