30 JANUARY 2017

Thanks to lobbying by Cllr Alan Hall, notice is given that Lewisham's Mayor & Cabinet's decision on the anchor will take place on 22 March.

14 MARCH 2017

DIF and the Deptford Society are surprised to learn that a Feasibility Study has been published, conducted at great cost by the Council's favourite landscape architects, BDP. The first draft was published on 27 January without any input or consultation with us, despite the Mayor's promise that we would be involved. We have several criticisms of the report:

• it concludes with a 'preferred location' which is not in the centre of the site area, but off to the side, hidden from view

• positioning is based on proscribed but arbitrary cycle and pedestrian routes that are not based on actual use of the area

• it argues a huge loss of income for the Council on stalls that have never been sited at the location, along with an 'events space' that has never been used, and a 'kiosk' that has never been installed

• the budget is still too expensive

• the 'accessibility' treatment of the base of the anchor for the partially sighted is far too elaborate

In addition:

• the number of petition signatures is stated as 3,300 when it was already 4,000 in November 2016

• it maintains the anchor was originally installed in 1990 when it was actually 1988.

However, a Road Safety Audit is included that shows that a more central location would prevent drivers parking on the site or using the space for U-turns.

Page 20 illustrates the 'preferred location' with the anchor resting on a narrow base of granite cubes (or cobbles).

28 MARCH 2017

The Mayor & Cabinet decision has to be ratified by the Business Panel, chaired by Cllr Hall. He invites us to attend to put our case at the Civic Suite.

The panel endorse our view that a much more central position could be achieved without impeding services, pedestrians, traffic or cyclists. Also that we should have influence in the proposed consultation and that the 4000+ signatories' wishes should be weighted into any results arising from the proposed consultation.

At the end of the meeting, the Council Officer says off the record that he hopes the anchor can be back by Christmas. We joke that it would be nice to have it back in time for Deptford X in September/October.

Page 27 of the Feasibility Study shows the Council's 'preferred location', where the anchor hides behind trees planted in 2013.

19 MARCH 2017

DIF and the Deptford Society prepare a response to the Feasibility Study, which Cllr Hall forwards to the Council officers and the Mayor and Deputy Mayor. We request a full breakdown of costs and an input into any text prepared for public consultation.

21 MARCH 2017

DIF/DS prepare a statement for Cllr Joe Dromey to present to Mayor & Cabinet, but receive no acknowledgement.

22 MARCH 2017

The Mayor agrees to the reinstatement of the anchor in principle. Prior to the Mayor & Cabinet meeting, Cllr Hall plants a story in the local press.

27 MARCH 2017

DIF and the DS write to petitioners to thank them, but inform them that the campaign is not over until the Council agree to put the anchor back in the centre, rather than sideline it.

31 MAY 2017

It turns out the Council's plans are progressing apace without any input from us. The excuse for not consulting us is that they not rushing to meet the unofficial September deadline mentioned in March, which they now refer to as 'our request'.

Trying to arrange a meeting is difficult because the society are volunteers with full-time jobs who must fit in with the paid consultants' lack of availability. BDP are based in North London.

Meanwhile, Council Officers are having meetings with Highways, Planners, Conservation Officers, the Cleansing department, and the Markets Team, as well as liaising with the RNIB about the suitability of the design for the anchor's base for the blind and partially sighted.

After that, they will have to submit the plans for Planning Permission 'which may take some time', engage contractors and apply for permits.

There will be no opportunities for local professionals to tender (or offer their services for free) for any part of the operation (e.g. cleaning the anchor, transporting it, laying the new paving etc).

A public consultation is being planned that will involve an online survey about the design of the cobbled base and how the chains are arranged. There is talk of a plaque.

How strange that the new mural by Artmongers (see 26 November 2016) which impacts so much on our environment (many would say unfavourably) did not require any such wide scale consultations or permissions.

DIF's quick mock-up shows the Council's 'preferred location' would obscure the anchor from the road as the Wayfinder obelisk is in the way – and that there is plenty of space nearer the centre of the site.

17 MAY 2017

The Council Officers have not contacted the Deptford Society since 28 March, so the society writes to request a meeting.

3 MAY 2017

In response to the Business Panel's endorsement of the Deptford Society's representation, the Mayor & Cabinet respond.

"The Deputy Mayor advised the Mayor that...there were very limited options for the placement of the anchor, owing to the existence of below surface power supply lines..." 

The influence of Deputy Mayor Alan Smith – who is named as the Mayor & Cabinet's 'Lead' on the project but who strongly objects to the anchor's return for reasons best known to himself – becomes highly apparent.

DIF reported back to the Business Panel:

"The Deputy Mayor's  comments have no validity and cannot be backed up. At a recent event he informed us that "the Council have been unable to obtain any plans of below-ground cables from UK Power Networks because the company has not updated its network plans since it took control." (He had this on 'good authority' from his wife, who had apparently worked for them).

"The Feasibility Study itself did not survey below ground, but could have easily referred to any plans the Regeneration Team should hold on the previous works in 2013. When the anchor was removed, a void was revealed which was the former public lavatories. The void was filled in with hardcore. This work would not have taken place if there were dangerous cables present. The team should also have access to the 1988 regeneration plans. It appears surveys and plans from either time have not been retrieved and viewed.

"If UK Power Networks have done any recent work that would alter the situation, they would indeed have plans of this work which the Council should be able to obtain.

"Furthermore, the re-instatement involves only a superficial change to the 2013 paving which does not entail any below-ground work, and the anchor itself weighs far less than many of the vehicles which have since parked on the site (including articulated HGVs from Asda).

"We believe the Deputy Mayor is abusing his position in this matter."

Page 16 of the Feasibility Sstudy shows arbitrary pedestrian movements, a proscribed cycle route, and 'events space' that hasn't been used in three years, a 'kiosk' space (the idea was abandoned in 2014 when it was acknowledged no one would want to sit outdoors by the A2 having coffee); and power points – one of which was installed in 2013 in the middle of where the anchor originally stood and has never been used, even for the annual Christmas tree.

25 JUNE 2017

DIF write to petitioners asking that they fill in the Council's consultation and emphasise that they want the anchor relocated in the centre and not sidelined.

28 JUNE 2017

Council officers reply to various emails from anchor supporters to say the Council is reconsidering their preferred location.

17 JULY 2017

The application for Planning permission goes in.

Amazingly – and finally – the Design & Access Statement shows the anchor in a more central position with a larger base, and the cycle route bending round to accommodate it.

19 OCTOBER 2017

The Deptford Society are advised of a November completion date, and shown the Council's suggested wording for the plaque (that we never wanted in the first place):

The Peoples Anchor

The anchor is an iconic symbol for Deptford's naval Heritage.

Deptford Dockyard was one of the most important in London, founded by Henry VIII in 1513, shipbuilding continued here for over 300 years.

Due to the enormity of local feeling and by popular demand, the anchor has been restored and reinstated to its original place on Deptford High Street – November 2017.

The Society objected to the name "The People's Anchor" and proposed DIF's preferred wording:

The Deptford Anchor

This anchor is a gift from Chatham Dockyard, and stands as a proud symbol of Deptford's rich maritime heritage. It was first installed in this place in 1988, but was removed in 2013 as part of regeneration works. Following considerable public demand, it resumed its position as a much-loved Deptford landmark in xxxx 2017.

An empty space, still waiting for the anchor's return...

DIF's mock-up of our preferred more central location, constrained by a power socket installed in 2013 which has never been used.

6 JUNE 2017

Still no meeting set with Council Officers, but we are updated in an email which states:

"It's a good time to clarify with you the positioning of the anchor that will need to go in the same place that it was located before."

The only way it's in the same place as before is that it's at the south of the high street. The officer then goes on to give us the information we supplied to them (see 3 May 2017):

"As you are probably aware, the former anchor location was voted over the former underground toilet block that used to be at the end of the high street. This was filled in in 1990." (No, it was 1988!!!!)

"By relocating the anchor here again we can mitigate the risk of utilities having to remove the anchor for any emergency or other works to the location as services are not in this area. It really is the best location for the sake of the anchor's survival."

However, page 11 of the Council's own Feasibility Study shows that where the anchor (and plinth) were before is not where they want to reinstate it!

And here is the proof that the work was done in 1988, not 1990. Proof also that the Council have not referred to their own records (probably because they have lost them) and that BDP have not done much local research. As the landscape architects employed by the Tidemill developer, BDP recently claimed at a meeting with  campaigners that they "knew Deptford like the back of their hand". Oh no they don't.

This photo was sent to us by Rosie Chard, the landscape architect who installed the original anchor. We published it on this website in December 2014. Below is a close-up of the photograph's time stamp.

13 JUNE 2017

Still no meeting with Council Officers. In correspondence with the Chair of the Deptford Society, the officer says she will ask BDP to overlay the services and utilities on the plans "so that we have all the info we need regarding them".

The officer also announces that the Public Consultation will take place the following week on 20 June at Deptford Lounge. The online Consultation Portal is open from today.

The survey is to canvas public opinion on the design of the cobbles the anchor will sit on, and also invites the public to come up with suitable wording for a plaque.

The DS Chair asks that the consultation be paused until the exact positioning of the anchor is fully resolved, and also so that we may have the promised input into the content of the consultation. Since arrangements are already in place, the request is ignored.

17 AUGUST 2017

Planning permission is granted.


DIF chalk an anchor during Deptford X, questioning the Estimated Time of Arrival, as Council Officers' self-imposed deadline to return the anchor in time for Deptford X has passed.

The reason for the delay is that the contractors are still working on the refurbishment of the north end of the high street, running three months over schedule. The new anchor ETA is now 'sometime in October'.

20 JUNE 2017

The consultation is launched on the same day that a meeting finally takes place between the Deptford Society, DIF, Council Officers and BDP at Deptford Lounge.

BDP do not present the promised drawings of underground services overlaid on their plans.

Instead they present a new drawing which shows their proscribed cycle route enlarged and extended through the centre of the site (see the blue strip on their diagram below).

This is now their only argument for why the anchor cannot be located more centrally.

DIF argue that over 4,000 petitioners will be very angry if so much money is spent on relocating the anchor where it can't be seen.

We then get them all to walk up to the site so that we can demonstrate how it can't be seen in their 'preferred location'. While we stand there, cyclists and pedestrians come and go using a variety of unprescribed paths.

BDP agree to go back to the drawing board.

22 NOVEMBER 2017

No sign of the anchor. We worry that Council Officers will not be able to get access to the Convoys Wharf site (where the anchor is stored) via Hutchison Whampoa (or CK Asset Holdings Ltd as their real estate arm is now known), as the community projects The Lenox Project and Sayes Court Garden CIC (whose futures depend on access to the site) cannot.


We are informed that the anchor will be installed in February 2018, with the paving work commencing on 15 January. An appointment has been made to extract the anchor from Convoys Wharf, and our suggested wording for the plaque will be used. The end is in sight.

To be continued...

The Council's 'preferred location' chalked out by BDP.

© Deptford Is Forever 2013-22