09 November 2005

09 November 2005

Major revamp for ‘neglected’ area

ONE of the borough's "most neglected areas" is set to undergo a major revamp.

Hither Green could soon be home to a sea of plush cafes, bars and tree-lined roads thanks to a new regeneration project.

The plans, currently the subject of a six-month public consultation exercise, could also see the east Lewisham outpost get its own New York-style plaza.

The Hither Green Urban Design and Development Strategy has been developed by the council, businesses and residents.

Lewisham Council says its aim is to "promote positive change" by encouraging development and private investment in the area.

The strategy includes a public consultation process, with regular meetings between residents, traders and councillors.

Ideas discussed so far include plans for the area next to Hither Green Station, Staplehurst Road, to be transformed into a public square.

This would include a host of new cafes and bars complete with outdoor seating areas.

The pavements on Hither Green Lane could also be widened to allow space for extra trees.

Lewisham Central councillor Andrew Milton attended the last meeting and says the plans are "very positive".

He said: "For many years Hither Green has been a neglected area of Lewisham and does not receive as much funding as other places.

"The square is a great idea. At the moment dining here is a bit like a smash-and-grab exercise."

Cllr Milton added: "We need somewhere for people to linger and enjoy a coffee."

Earlier this year residents in Staplehurst Road scooped a top prize in the London in Bloom contest for their efforts to make their street greener.

Lewisham deputy mayor Councillor Gavin Moore says the urban design framework will "build on this success".

He added: "The development strategy will help attract private investment to bring about wider improvements in Hither Green."

The consultation process ends on December 30.

Consultants will then produce a report, outlining their vision for the future.

Retrial for arson murder suspect

A MAN accused of murdering his flatmate then torching the body faces a retrial.

Michael Rogers-Wilson, 28, is said to have beaten Brett Youngs to death with a baseball bat after a row.

He then allegedly set fire to the body of the 30-year-old web designer and DJ, before fleeing the squat they shared in Northbrook Road, Lewisham.

Rogers-Wilson was arrested after Mr Youngs's death on May 27, 2003, and stood trial at the Old Bailey last month for murder and arson.

But on Friday the jury of six men and six women was discharged after failing to reach verdicts following 29 hours and 39 minutes of deliberations.

Judge Peter Rook remanded Rogers-Wilson in custody and ordered he should return to court on Friday when the date of his retrial will be fixed.

Dressed in a grey suit, Rogers-Wilson blew kisses to family members as he was led back to the cells. Rogers-Wilson, of Little Heath Farm, Little Heath Lane, Oxshott, Surrey, denies murder and arson.

Pirate radio off air for final time

RAIDS on pirate radio stations have led to nearly 50 illegal broadcasters in London being taken off air.

In a joint operation, the Metropolitan Police and the Office of Communications (Ofcom) swooped on stations in the Greater London area on October 29.

During the raids, transmitters were seized from Baseline FM in Lewisham and Wax FM in Plumstead and one transmitter was disconnected at Fresh FM in Erith.

The raid also saw one transmitter seized and one disconnected from Naija FM in Plumstead and Wapping.

Illegal broadcasting, which covers any form of broadcasting without a legitimate licence, has been linked to serious crime and drugs.

According to Ofcom, past raids have uncovered a range of illegal weapons and substances and there is evidence pirate broadcasters send coded messages to dealers and users by playing particular songs to indicate drugs are ready for collection.

Ofcom's head of field operations Robert Thelen-Bartholomew said: "Illegal broadcasting affects emergency services and has links with serious crime.

"Ofcom will continue to pursue and prosecute those involved in this criminal activity."

Ofcom has a 100-per-cent successful conviction rate for their prosecution of people broadcasting illegally.

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