Friday, 9 December 2016

The Council sets out 'Playtower' Timetable

Lewisham Council has outlined the process through which it hopes to find a suitable development partner for the listed Ladywell Baths building on Ladywell Road (also known locally as 'The Playtower').  It says:
The London Borough of Lewisham is committed to bringing Ladywell Playtower back into use through a revival of its unique historical character, maintaining the significance of its local heritage and exploring benefits to the local community. Recently this process has been met with unforeseen delays. However, through renewed political and financial support, a project programme is now underway.  Please see below for programme specifics.
Stage 1: Preparing for Expression of Interests (EOIs) and Opportunity Live
The Council is running a competitive process to identify a development partner to take on the restoration and animation of Ladywell Playtower. Numerous parties have already expressed an interest, such as an independent cinema operator and mixed-used workspace providers. We are currently in the process of creating marketing materials for this opportunity. This will centre on a website, similar to that of Haggerston Baths, which will be used to provide key development information to potential partners. The EOI will go live at the beginning of January 2017.
Stage 2: EOI Submission and Round 1 Bidder Selection
The EOI submission phase will run from the beginning of January until the middle of February. It will allow potential partners to respond to the EOI criteria, outlining their vision for Ladywell Playtower, considering development feasibility and identifying local need. A round 1 shortlisting exercise will be used to feedback to both successful and unsuccessful partners, identifying those best suited to progress to the next bidding round. This round 1 bidder selection process will take place between the middle of February and beginning of March.
Stage 3: Community Consultation and Engagement
It is important to capture local community opinions and feedback on those successful bids from round 1 above. The information gathered will be provided to successful bidders progressing to stage 4, helping them to tailor their applications around local community needs and aspirations. This stage will run for the first few weeks of March.
Stage 4: Method Statement Submission and Round 2 Bidder Selection
The method statement submission phase will run from the beginning of March to the end of April. It will coincide with stage 3 above to allow potential partners enough time to develop detailed submissions. This stage will collect in-depth method statements and detailing from potential partners, scoping: development deliverability and feasibility, timescales, funding options, community and heritage value etc. This process will run from the beginning of March to the middle of April. A round 2 shortlisting exercise will evaluate submissions and provide feedback. It will culminate with the appointment of a preferred provider. This process will run from the end of April to the end of May.
Stage 5: Planning and Construction
This stage encompasses the attainment of planning consent and funding, finalising designs, construction works tendering and the commencement of building. Bringing this disused asset back to its former prowess is predicted to cost around £4/5 million, with project completion estimated to be no sooner than the summer of 2019. At least a 2 year planning and construction phase will be required.
The Council's has, over recent years, signally failed to make committed effort to safeguard the future of this building, despite the significant ongoing costs to the Council Tax payer.  So the Ladywell Village Improvement Group is pleased to see that a clear process is in now place and hopes the this results in good schemes which include at least some element of community access/use.  This might include a mix of some of the following - restaurant, bar, cinema, theatre, community office space, fitness/leisure facilities - though doubtless other options exist!
Robert Sheppard   

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Ladywell Christmas Market needs YOU!

The Ladywell Christmas Market will take place on Sat 3 December on Ladywell Road at the junction with Algernon Road. We need marshals for the event.

It is a Council requirement that enough marshals are present - and visible - for the whole time that the market is in operation.  We have 8 high-viz jackets to loan out - now we just need the people to wear them.

Please can you let me know if you are able to make a commitment and volunteer for a short while at this event?  It is one of the few times that the community gets together and puts something on and it would be a pity to let it die away due to lack of volunteers.

Please can you let me know if you are available throughout the whole day,  or only for the morning, over lunch or in the afternoon and early evening.

Nicholas Springman

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Is The Ravensbourne Arms to Close?

Brockley Central, which always has its ear to the ground, reports that pub company Antic London are selling The Ravensbourne Arms (opposite St.Mary's Church on Lewisham High Street).
It is not clear yet whether any new owners plan to develop the site or to retain pub use.  In August 2015 an application to turn the upper floors of the building into flats was granted by LB Lewisham.  Recently LBL has adopted a policy to safeguard pubs from conversion to residential use where the pub is a 'going concern', as The Ravensbourne clearly is, so hopefully there are ground for resisting any such application.
Robert Sheppard

Monday, 17 October 2016

Wonderful, wonderful Ladywell Fields!

Ladywell Fields, from Ladywell Road bridge (17 Oct 2016)
Here in Ladywell we are blessed with a number of wonderful local parks.  Our two largest parks offer a wonderful contrast - we have Hilly Fields at the top of the hill and, at the foot of the hill between Ladywell Station and the Hospital, we have the evergreen Ladywell Fields.
For those of you not already aware, until about a century ago Ladywell Fields were watermeadows used for grazing animals (see photo to the left, looking east from Ladywell Station towards where 'The 'Playtower currently is, and this one from the Borough archives).
Ladywell Fields, at around the turn of the 19th century, looking north
from approximately where the 'curly bridge' over the railway now is.
In 1889 the area was purchased by the London County Council and Lewisham District Board of Works, with further land purchased later, and was opened as Ladywell Recreation Ground. Because the area was liable to flooding, the River Ravensbourne was straightened and enlarged, weirs were added, and the meadows were drained and landscaped.
Over the last decade over £2m of investment from the European Union and the London Development Agency has seen the renaturalisation of the River channel and other significant improvements.  The park has two children's playgrounds, a skatepark, an adventure playground, The Ten Thousand Hands Cafe and, quite uniquely, the River Ravensbourne in which kids can safely paddle, under supervision(!), during most of the year.  So what's not to like!
To get involved with the Friends of Ladywell Fields email or have a look at the Ladywell Fields blogspot.
Robert Sheppard

Ladywell Tavern Refurb Underway

It seems the new owners of the Ladywell Tavern are giving the building the t.l.c. it's needed for a few years now. Scaffolding is up and builders were today repairing the parapet at the very top of the building.

Whilst we're aware there's a planning application awaiting determination (weblink below), LVIG is keen, as are many Ladywell residents, to know what the owners' plans are (e.g. for the first and second floors) and, perhaps most importantly, when the pub will reopen!

You can find the planning application - for "the demolition of two outbuildings and a garage to create a beer garden to the rear of the Ladywell Tavern . . . together with the erection of timber gates fronting onto Slagrove Place and new glazed doors to the function room" - here on the Lewisham Council website.

Robert Sheppard

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Unauthorised demolition of historic Mercy Terrace stables

Photo of the rear of Mercy Terrace, taken from
the bridge (c.2011)
The Council’s Planning Enforcement Team carried out a site visit on 25 July when officers noted that the historic stable buildings had been completely demolished and the foundation for a new building had been excavated. 
The level of demolition is ‘substantial’ and to have done this is an offence under the Planning Acts (where planning permission is not in place for such development).
The Council has therefore issued a warning of the likelihood of formal enforcement action, given that an offence has been committed.  It has been made clear that the works should cease immediately (subject to making the site safe).
Planning Enforcement officers will be visiting the site again to check that the notice to cease works is being observed.

Monday, 25 July 2016

10-14 Mercy Terrace - Update

In January this year the Council refused planning permission for a development on this existing warehouse site round the back of the Ladywell Post Office.  The Council wrote, amongst other things:
  • the proposed dwelling mix, through the inclusion of studio units and the failure to provide any family sized dwellings, would fail to provide a long term and  sustainable solution to housing need within the borough . . . ; and that
  • the development would fail to provide an acceptable standard of residential amenity for future occupiers by reason of the provision of undersized units which would have poor internal amenity levels due to the substandard access to sunlight and daylight and would also fail to provide dedicated private amenity space for all units . . . ; and that
  • the proposed development would fail to provide any affordable housing . . .

Now a further application has been received for "Demolition of the existing building and the construction of a mixed-use development comprising approximately 372sqm of office floorspace (Use Class B1) and a part 3/part4/part 5 storey building to provide 45 residential units together with the provision of disabled parking and landscaping at 10-14 Mercy Terrace SE13 (Outline Application)."
This looks like little more than a reduction in units from 49 to 45 but it's difficult to know as no supporting documents are yet available on the Council website.
Robert Sheppard

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Three Peaks Challenge this Saturday - can you hack it?

A new circular walking route is being launched in Lewisham, with a special event in aid of two charities supporting young people.
The Lewisham Three Peaks Challenge is a sponsored walk taking place on 16 July 2016, starting at 11.00am in Hilly Fields, SE4.  It will follow the route of the new Three Peaks Green Route, which links up the hilly parks of Hilly Fields. One Tree Hill and Blythe Hill with the shops and cafes of Crofton Park, Honor Oak and Ladywell.
A group of local residents has produced an illustrated map and guide to the walk with funding from Ladywell Assembly.  The 5-mile circular route passes through parks and historic cemeteries, as well visiting some popular shopping streets, with plenty of pubs and cafes for refreshment stops.  The guide includes interesting historical information and suggests what to look out for along the way. For people coming from outside the area – or who want a short cut - there are plenty of transport links to join the route.
To launch the new walk, residents have teamed up with the Stephen Lawrence Trust and For Jimmy.
A sponsored walk on Saturday 16 July will ‘christen’ the circular route and raise money for the charities. Money is also being raised from the donations received for the maps and from sales of a special limited edition ‘Lewisham 3 Peaks Challenge’ t-shirt. This has been designed by Guardian cartoonist and local resident, Martin Rowson.
Further information available on Facebook ( or Twitter (@Brockley3Peaks).
You can also sign up to raise money for the charities at

Saturday, 9 July 2016

The Ladywell Tavern changes hands

The Ladywell Tavern has again changed ownership.  It is now, it seems, owned by the Laine's pub group (yes, I checked the apostrophe!) and will be known just as 'The Ladywell'.  See here.  

A planning application has also been submitted to demolish some of the outbuildings to the rear of the pub, though not the building that's currently a gallery.  The kitchen will move to the back of the building and the current kitchen will become WCs.

Robert Sheppard

Friday, 1 July 2016

59 Ladywell Road 'arches' refurb underway

. . . as seen from the north side of the road,
with the railway at the back of the photo
Over a year ago the Ladywell Fields blog reported on the marketing exercise in relation to this site under the Ladywell Road bridge (on the eastern side of the railway).  As these photos show, the refurb is well underway.  
. . . and as seen from the station exit
into Ladywell Fields

It was envisaged that this might become a bar or restaurant.  As soon as we can find out more, we'll let you know.

Robert Sheppard

Monday, 20 June 2016

Ladywell Baths namechecked in Guardian article

Our very own Ladywell Baths, subject of a recent petition, was namechecked in this article in Sunday's Guardian.
The article says - Also lined up in this poolside beauty contest is Ladywell Baths in Lewisham, south London.  Last year the badly neglected site appeared in the Victorian Society’s top 10 of England and Wales’s most endangered buildings.  Christopher Costelloe, director of the society, said then “What was once a hub of the community deserves better than lying empty, half obscured by trees.”
The public eagerly awaits news from the Council on the 'expression of interest' process which seeks to establish who might be interested in redevelopment of the site and what sorts of projects are being contemplated including, importantly, the element of community use/access involved in each.
Robert Sheppard

Friends of Ladywell Fields to meet this Weds 22 June - ALL WELCOME!

The Friends of Ladywell Fields (a.k.a. the Ladywell Fields User Group) writes:
"Please come along to our meeting at 7.30pm this Weds 22 June in the Gallery at the rear of the Ladywell Tavern.  Just get your drink at the bar (if you'd like one!) and walk on out the back and head into the Gallery.  We'll be upstairs.
"There's plenty to talk about this time - not least the Council's proposal to work in partnership with the Lawn Tennis Association to upgrade the tennis courts, with users being required to purchase a key fob to gain access.  Andy Thomas, the Council officer with responsibility for sports, will be present to provide more information and answer questions.
"This meeting is also a great opportunity to raise issues direct with Glendale, the Council's longtime parks contractors, with whom we in Ladywell Fields have historically had a very good relationship."
Robert Sheppard

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Council issues response to Ladywell Baths ('Playtower') petition

The Ladywell Baths - in their former glory
In an undated response on its Petitions webpage the Council has given the following, somewhat minimalist, response to the community petition that secured 914 signatures earlier this year.
We understand the importance of Ladywell Playtower (the former Victorian Baths on Ladywell Road) and the contribution it makes to the local area’s character and welcome the community interest in preserving this heritage asset.
The building has fallen into disrepair and requires significant investment, particularly after major setbacks such as the 2005 fire.
We have already taken steps to slow down the deterioration of the buildings.  With the support of English Heritage in 2012 we replaced the roof and made the building water tight.
But much more investment is needed before the building could be made useable again.
In the coming months the Council will invite prospective partners to assist with developing a vision and raising funds for the restoration of this Grade II listed local landmark.
Robert Sheppard

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Love Ladywell Fields? So share your issues and views with others!

The Friends of Ladywell Fields (a.k.a. LFUG) will meet at 7.30pm this Wednesday 23rd March in the art gallery behind the Ladywell Tavern.

Please come to talk about current issues with other people who appreciate this wonderful local park.

Robert Sheppard

Friday, 29 January 2016

Ladywell Old Baths/'Playtower' - update

The Ladywell Old Baths (or 'Playtower') featured heavily at the Ladywell Ward Assembly meeting on 27 January where a presentation was made by Ashton Bentley, one of the organisations proposing to restore and re-use the building.  The Company, which makes audio visual equipment, proposes to base its R&D and main offices in a fully-restored building.  They would also enable various leisure/cultural uses - including a cafe, rehearsal space and exhibition space as well as 30 hi-tech office 'pods' which would be installed in the main swimming pool hall.
The Company would also rebuild the old destroyed 'second class' pool hall (at the rear of the site adjacent to the Churchyard) and use this for their own offices.  Ashton Bentley are also interested in taking on the Coroner's Court building, although it is unclear whether the Council is willing to dispose of this building at the same time.  There was considerable support for the proposals from those present, though there was consensus too that the public should be able to see all the other proposals coming forward.
The officer responsible for the future of the site, Gavin Plaskitt, also spoke at the meeting.  He indicated that the Council had received a number of exciting proposals for the Old Baths from some very experienced organisations, of which Ashton Bentley's was just one, and the Council would be publishing an 'Expression of Interest' form in the next 4-6 weeks to kick-off the process of selecting a development partner.  He gave a clear assurance at the meeting that the local community would get a chance to see all the various proposals, potentially at a future local assembly meeting.
Tony Rich

Monday, 25 January 2016

Self-build Scheme for Ladywell - update

Proposal for the Ladywell site by designers Architype
Last week the Guardian reported - in the context of Walter Segal's pioneering Walters Way self-build scheme of the 1980s - on the self-build scheme planned for the former Watergate School site, at the end of Church Grove in Ladywell.  The article says:
"On a site in Ladywell, a couple of miles east of Walters Way, the council has agreed to hand over the land on a long-term lease to the Rural Urban Synthesis Society (Russ), a community land trust (CLT) set up by Dayes, to develop 33 new homes for a mix of affordable tenures. Unlike the original Lewisham self-builds of the 80s, the Ladywell development will remain affordable in perpetuity, with rents linked to local incomes through the community land trust, which will retain a stake of at least 20% in each home.
"The proposal includes five flats for social rent; two shared flats – each with three purpose-designed studios for young people unable to afford full market rents; 14 flats offered on a discounted shared-equity basis (the CLT’s stake will enable control of subsequent resales to people similarly in need); and 12 homes available shared-ownership, where residents buy a 25% share and can 'earn' up to a further 12% ownership to reflect the sweat equity in building their homes."
Robert Sheppard

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Ladywell Assembly - Weds 27 January

Even at this time of austerity, Lewisham Council maintains its costly system of ward assemblies and the ward budgets (albeit now reduced to £12,500) which are annually doled-out to those (generally 'usual suspects') clued-up enough to complete a longish application form and mobilise the necessary flashmob on the night.
At next week's Ladywell Assembly, which will be held at Gordonbrock School, Amyruth Road, London SE4 1HQ from 7.00pm on Weds 27 January, decisions will be made on funding for 2016/17 and anyone aged 14 and above who lives in the Ladywell Ward has a vote.

One of this year's bids comes from the Friends of Ladywell and Brockley Cemeteries.  Others in the mix come from:
  • Max Media Arts
  • Dalmain Athletics
  • The St.Andrews Centre
  • Ladywell Youth Club and One Community Project
  • EMT First Aid and Lifeguard Training
  • Bellingham Football Club
  • Brockley Three Peaks Walk

What may be of more interest in reality is the update expected on the Ladywell Baths ('Playtower').  It's hoped that the Council, stirred into action at last by the Victorian Society's shaming and the local petition (now with over 800 supporters), will have some positive news on what might be done to save this very special local landmark.

The contact at the Council is


New Operator for Ladywell's 'Village News'

Some of you will already be aware that Village News has changed hands.  Sri writes:
" . . . I have recently taken over Village News on Algernon Road.  I would love it if all the local residents could pop by and meet me and give me their opinions of the shop and on ideas for any potential improvements.
"Also, I have had many customers come and ask me if I do Oyster top ups.  As I am located very close to Ladywell Station, I applied to become an Oyster agent but I have been put on the waiting list.  I have put together a petition to Oyster Sales Service and I would be very grateful if you could come and sign it if you support the idea.
"I look forward to meeting everyone!"
Robert Sheppard