Monday28 July 2014

Rediscovering the village in Deptford

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As a BBC2 series bemoans the power of planners, we revisit Depford in 1977 to demonstrate that the council’s Nicholas Taylor was actually battling to save the high street

Nicholas Taylor, Deptford Council, 1977

Nicholas Taylor, Deptford Council, 1977

Date June 1977
Planner Nicholas Taylor
Location Deptford

In the week that we review BBC2’s Secret History of our Streets series, we look back to when BD featured the admirable work that Nicholas Taylor — cast as the villain of Deptford Council in the one-sided documentary — was pursuing at the time.

Far from wielding the wrecking ball, as the programme suggested, he was in fact battling to save as much of the existing fabric as possible.

His 1971 book, The Village in the City, argued (then unfashionably) for a more humane, low-density and low-rise approach to inner-city housing.

Taylor’s principles for Deptford included: “Rehabilitate wherever you can rather than demolish; where you rehabilitate, do it gently so as to preserve the community; whether you redevelop or rehabilitate, tell people what you intend — and listen to what they are trying to tell you.”

“Housing design in Lewisham isn’t an adventure playground for architects,” he added. “It’s the people themselves who must be given room to play.”


Readers' comments (1)

  • Sorry to be rude, but which estate are you talking about? Your facts seem to be hopelessly wrong. The Peabody Estate (Vanguard St) you mention was built in the mid 1970's and was approved in 1970 by the then Tory controlled Lewisham council. The incoming Labour administration in mid 1971could not save the existing buildings (they were too far gone) but did change the building plan so they were replaced like for like by terraced houses, rather than high rise and these were finished in 1976. There was never any intention at any time for there to be a public park on this site. Indeed Nick Taylor specifically refers to them in the 1977 archive BD article as the estate was a model for its time in terms of building family houses with gardens rather than the concrete high rise monstrosities going up all across Inner London. There was no public enquiry and there are no other Peabody houses from that era era South of Deptford High St so you cant be referring to anywhere else. I know not just because I am Nick Taylor's son but also because I went to the school right next to it in 1976 and many of my mates lived on that new estate of houses, which was very popular (it had a HUGE waiting list to get on it). I am obviously delighted you are reading my dads book and also flagged up our 'protest' website which aims to clear his name, but plse dont replace one untrue smear that my dad was a 'demolitionist' (the one the BBC have committed on my dad in that programme Secret History of Our Streets) with another by repeating some bizarre urban myth about houses that my dad 'led the charge' in demolishing when what you say is completely and utterly untrue. I dont know who told you this rubbish but they need to get their facts straight. As the attached BD article demostrates clearly my dad led the charge AGAINST the demolitionists! More sinned against than sinning comes to mind..........Thanks Martin

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