Thriving, colourful markets, a history of royal connections and large recent investments in regeneration and new developments mean neighbouring Deptford and Greenwich have much in common.
Despite their similarities, a group of Deptford residents appear to have fallen out of love with the area and are campaigning to have their SE8 postcode changed to the SE10 of Greenwich.
The postcode boundary of SE8 and SE10 was set in 1917 and runs along Deptford Creek. The boundary between Lewisham and Greenwich boroughs is further to the west and splits Deptford between the two councils. The postcode system does not always reflect council boundaries, as it was created by the General Post Office simply to allow post to be delivered efficiently.
So is the SE8, Greenwich area more like Deptford or Greenwich and what postcode should the area have? Campaigners say that the location has far more in common with the SE10 area and the postcode should reflect this.
Historically, the disputed region has always been part of Deptford and is only part of the borough of Greenwich for administrative reasons. Deptford was first split between boroughs in 1900, when the parish of St. Nicholas (an area including the current SE8, Greenwich) became part of the newly created Greenwich Borough, rather than Deptford Borough due to efforts to keep population levels in the boroughs consistent.
Unsuccessful attempts were made to reunite Deptford during 1994. Lewisham council requested that the boundary be moved and aligned to Deptford Creek, placing all of Deptford within Lewisham borough. However, Greenwich council had plans for the area, and didn’t want to lose the potential income this would bring. So the councils agreed to move the boundary to run along Waterford road, which moved most of Deptford into Lewisham but still left a small part in the borough of Greenwich.
Data from each of the areas appears to support the campaigners claims that SE8, Greenwich has more in common with SE10 than the rest of SE8.
As the above chart shows, the average sold house price for SE8, Greenwich is in between the other postcodes, but is slightly closer to that of SE10. Campaigners believe that the value of their properties is being kept artificially low due to the SE8 postcode they see as less desirable.
The government indicators of deprivation include employment, education, health and disability and household overcrowding. The percentage of households that are deprived in these areas in SE8, Greenwich is very similar to that of SE10. SE8 has far fewer households not classified as deprived in any area than the other two areas.
The percentage of residents fitting into each social group in SE8, Greenwich is more in line with those in SE10 than the rest of SE8.
In contrast to the rest of the data, the average age of people living in SE8, Greenwich is more alike to the rest of SE8. Residents are on average younger than in both SE8 and SE10, but are closer in age to the rest of SE8.
Although the above data supports the campaigners view that SE8 Greenwich is more similar to SE10, would residents really benefit from a postcode change?
They believe they are paying too much for their home and car insurance due to the SE8 postcode. In fact, most insurance companies now use the whole postcode when setting premiums to allow them to be as precise as possible. The number of burglaries reported in the SE10 area is almost identical to those in SE8, and the total crime reported is actually higher in SE10. This means that insurance prices would probably not change, even if the postcode did.
Part of the explanation for the petition is that the residents are paying a higher rate of council tax for the privilege of living in Greenwich, but due to the SE8 postcode, not getting any of the benefits. Actually, council tax in Greenwich is lower than Lewisham. Residents of a D band property pay £79.44 less this year.
Opponents have countered the argument that residents should have an SE10 postcode because they live in the borough of Greenwich by pointing out that other areas are also in the borough with different postcodes. Charlton residents for example also pay council tax to Greenwich council but have an SE7, not SE10 postcode.
No matter what the data shows, it is unlikely that campaigners will be successful with their petition. A spokesman for Royal Mail said: “Royal Mail does not normally change postcodes unless there is a pressing operational reason to do so”
Although Royal Mail makes provision for changing postcode areas in ‘exceptional circumstances’, the campaigners reasons do not meet these criteria. Other groups have tried to get their postcodes changed for similar reasons in the past, and none have been successful. So it looks like the residents will have to take the advice of local blogger Darryl Chamberlain: “Or they can learn to love Deptford. From the Housewives’ Cash & Carry to the Build The Lenox campaign through London’s newest vinyl record shop/cafe/gallery – I’m sure it won’t take long.”