Sunday 13 November 2011

Responses from the community

At the Deptford Presents launch on Friday 4th November, Joan Ruddock spoke of her intention to hear responses from other groups in the area to the Convoys masterplan. Meanwhile, Deptford Is... has been talking to other stakeholders. One such group is Second Wave Youth Arts who are based at The Mission in Creek Road and who have been working with young people in Deptford for over 25 years. We reproduce part of their written objection here:

Young people in Deptford are entitled to enjoy their lives peacefully, creatively and productively. They deserve support and encouragement in fulfilling their potential as positive individuals and critical citizens. But the modern pressures of urban life tend to work against their aspirations, often leaving them uncertain about their role and responsibilities – marginalised or disengaged from local decision-making.

Second Wave has been working closely with colleagues at the University of Greenwich (the School of Architecture, Design & Construction and the School of Education & Training) to identify how young people can become more actively involved in local initiatives and develop their skills as the next generation of community leaders.

We are also working closely with Lewisham Police and the Crime Reduction Service in the borough. In Section 11 of this response, we indicate the willingness of young people at Second Wave to participate in an ongoing process of consultation, design and decision-making with regard to Convoys Wharf. We also seek to emphasize the potential value of their contribution in strengthening community cohesion, reducing social divisions, and increasing neighbourhood safety.

In our view, this site offers a major opportunity to help meet Deptford’s local housing, employment, commercial and recreational needs as a culturally diverse and vibrant community. We recognize significant local development potential for this area in the riverside location, the archaeological and historic heritage, and the growing cultural and economic vibrancy focused around Deptford High Street. On the other hand this is an exceptionally deprived area where we expect the highest priority in the use of scarce local land to be given to overcoming local deficiencies and addressing local needs.   ...The current Convoys Wharf proposal is a predominantly developer-led project attempting to put as much housing as possible on the site – with limited concessions to matching local needs and potential. 

The issues behind the recent riots are multi-dimensional but they cannot be detached from questions of poverty, housing, unemployment, low aspiration, lack of trust, and the widening of social divisions in our community. These factors cannot be ignored in the future development of Convoys Wharf. For example, an extreme lack of social mobility in a deprived area can result in a loss of hope. Problems arise when groups of young people feel alienated or pessimistic about the future of their neighbourhoods and their own prospects for employment.

Second Wave’s approach is a creative one. We work from the first-hand narrative experience of young people: their own perceptions of place and belonging. Our starting-point is to hear from them, in their own words, what their neighbourhood means to them (their own perspectives of urban reality). This offers insight into prevalent factors associated with local streets, estates, post codes: the territorial issues of gang rivalry, intimidation and survival. Our role is to create opportunities for finding a voice as a young person – to question and influence the decision-makers – and the power to challenge the effects of stark socio-economic divisions in their area.

We believe that the interests and concerns of young people need to be taken seriously and formally incorporated into the whole concept of consultation, urban design and future development of this important site. As the next generation of local citizens and community leaders, they are most likely to live with the consequences of these decisions for many years to come.

At Second Wave, we are prepared to support the development of a Convoys Wharf Youth Initiative – to give meaningful and imaginative attention to these concerns (for example, re. the issues of community safety, urban design, youth facilities, training opportunities, apprenticeships, recreation, youth culture, and job creation) through the direct participation of local young people.


  1. its interesting to note that 'Joan Ruddock spoke of her intention to hear responses from other groups'. I went to see her with a group of other people to voice our concerns about plans for the Lewisham Gateway. She gave every impression of support, she listened to our concerns and 'appeared' to be agreeing with our concerns, we left with high spirits. One thing she said was that she was 'meeting the developers' a week after she'd seen us. After that meeting she turned her back on us, not only that, she attacked us for being unconstructive because she hadn't been able to attend a meeting, called by herself and held in her office, between the resident objectors and the developers - she wanted Heidi Alexander to chair the meeting - a person incapable, in these circumstances, of being impartial.

    It was always one of New Labours core ideals to support the construction industry and allow them to do pretty much as they please - don't expect any, or much support, from J Ruddock, when it comes down to it she is more interested in her political career than giving backing to a campaign run by the people who very probably voted for her.

  2. Don't expect any sympathy or backing from Heid Alexander - she wasn't supportive of views opposing this redevelopment, and nor were her colleagues Councillor Sam and Councillor Crada. As for Heidi's replacement, Councillor Joseph - does anyone know what he looks like?

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  4. If this is the view of Ms. Alexander then she will have the chance to confirm this or provide an alternative on record, preferably in a written response that is not clouded in New Labour speak.
    Perhaps some simple direct questions can be formulated for our councillors to respond to, so that constituents can determine where the loyalties and true political affiliations of our political representatives lay.