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Connections Issue 2: Dispatches

Views from the Yard

Words By: U+I

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Deptford Market Yard is the focal point of the Deptford Project, an ambitious regeneration scheme that has been ten years in the making. Connecting Deptford’s historic High Street with the station, Deptford Market Yard is focused around a painstakingly restored Grade II listed carriage ramp. Once London’s oldest railway structure, it is now home to a string of local start-up businesses and a public area outside the carriage ramp has been left free for outdoor events, market activity and music. The yard is bright, colourful and designed to breathe new life into Deptford. As with any change however, opinions vary about its impact on the local community.

Barbara Banty, local resident

I was born and bred in Deptford and I grew up in the 60s, when there was a real community here. I don’t think this place is for us. Everything is expensive and there’s nowhere you can just sit and have a quiet cup of tea, like at the caff down the road. Deptford used to have a real soul but it’s losing it and this place doesn’t help. There’s nothing here for me. It’s for the youngsters.

Councillor Alan Smith 

I’ve been involved in this project since the first planning application came in so I saw the original concept of what was going to be done to a rather scrubby piece of land next to Deptford High Street. Usually, when developers bring in early plans, the end result is a bit of a disappointment but in this case, it’s even better than I expected. I’ve also been really surprised by the level of public engagement that has gone into this project to make sure the local community were aware of what was happening and played a part in it. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. Now it’s here, it’s beautiful and we’ve just got to hope that it works. We want the businesses to be successful, the open space to be used and to make this a destination for both locals and visitors. Often developers bring in large anchor tenants to places like this. Here we only have start-up businesses who’ve been talking to U+I for several years. That makes a real difference. Of course, there’s a spread of views but that’s only to be expected: that’s what makes Deptford edgy.

Wozzy Brewster, local resident 

It’s really nice to see this area opened up. Back in the day, when I was a kid, the area around Deptford station wasn’t nice at all and you didn’t feel safe so it’s a real improvement. It’s opened up the High Street too and the arches were closed for as long as I can remember so it’s great to see them restored and used by local businesses. That’s good for the local economy and could make Deptford a destination in South East London. I just hope that the outdoor space is used creatively for music and dance and that kind of thing. Deptford is a hub of creativity so this outdoor platform could be really important for the area. My main concern is that the people who’ve moved into the manor actually become part of the community. This isn’t Shoreditch and it never will be!

Guillaume Ossant, owner, the Box 

I used to manage a hair salon in Central London but I’ve always wanted to open my own place. I love being in Deptford. It’s close to my home so I don’t have to travel and we’re really close to the High Street, which is great. My clients are a real mix of newcomers to the area and local mums, who’ve lived here all their lives. They didn’t have a nice hair salon before so they’re quite happy to have one on their doorstep. I don’t see Deptford Market Yard as a threat to the High Street at all because we wouldn’t be here if the High Street wasn’t here too. I think we can all work together. @theboxhair

Jessica Childs, illustrator and owner of Childsdraw 

I’m an illustrator but I take illustrations out of the context of print and put them into other materials like ceramics and clothing. All my products are limited editions, inspired by the area. I’ve lived here for six years and I love the diversity of it – so many people from so many different backgrounds, all living alongside each other. Setting up a business here at Deptford Market Yard has been really rewarding, because it’s where I live and work. But I really I hope the Yard contributes to Deptford without changing the soul of the place because I firmly believe a place works best when it works for everybody. @childsdraw

Adrian Luckie, creator of Mama's Jerk 

I’ve been a chef for over 20 years, and at Mama’s Jerk we use homemade BBQ jerk sauce and rub from a secret family recipe. Everything we do is simple and well-made – it’s Jamaican food with a twist. I was actually born in East London but my Mum used to drag me up to Deptford all the time to buy stuff in the market so this place is really nostalgic for me. When I told her I was opening up here, she laughed. She wants to see the area regenerated and I think if everyone pulls together, it will work really well. You can’t block progress. @mamasjerk 

This article appeared in Issue 2 - Connections

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