Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Disappearing Deptford? (1): The Distillery

Deptford is a prime target for property developers at the moment, with major building projects and other sites being snapped up. As a poorish run-down part of London, nobody could argue that people need better housing and facilities, but unfortunately most of the development doesn’t have local working class people in mind at all. On the contrary, the main emphasis is on luxury flats with their own private facilities – not only will the people living in them not need to have anything to do with the local area, they will apparently not even need to know that they live in Deptford at all!

Let's start with the Distillery, a 26 storey tower block being developed by Galliard Homes (artist's impression, left). Its location couldn’t be any more Deptford, situated next to Deptford Bridge on the site of the Old Seager Gin Distillery, more recently home to music rehearsal rooms, art spaces, a skateboard ramp and numerous other small projects.

The website for this coyly refers to ‘a high growth regeneration opportunity in SE8’ but declines to decode this (SE8=Deptford). In fact Deptford is nowhere named on the site, and anyone reading it might think it was somewhere else entirely. We are told that it is ‘Situated just 12 minutes from Canary Wharf, where employee numbers are set to rise from 78,000 up to 160,000 by 2012, these luxurious city styled apartments are a major new residential and investment opportunity’. There are two pictures of Canary Wharf, across the river, on the homepage, and several pictures of Greenwich on the site – none of Deptford.

Elsewhere on the site we are again told that ‘with prime access into the Capital’s major financial hub, it is destined to become the new benchmark for luxury living in South East London’. In other words what is being created is a dormitory for well-off City professionals (can we still call them yuppies? – I think we can) in denial of living in an area with some of the worst deprivation in London.

12 comments:

Mark said...

It really does make me sick.

Have you been watching that television programme on BBC1 on a Monday about Aragon Tower? It makes the point very eloquently.

We moved house up to Telegraph Hill last year, just at the point where everything started to come down.

Are you familiar with that Johnny Boy song 'You are the generation that bought more shoes'? The refrain is "You are the generation that bought more shoes and you get what you deserve". That's all I see of the people moving into the rich people's flats, people who have money but don't have imagination and want to be cossetted by a world that gives them what they're familiar and comfortable with and damn everyone else. You can see that happening in Greenwich town centre, with interesting things being replaced by more expensive, less proletarian versions of simple things id Gourmet Burgers etc.

It's a culture for the infantalised with money, and it's winning out.

It's like a rejection of risk and possibility in favour of comfort, predictability and reassurance.

It's also, for want of a better word, arrogant.

StuPC said...

Well said, mark - is there going to anywhere left that isn't covered in luxury bloody flats?
Who are all these idiots buying these places?
Just once I'd like to see a development for "ordinary, nice, affordable flats". Just once...

And bonus points to you for mentioning Johnny Boy, Mark!

StuPC

Inspector Sands said...

Bonus points from me for Johnny Boy, too.

OneSE8 set the pace for this, I'm afraid - handy for the Canary Wharf so you can block out your neighbours.

Transpontine said...

Agreed, especially with Mark about how infantilised this stuff is - I have a theory that these developments exlusively for wealthy childless people are for those who hanker to still be living in student halls rather than making connections in the wide world with all its challenging diversity. As for OneSE8, see the next post.

Mark said...

I made that connection, too.

When I went walking around SeONE late at night I thought it looked like the kind of holiday complex that you'd find yourself at after too long in the, catching an uncomfortable STI from some you'd just met.

It's everything that living in a city shouldn't be about. It's sanctioned ignorance. It's building something with money rather than building it with people and places. It makes whole areas merely staging posts on the way to and from work. It's a culture without culture, a dead zone, like the little gaps in brain activity you get in people with Alzheimer's.

I remember reading an article a few years ago about the increasing number of people who consider themselves internationals. Working for multinational companies, they don't consider themselves to really be part of the country that they're based in, being above that and free to move from air-conditioned building to another, expecting the same amenities and comforts in every place they go.

It strikes me that this is an in-country version of the same phenomena.

spincat said...

I think I have met some of the prospective residents already.

On a train going to Lewisham, loud conversation about a recent holiday in Jamaica .... ...How wonderful it was that there was a private beach with amazing watersports... cocktail bar, all inclusive .. locals tried to swim round to it sometime, but were usually caught, ha ha... I looked round expecting some sort of stockbroker-redneck and there were these kids, maybe 25, in sort surfer-dude outfits with faux lovebeads.
Wasn't like that in my day etc

Jon said...

Couldn't agree more with what has already been said. The only thing I can admire about OneSE8 is that the architecture was better than some other developments like this.

What is the status of this proposed development - planning approved, work started? Everything online seems to suggest it's going ahead.

There should be some sort of fines for developers who do not adequately support and promote the local area. It has to be said, the Galliard Homes' Distillery SE8 website is a big pile of steaming dog mess, bland photography of the Docklands and Greenwich, and the location map is absolutely shocking.

Transpontine said...

The Distillery project is going ahead, contractors are on site. Not sure what the completion date is though.

Pete said...

As a result of the huge increases in house prices all over London all areas which resemble Deptford (relatively affordable and close to work) can expect to see developments like this. Well paid, yuppies (and I don't mean that in a derogatory way, it describes me) cannot afford to buy in areas that they would traditionally have moved to and so look for somewhere close enough to work that they can afford.

These developments cater for them because they don't know the areas that they are moving to, and they want to feel safe.

Deptford may not have a particularly high crime rate but it is the perception of crime and disorder that is more important.

Also, until services which these yuppies would want to use are developed it is hard to see them caring about their immediate surroundings. They will go out close to work, come home and go to sleep.

It is depressing both for the current residents of Deptford and other areas for various reasons which you are all aware of.

The only fair solution that I can see is the redevelopment of council properties and the end of right to buy.

Anonymous said...

I can understand your 'jealousy' of these developments and your exclusion from them due to socio-economic factors, but irrespective of this, you have absolutely NO right to enter these private premises unless you have business there! I will be moving into the development and will be attending local events to guage the area and get a taste of this part of London, but i would still like to think that my home is private...would you like me walking around your house late at night "Mark"? If you are found trespassing, expect prosecution to the full extent of the law. I don't care about the backlash from this post, stay off private property. We'll stay out of your 'homes', you stay out of ours. Think about it. Seriously. Would you like some stranger prowling your garden with your children sleeping in their beds? I would like to think my kids won't have people like this 'Mark' character roaming about outside their window. Have some respect. We will respect your right to privacy, please respect ours. Anonymous.

mark said...

Do you remember the things that homes used to be arranged in?

They used to call them streets.

As far as I understood, a street belonged to everyone.

I don't need to have business there to walk down a street.

You can come and walk along my street any time that you want. You can even peek into my window. I won't like it, but you won't be breaking the law. I'd probably close the curtains. I might even double lock the door if you look particularly scary. You'll still be free to walk up and down my street.

That's why enclosed communities are wrong.

They make private what should be public.

Cheers,

Mark

Transpontine said...

I've noticed there's been some traffic to this site from the OneSE8 Forum, welcome to the discussion. I don't think Mark in previous comments was ever proposing to break into people's homes so I am not sure where anonymous is coming from with his reaction. This really comes down to the boundaries of private/public, everybody would agree that people should have privacy in their homes but the question is whether private developments should be able to restrict access to what would otherwise be in the public sphere - streets, riversides, open spaces. I am not sure where OneSE8 fits into this - is is just flats or is it more of a 'gated community'?