Frustrated by the fact that Lewisham's representation in the latest Time Out restaurant guide amounts to little more than the address of Nando's, reader Zoe has attempted to set the record straight by recommending a restaurant we'd not heard about before: Le Querce.
It may not be SE4, but it's only a few minutes up the road from the Brockley Jack and sounds very promising. Zoe says:
"I just wanted to let you know that you may want to add a new restaurant to any future posts about places to eat in the area. Le Querce is a family run Italian restaurant with really high quality food. They make their own gelato and serve wonderful, fresh pasta, meat and seafood. I had a fantastic fresh lobster and tagliatelle when I was last there.
"I only heard about it because I was waiting for a take away in Longtime Cafe and some women started chatting with me. They said they'd had amazing lobster (!) at an Italian just off the roundabout near St Hilda's church. I love this area to bits and try to do what I can to support local places, but even I was surprised to hear that you could get a great lobster dinner in SE4 [BC says - unfortunately, until we claim that stretch of Brockley Rise for our own, we still can't boast that accolade].
"I honestly think it's the best restaurant in our area and it's not just local pride clouding my judgment. They really care about what they serve and the prices are very fair. A comparable meal in central London could easily cost double. I want to help get the word out because I hope they are able to stay in business for a long time, like Babur Brasserie, its neighbour. I get really fed up when people take the area for a wasteland or ignore it altogether."
For more information, click here.
In our experience, the best Italian restaurants are always the worst-looking. We were recently dragged to a place in Uxbridge that looked like a 70s airport lounge but served incredible food, so Le Querce's "unassuming" decor is a plus as far as we're concerned.
Thanks to Zoe for letting us know about it. The poor quality of information about this area was one of the driving forces behind the creation of this blog, so please email us with any other recommendations.
Frustrated by the fact that Lewisham's representation in the latest Time Out restaurant guide amounts to little more than the address of Nando's, reader Zoe has attempted to set the record straight by recommending a restaurant we'd not heard about before: Le Querce.
The blogger search facility only lets you search for things that Brockley Central has written, but since that's not even half of what gets written on this site these days, we've added Google search, which let's you search the comments sections as well. You can now track down individual pearls of wisdom from your favourite contributors, enjoy!
In recent weeks, we've been looped in to a few emails to the Council from Brockley residents disgusted by litter, particularly around Brockley Station. On Monday lunchtime, we sat outside the Broca, looking out for plastic bags rolling past like tumbleweed. But we couldn't really see any problem.
The dumping of free newspapers outside the station is a specific problem, which the Council have taken steps to remedy by adding more and more recycling bins, but they are fighting a losing battle against a rising tide. This is a London-wide problem and there is a campaign to make publishers more responsible for the waste they are generating. It's called Project Freesheet. We think that issue should be treated seperately from the wider question of street litter.
Brockley has its unloved areas and flytipping sites, like virtually any part of London outside Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea and it's right not to ignore the problems. Brockley Road is a mess, but that's more to do with the state of the shops, the street furniture and the pavement than the litter - although admittedly, it can be a problem, with fried chicken boxes a particular blight. But, by London standards, we think Brockley's pretty good, certainly around the Brockley and Telegraph Hill Conservation Areas and Crofton Park station. It's also blessed with relatively few dog lovers, which means that there is far less dog muck on the streets than we became accustomed to in Greenwich and Charlton.
What do you think of the problem and where are the worst sites?
Here's the news we've been promising for a long time - the details of the deli planned for Brockley.
As a (good) deli in Brockley would be as precious as a rare orchid, we didn't want to say anything which might jinx its arrival. However, the people behind it, Sandra and Peter, are now sufficiently advanced in their plans to be able to confirm the details.
Due to open in late October or early November, it will be at No. 5 Coulgate Street, as some had already speculated. The deli will become the Broca's new neighbour and should complement the cafe nicely. When we reported the news initially, we said we believed it would be the perfect location, because it will complete what is now a lovely part of Brockley, right next to the station, handy for people spilling off the trains after work. Admittedly, this isn't much use for commuters at St John's or Crofton Park, but on the basis it has to be somewhere, then being at the midway point between the two seems the best solution.
Called Dandelion Blue, it already has its own website http://www.dandeliondeli.com/although it doesn't give a lot away at this stage. The promise that it will be "dedicated to offering high quality food and drink" suggests that it won't be another Doorstep Bakery though.
Sandra and Peter, the people behind Dandelion Blue, have said that they'd welcome any feedback from people on this site about what you'd like to see from the shop, so put in your orders for sun dried tomatoes and rocket below.
Although it may seem like an age since the news got out, they've actually done pretty well to get this far this quickly. The Broca apparently took 18 months to get through the doors on Coulgate Street. From Dandelion Blue's point of view, it's just as well, since there are rumours of another upmarket fooderie on the way to Brockley before too long.
We hope to have an interview with Sandra and Peter in a few weeks.
A good man is hard to find. But not in Brockley.
In an interview with Metro yesterday, Gabrielle explained the real attraction of SE4.
After a few perfunctory questions about her new release, the journalist cuts to the chase and asks the really important question:
"What’s the best thing about coming from Brockley?"
"There’s a lot of talent that’s come from Brockley such as Mica Paris." But it's clear that it's talent of another kind which is the major selling point: "When I was younger, there were some fit guys in Brockley."
We've long suspected as much. Whether you're after a dashing, Daniel Cleaver-style cad like Hugh, the rogueish charms of Monkeyboy or an athletic type like TelegraphJogger, Brockley has something for you. Our train platforms are like catwalks and Hilly Fields in the summer is like Muscle Beach.
Gabrielle also takes the opportunity to deliver a none-too-subtle rebuke to Plumstead bloggers when she states:
"It was a nice, safe neighbourhood to grow up in."
As a gateway to the community, Brockley Station is currently pretty woeful, particularly on the west side. With passenger numbers forecast to treble between now and 2011, thanks to the arrival of the East London Line, it is also in danger of becoming unfit for the task of getting people on to trains.
Access on the west side is cramped and dark late at night, while the term "ticket hall" is too grand for a portaloo on stilts. On the east side, the work of the Brockley Cross Action Group to prettify the area and the arrival of the Broca have really improved things but the Brockley Common site remains inaccessible and, we suspect, most people don't even know it's there.
However, three separate developments are set to change all of this.
Firstly, we're very excited to report that the Brockley Cross Action Group have secured £100,000 funding to make the Brockley Cross Phase 2 plans a reality. This will involve the creation of a new, landscaped approach on the east side, with a public space, where currently the site is overgrown.
Secondly, as part of the redevelopment of Mantle Road, access on the west side will be widened and given some cosmetic improvements.
Together, these two initiatives should create a much improved bridge between east and west Brockley.
Thirdly, Transport for London have confirmed that they have plans to upgrade all of the stations on the London Overground network, which includes those on the East London Line. Although they were unable to make any further comment at this stage, it's not unreasonable to expect that at least some of this work will be completed by 2010, particularly as the ELL is considered part of the new Olympic transport infrastructure.
We'll hopefully have more news about the Brockley Common project very soon.
Natural light allowed through the windows? Check
Ability to process more than one customer at a time? Check
Free cash machine? Check
Articulated lorry pulling up outside the front when we happened to be there? Check...
In terms of the price and range, it seemed similar to Cost Cutters on Brockley Road - probably slightly worse on both counts. The quality of the produce was higher - salad, fruit and bagels were all a lot fresher and appetising-looking.
Shouldn't cause any specialist independent retailers nightmares.
The lorry could of course be coincidence, but frequency of delivery is something that these stores are notorious for.
Many people have posted comments about this topic already, but we wanted to summarise the facts regarding the betting shop application for the former Homeview video store on Brockley Road, as we understand them...
1. The original application by Portland Bookmakers was rejected by Greenwich Magistrates BUT on September 1st, the legislation governing the process by which such applications are made changed, making this decision irrelevant.
2. Under the terms of the new legislation, Lewisham Council is the organisation responsible for granting such licenses.
3. Portland Bookmakers have made a fresh application to Lewisham Council.
4. The deadline by which letters of objection must arrive with the Council is October 8th, 2007.
5. Even one valid letter of objection can trigger a process by which the matter would go to a vote by Lewisham Councillors.
6. However, the grounds for complaint are very limited - even the question of whether or not there is any demand for it (which was one of the key areas on which Coral challenged the original application) is deemed irrelevant.
7. The grounds on which residents can complain are:
- That a bookie in that location would encourage or support crime and disorder
- That the bookie would not provide a fair and / or open gambling service to its customers
- That its presence would put children or vulnerable people at greater risk of harm
8. Although we understand a couple of other businesses are sniffing around the site, Portland Bookmakers actually own it - so even if they get their license application refused, they have a choice whether to sell it, keep it vacant out of spite for this ungrateful community or set themselves up as Portland Family Greengrocers.
9. Despite our initial confidence that the Council would reject the new application, it's pretty clear that the community needs to make its voice heard (again) on this subject if it wants the application to be rejected.
Here's where objections need to go:
Licensing team, Laurence House, 2nd Floor Laurence House, 1 Catford Road, Catford SE6 4RU. E-mail: email@example.com
Thanks to Sue Luxton for highlighting this one, which is just down the hill:
"Cornmill Gardens is Lewisham’s newest open space. Situated just off Loampit Vale, it provides access to the River Ravensbourne, which has been released from its concrete walls. To celebrate the opening, Lewisham will be holding it’s first Country Fayre on Sunday 23 September 2007 from 12-6pm."
More details on her excellent blog
Cor blimey, there have been some hoary old class cliches flying around in the comments threads lately - it's like a war's broken out between the westside Morlocks and the eastside Eloi. We've also learned that:
- City workers just want somewhere to stash their Bentleys during the week.
- Bookies attract the 'wrong' sort, that 'we' don't want around here.
- All mummies are yummy and do nothing all day but fret over the quality of sun dried tomatoes on offer locally.
- The East London Line is like the Railroad Companies of the old west, bringing civilisation to the frontiers of London - but at what price?!
There are a few consistent strands of criticism, running throughout:
1. It's all a lie perpetrated by property-speculating fantasists, desperate to talk up the area.
Admittedly, we don't get these comments so often these days, but since we began writing in February, new cafes have opened, the Wickham's been revamped, Tesco's moved in, several major new apartment developments have begun and a deli's been announced. That alone would constitute significant regeneration, but there's plenty of other stuff bubbling under at the moment too, from businesses looking to set-up shop in the area, to developers eyeing local sites.
On this basis, we reject Gary's assertion that we should all be grateful that a bookie has deigned to show an interest in the area.
2. Regeneration means the destruction of everything that Brockley people hold dear
We don't get this argument. There are some things we all seem to hold dear about Brockley. Leafy streets, attractive housing, good transport, cherished institutions like Moonbows, lively arts scene, nice parks and a sense of community. None of that is under threat.
What is under threat are the semi-functional high-street and dysfunctional Brockley Cross district (complete with empty properties that blight the west side).
Brockley is a highly diverse area, home to a mix of rich and poor, black and white. If any of these communities were threatened with being marginalised, then that would, in our view, be the "wrong" kind of regeneration. But we don't see the risk of that happening. People who point to East Dulwich or Greenwich (which are both lovely) and worry that Brockley could soon end up gentrified like them overlook the fact that they have always been middle-class enclaves. Brockley can expect to be charmingly rough-around-the-edges for a long time to come.
Even the fried chicken shops and bookies can probably look forward to long and happy lives(unlike their customers).
3. Regeneration means hordes of braying financiers descending on Brockley, buying up Moonbow Jakes with their bonuses and selling it to Starbucks for twice the price.
The "sense of community" argument seems a particularly selfish one and seems to boil down to "they are not like us, therefore we don't want them." But the people who are moving in to the area are generally young, aspirational and have moved to the area because they're attracted by the same kinds of things that drew people here in the past. They just happen to work in financial services, like a growing proportion of London's population.
If they were chino, deck-shoe and Fat Face-wearing wallies, they'd move to Fulham, giving them easy access to the Home Counties at the weekend.
If you live in zone 2 London, within easy reach of two of the most important financial districts on earth, then having a few people in financial services as your neighbours seems to be a risk you have to accept.
For the record, Brockley Central doesn't work in the City, but 'some of our best friends' are bankers. They're normal people, who like "community" stuff too.
4. It's middle class hypocrisy to move in to an area because it's cheap and then hope for it to become nice as well
This argument is firstly based on the flawed assumption that people who want regeneration are all newcomers who could just as easily move to Blackheath if they wanted that kind of thing. But many who want change have lived here for years, have no prospect of moving or are renting and therefore have no financial stake in regeneration.
But even discounting that, the argument seems more profoundly flawed: it suggests the "victims" of regeneration are those who don't live here and might, at some point in the future, be priced out of the area. We don't think it's hypocritical for people who do live here to want to see their area improve at the expense of those who don't live here but might want to at some point.
If, in years to come, Brockley becomes impossibly desirable and expensive, our descendants will have to colonise some other part of London - like Plumstead. And so it goes...
Posted by Brockley Nick on 17.9.07
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Brockley Central is always open to suggestions for news, stories or improvements to the site, so please post your ideas here or email us.
You can now create threads on any subject on Brockley Central's sister forum, Southeastcentral.co.uk
Brockley Central is a community news and discussion site, which attempts to cover every aspect of life in Brockley, London SE4. It was first published in February 2007 and has been growing ever since (read a February 2013 Brockley Central case study here).
For the purposes of this site, "Brockley" includes the area as far north as St John's, as far east as Tyrwhitt Road, as far south as Brockley Rise and as far west as Telegraph Hill. And, as Brockley doesn't exist in a vacuum, we also address Lewisham and London issues that are directly relevant to this area.
The site is edited by Brockley Nick.
Posted by Brockley Nick on 11.9.07
Someone who likes coffee far more than us has gone to a lot of trouble to score and review the area's many cafes on the basis of the lattes they serve.
As Brockley Central is half-kiwi it can say with some authority that New Zealanders attach a ludicrous amount of importance to coffee. They also tend to believe that NZ coffee is the best in the world (sorry Italy). But Toothfish has made a vital contribution to the sum of Brockley knowledge and for that, we should all be thankful.
We feel a little bit guilty about the result as the winner has been sorely overlooked by this blog - but you're all just as bad - not one positive remark about it in any of your comments! Matchbox suffers an image problem, no doubt because it a) hides under the stairs on Platform 2 like a trapdoor spider b) offers you nowhere to sit and c) is on the station itself and is therefore disregarded by some as being a corporate sell out to The Man. None of these is its fault, but life's tough sometimes. It appears as if we should all give it a fair shot from now on.
Congratulations Toothfish, Brockley is in your debt.
Local residents have called on the Council to revisit the problems caused by traffic feeding in to the Brockley Cross double-roundabout.
The calls have been prompted by the proposed redevelopment of 72-78 Geoffrey Road as an apartment block. Although the site is an obvious candidate for redevelopment, it is feared that the increase in parked cars will cause Geoffrey Road to become more congested since, though narrow, it is used as a rat-run by drivers.
Traffic calming measures have failed to deter drivers from using Geoffrey Road and the objectors believe that only a redesign of the road layout will improve matters.
In his recent interview, John Miller indicated that no way had yet been found to improve the traffic system.
In a letter to Cllr Darren Johnson, reprensentatives of the Brockley Cross Action Group have challenged the lack of any provision made for parking, arguing that even though it's envisioned as a development for people without cars (a "zero parking" scheme), there is no practical way of ensuring that this is anything other than an aspiration. It is believed that this could also create problems for residents of Manor Avenue, which is already very crowded.
The problem has thrown the spotlight back on the issue of how to improve the traffic system in this part of Brockley, in order to reduce the use of these residential streets as local rat-runs and enable new homes to be built in a sustainable manner. With the site on the corner of Geoffrey Road and Upper Brockley Road also targeted for redevelopment, the issue will only become more pressing.
Glenda Rodgers has written a detailed article about this news here, so we won't try to replicate it, but suffice to say that:
1. This is great news for the life of the high street
2. This will be widely welcomed - we've still never seen a single comment in favour of the planned bookie, on this or any other blog
3. We don't believe that, even if they do re-apply, the Council would be silly enough to grant permission. They know the strength of public feeling about this and are no-doubt greatly relieved by Friday's decision.
4. If the current poll is anything to go by, bar operators should be queueing up to make an alternative application.
It looks as though the Lewisham Way Tesco Metro will also bring with it a new cash machine - a new cashpoint has been installed in the frontage.
There's no confirmation yet whether the machine would be free, but we've never seen a Tesco machine that charges.
It won't do much to encourage local spending in Brockley Cross, but that stretch of Lewisham Way is also sorely in need of a few more impulse buyers and it will provide a useful facility for many in Brockley and St John's.
Thanks to John for the tip-off.
You've probably heard of Flickr.com - the free photo-sharing site, aimed at anyone with an interest in getting their photography online. Users 'tag' photos so that they can easily be found by others. You can also add them to one of Flickr's many groups - they exist for just about everything you can think of, and Brockley is no exception...
28 65 members and counting, the Brockley Flickr Group serves as a pinboard for everything and anything Brockley. What I love most is seeing how others view and interpret Brockley through their camera - some show the beauty, some the community, and others the people.
Below are the latest images in a fancy slideshow. Check out the group, and join up if you've got some photography we deserve to see!
Already famous as the home of assorted members of Athlete, Brockley is rapidly making a name for itself as a cover story for international con-artists.
Among the less-convincing scam emails that have been doing the rounds in recent months is one purporting to be from the 'Microsoft Award Team', which tells the lucky recipient that:
"Your email address as indicated was drawn and attached to ticket number 008795727498 with serial numbers BTD/9080648302/06 and drew the lucky numbers 14-21-25-39-40-47(20) which subsequently won you £3,400,000.00. The draws registered as Draw number one was conducted in Brockley, London United Kingdom on the 25th of March 2007. These Draws are commemorative and as such special."
We were always entertained by the idea that Brockley would be chosen as the venue for a glittering lottery draw (surely only the Rivoli Ball Room could live up to such an occasion) but clearly Brockley's name has got around in the scamming community. For, following hot on the heels of the Evening Standard's Brockley coverage, comes this piece from The Daily Sun in Lagos, which reports that a drug smuggler, posing as a journalist was arrested in Nigeria, "armed with fake documents suggesting that he was traveling to London for the Second Annual African Film Festival and Academy Awards taking place at 35 Brockley Road, London from October 2 to 6, 2007."
A little late for the Brockley MAX of course, but if the organisers want to get in touch, we'll happily give it a plug.
Posted by Brockley Nick on 4.9.07
As a child of Greenwich, Brockley Central has found that many of the people it grew up with have gravitated towards Charlton, Hither Green and Deptford and in one case, an Australian nut farm, in search of affordable first homes. Relatively few, in spite of (or perhaps because of) our best efforts, have been convinced by SE4's appeal, thus far.
So it was nice to get an email from an old friend, Joe, who now lives in Brockley and, in the 15 years since we last spoke, has metamorphosed from skateboarder to local historian.
He's trying to track down old pictures of the area and sent a few links of the kinds of images he's looking for [here, here and here] in the hope that other readers might be able to point him towards some more.
If you know of any other useful websites or have any images of your own you'd like to share, please let us know. Even images from Brockley's recent history, like the late, lamented 'Elephant House' would be welcome.
During its summer hiatus last week, Brockley Central has not been idle - Brockley Jon has been busy working on a new look for the site.
The changes won't be drastic, but we have been looking at the ways you use the site and the information you search for most often and we will attempt to make the site work better for you - although we get a lot of people visiting from the US, searching Google for "recipes for brockley", but we don't plan on catering for that audience.
Brockley Central 2.0 should go live in about a month's time and over the coming months you might notice a few odd things happen to the site, but please bear with us.
If you have any questions or comments about the change, please post them here.
Nick and Jon
The fate of the site currently occupied by the defunct Homeview video store is a story we've been following closely. The shop, a prime site on Brockley Road, has been targeted by a betting shop chain from Abbey Wood, who want to bring their particular brand of "upmarket" gambling to Brockley.
Given its location and the fact that Brockley is already blessed with an abundance of bookies, this proposal has met with strong opposition from local residents. The hearing to decide its fate overran several weeks ago and the new date has been set for 7th September, 10am at Bromley Magistrates Court.
We will bring you the verdict when (and if) it arrives.