Very good attendance at last night’s Hither Green Community Association meeting where updates on different aspects of community life where received from various people.
The Town Centre manager Deborah Efemini told us about shops opening at various locations on Hither Green lane. The unit at number 132 will soon have an art related business, A cafe is also due to open in the Meridian South Piazza.
This sudden activity at the long suffering Meridian South commercial units is attributable to the change of management that from Bellway Homes goes now to Johal Reagan which is much more proactive
If you are interested in one of those units you can contact David Byron on 020 8858 9303 or Chris Chidgey at 0208 532 2222.
In the largest commercial unit of the same piazza an indoor golf course will also soon open, but that’s been in the making for a long time so that’s not strictly news.
We were also told that the units on the shopping parade just by the yellow light crossing, next to the chemist, will soon have occupancy and also about developments at the unit at number 118 Hither Green Lane (towards the Spotted Cow end of the parade) that’s currently unoccupied and there a charity shop could open, this is an activity where the Church would be in part involved but they are looking for people that want to run it. If you’re interested please contact the Vicar here.
Another update Deborah gave was about the shopping centre where HMV is about to open an outlet.
There where then questions raised to Deborah about the problem of the car dealers and garages around the junction between Hither Green Lane and Benin Road where illegal parking has been making the area a complete mess for years.
And also about cars and shops I repeated the call for some short stay car park spaces on Hither Green Lane, a measure that would help some of the shops there that really suffer without the possibility to ever park a car nearby.
We then had a report from the Police and we learnt that the local Safer Neighbourhood Team for Lewisham Central is understaffed and likely to remain so because due to budget constraints the police is not currently recruiting.
We should have 1 Sergent, 4 PCs and 12 PCSOs, we have instead 1 Sergent, 2 PCs and 8 PCSOs. That’s for the whole of Lewisham Central Ward.
Another important information that was given is that recently there have been muggings where the victims were women who had their jewelery snatched from them on the streets by criminals on motorbikes. The advise was to avoid jewelery, that now replaces iPods on top of the list of items likely to be stolen. Also an appeal was made to avoid keeping valuables visible in your car as cars have been broken into even just for a few coins. This is a problem particularly felt at Meridian South, but there isn’t a place that is particularly safe.
This was followed by an update on signposts saying “welcome to Hither Green” and bearing a logo designed by a design student that was there to present it and take questions. This is an initiative that came out of what people answered to questionnaires about what could be done to enhance the area. About 10 of these signposts should go up around the area so attention should be paid to making them attractive.
Joanne Deverson (of HGCA) told us that after negotiations with Network Rail access has been granted to the overgrown Station embankement on Springbank Road so that it can be tidied up and landscaped by volunteer gardeners. There was real jubilation at this announcement.
The provisional date is 31st October (still in pencil) and everyone’s welcome to get a bit messy and help in. Tools and overall clothes including safety jackets and boots will be provided on the day.
Then I did my update on the Hither Green Community Hall and Arts Society activity, this means the cinema event of last Sunday and the struggle for the Park Hall Cinema, commonly known as Kidz Korner but now back in use as a shop under the name of “mostly 99p”. Now, my take is that this is preferable to having the building demolished or empty and it allows us time to put together the large funding we need to get hold of the building. Obviously the degree of success of the current shop will play a major role in determining the chances of success.
In a couple of weeks we’ll have a meeting with a serious potential private investor, two weeks ago we met with the Council’s bosses, we discussed options and the possibility is very much alive.
But, as I explained, in the meantime we constituted ourselves as an organization that “aims at promoting cultural events in the area with a view to establish an Arts and Community Centre in Hither Green”, and we carefully chose this wording to avoid tying up ourselves with one specific building, that as important for the area as is, is not as important as the activity that we need it for. So, emboldened by the spectacular success of last Sunday we’ll now think of more cultural activities to promote in the area.
One immediate consequence of the event is that Crave Arts Theatre that ran the Drama workshops for children at Sunday’s event are keen to start a regular drama group for kids in the area and this is a first tangible improvement to opportunities in the area as a consequence of our work. The availability of after school activities is a big indicator of a healthy community and we can do with more of them, so from me this is particularly welcome.
If you are interested in the Drama club you can contact Crave Arts Theatre here. A course may already take place on half term week.
My update was really well received and many people asked questions including how to join and help, which is the best question for me. If you want to help too then just write an email to email@example.com.
Last point on the agenda was the election of a new steering group committee, many of the old members stayed in, but not the chair Chris Freed, who was the chair from start and did the work to set up the association and get it going from zero to where it is now. A huge thanks to her is due. Well done Chris.
A few new members joined the steering group and so with fresh blood end enthusiasm the association should produce even more good initiatives for Hither Green.