'Lewisham Council and NHS Lewisham jointly fund a drug and alcohol treatment service. The service is currently based at New Direction, 410 Lewisham High Street. This is backed up by a service for users in the south of the borough at Dartmouth Road, Forest Hill. Many service users will also get regular services - such as repeat prescriptions and needle exchange - through their local GP or pharmacist.
The service has had some real successes but we think we could achieve much more if our sites were better located - so that service users from the south and the north of the borough were better able to access them. In particular, we have many service users in Brockley, Deptford and New Cross that would benefit from a site more local to them.
We are proposing to establish a new treatment site in Shardeloes Road, Brockley. This new site would be the main service site for users in the north of the borough and, together with the Dartmouth Road site in the south, would mean service users from all over the borough would be able to travel easily to access the service. The New Direction site would become the main site for after-care, helping improve the overall service further by reducing the numbers of service users who relapse. We welcome your views on this proposal.
As we want to cover a larger area of Lewisham to help more people access treatment, we aim to have a treatment service in the north of the borough. Most areas of the country have drug services based within local communities and Brockley has been identified as being in need of services to provide help and support to local people.
The building is on the main road and has good public transport services. The railway station is close by, and bus services are frequent. It is therefore an ideal location, making the centre accessible to local residents. The building is appropriate for drug and alcohol treatment, as it offers space for the kinds of services and interventions required'.
(see consultation here)
The proposal has generated some strong support and some strong opposition, as indicated by the arguments in the comments threads of Brockley Central.
I am in favour of this project because there are plenty of people with drug and alcohol problems round here and they need support. Substance users are not some kind of contagion threatening to invade and pollute Brockley, they are already here. People are being shot on the streets of Brockley in conflicts that are partly about the drugs trade - this trade is supplying a local demand (I'm not saying that it's worse in Brockley than in say New Cross or Deptford, but no reason to think it's significantly different).
Drug and alcohol problems are widespread at all levels of society, and there but for fortune could have gone - or maybe still will - some of the many other people who have used drugs or had periods of heavy drinking during their lives (no doubt including some of the objectors as well as supporters).
If the services work (which they certainly do for some), they actually make the area safer as well as improving the lives of the service users. One of the problems with services like these is that the people who need them most are often not highly motivated to travel to access them, or to put it another way those living nearest to the service are more likely to use and benefit from them. So arguably the people who are concerned about the behaviour of some substance users should be happy that the ones living in their area will be more likely to get support if there is a local facility.
The proposed site is the former bank building at the Brockley Cross end of Shardeloes Road.
Personally I would love to see a nice new, spacious, purpose-built facility but that seems unlikely right now. In terms of location though, Brockley Cross is as good a place as any. Services in a densely-populated city can never be far from residential areas - and if they were they would probably be inaccessible. But nobody will be living next door to this centre - it has the timber yard on one side, and a church on the other. Shardeloes Road becomes residential further along but you have to go quite a way before you come to anybody's front door. The horrors of the Brockley Cross traffic junction act as a formidable barrier between the proposed centre and homes elsewhere in the area.
The proximity to the nursery round the corner has been mentioned by some, but is not really material. Obviously children there are safe and have no contact with people on the streets except travelling to and from the nursery. It is a daycare provision (8 am to 6 pm), which means most children are being dropped off and picked up at the ends of the parents' working day, outside of the times when the drug and alcohol service is likely to be busiest.
If the service is run properly by the very experienced CRI drugs charity any problems should be minimal and outweighed by the benefits. If there are difficulties, I have no doubt that the very vocal Brockley Cross Action Group will be able to make its views known and sort it out with the Council.
You can give your views to Lewisham here.