Thursday, 6 October 2011

What Deptford is saying: part 1

So far, more than 130 objections have been received to the planning application for redevelopment of Convoys Wharf. If you haven't sent one yet, it's NOT too late!

We'll be publishing a few of the objections here, in case you need some inspiration or want to hear what others are saying....

"In 1513 AD the King's Yard was founded at Deptford, a tiny hamlet by a marshy creek on the south side of the Thames on a deep self-scouring bend of the river. Surrounded by mainly oak woodland and close to the Dover Road the choice of site was not accidental.

In the following 350 years the people of Deptford built more than 400 warships, innumerable trading vessels, and ships for exploration. They exported their skills and expertise, not only to lesser ports in these islands, but across the globe. A whole range of industries blossomed around the King's Yard; victualling, tanning,cordage, and foundries to name but a few.

As early as Marlowe's time it was the place to escape the intrigues of court but even given the respectability of Evelyn and Sayes Court or Pepys's reforms, Deptford had a vibrancy, an 'edge' (to quote people who think they've invented something new!)

Even the Victorians got it. I suggest that members take the time to venture into New Cross and really look at Deptford Town Hall.

More recently, John Gummer 'got' it by making the site a protected wharf. Maybe he actually saw through the prevalent tendency of the council to use this northern end of the borough as a dumping ground for government targets and difficult problems.

This site is more than half of Lewisham's riverfront so it's hardly surprising that two of the world's most rapacious capitalists can see the potential to make, and remove, a fortune. They've already made one in the dubious original purchase deal. Are you not suspicious of a site owner who has allowed only minimal use of, and access to, a site the size of Greenwich Park in the last 20 years ? Valuable employment opportunities have been missed as a consequence.

What happened to the guidance of the sequential test of uses for protected wharves in the London Plan?

Why is it that you, English Heritage, and the Greater London Authority are prepared to ignore all of your respective and detailed guidance regarding heritage assets and their context, let alone re-use, as is possible in the case of the great double dock, the grand basin, Sayes Court gardens, and several other major historical features on the site?

Why, in the previous application, did you pay the LSE to come up with suitable solutions for the site, most of which would be favoured by the community, and then ignore their expert findings?

Why do you want your borough dwarfed by poorly designed wildly out-of-scale buildings and exclusive and divisive developments?

Why settle for the insultingly low affordable housing figures?

It is almost as if this pair of developers are seeking to punish the borough by returning an ever-more horrific, low quality, plan at each application instead of actually listening to local concerns.

Deptford has some of the highest unemployment figures in the capital and yet other developments in the north of the borough are already bringing in over 20,000 newcomers all at the expense of employment land within the borough. This plan will bring over 12,000 more.
These are the politics of the madhouse!

No riparian borough in London truly takes advantage of its waterfront, other than as a backdrop for exclusive private housing and the obligatory, and usually unimaginative, Thames Path. This site is unique in that its historic use has bequeathed features that could make it truly permeable and one of the most exciting sites in the capital, a one-time-only opportunity.

I urge that you reject this application in its entirety. There is not a single facet of it that is right or appropriate to this unique and precious piece of the borough."

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