Saturday, 22 December 2012

Strictly successful!

Thank you so much to everyone for making the 2012 Strictly Christmas Market such a success.  The stallholders put on a great display and so many people gave their time and energy so freely.
There are far too many people to mention individually – but special thanks have to go to everyone who kept us entertained including all the choirs, and those from the Ladywell Youth Service who did the facepainting.
Thanks also to the children from the RAZ After-School Club who made baubles to  help decorate the Christmas tree.
Have a look at our photos from the event and we’ll see you again next year!

Monday, 17 December 2012

Time to collect your 'Strictly Christmas' Raffle Prize

Thanks to all our local businesses who donated prizes.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

RAZ brings some Razzmatazz to Ladywell

Today children from Ladywell’s local RAZ After School Club helped to dress the Christmas tree when it arrived as part of Ladywell’s Christmas celebrations.
Local residents are also being asked to ‘bring a bauble’ and help finish decorating the tree between 11.00am and 12noon on Saturday 15 December before the tree lights are formally switched on at Ladywell’s Strictly Christmas market.  The Young Mayor of Lewisham, Jamel Higgins, is guest of honour and will turn on the lights at 2.00pm.
Rose Gayle, Manager of the RAZ After School Club, said: “We’re all really excited about the celebrations in Ladywell.  Christmas is a great time for children and we’re delighted to be able to take part in the preparations.”
9yr old Amoy Taylor who was helping with the decorating said “We’ve put some baubles on the tree but it needs some more. Everyone should make some because it’s fun and they’re shiny.”  10yr old Samantha Thompson said: “I’ve already made another one. I used glass paint and it’s gold and red. I’ve taken it home but I’m going to bring it back for the Christmas market.”
The tree has been donated by Glendale with lighting and installation costs funded through Ladywell Assembly and installed by Skanska.
The LVIG Events Team

Friday, 30 November 2012

Council to restart legal action on Corals

It doesn't come as any great surprise to hear that assurances given by Coomes (owners of the Coral building in Ladywell) to repair the building and bring the first and second floor flats back into use proved worthless, so it is good to hear that the Council has recently written to the Residential Property Tribunal Service seeking a hearing and, hopefully, service of an Empty Dwelling Management Order.
The Council supports LVIG's long held argument that this property is highly visible, a blight on the local amenity of the neighbourhood and contributes towards depressing the regeneration of the area and the sustainability of Ladywell Village as a local retail centre.
Thanks to Nick Long at the Council for his tenacity - HOWEVER if the Council is to be successful in seeking an EDMO they will need evidence by way of letters from local residents and retailers painting a picture of the impact this shabby building has on Ladywell and showing the strength of feeling on this matter.  Furthermore, when this comes to the Tribunal in January (date t.b.c.) it would be good if a small delegation of residents could attend to demonstrate the strength of local support for firm and decisive action.
Letters on this should be sent to Nick Long, Empty Homes Officer, 4th Floor, Laurence House, London SE6 4RU.

LVIG Christmas benefit gig (8 Dec) - and Santa Claus is coming to town!

Ahead of Ladywell’s strictly glitzy Christmas market on 15 December, the Ladywell Village Improvement Group is organising a lively benefit evening on Saturday 8 December.  The Ladywell Tavern will come alive with the ska, rock and soul sounds of the Grey Cats, with support from young acoustic singer-songwriter, Nyona, and acoustic sing-along covers with John and Stuart.  The line up of entertainment will start at 8.00pm and while entry is free, donations are welcome.  All money raised will go towards the cost of putting on the Christmas market and on improvement projects in Ladywell.
Cynthia Lamptey, Chair of the LVIG events team, said: “This is going to be a really lively and fun evening out.  Come with family, friends or neighbours and support your local community and your local high street.  The Ladywell Tavern is a great venue and we have an excellent evening of entertainment lined up.”
Children will also be thrilled to learn that, over the same weekend, Santa and the Christmas Angel will be visiting 'Slater and King' at 46 Ladywell Road SE13 on Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 December from 10.00am-6.00pm.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Ladywell Christmas Market in ON! - Sat 15 Dec,11am-5pm

This year’s Christmas market is taking its inspiration from the popular BBC television show ‘Strictly Come Dancing’.  There’ll be plenty of glitter and glamour as Ladywell celebrates ‘Strictly Christmas’.
The area outside Ladywell train station will be transformed into a festive food and gift market.  Entertainment and activities are just being finalised, but will include choirs and the all-important dressing and lighting of the village Christmas tree.
Cynthia Lamptey, Chair of the LVIG Events Team, says: “Many of the village’s businesses will be taking part in ‘Strictly Christmas’, but we’ll also have a wide range of Christmas stalls selling things you can’t easily find elsewhere. Ladywell will be the place to come if you want to find that unusual or special gift.  For the adults we’ll have some warming seasonal food and mulled wine on offer. For the kids we’ll have face-painting as well as a few surprises.  All of this will take place against a backdrop of a traditional Christmas tree with guest choirs.”

Monday, 5 November 2012

Ladywell Village Cycles

Mark Raistrick has twice proven extremely helpful (and his charges for bike repairs are very reasonable) so I thought he deserved mention on the Blogspot.  He's situated next to Ladywell Village Barbers.  Contact: (E) and (T) 020 8265 4791.
Robert Sheppard  

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Ladywell Baths ('Playtower') building works well underway

The building works, funded by the Council, to weatherproof and safeguard the structure of the building, are now well underway.  These works, once completed, will enable the Ladywell Tower Trust (a building preservation trust) to start to bring the building back into use whilst at the same time respecting its historical character.

The Trust is also exploring ways of securing the very significant funding that will be needed if the entire site is to be brought back into use.  Any future use(s) of the building will need to ensure an income stream that will cover the running costs of the building.

It is expected that early in 2013, once the building works are completed, a volunteer session will be arranged to clear and tidy the front forecourt of the building and, perhaps, to start to lay out a garden there.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Ladywell Fields River Clean-Up - 11 November

Come along to the next Ladywell Fields River Clean-Up, 10.00am to 1.00pm on 11 November.  This is one of the Ladywell Fields User Group's twice-yearly events run by  Meet at the cafe at 9.45am to get kitted-out with waders and to hear the mandatory safety talk.
Robert Sheppard 

Ladywell Ceilidh - Friday 23 November

Whether or not you've got any Celtic in you, this (see attached) may appeal and will doubtless be a lively evening. Listen to to hear the band that'll be playing on the night. A local event organised by local people!
Robert Sheppard

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Ladywell Christmas Market is ON!

The ever popular Ladywell Christmas Market will take place again this year, on Saturday 15 December. Our events team is looking for volunteers, especially those with marketing, PR and publicity and fundraising skills to come and join us and make this happen. Please email if you're interested and have some spare time!

As previously, there will festive cheer, local craft and food stalls, seasonal drinks and treats, and opportunities to snap up some last minute Christmas presents.

If you'd like to reserve a stall, please email - as soon as possible to avoid disappointment!

A big thank you to everyone at last night's Ladywell Assembly who supported funding to cover the upfront costs of the Market.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Ladywell Tower Trust AGM Weds 19 September - please come along!

The Annual General Meeting for the Ladywell Tower Development Trust will take place this Weds 19 Sept at Lewisham Methodist Church, Albion Way, SE13 6BT starting at 5.30pm. The Trust has been established to oversee the renovation and re-use of the ‘Playtower’, the Grade II Listed Victorian former swimming baths situated on Ladywell Road.
The meeting will include a presentation from the architects working on the project (RCKa), an update on the work of the Trust from its Chair, James Jennings and also elections to positions on the Trust.
All are welcome to attend.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Please no, not another takeaway . . .

A 'change of use' planning application has been submitted in respect of 89 Ladywell Road, currently the 'En Gedi' gift shop, which is closing down.  The application is for a change to A3 (restaurant/cafe)/A5 (takeway) use.
LVIG considers that Ladywell is already oversaturated with takeaways so is likely firmly to oppose this application.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Petition on Resident Parking

The Ladywell CPZ is not currently a 'live' issue for Ladywell Village, where controls seem largely 'fit for purpose' and will improve with the introduction of new short-stay bays early next year.  However, views in the area are mixed on whether the zone (and, in particular, way it operates at present) is a good thing or not.  The most recent extension, which takes the zone further up the hill, has generated particular concerns.  A group of residents has recently set-up an online petitionwhich you may wish to support, urging the Council to review the zone's operation to seek to find a solution that better addresses the area's parking issues.
The LVIG Committee

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The next challenge

LVIG is optimistic now (see  item below) that works will soon commence on the flats above Coral, so we're looking to you, Ladywell residents and businesses, for a steer on where LVIG should next focus its attention.  The  decaying tooth in this Ladywell smile is of course the 'Snack Bar' which has remained in this state for more than ten years.  But there are several contenders on the other side of the street too, with many of the original features in a poor state or obliterated by tasteless 'improvements'.
In the meantime the Council has confirmed it is taking enforcement action against the illegal advertisments above the shop unit at 79 Ladywell Road.
Robert Sheppard 

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Coral refurb now imminent

Readers of this blog will know that LVIG has been campaigning long and hard to get Coomes, owners of the prominent Coral building (at 228/230 Algernon Road), to refurbish the premises and bring the flats back into use.  Nick Long, the Council's Empty Property Manager, has been doing sterling work behind the scenes and some months ago commenced enforcement action in relation to this and other Coomes properties locally.  Court action was only suspended when Coomes came forward with a planned programme of works.
Now it is clear that Coomes are delivering on their undertakings: they've already started refurbishing their property portfolio in the Borough, and in the last week Nick has been onsite at 228/230 Algernon Road with a Coomes representative who indicated that the company will now, given the level of local interest, bring forward planned work on its Ladywell building. 

This is excellent news.  We are hoping that when the works commence, Phil Spencer and The Great British Property Scandal: Revisited will return to film a piece.  We're not quite there yet but thanks to Nick and all who have been keeping up the pressure.  Let's hope this is the catalyst for further property refurbishment in central Ladywell.  LVIG still has plenty more challenges over the coming years but, for the meantime at least, this looks like being a welcome reward for its contructive partnership approach to local problems.

Robert Sheppard

Friday, 25 May 2012

Mercy Terrace go-ahead

Lewisham's Planning Committee has given the go ahead for a three-storey building on Mercy Terrace, the cul de sac that runs at the back of the parade of shops on Algernon Road and ends at the bridge over the railway line.  The building will comprise three flats, two one beds and one two bed, and a multipurpose ground floor hall that might be available for community use. The development also includes a curved stairwell and water tower, clad in zinc and topped by solar panels.  Despite the go-ahead, the Committee raised two concerns.  At the moment there is no proper provision for refuse collection on the proposed site and there are worries that the zinc cladding might prove a distraction to drivers in bright sunlight.  The development is in the Ladywell conservation area and some local people fear it will look out of place in the neighbourhood.  What do you think?  Tony M

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Slow progress on Playtower . . . but progress nevertheless!

At last night's meeting at the Misty Moon Gallery, James Jennings (Chair of the Ladywell Tower Trust*) outlined progress towards bringing the Ladywell Baths building ('The Playtower') back into use.  This, he stressed, was a long-term project!
Council and English Heritage money would shortly be spent on weatherproofing, though as much as £6m might ultimately be needed fully to restore and renovate the building.  Whilst the Heritage Lottery Fund might give part of this, other sources of funding were being explored -one option being to secure a capital reciept by selling part of the site for development.
Key elements in the overall strategy are community use and income generation as both are needed to ensure the longer-term viability of the project.
As yet the building is still in Council ownership, but all the signs suggest the Council is keen to get the building 'off its hands'.  Whether the Trust takes the building freehold or leasehold has yet to be determined.
Watch this space for updates . . .
Robert Sheppard

* The Trust is a partnership between Volunteer Centre Lewisham, Lewisham Disability Coalition, The Tabernacle and Voluntary Action Lewisham.  LVIG's very own Vice-Chair, Tony Rich, is a community trustee.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Should Ladywell have a Neighbourhood Plan?

The Localism Act 2011 gives local communities the right to establish local forums, comprising no less than 21 people from a designated area, to develop neighbourhood plans.  Such plans offer the tempting possibility of local people exercising a greater degree of control over local planning policy/decisions.

Representatives of the Ladywell Village Improvement Group and the Ladywell Society will meet Council officers in early May to discuss the best way of ensuring that local planning policy best reflects the needs of Ladywell.  It may be that statutory requirements around neighbourhood plans are onerous and expensive and that a better route, to achieve the same end, will be to modify or better use existing planning controls.  Issues for discussion might include (i) site briefs for potential development sites such as Watergate School site, Mercy Terrace etc.; (ii) criteria to prevent over-saturation of takeway etc. uses; (iii) tighter shopfront and streetscape policies; (iv) a presumption that new buildings will respect the scale of existing, predominently Victorian/Edwardian character; (v) protection of amenity/views, esp. from Ladywell Fields and Hilly Fields; and (vi) a clear presumption against 'backland' and back garden development.


Friday, 6 April 2012

Chicken tonight - and every night

Ladywell residents will soon be able to eat fried chicken to their heart’s content – and order it from a different takeaway each night. Yes, the country’s favourite food will soon be available from two new outlets on our high street.  Coming soon – The Village Chicken Hut at the old off licence at 222 Algernon Road, expected to open in about two weeks time. Soon after – or even at the same time  – a finger lickin’ fried chicken outlet is expected to open in the Chinese takeway which is currently being refurbished.  LVIG wishes the owners well but remains concerned about the proliferation of takeaway outlets on our high streets. Tony M

Friday, 24 February 2012

Coral-Coomes bow to pressure over flats

The Ladywell Village improvement Group’s long-running campaign to force Coral-Coomes to renovate the landmark double fronted flat above the Coral betting shop at 228-230 Algernon Rd might soon bear fruit.
Inspired by the recent Channel 4 programme – Phil Spencer’s Empty Homes Giveaway – which featured LVIG’s campaign to bring the flats back into use, Nick Long, Lewisham’s empty homes officer, has been putting pressure on Coral-Coomes to renovate the properties.
Earlier this year he applied to the residential property tribunal for an interim empty dwelling management order which could be used to force Coomes to repair and let the property.
But this week Coomes property manager Ashley Hall met Mr Long and indicated the bookmaker was now looking at improving the flats above three betting shops in the borough -  228-230 Algernon Rd,  347-349 Lee High Road, and 357 Sydenham Rd.
Mr Hall indicated Coomes would start work shortly on the six flats above their Lee High Rd shop.. Once completed, rental income from these flats will be used to renovate Corals on the corner of Algernon Rd. A builder is understood to be inspecting the long neglected flat this month.
The large flat is in a poor condition, with broken windows, peeling paint, and a deteriorating roof. It has long been seen by the local community as a sad waste of a family home at a time of acute housing shortage in London. It has been an eyesore on the high street for more than 10 years but Coral-Coomes had always refused to take responsibility for renovating the property.
But Coomes hs now told Mr Long that they have taken a strategic decision to rationalise  the ownership and control of their property portfolio across south east London to generate capital and maximise potential rental income.
 They are reducing the number of shops they own from 49 to 32 because of the tough competition they are now facing from on line betting and a growing number of high street competitors.
Mr Long said that as soon as Coomes confirm the undertakings they have given to the council and builders start work he will adjourn his case before the residential property tribunal  to give the bookmaker time to complete the projects and bring the dwellings back into occupation. 
As Mr Long said: “These are early days but it is encouraging”.
Coomes' about turn on these properties shows that determined action by the local community can force change. LVIG hopes Coomes will now move quickly in 2012 to bring this landmark property back into full and proper use. TonyM

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Lewisham Mayor rules against Church Grove traveller site

In the last half hour Sir Steve Bullock, Mayor of Lewisham, has accepted officer recommendations and decided not to pursue plans for a traveller site at Church Grove, Ladywell.  This will come as a huge relief to Church Grove residents and to many other local people who felt this was simply not a suitable site.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Mayor Bullock set to abandon Church Grove traveller site

Sir Steve Bullock, Lewisham's Mayor, is being recommended strongly by officers in a report published today (see to abandon proposals for a traveller site at the former Watergate School site and to look elsewhere for a site to meet the Council's Housing Act duties.

Officers recommend ". . . based on the outcome of the consultation and an independent Technical Report on Access, the proposals for redevelopment of the Church Grove site to meet the current accommodation needs of the gypsy and traveller community in the borough be discontinued and a new site search begun."  Paragraph 18.3 continues "The key issue of concern is access . . . Although it may be possible for some caravans to safely access [sic] the site, the revised legislation means that it would be very difficult for a caravan of the maximum permitted width to safely enter [sic] the site without potential damage to other vehicles or mounting an already narrow footway. The use of mitigation measures have been considered but it has been concluded that these are either impractical or have significant disadvantages.

Paragraph 18.6 concludes "In order to address the need to identify a site or sites to meet the needs of the traveller community, officers propose to fundamentally reconsider [sic] the existing approach to the identification of potential sites. This would involve a re-appraisal of the criteria previously used and a new site search that will take into account both Council sites and those outside of Council ownership."

Split infinitives aside, this looks like ending next week with a victory for commonsense. The arguments from residents seem to have won the day - which begs the question why wasn't there a proper exploration of the issues BEFORE the Church Grove site was put on a shortlist of one!

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Council turns up the heat on empty flats

Lewisham Council has made an application to the Residential Property Tribunal in respect of the flats above Corals at 228-230 Algernon Road (and a couple of other properties also owned by Coomes) and expect a hearing date in late February or early March. The Council will be seeking an interim Empty Dwelling Management Order on the flats. If granted, Coomes will have to repair and let the property and if they fail to do so the Council can invoke a final EDMO and take control of the property, repair and let it.

The hearing will be in public so people are welcome to attend.  Though Coomes have not responded to date they are, of course, likely to fight the Council all the way on this.  Success at the hearing will depend to some extent on the quality of the 'bundle of evidence' the Council will have to submit - so letters from local traders and local people in support of the application, and postings to this blogspot will be helpful.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

A new chapter begins for the Ladywell 'Playtower'

The Ladywell Baths (aka 'The Playtower'), then and now
Council and English Heritage monies have now been earmarked to weatherproof the building and start to bring it back into use.  The work is scheduled to start in March and will include refurbishment of the 'superintendant’s flat' to allow it to be occupied, thus improving the overall security of the site.
A Charitable Trust has been established which will oversee the refurbishment of the building and long-term use as a community hub comprising voluntary sector offices, space for community activities and a cafĂ©.  The Trust is currently applying for funding to take the project forward and this will include full consultation with local people on the type of community activities that could take place in the hall (formerly the main pool).
If you have ideas or might be interested in getting involved, please email with an explanation of your ideas and/or interest.
Tony Rich

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Traveller Site decision deferred to 15 February

Council officers have confirmed that the decision on whether or not the Council's new Traveller Site is to be located at Church Grove, Ladywell (pictured) will be taken by Mayor Sir Steve Bullock on Weds 15 February.  The public report on which the decision will be based should be available for public inspection on Tues 7 February.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

A flicker of hope for Mason's

Hopes that Masons is about to get a new owner have been raised by the sight of decorating equipment piled up in the bar, but we hear these relate to ongoing redecoration of one of the flats above.  However, local shopkeepers have been told that one restaurant operator with outlets in Crystal Palace and Brixton is in in discussion with the freeholder about taking-on the lease.  A sticking point may be the kitchens, which I'm told are in need of some investment.  Watch this space . . .