“The council has not fulfilled their part of the deal”

Anita Strasser is a Deptford resident and PhD student at Goldsmiths. Anita is writing a blog called Depford is changing about the ‘regeneration’ of the area . Anita has spoken to some residents and businesses in the Achilles Street area- we are sharing the posts here.

Here is a link to the blog:  https://deptfordischanging.wordpress.com/

“The council has not fulfilled their part of the deal”

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Emma Zhang is the owner of YIP Oriental Store on 361 New Cross Road, a shop which will be demolished if the redevelopment plans for this area are going ahead. Emma has had her shop for 7 years during which she has built it up to a thriving business which has a good customer base, particularly with students from Goldsmiths. The shop serves local students but also the Chinese and Japanese student communities, and many of the students signed the petition to stop the demolition of the shop because it would mean that they would lose the store where they buy their products. Emma has built up a very good relationship with all her customers, who, according to her, are very kind people and often come in every day. Some of her customers have become friends over the years as well.

“We don’t want them to knock down the buildings. The council posted a letter and then we had a meeting in Deptford Green School where we told them that we’re not happy about the plans. This is about 2 years ago, and we haven’t had confirmation yet about what’s going to happen. Demolition will be very expensive and really affect our business, and there is no guarantee that we will be able to move back or stay in the New Cross area. We have invested a lot of money in setting this up and if we have to find another location, this will lose us earnings and we’ll have to invest more to set up again. It’s unlikely we would be able to stay in this area, and so we would lose all our customers as well. We would have to start afresh.”

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Emma agrees that the area is and looks run-down and needs refurbishing. She and her colleague also have experience of knife-crime in the area, and the shop has been robbed a few times. Just 3 days before I met with her, somebody tried to break into the shop again. She says the area is dangerous and that there is not enough police presence in the area, not enough CCTV and not enough protection for local residents or businesses. However, Emma does not think that this is a reason to demolish the existing blocks and shops as the run-down character and dangerous feel is due to the council’s neglect of the area.

“We have an agreement, a contract with the council. As tenants we have to look after our property inside, and it’s the council’s responsibility to maintain the outside and the building with the rent we pay. We have paid our rent, and before we opened the shop years ago, we changed the terrible shopfront into a much nicer one so it looks much better now. But the council has not fulfilled their part of the deal which is to look after the outside. Maintenance and regular repairs cost much less than to redevelop everything. If a little money had been invested over the years, the area wouldn’t be in such a state now. You could improve the area a lot by refurbishing and looking after it rather than demolishing everything.”

 

Emma also says that the council needs to consider the local area more: “It’s quite a special area with lots of interesting people who come into the shop. We also have many working-class people who shop in here. If you build more properties, the rents are going to be more expensive. The developers are promising people that they will have the same conditions afterwards and people might think ‘oh great, I’m moving into a nice flat in a new development for the same price’ but they just don’t realise that prices will go up in the near future and that the service charges for shared equity properties are really high. We’ve seen this happening in other areas.”

Photos and Text by Anita Strasser

https://deptfordischanging.wordpress.com/2018/01/20/i-have-stopped-making-plans/

 

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Deptford is changing

Anita Strasser is a Deptford resident and PhD student at Goldsmiths. Anita is writing a blog called Depford is changing about the ‘regeneration’ of the area . Anita has spoken to some residents and businesses in the Achilles Street area- we will be sharing the posts here.

Here is a link to the blog:    https://deptfordischanging.wordpress.com/

 

“I have stopped making plans”

Below Anita’s post about the wonderful Delicious Cafe:

Teyfik Taghan is the manager of Delicious café on 365 New Cross Road. The current owner and team have been here for more than 2 years (coming up to three years soon). They are not happy about the plans, and whilst nothing has been finalised yet, the impact of the proposed plans is already felt. Teyfik explains:

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‘The team here have worked hard to build up the business which is going really well. We all have families to look after and bills to pay, and running this business has enabled us to do that. When we came here, nobody said anything about the redevelopment plans. We have never received a letter from the council about the demolition. Some time ago, the developers sent a letter announcing the plans. When I called them, they said they have plans but need time to work on them. How long, we don’t know.’

Teyfik and the team are not happy about the plans as it would mean losing their business and having to start all over again. Over the years, the team have built up very good relationships with their customers, which they see as very important. Some of the regular customers are teachers and pupils from Deptford Green School and Goldsmiths students. Teyfik recognises most faces and some contacts have even developed into friendships. Sitting in the café for some time, you can tell Teyfik has a very good relationship with his customers by the way he talks to them.

Losing the business would have devastating consequences for him and his team, but even without the plans having come into fruition yet, the impact is already felt. ‘I have a family to worry about. I have 4 kids and I feel really settled here. I had lots of plans for my life: we wanted to go on holiday, send the kids to a good school to provide them with a better future. But now, I have stopped making plans because we don’t know what’s going to happen. We don’t know whether we’ll be here another year, 2 years, 5 years. It’s like with Brexit: people don’t know whether to stay or leave, whether to invest or not, buy a house or not. We’re in limbo, unsure of what to do. Anyway, if we lose the business, we will have to start all over again.’

Teyfik also says it’s not just about him. The rest of the team are in the same situation, they all have families and feel the same about being here. Finally, he concludes: ‘I’m very happy here. I love this place, I love the people here. I really want to stay.’

Photos and Text by Anita Strasser

https://deptfordischanging.wordpress.com/2018/01/20/i-have-stopped-making-plans/

Today Sunday 12 November

Achilles Stop and Listen Campaign update:

Mayor and Cabinet

Achilles is off the agenda again at the Mayor and Cabinet meeting. No new date given at the moment.

Sunday 12 November

Party in the Park are having their AGM and community afternoon at the Moonshot Centre, Fordham Park. FREE Music / Food / Banner Making

Time: 2- 5 pm

We are going to be making banners and placards with Achilles Fanzine and talking about the Achilles campaign.  If you are free please do pop by and say hello or help out, make a banner, All very welcome



Also on Sunday 12 November

No Social Cleansing in Lewisham bands in support of local housing Campaigns

Venue: The Bird’s Nest pub,32 Deptford Church St, Deptford

Potent Whisper – razor-sharp political spoken word artist

Ukadelix – local ukulele group  

and many many more…..

Time: 6- 11pm, Free All very welcome

FOI Request

We put in a freedoom of information request for the rental and service charge income for the blocks currently in the Achilles regeneration proposals : Austin House, Azalea House, Fenton House, 363 Maisonettes and businesses,  for the past six years.

And for the amount spent on maintenance and repairs for the past six years.

Rent and service charge income total for the 4 blocks (for the last 6 years) £2,601,009

Repairs and Maintenance spend (for the last 6 years)  £238,899

Here is a break down of the information FOI income and expenditure

 

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/achilles_income_from_rent_and_se?nocache=incoming-1054870#incoming-1054870

 

Campaign Afternoon

Saturday 16 September

Time:    5 pm (Film starts at 5.30 )

Venue:  New Cross Learning, 283-285 New Cross Road

 We are launching Achilles Fanzine ( 2nd print run )

Information will be available about the campaign ahead of Lewisham going to Mayor and Cabinet on 4 October ( See below).

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We will be showing the critically acclaimed film:

Dispossession: The Great Social Housing Swindle  

Refreshments and short discussion after the film

Free

 All Welcome

Lewisham are still planning on going to Mayor and Cabinet on Wednesday 4th October with their proposals to demolish the Achilles Street area. At the meeting on the 4th they will decide whether or not to proceed with the plans for demolition and redevelopment. If you want to raise objections or concerns about the demolition of homes, businesses and community organisations or about the destruction of the local community then write to or email your local councillors, MP and the Mayor and Cabinet and let them know. See below for email and postal addresses of local councillors, MP and the Mayor and Cabinet.

Lobbying Info

FACT SHEET

Achilles Street Stop and Listen Campaign

Updated FACT SHEET July 2017- Full Version (FACTS 1-7) click here: Factsheet July 2017

Extracts Below.

Fact 4 – Lewisham Council has failed in its duties as a landlord and managed the decline of the Achilles Street area

Lewisham has failed in its responsibilities as a landlord to maintain and upkeep the buildings (homes and businesses) in the Achilles Street area. When buildings become run down because a landlord has neglected them it is called managed decline’; and this is what Lewisham has done to the Achilles Street area. The Council is now using its own failings as a landlord as an excuse to demolish the decent and structurally sound homes and businesses in the area.

Fact 5 – Lewisham’s plans for the Achilles Street area have been designed by private property developers

Lewisham’s plans for the Achilles Street area are based on a report by Savills (a private

property developer), which was submitted to the government in 2016. In the report Savills argue that local authorities should go into partnership with the private sector (meaning property developers like themselves) to ‘redevelop’ housing estates in prime locations across London.

Savills idea of ‘redevelopment’ (most people call it social cleansing and gentrification) is to demolish so-called ‘sink’ estates and in their place build high rise, high density ‘urban villages’.

The designs that Lewisham have presented at the four token ‘consultations’ are identical to case studies in the report by Savills. So why Lewisham (a Labour council?) wants to destroy a long standing community and participate in a ‘redevelopment’ project that is first and foremost designed to boost the profits of private property developers, is only a question that they can answer.

Fact 6 – Redeveloping the Achilles Street area will not address the shortage of council housing in Lewisham

To redevelop the area Lewisham will have to go into partnership with a private property developer. This means the vast majority of the new homes (currently estimated to be between 350 and 450) will be private, for sale and rent at market rates. Private property developers always use ‘viability assessments’ to reduce the percentage of social/‘affordable’ housing in any new development; and this has consistently happened in projects across London. The Lewisham Gateway project, for example, had a target of 20 percent ‘affordable’ housing and through viability assessments property developers managed to get away with building no ‘affordable’ housing at all. This was in spite of the fact that the property developers for Lewisham Gateway were given the land for nothing by the Council and on top of this they received £22 million of public funding (£20 million from the Homes & Communities Agency and the Greater London Authority and £2 million from Lewisham Council). So by going into partnership with a private property developer to redevelop the Achilles Street area Lewisham could ultimately end up reducing the number of council homes in the borough.

Notes and Sources from the Achilles Street Stop and Listen Fact Sheet : Factsheet Notes & Sources July 2017

Here is Lewisham Councils response to our fact sheet -which doesn’t address any of the key facts 2017.07.26 Lewisham Council Response

Achilles Walk

As part of Open Garden Estates weekend we are inviting visitors to walk through the Achilles Street Area in the heart of New Cross, sharing and listening to the narratives and history of the area, identifying trees and wildlife, and seeing the green spaces, homes and shops that are under threat of demolition. The walk will end at New Cross Learning for a discussion and refreshments.

Date: Saturday 17 June, 2017

Meet: At the entrance to Fordham park, on the corner of Achilles Street and Clifton Rise

https://goo.gl/maps/THxeizT8xVG2

Time: 2 pm

Walk: Approx 1 hour. The walk will end at New Cross Learning for refreshments and discussion.

All Very Welcome

 

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FOUR CONsultations

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It’s  now 9 months since Lewisham Council revealed it’s proposals to demolish the Achilles Street Area. In this time at the four ‘consultations’ held to date Lewisham Council have not listened to residents . They have not presented any options for refurbishment.