Research Into Deptford’s Regeneration

A Quick Snapshot of the Protests Against the 'Regeneration' of Old Tidemill Garden (01/03/2019)

I have decided to conduct some more thorough research into Deptford, specifically its regeneration. This is in order to gain a better understanding of how it is seen from the outside perspective as well as inside the community.

The first article I’ve found (thanks to my tutor) takes an outsider’s perspective and can be found at: https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/feb/09/lets-move-to-deptford-south-east-london-property-tom-dyckhoff. It was certainly strange to hear Deptford being talked about more objectively as most of the articles/opinions I’ve come across/heard of are from passionate local people who have particular stances on the regeneration taking place. Dyckhoff (2018) outlines the various pros and cons of Deptford but always regeneration is looming large in this article. Indeed one particular quote my tutor referenced was quite powerful for me: ‘The neighbourhood seems to have been in permanent regeneration mode since Henry VIII stuck his dockyard here.’ – (Dyckhoff, 2018). Of course I wasn’t around to see the dockyard but the fact there are traces of the docks still apparent near the river, makes these words all the more telling. I have been around Deptford in more recent years and the speed of change is obvious to me. If anything the change occurring in Deptford seems to have sped up recently as people have finally ‘discovered’ Deptford is a liveable place.

The second article in my eyes is slightly more subjective and can be found at: https://www.gold.ac.uk/news/comment-urban-regeneration-in-deptford/. One reason I feel the article might seem slightly more biased is because the author is in some way affiliated with Goldsmiths University (the article appears on their website), which has a geographical connection with Deptford, being located in neighbouring New Cross. Deptford is described as: ‘an area where projects designed from above have frequently collided with very different perceptions of people on the ground’ – (Calafate-Faria, s.d.). Calafate-Faria (s.d.) then provides a synopsis of Deptford’s interesting history, with particular relevance to its ‘regeneration’. Like Dyckhoff’s (2018) article, Calafate-Faria’s corresponds in that regeneration seems like a constant occurrence ever since Henry VIII built the docks there. They use the book Turning the Tide: The History of Everyday Deptford (1993) by Jess Steele (which I have recently acquired and intend to read) to provide the base for their synopsis of the history. Without rewriting what Calafate-Faria (s.d.) has already said, I found it interesting that Deptford as an area is not that definitive. It shares and overlaps borders with lots of other areas. Furthermore, people have moved out of these areas into Deptford and conversely others have done the opposite. Therefore Deptford’s people and its outward appearance have been shifting for many years now. I feel this fact would be alright on its own if it wasn’t accompanied by another: Deptford is ‘an area where projects designed from above have frequently collided with very different perceptions of people on the ground.’ – (Calafate-Faria, s.d.). Calafate-Faria (s.d.) illustrates that Goldsmith’s own Centre for Urban and Community Research tried to tackle this trait by connecting to ‘local organisations and activists, people who could reveal the real impact of the projects to be evaluated as well as the alternative possibilities for official plans.’.

A Quick Snapshot of the Protests Against the 'Regeneration' of Old Tidemill Garden (01/03/2019)
A Quick Snapshot of the Protests Against the ‘Regeneration’ of Old Tidemill Garden (01/03/2019)

The third article is objective (it was written by an online newspaper) but introduces some very subjective opinions by people who are local to Deptford. It can be found at: https://www.londonnewsonline.co.uk/land-regeneration-project-starts-at-the-old-tidemill-garden-in-deptford/. For me this article indicates that even despite local organisations and activists efforts, regeneration projects can still go ahead that are against the local people’s desire and reasoning. (Twomey, 2019) reports that ‘A bitterly contested land regeneration project has started its demolition of a garden site in order to build 209 new homes.’. The Old Tidemill Garden has been demolished and from what I’ve seen the ‘regeneration’ project has been going full steam ahead. From my perspective I can see that homes are badly needed in general but to take away green space that was much loved and integral to the community to build homes that aren’t all affordable anyway is a mistake. This ties in with the trait mentioned above where Deptford is ‘an area where projects designed from above have frequently collided with very different perceptions of people on the ground.’ – (Calafate-Faria, s.d.). Even in the comments for Twomey’s (2019) article, both responses have expressed disappointment at the decision.

These 3 articles have made me think about my own objective stance to the regeneration in Deptford while photographing it. They have also made me think a bit about whether I have a subjective opinion on the regeneration occurring now (I certainly seemed to about the Old Tidemill Garden). Would my subjective opinion alter the way I carry out the project? As well as this, the research into regeneration of Deptford I have conducted shows me it is a slippery area in terms of its boundaries (something I’ve already encountered) and also that I’m lucky in some circumstances to have any of the ‘old’ Deptford left to photograph and juxtapose with the new! This is because has been constantly changing.

References:

Calafate-Faria, F. (s.d.) Urban ‘regeneration’ in Deptford. At: https://www.gold.ac.uk/news/comment-urban-regeneration-in-deptford/ (Accessed on 19.09.2019)

Dyckhoff, T. (2018) ‘Let’s move to Deptford, south-east London: love it, hate it? Worry not.’ In: The Guardian [online] At: https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/feb/09/lets-move-to-deptford-south-east-london-property-tom-dyckhoff (Accessed on 19.09.2019)

Steele, J. (1993) Turning the Tide: The History of Everyday Deptford. London: Deptford Forum Publishing Ltd.

Twomey, J. (2019) ‘Bitterly contested land regeneration project starts at the Old Tidemill Garden in Deptford’. In: South London News – South London Press & Mercury [online] At: https://www.londonnewsonline.co.uk/land-regeneration-project-starts-at-the-old-tidemill-garden-in-deptford/ (Accessed on 19.09.2019)

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