Friday, November 11, 2016

Catford's first million pound house

I have been speculating for a while that this was coming, but I think this is the first... And how. Catford now has million pound homes, with this one selling for a whopping £1.2 million on 26 August 2016.

It's towards the town centre and I speculate that it might not remain a single home for long. One to keep an eye on.

I don't think it will be too long before we see prices as high as this for the larger houses on the various estates around Catford.

This house, on the Corbett estate, was on for offers over £1m and is listed as sold STC on Rightmove.

And this 9 bedroom house in the centre of Catford is on for £999,995. That £5 makes all the difference.
Twenty years ago you could pick up a house in Catford for around £60-70k, with these larger ones setting you back a bit more, but probably around £100k. Even ten years ago places cost less than half what they are selling for now. What was once an affordable area for families is no longer. Surely this level of increase can't be sustained?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Weekday morning train service from Hither Green from September 2016

About 18 months go I posted about the changes to trains from Hither Green as a result of the Thameslink Programme.

These changes are about to come to an end and a new timetable will be in place from the beginning of September. The main change is that trains to Cannon Street will no longer stop at London Bridge and trains to Charing Cross/Waterloo East will begin to stop at London Bridge again.

There have been some minor tweaks to the timetable, but no massive contingency to deal with this change, at least not from Hither Green anyway. Below is a list of the trains to Charing Cross, Cannon Street and Blackfriars in the morning peak:

Hither Green to Charing Cross (all call at London Bridge)

06:56   Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5         London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 2      07:18
06:58   Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3         London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 5      07:26 
07:16   Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5         London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 1      07:40  
07:19   Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3         London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 6      07:47
07:36   Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5         London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 3      08:00
07:40   Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3         London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 2      08:04
08:02   Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5         London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 3      08:27
08:15   Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5         London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 1      08:39
08:24   Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5         London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 2      08:47
08:35   Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5         London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 3      08:59
08:38   Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3         London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 1      09:07
08:42   Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5         London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 5      09:09
08:55   Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5         London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 5      09:21
09:00   Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3         London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 3      09:28
09:10   Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3         London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 2      09:33
09:17   Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5         London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 1      09:44
09:36   Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3         London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 5      10:01

Hither Green to Cannon Street (do not call at London Bridge)

07:06   Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3         London Cannon Street [CST] Platform 1       07:24 
07:11   Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5         London Cannon Street [CST] Platform 2       07:33
07:32   Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5         London Cannon Street [CST] Platform 4       07:55
07:49   Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3         London Cannon Street [CST] Platform 3       08:09
07:53   Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5         London Cannon Street [CST] Platform 5       08:19
08:12   Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5         London Cannon Street [CST] Platform 1       08:36
08:29   Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3         London Cannon Street [CST] Platform 7       08:48
08:32   Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5         London Cannon Street [CST] Platform 4       08:55
08:50   Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5         London Cannon Street [CST] Platform 3       09:15
09:04   Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5         London Cannon Street [CST] Platform 5       09:27
09:19   Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3         London Cannon Street [CST] Platform 6       09:42
09:26   Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5         London Cannon Street [CST] Platform 7       09:50

Hither Green to Blackfriars

07:59   Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3         London Blackfriars [BFR] Platform 3            08:27

08:18   Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3         London Blackfriars [BFR] Platform 3            08:48

There are some minor tweaks to departure times compared with the current timetable. The 08:35 to Charing Cross appears to be a new service, as is the 09:00. Cannon Street loses the 07:28 and gains the 08:29. There are still some alarming gaps - the biggest being 22 minutes between services to London Bridge and Charing Cross between 07:40 and 08:02 - this is especially worrying as these trains will now have London Bridge passengers who previously would have been getting the Cannon Street trains. There are two trains to Cannon Street and one to Blackfriars in that gap, so hopefully they will pick up some of the capacity...

Incidentally I got this information from the national rail website. The Thameslink Programme website itself has limited detail and the timetables on the southeastern site don't precisely match these times - a few are a minute out on the departure time, but I'm trusting the NR site.

In the week beginning Monday 29 August there will be no Cannon Street services until 2 September, so I hope you aren't planning to be working in town that week...

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Lies, damned lies and bad statistics: analysis of the EU referendum result has been mostly terrible

I'm still recovering from the shock of Thursday's EU referendum vote, and am becoming increasingly irritated at the level of the debate since the result was known on Friday - some of the statistical (let alone political) analysis of the result has been abysmal, betraying individual prejudices very nicely indeed. Before I launch into mine, I admit straight off that this post comes from my perspective as someone strongly in favour of remain, and needs to be read with that in mind.

This post is also not about the standard of debate during the campaign. Lots has been written about that, and Full Fact have done an excellent job in debunking the myths, including those in the picture above.

I'm going to take some of the things I've seen and heard since the referendum and give my perspective on each one, explaining why it's at best misleading and at worst downright nonsense, from a statistical perspective. I'll try to keep to that, but personal opinion will inevitably crop up.

1. "We must accept the (overwhelming) view of the British people"

I've heard this bandied about by politicians more than once since Friday and it's becoming increasingly irritating. In fact 51.9 % of people voted for the UK to leave the EU. In no way is that "overwhelming". Yes, it's the result of the referendum and politicians have to abide by it, but talk of acceptance is to deny the existence of the 16 million people who voted for the UK to remain. Our voices need to be heard too.

2. "But only 37.4% of people voted leave so the result can't be valid"

Irritating though it is that almost 13 million people didn't vote in the election, the result is the result. You could equally argue that only 34.7% of people voted remain. The fact is that you can't say anything about the opinions of the people that didn't vote. We simply don't know what their preference is. No vote, no say.

3. "Scotland voted to remain in the EU"

Nicola Sturgeon has been saying this a lot. I don't blame her (much). It suits her narrative and the aim of her party, which is of course to gain independence for Scotland. However, the vote was not on whether or not Scotland should remain in the EU, it was on whether the UK should remain in the EU. Sixty-two percent of people in Scotland voted for the UK to remain within the EU, with Scotland as a part of that larger entity. This is a subtle but important distinction. If Scotland is to become part of the EU as an independent country, a fair few things need to happen, one of which is that a second Scottish referendum votes in favour of leaving the UK. You could argue that this time the SNP would get what they want out of this, but there is still a significant proportion of people in Scotland who want to stay in the UK, and also (judging by the results of the referendum) a significant proportion who want the UK to leave the EU. Throw all this into the mix and nothing is certain.

By the way, Sturgeon is not the only person to make this mistake and talk of areas voting to leave or remain in the EU. I think she does it knowingly, others are not so bright.

4. "London should declare independence from the rest of England and stay in the EU"

Firstly the vote was a national vote, about what the UK as a whole should do, so it certainly doesn't follow that because 59.9% of Londoners voted for the UK to remain that 59.9% of them would vote for London to become an independent city state. Secondly, there were plenty of people in London who voted leave, over 1.5 million of them in fact. Thirdly, London itself was split - 5 boroughs voted a majority leave. There's clearly more going on than meets the eye. I'll save my views on Little London triumphalism for another day.

5. "Old people have screwed over the young/Cosmopolitan lefties are out of touch with everyone else"

When you go into the polling booth the only information you give is what is on the voting slip. In this case that was a simple leave/remain choice. You don't provide any demographic data, or anything about your job, voting intentions or anything else. All of the stories about how different age groups etc voted are either based on polls or, as in these Guardian charts, on characteristics of areas rather than of individuals. There are dangers with both of these analysis methods, and it's just not conceivable that all 16 million remainers are lefty urbanites, any more than all 17 million leavers are crabby old thickos. At best some of this analysis is misguided, at worst it's downright offensive.

6. "Places that voted leave have no right to ask for their funding to be protected."

a. Places didn't vote to leave or to remain - as I've said a couple of times earlier in this post this was a national vote, with the areas being used as a convenient way to count up the votes. Another option might have been to send all the boxes up to Manchester town hall and count them there. Frankly we might have heard less place-based nonsense if they had been.

b. I see nothing wrong in elected officials in areas that are set to lose out because of the loss of EU money attempting seek assurances that their regeneration plans be protected. I'd do the same in their position.

c. Many of these places had no greater vote for leave over remain than remain's lead over leave in London. For example, 43.5% of Cornwall residents voted for remain. It cannot be the case that a split like that condemns that whole area any more than the 60/40 remain/leave vote in London means all Londoners are brilliant right-thinking individuals.

Good and bad data visualisation

I've run through some of the things that have irritated me in the analysis of the referendum result. There's no doubt that poor statistical literacy and bad data visualisation have contributed to that. Presenting the results as "first past the post"-type results by area has led to some really misleading conclusions.

This regional-level analysis (from the BBC but it could have been from anywhere as everyone has been presenting the results like this) masks big variations at sub-regional level and has been the fuel to the fire for nonsense graphics like this:

I mean, seriously. Over 2,500 retweets and rising, *come on* people.

This graphic from the BBC shows the local authority breakdowns that make it clear why that little gif showing London, Scotland and Northern Ireland letting the rest of the UK leave the EU by themselves is nonsensical. Both London and Northern Ireland had areas with a majority of leave votes.
However, because this map presents the results for each local authority area as either majority leave or majority remain it's also misleading. It's this kind of presentation that leads the mind to think that everyone in those areas is either for one side or the other. In fact the picture is much more subtle than that. This Guardian graphic goes some way to addressing the problem:

It divides leave/remain areas into those with a >15% majority and the rest, but it still uses a blue/yellow dichotomy that is unhelpful. That idea of showing areas as having equal population size is interesting, and people seem to like it, but that in itself is misleading.

Another way of presenting the same information comes from Views of the World.

This map shows areas resized according to population size. I quite like this, although it does have the tendency to make London look like a giant boil in the south east. I still don't like the leave/remain dichotomy presented like this. I think it would be better to present either the percentage leave or the percentage remain by area. This gets away from the idea that whole areas plumped one way or the other and allows for the fact that, for example, Greenwich's remain percentage (55.6) was closer to Cornwall's (43.5) than it was to Lewisham's (69.9) yet all these maps would lead you to lump Lewisham and Greenwich together in cosmopolitan London and leave Cornwall out in the cold (see point 6 above).

The BBC did do a map of percentage remain. Unfortunately the colour scheme means it looks rather insipid.

London doesn't stand out as being quite so different now.... (admittedly this is partly because this is a traditional map rather than a cartogram), and you can see there are loads of areas being condemned as racist strongholds that had 40-49% votes for remain.)

Top 20s

This graphic from the BBC shows the 20 areas with the highest remain vote share.

And this the 20 with the highest leave:

Those crowing about cosmopolitan London might like to note that areas in London appear within both these lists. London as a city is as divided as the country.

A footnote: Divided London?
Newham and Tower Hamlets are also interesting cases. They have similar levels of poverty and deprivation, yet their votes in this referendum are quite different. Tower Hamlets voted 32.5% leave, 67.5% remain, whereas Newham voted 47.2% leave, 52.8% remain. Both are lumped together as "remain" areas by the traditional analysis methods, but there's clearly something going on here that makes them different. Lewisham and Greenwich are also usually seen as pretty similar in most area classifications, but there's a 14 percentage point difference in their remain vote. I'd prefer to see these and other differences explored a little further rather than wasting any more time crowing about how London is so different to the rest of the country.

Edited to add: This tweet from Hidden London shows the extent of the divide clearly, mapping the remain vote share across the capital:

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Catford Bridge Tavern latest

After not much activity for a while, a planning application has been submitted for the Catford Bridge Tavern and it is due to be heard on Thursday 18th February.

The proposal has been submitted on behalf of the current leaseholders, Solitaire, and is as follows:

The construction of a single storey extension with roof terrace at lower ground level round the back by the station. and a roof extension at second floor level, also at the back. Crucially the proposal also ask for approval to convert the upper floors from pub use (class A4) to residential (class C3). The upper floors haven't been open to the public in all the time I've known the pub, so I don't know when they were last used as part of the pub. The planned extension would increase the available pub space at lower ground floor level. The application also says that the plan is to use the same supplier of roof tiles as supplied the existing tiles, and that those that survived the fire would be reused.

The proposals would mean 1 one bed and 5 two bed flats would be built, with rooflights in the rear slope. Cycle storage would be provided. The building is of course locally listed and has Article 4 protection which means there are no permitted development rights. The key thing here is that it is my reading of the situation that the pub will not be developed without the flats being approved, because it isn't thought to be economically viable. An application to convert the upstairs into flats has been turned down once but this was when the proposal was to convert the downstairs into retail. Now the plan is to keep the pub downstairs, so this may mean it will be approved, but this isn't certain because of the problems that ensue with noise complaints when people move into flats built near pubs (see the Pelton Arms in Greenwich for a recent example...) The noise issue is addressed in the application and it concludes by saying that officers are satisfied that enough is being proposed to mean that there would not be an impact on the ability to operate as a pub with residential accommodation above.

Interestingly the proposal is also to remove the parking spaces outside the pub and widen the pavement, in my opinion a good thing.

The report, to my reading, seems to be recommending approval. If you want to, you can probably go along and see for yourself - the meeting starts at 7:30pm at the town hall.

Update: The application was approved at the planning meeting,

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Top posts of 2015

This shouldn't take long, I've only posted 13 times in 2015 (and five of those were in January...).

13. Lewisham Council advertises for "Change and Innovation Manager", 29 December 2015, 207 views. Not surprising that this only has 207 views given that I posted it yesterday... In fact with 207 views in under 24 hours I have high hopes for this post's future... ;)

12. Catford's "poo patrol" take matters into their own hands, 9 September 2015, 320 views. Perhaps people aren't all that interested in poo after all.

11. Update on the Safer Brownhill Road campaign, 21 January 2015, 360 views. This deserves more attention - a local resident's campaign to get Transport for London (TfL) to install a safe road crossing at the junction of Torridon Road and Brownhill Road in the wake of a particularly bad crash on Brownhill Road where a student was sadly killed. The campaign continues and TfL are currently in the process of carrying out an assessment of the site.

10. Ace's Bar applies for change of use, 26 February 2015, 416 views. Poor old Ace's Bar. It didn't get its change of use and is currently closed. Maybe £2.50 pints of Carling just aren't very Corbett, dahling.

9. Was Labour's purge worth it?, 11 September 2015, 570 views. No.

8. More through trains from Catford to Kentish Town are coming!, 22 January 2015, 662 views. Not any time soon mind you.

7. Catford Bridge Tavern fire - some pictures and some speculation on what the future holds, 11 March 2015, 757 views. The CBT going up in flames was one of the big stories in Catford in early 2015. The roof and a large part of the upstairs was destroyed by the fire and there was plenty of speculation about both the causes and the consequences. Towards the end of the year the company that owns the pub, Solitaire Limited, announced that they will be applying for permission to redevelop the site, restoring the building and opening at the end of 2016. We live in hope...

6. Free travel on national rail for under 11s - beware the small print!, 4 December 2015, 816 views. I wrote this when I realised that Boris's announcement that free travel on national rail for under 11s wasn't quite what it first seemed. I'm still banging on about it because I think many parents are going to get caught out by the fact they need an Oyster Zip card for the children to be able to take advantage of this. Tell your friends!

5. Don't mention the prefabs - Lewisham Council plans new "pop up" housing, 19 January 2015, 924 views. The new "pop up housing" is coming along. In the meantime, Excalibur is left to rot.

4. Lewisham's borough-wide 20mph plans - a good news update, 7 January 2015, 941 views. The good news that Lewisham are continuing to press ahead with implementing borough-wide 20mph.

3. Cleverly's Bakerloo bungle..., 14 January 2015, 957 views. Unfortunately, despite the fact that extending the Bakerloo line to Hayes would actually speed up journey times for residents of the Hayes area (the subject of this post), Bromley council refused to back it and towards the end of the year TfL announced that the extension would be going ahead, but only as far as Lewisham. Gutted doesn't quite cover it.

2. Pollution monitoring in Catford and Hither Green - some shocking results, 25 May 2015, 1,057 views. The results of a frankly shocking piece of work I undertook with some friends at the beginning of 2015 showing that all of the Corbett and Culverley Green estates in Catford have moderate or worse air pollution. Unfortunately the council remains entirely uninterested in stopping rat running through the estates.

1. The General Election in Lewisham East, 8 April 2015, 1,280 views. Everyone loves an election. Shame about the result nationally. Still, Heidi did well anyway, she's now Shadow Secretary of State for Health.

A busy year despite the small number of posts. Bring on 2016.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Lewisham Council advertises for "Change and Innovation Manager"

This job dropped into my inbox on Christmas Eve, courtesy of the Civil Service jobs search website email updates and it immediately caught my eye...

It's a secondment to Lewisham Council from Whitehall - the job description is quite short so I've reproduced it below:

"An important role, this is an opportunity to lead complex projects, work with senior members of the organisation, and be at the forefront of issues facing local Government. These roles will play an important part in the overall success of the organisation: To lead complex organisational redesign projects and be responsible for achieving the successful delivery of £85m savings via the Lewisham Future Programme, To lead on and effectively manage multi-disciplinary and multiple project teams to deliver organisational and cultural change across the Council. To advise Heads of Service, Executive Directors and Members and support the Head of Technology & Change to deliver the objectives of the Lewisham Future Programme."

Salary £50,000pa for two years.

If you're an existing civil servant who fancies a challenge, you have until 18 January to get your application in.

Friday, December 04, 2015

Free travel on national rail for under 11s - beware the small print!

Back in November, the mayor Boris Johnson announced something that a lot of us with young children living in South East London have been waiting for a long time - free travel on national rail for under 11s, bringing them into line with the tube and other services. This was widely reported and welcomed.

But beware the small print that the reporters missed! Unlike our counterparts in north London, parents of children south of the river will need to obtain a 5-10 Oyster Zip card in order to benefit from this, otherwise we will be charged the child paper ticket fare (currently £1.45 for a single from zone 3). The cost of this is £10 per child.

We already have them because they were worth having to reduce the cost of a single journey on national rail to 75p, but I suspect many other parents won't. It's likely many will just have heard the general announcement, maybe seen it in the paper and will assume their child can travel freely with them as they do on buses, DLR etc now. This could lead to many being hit with a penalty fare without realising they were doing anything wrong! I certainly hadn't realised we would still need the Oyster Zip cards in the new year until I received an email from TfL yesterday.

So while the change is welcomed, we are still being penalised for living south of the river, as if we weren't penalised enough by having to use Southeastern, Southern and Thameslink!

If you're a parent of a 5-10 year old, or you know someone else who is, do let them know about this change! Forewarned is forearmed and all that.