Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Questions to ask the applicant and planners

If you are attending the Drop-In at St Nicholas' Church tonight, here are some questions to ask Lewisham Planning and the representatives of Convoys Wharf s.a.r.l.

1. We are still unclear as to exactly what precisely, apart from a new school, the Section 106 agreements are for the site.

2. What conditions are they currently considering putting on the development should they grant development?

3. This is the last stage at which Lewisham can apply conditions to the development that ensure the very best results for the people of Deptford. 'Outline' planning permission that is being sought for a 'masterplan'. There are no drawings to approve, in fact the visuals provided in this application are extremely poor. 'Parcels' of the site may be sold off to other developers to build what they like (up to an approved height and width). This is the point at which Lewisham should add conditions so that later developments are of good quality.

4. This application is different from and, not as the developers suggest, an amendment to the previous 2005 application. The developers seem to be under the impression that the 2005 scheme is more or less acceptable, despite the fact that it has been dismissed by GLA, Design For London, Design Review Panels and local consultation. Can the applicants clarify this application's relationship to the 2005 scheme?

5. Who is representing the applicant here? HWL, BPTW, Hard Hat, Aedas? Who are the planners negotiating with? With so many different entities representing the developers is it possible to know who is giving the orders about the massive density of these proposals?

6. Why is the history of the site given so little consideration with this application going in before the archaeological excavations have finished? Has Lewisham Council not realised the enormous potential of the site as of national (and international) significance in Britain's heritage? If they have, why have they not conveyed this more strongly to the developers, backed up by other important (and willing) authorities and national bodies?
7. What would happen, should the archaeological excavations which are currently ongoing, turn up something of importance? Surely a 46 floor tower block could not be built over such potential finds.

8. What will the Olympia shed to be used for?

9. Why is the site now considered a residential site? The LSE report commissioned by Lewisham says its should only be 25% residential. GLA agreed.

10. Why has the number of affordable housing units shrunk from 25% to 14%, when the London Plan asks for 35% to 50%?

11. Does Lewisham have a plan for a post-recession Deptford that isn't just creating a dormitory for jobs in the City or rental income for foreign investors? What does Lewisham want to see in Deptford? Don't we have enough luxury residential developments built on potential employment sites already?

12. Where are the employment opportunities except for in the short term? (Even the Olympics site has failed to employ more than 10% of local people). Where are the future alternatives to jobs in retail and catering?

13. Why is the Working Wharf in phase 2 of the proposal? Why is it so small? Why do the developers have the right to buy back some of the land at a later date?

14. Why has there been so little public consultation? Planning Aid London, Building Communities, the Prince's Foundation, the Stephen Lawrence Centre, could have helped. If other agencies have been consulted are the minutes available for public view?

15. Is the application is being rushed through in order to avoid potential loss of revenue due to the possible application of the Boris tax (the mayor's Community Infrastructure Levy to pay for Crossrail)? Or is it a fact that nothing may actually be built for some years and means this tax won't apply (if it ever comes into existence)?

16. The latest plans will create wind tunnels theatening river navigation as well as residents and visitors. Very tall buildings – not just three exceptionally tall towers – but most buildings will block sunlight not only on the site but for all existing and surrounding housing.

17. Practically non-existent green space and reduced access to the river. Green areas showing on the application are in fact raised gardens above carparks. There is very little public space (green or otherwise) left in these new plans.

18. Parking for 2300 cars is unsustainable, when one fire in a small town house on Deptford Broadway causes our local road networks to stop moving for three days.

19. No additional transport plans in place.

20. OUR HERITAGE: The building over of Deptford's history: John Evelyn's house and gardens, most of King Henry VIII's dockyard (more of which is appearing as the archaeology continues) leaving nothing really for Deptford citizens to engage in and be proud of? Is this site not deserving of World Heritage Status?


  1. All good questions - I won't be able to go to this meeting but I would press for a proper public meeting - not just a 'drop-in' - I think that with the number of objections the Council have received they are obliged to hold a public meeting.

  2. yes a public meeting is a very good idea, with councillors in attendance and representation form the English Heritage, national, regional and local amenity societies.

  3. Agree with Proctor.
    After they've seen the possibilities or before?
    We have until December. Happy Xmas.

  4. It is VITAL that people who went to the meeting on Tuesday put in more letters to the planners, including the responses to what people learned from the design team etc.
    The council must be told that we now know that the design team do not know where the main historical features are and that, therefore, they cannot have designed the scheme around them nor around the archaeology. The design team really showed up their limited knowledge and could not answer questions about ground plan design. We must now tell the planners that we think it is now LAUGHABLE that the rhetoric of the application suggests the design team have based their design on historic features, routes and sense of place.
    The design team have been well and truly seen to be completely naked running away up the high street! The planning committee must know that if they vote this to be passed they are as fickle as the court of the emperor with the invisible suit!

  5. the call for the public meeting is growing elsewhere also. This could happen after other proposals have been shared. The public meeting could be attended by a number of amenity societies who have concerns about the development proposals from a number of areas of interest and expertise. A representative from each society could be given 5 mins to express their particular concerns, be it heritage environment, archaeology, transport, density, social provision, adherence to national policy, failure to respond to consultation over a ten year period, heights, mass and scale etc.
    Having heard each groups statement and allowed time for questions. we could invite the developer to respond and to be available for public questioning, if they do not accept the invitation, then i think at least a representative form Lewisham would be prepared to address the meeting.

  6. So can anyone report any answers to any of these questions / assertions please?