Development and occupation: Two faces of Deptford

If you’re passing through Deptford this week, it’s worth a detour via the high street – there’s a couple of interesting things to see. Firstly, a glimpse into the possible future of Deptford – the redevelopment of the land around the long-disused goods ramp at Deptford station.

This looks like an interesting project – the Deptford Project train carriage cafe will move closer to a revamped station, while a new market will appear in the space next to the ramp, with creative businesses offered space in its arches.

More creative workspaces will be appear in the buildings on Deptford High Street, with restaurants beneath them, while there will be housing on the other side of the ramp.

Cathedral Group
(which is also behind the Movement scheme on the Greenwich side of the creek, as well as the Eltham Coronet development) hopes to get this finished by July 2013 – around the time the bulldozers are planned to turn up at Greenwich Market. With Greenwich’s stallholders exiled to the Old Royal Naval College, and continuing rows about how the present market is being managed, I wonder how many will simply cross the creek and set up shop in Deptford instead?

There’s an exhibition in the arches until Friday, although only during the day – Deptford Dame has some grumbles about how Cathedral has consulted locals – but if you can make it along, it’s well worth a look.

Across the road – Deptford’s uncertain present, where the closed job centre has been occupied by anti-cuts protesters who’ve dubbed it Social Centre Plus and are planning to open it up to the community on Wednesday afternoon and evening for food, education, socialising and films, rounding it off with a Hollywood film to cheer everyone up in the evening.

Chatting with one of the organisers, it seems they haven’t worked out what film to show on Wednesday night – I wonder what big mainstream movie would work in a squatted job centre?

Both the old Job Centre and its adjacent buildings – the old Mercury offices were next door – are languishing empty while awaiting another redevelopment, so at least something’s going on in there, and it’s not another bookies, which is a bonus.

That said, it does appear that the owners of the building were talking to The Deptford Project about putting it to some short-term community use – but the occupiers have got in there first.

It’s striking just how many protests against government policy there have been in the Deptford and New Cross area over the past few months, from the New Cross Library occupation to the one at Goldsmiths and the continuing campaign against Tidemill primary school’s plans to become an academy. It’s a world away from the tiny demo outside Woolwich Town Hall a couple of weeks back.