Beckenham Place Park – New Plans Published

Long awaited plans for the eastern side of Beckenham Place Park have been published by Lewisham Council. A full planning application is open for consultation and comment until 2nd February 2022.

The improvement of the eastern side of Beckenham Place Park was to be delivered as part of a flood alleviation scheme in partnership with the Enivornment Agency.

The major flood plans included a 10 site flood alleviation scheme which sought to protect Lewisham and Catford town centres from river or fluvial flooding. Beckenham Place Park was to be the holding reservoir for flood waters in times of exceptionally high flow. However, in summer of 2018 the EA concluded that the cost of the scheme they had designed had risen too significantly from initial cost estimates to be cost effective or deliverable within the government funding protocols they must work within. As a result, the scheme was cancelled. Lewisham Council had committed up to £2million for this.

Also, the Heritage Lottery Fund had expected that the whole of the park would be restored, and the funding bid to the HLF was made on that basis, however none of the HLF project budget was committed to the eastern side of the park.

Beckenham-Place-Park-East-Proposals-2022-DC_21_124643-ILLUSTRATIVE_MASTERPLAN-1050892

“Beckenham Place Park is Lewisham’s largest park by far; indeed it is the one
of the largest parks in London, and South east London’s biggest open space.
At 95 hectares it is 30% bigger than Greenwich Park. It boasts ancient
woodland, meadow, parkland, a river and several historic buildings. It was
originally acquired by the London County Council to be the key amenity space
for the new estates of Bellingham and Downham”
– Lewisham Council Sustainable Development Committee report April 2017

Beckenham Place Park is full of history. There are listed buildings including the Mansion House built about 1773 for John Cator (1728-1806) . Cllr Alan Hall has called for a ‘root and branch‘ review of of the park’s financing in the past.

Funding for the restoration of the Grade II* Mansion House remains to be secured.

Beckenham-Place-Park-Design-Proposals-2022-East-side-DC_21_124643-DESIGN-1050926

Please take time to examine the planning application and write to planning@lewisham.gov.uk with any comments.

Fight Secrecy! Say Campaigners

Cllr Alan Hall has joined bloggers, campaigners and other journalists supporting the Campaign for Freedom of Information’s crowdfunding initiative to close a funding shortfall.

The Campaign for Freedom of Information played a key part in persuading the Labour government headed by Tony Blair to make and then honour a manifesto commitment to introduce the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in 2000 and in improving what started out as an extremely weak bill.

However, in his 2010 memoirs Blair took the diametrically opposite view, declaring his earlier support to be that of an “idiot” and a “naive, foolish, irresponsible nincompoop”. The legislation has faced attempts to weaken it by Governments ever since.

Indeed, Freedom of Information and transparency has hit headlines recently as the tory Government has proposed that the new Health and Care Bill that will establish a Health Services Safety Investigations Body to investigate medical scandals will be exempt from the Freedom of Information legislation.

Campaign for FOI assessment of current threats include:

  • The Health Service Safety Investigations Body is being set up to investigate and help prevent serious patient safety incidents but would be banned from disclosing information under the FOI Act or passing information to a Parliamentary select committee. It would be a criminal offence for a whistleblower to disclose information about its work. Read our briefing for MPs.
  • A new funding body to promote ‘high risk, high reward’ research, with a budget of £800m over four years, will be excluded from FOI altogether under the Advanced Research and Invention Agency Bill. Read about our campaign here.
  • Home Office proposals to revise the Official Secrets Act will make it easier to convict those who disclose information without authority and substantially increase prison sentences for convicted whistleblowers or journalists. Astonishingly, it says the maximum penalty for leaking, currently 2 years imprisonment, should be the same as that for espionage – 14 years. 

The CFOI are also working to:

  • Close the FOI loophole that prevents the public finding out about public services delivered by contractors. So if, for example, an NHS body uses a private contractor to provide ambulances the public’s right to know how well the service operates will be severely undermined.
  • Ensure that time limits for responding to FOI requests are rigorously enforced.

The Freedom of Information Act gives individuals the right to ask for any recorded information held by a government department, local council, NHS trust, police force or other public body. 

Together with the Environmental Information Regulations these form part of the crucial rights to have access to information from Government bodies.

The United Nations states that work to enhance freedom of information, thereby supporting transparent and accountable institutions, is also important to the rule of law.

It should be remembered that the Aarhus Convention grants the public rights and imposes on signatory countries including the UK and public authorities, obligations regarding access to information and public participation. It backs up these rights with access to justice provisions that go some way towards putting teeth into the Convention. In fact, the preamble directly links environmental protection to human rights norms and expressly recognises that every person has the right to live in an environment adequate to his or her health and well-being. The EU has based legislation on the Aarhus Convention however, the responsibility to implement the various provisions remain in the UK unless the Government propose to leave.

“The Aarhus Convention’s twin protections for environmental and human rights, and its focus on involving the public, provide a mechanism for holding governments to account in their efforts to address the multi-dimensional challenges facing our world today, including climate change, biodiversity loss, poverty reduction, increasing energy demands, rapid urbanization, and air and water pollution” – Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations

Local Authorities are subject to the Aarhus Convention. Cllr Alan Hall asked a Member Question to the newly elected Lewisham Mayor Damien Egan who had taken personal responsibility for the planning portfolio at a full Lewisham Council meeting in July 2018.

The first question posed to Mayor Damien Egan at a full Council meeting in July 2018
Basis for public participation in environmental including planning matters

During the Covid-19 pandemic the Campaign for Freedom of Information has said that there is a severe backlog of FOI requests in some areas. Complaints to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) can take a year before it starts investigating some freedom of information complaints.

“Unless the backlog is reduced quickly, both the operation of the Act and the public’s confidence in it will be severely damaged. Regular reporting on the real size of the problem and the time it is taking to carry out substantive investigations is essential to an effective right to know.” – Campaign for Freedom of Information

New challenges face public scrutiny of decision makers with the use of private emails and messaging services like whatsapp. Elizabeth Denham CBE the Information Commissioner wrote in the Municipal Journal that the five key recommendations that anyone handling FoI requests within a public authority needs to bear in mind:

1) Make sure your staff, relevant public officials and elected representatives understand how they can securely access official IT systems and equipment. This should minimise the need to use private correspondence channels.

2) Train staff to recognise which communications relate to official business and which relate to non-official information, across all channels. In the context of local government, you should have a way of distinguishing between official business and an elected official’s work on behalf of their constituents.

3) Review and communicate your records management policy. You should regularly tell staff what they need to do to ensure information related to public authority business is transferred to official systems as soon as possible.

4) When handling FoI requests make sure you consider whether communications held on private correspondence channels, such as WhatsApp, may be relevant to the request.

5) Ensure staff correctly adhere to the relevant policies and procedures and regularly review them to ensure staff knowledge remains up to date. Remember, erasing, destroying or concealing information with the intention of preventing disclosure after a request is received is a criminal offence.

To support the Campaign for Freedom of Information with their crowdfunding please click here.

At the full Lewisham Council meeting on Wednesday, 24th November, new figures on the response rate to Freedom of Information requests were announced.

Lewisham Council figures for FOI and EIR responses released on 24th November 2021

Cllr Alan Hall asked a supplementary question to find out how the declining trend over the last four years would be reversed – he was told that Lewisham Council had risen in a league table of London Authorities from near the bottom to average. The full exchange can be viewed at 1h 50 minutes on the webcast here

According to the Campaign for Freedom of Information the ICO’s target for public authorities is to meet the FOIA/EIR time limits in at least 90% of all requests.

Catford Island Site Planning Consultation Launched

A leaflet and website have been published for local residents outlining the early development proposals for the Catford Island Site – this is the area in Catford where Plassy Road School once stood. Currently, there is a shopping area with a Lidl, bingo hall and some other retail outlets with a car park.

Map of the road layout showing the Catford Island Site courtesy Google

The website sponsored by the partners involved in the development is here: www.catfordisland.commonplace.is

The five page leaflet can be read below.

Catford-Island-Consultation-1-leaflet-plassy-road-111021

You can contact the project team directly with comments by calling 0800 999 1523 or emailing hello@catfordisland.com

Lewisham Council have published a Catford Town Centre Framework planning document

Local Councillors have announced the consultation on twitter

A ten storey building at 161 Rushey Green has received planning permission on appeal. This is adjacent to this site and forms part of the Plassy Road land known as the Catford Island.

Full details in the brochure here

Cllr Alan Hall Response to Lewisham Council’s Local Plan

The Local Plan helps to ensure that planning decisions are made in the best interests of our neighbourhoods and communities. It provides a strategy for the Council and its partners to direct investment across Lewisham, recognising it is an integral part of London. It includes policies and guidelines that are used to determine planning applications.

Lewisham Council says:

“The Local Plan sets out a shared vision for the future of Lewisham along with the planning and delivery framework to achieve this vision.

The Local Plan helps to ensure that planning decisions are made in the best interests of our neighbourhoods and communities. It provides:

A strategy for the Council and its partners to direct investment across Lewisham, recognising it is an integral part of London. Policies and guidelines used to determine planning applications.”

The formal consultation process ran from 15th January 2021 to 11th April 2021 and Cllr Alan Hall has asked what are the next steps in the process to take the public’s views into full consideration.

Cllr Alan Hall made a formal response mentioning the need for more green space and the expansion of the River Pool Linear Park. He said: “I would like to see the biodiversity and green space commitments explicitly included in this Local Plan and at the sites mentioned above. In Bell Green, a community masterplanning approach should be undertaken and the proposals as they stand are unacceptable. The heritage assets of the Livesey Hall, War Memorial and Grounds needs to be fully recognised in any plan for Bell Green.”

On social housing, Cllr Alan Hall has called for a clear and strong statement in the Local Plan, saying: “A target of 50% of all new homes built to be ‘genuinely affordable’, which is defined as housing at social rent levels (which is set on the basis of local income levels); this means that intermediate and market housing products would not be considered as genuinely affordable.”

London Affordable Rent is classified as an intermediate rent product by most housing experts as it is more expensive than social rent.

Bellingham Estate to be Area of Special Local Character

Full response to the London Borough of Lewisham Local Plan:

The Integrated Impact Assessment on the Local Plan published November 2020 states:

“There will also be a need to consider in-combination issues and opportunities associated with redevelopment at both Bell Green Retail Park, as the southern extent of the Pool River Linear Park, and two sites at the northern extent, namely Wickes and Halfords, Catford Road and Pool Court (proposed as a gypsy and traveller site; currently comprises a Site of Importunate for Nature Conservation, SINC).

There could feasibly be an opportunity to extend the Linear Park into one or both of the larger development sites, and it is recommended that this option is explored, with a view to an overall biodiversity net gain, as measured/calculated at an appropriate functional scale. Extending the Linear Park would also be in line with open space objectives, noting the key finding of the Lewisham Open Spaces Assessment (2019), which is that a significant amount of additional provision will be required to maintain standards (of access to open space) over the long-term. However, it is recognised that there is a need to balance wide ranging objectives when considering how best to redevelop these sites.

I support the expansion of the Linear Park.

Site specific policy currently states:

• Bell Green Retail Park – “Development proposals must protect and seek to enhance green infrastructure, including SINC, green corridor, Metropolitan Open Land and the Pool River.”

• Wickes and Halfords, Catford Road – “Development should maximise opportunities to enhance the ecological quality and amenity provided by the River Ravensbourne, including by revealing the river through decluverting, repairing gaps in Waterlink Way and improving public access to it.” This site specific policy is broadly in accordance with the Site Specific Design and Development Guidelines set for Wickes and Halfords, Catford Road within the adopted River Corridor Improvement Plan SPD (2015). Figure 9.1 shows one of the figures from the SPD, showing the location of the Pool River Linear Park between BGLS and Catford, also highlighting proximity of Beckenham Palace Park.

• Pool Court – the site specific policy does not reference biodiversity constraints or opportunities; however, it explains: “Applicants should consult with Network Rail and Transport for London on design and development options.”

I would like to see the biodiversity and green space commitments explicitly included in this Local Plan and at the sites mentioned above. In Bell Green, a community masterplanning approach should be undertaken and the proposals as they stand are unacceptable. The heritage assets of the Livesey Hall, War Memorial and Grounds needs to be fully recognised in any plan for Bell Green.

On the proposed Gypsy and Travellers Site the document makes the specific comments:

“9.7.5 Finally, there is a need to consider the proposed strategy in respect of meeting gypsy and traveller accommodation needs.

The background is as follows: The Lewisham Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment (2015 and amended 2016) identifies a minimum need for six pitches within the plan period, arising from people currently living in bricks and mortar homes, teenage children and household formation. Having regard to this assessment, the Council commenced preparation of a Gypsy and Traveller Site Local Plan. This set out the approach to meeting identified local need for this group, including through site allocation policies.

A Preferred Site Consultation was then over six weeks in 2018. Consultation responses have been considered and negotiations with landowners are progressing. This is particularly to ensure that any future proposed site is deliverable for the intended use, and that feedback from the wider public is appropriately addressed.

9.7.6 In light of the above, the Draft Local Plan proposes an allocation at Pool Court, which is a 0.3 ha site located to just to the southwest of the Catford Masterplan area; specifically, to the south of the large proposed allocation at Wickes and Halfords, Catford Road. The site comprises a ‘left over’ triangle of land at the point where the two railways south of Catford cross-over one another. The River Ravensbourne borders the site, and the confluence of the rivers Ravensbourne and Pool is near adjacent to the west of the site (separated by the railway); however, the site is shown intersect flood zone 2 (as opposed to flood zone 3, which constrains Wickes and Halfords, Catford Road), presumably because the river is effectively channelled or culverted at this point.

A related constraint is the on-site local nature conservation (SINC) designation, and it is important to consider the biodiversity value of this site not only isolation, but as one element of the ecological network associated with the Ravensbourne and Pool river valleys (see discussion of the Wickes and Halfords site above, under ‘Biodiversity’). Whilst it is recognised that this site has been identified following a site selection process undertaken over a number of years, given the onsite constraints, it is recommended that further detailed assessments of biodiversity and flood risk are undertaken, with additional requirements/guidance included within the site allocation, as appropriate; the council should also continue to explore other opportunities to meet the housing needs of this group.”

I support the need for further detailed consideration of the negative impact to biodiversity and the SINC.

Not only this, I believe that this site is insufficient to meet the needs of the Traveller community and that as a stand alone policy is insufficient to comply with the London Plan.

Genuinely Affordable Housing

If delivery of genuinely affordable housing is a clear corporate priority for Lewisham Council then The Local Plan needs to set a strategic target for 50 per cent of all new homes delivered in the Borough to be locally defined as housing at social rent levels, below the GLA’s London Affordable Rent level. This would recognise the distinctive characteristics of the local housing market and the relative affordability of different types of provision to the resident population.

All other housing products below market levels, whether for sale or rent, are defined as intermediate housing, and should not be conflated with genuinely affordable housing.

To be clear, a target of 50% of all new homes built to be ‘genuinely affordable’, which is defined as housing at social rent levels (which is set on the basis of local income levels); this means that intermediate and market housing products would not be considered as genuinely affordable.

I support the designation of the Bellingham Estate as an Area of Special Local Character and we support further consideration to making this a Conservation Area.

The Industrial Estate in Bellingham is a successful employment zone. The designation needs to be reinforced.

Local Green Space and Metropolitan Open Land needs to be designated at Coutrai Road in Crofton Park and along the railway cuttings from Forest Hill, Honor Oak Park through to New Cross Gate.

Finally, the fact that this consultation has taken place during a pandemic and at a time of limited communication including an election period needs to be acknowledged. Further formal consultation is required to achieve a common understanding of the plans and therefore, this consultation is inadequate.

Yours sincerely,

Alan Hall

Cllr Alan Hall – Bellingham

Lewisham’s Amenity Societies’ Collective Concerns Over Planning Changes

On 16th September 2020, Lewisham Council’s Mayor & Cabinet agreed to a six month extension of temporary changes to the planning procedures for public participation in town planning. In the report it says: “By June 2020 a backlog of around 40 planning applications requiring determination by committee had built up. The Government has brought in legislation to enable decision making to take place through virtual committee meetings and the Council has put in place measures to hold virtual planning committee meetings and has been holding these since June.” Planning committee decisions are described as “resource intensive”.

The virtual planning committees instigated due to Covid-19 were found to be “particularly resource intensive” as they meant additional officers to be present and fully briefed on every scheme as back up in case technical difficulties occurred.

The extension of the temporary changes had been examined at a meeting of the Council’s Strategic Planning Committee and approved on 3rd September. A number of amenity societies and individuals had commented critically. These were reported to the Mayor and Cabinet meeting in an addendum.

However, the day before the Mayor and Cabinet meeting a letter to the Mayor of Lewisham by Lewisham’s amenity societies collectively was sent. This says: “We feel the need to take the unprecedented step of writing to you with a collective voice” and details their concerns. The full letter is below:

Date: Tue, 15 Sep 2020

To: damien.egan@lewisham.gov.uk – Mayor
Cc: cllr_paul.bell@lewisham.gov.uk – Cabinet Member for Housing & Planning

Dear Mr Egan

At the start of this year you asked many of us, as representatives of Lewisham’s amenity and civic societies, to support your letter to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government asking for additional protection for heritage buildings. At the same time, in the article you wrote for Local Gov News, you stated that “it is vital that we preserve these heritage assets so that they can be enjoyed by current and future generations”.

Against such a backdrop, we are disappointed that we feel the need to take the unprecedented step of writing to you with a collective voice.

Lewisham’s voluntary amenity societies represent the views of many hundreds, possibly thousands of people who share a concern about our heritage and environment. The planning consultation process encourages good design as well as preservation.

But our role in the planning process has become increasingly marginalised and the latest move to further extend the scheme of delegation for planning decisions, and other changes relating to the statement of community involvement, represents a new low.

Untold damage to our environment and heritage can occur in six months and in these unprecedented times, scrutiny is needed more than ever. Council officers often lack the intimate local knowledge that amenity societies can offer; this is a time when the council should rely on and value our input more than ever before, not freeze us out.

Monthly meetings of the amenity society panel, chaired by a councillor and attended by a planning officer were suspended by the council several years ago, supposedly on a temporary basis, and have never been replaced as promised.

In the past three months with ‘temporary’ changes to the powers of delegation the situation has become untenable. Our members now each have to write individual objection letters to reach the threshold needed to stop contentious cases from being approved under delegated powers; cases which previously stood a chance of being considered by elected members, with objectors given the opportunity to speak against them in committee.

Unfortunately a common experience since the changes were introduced is that timely validation of applications has become erratic, while responses from planning officers are often cursory, communications unreliable and decisions random and illogical.

We accept that budget cuts have played a part, as have additional constraints on time and resources caused by Covid. But democratic accountability has been further weakened by this latest action, coupled with the lack of any online replacement for councillor surgeries where objections could be discussed.

As the council’s respect for our input has diminished, our volunteers feel that they are forced to fight against Lewisham planners, rather than working collaboratively for the good of the borough and its residents.

These changes place enormous power and responsibility in the hands of planning committee chairs. Great power requires accountability, yet the chairs’ decisions on which applications go before a planning committee take place behind closed doors and the minutes of the chairs’ case reviews with case officers go unpublished.

The proposal to extend the procedures for a further six months exacerbates and prolongs this unacceptable and undemocratic situation, and suggests that it is seen as a potentially longer term administrative change rather than a temporary emergency measure.

Many of us made detailed representations ahead of the recent strategic planning committee meeting, raising legitimate questions about how the council intends to ensure accountability, transparency and impartiality in cases that receive amenity society objections but are delegated to officers. These matters remain unanswered and unaddressed.

Apart from the challenge of supporting Lewisham’s role as Borough of Culture 2021, we believe the council and amenity societies should have common cause in addressing the major changes to the planning system proposed by the government, which could impact our borough significantly.

We request an urgent meeting with you to discuss the situation and we urge you to think again before supporting this extension.

Yours sincerely

Helena Russell & Mark Shackleton

Co-chairs, Deptford Society

Clare Cowen

Chair, The Brockley Society

Paul Watts

Chair, The Blackheath Society

Malcolm Bacchus

Chair, The Telegraph Hill Society

Julia Rowntree

Chair, Brookmill Road Conservation Area

Sarah McMichael

Chair, Lee Forum

Dr Ralph White

Chair, Lee Manor Society

Kate Richardson

Chair, Culverley Green Residents’ Association

Emily Finch

Chair, Hatcham Conservation Society

Robert Smith

Chair, Ladywell Society

Annabel McLaren

Chair, Sydenham Society

Port Of London Call For Convoys Wharf To Open

In a statement following public concern on the construction site, the Port of London Authority has issued a position statement on the controversial, high rise, riverside development in Deptford on the former Henry VIII Royal Dockyard known as Convoys Wharf. The Port of London Authority was created to bring order to the chaos and congestion that prevailed on the Thames as rival wharfs, docks and river users battled for business in the late 1800s.

In the statement the PLA state that they would like to see ‘expeditious progress with reactivation of the wharf’. They are in touch with a number of potential operators.

The PLA support the use of the river to ship construction materials and they expect to be consulted on this.

On Tuesday 9th June and the early hours of Wednesday 10th June 2020, Lewisham Council’s Strategic Planning Committee met to discuss the first phase of the development since Boris Johnson determined the planning application himself at City Hall whilst he was Mayor of London. He held a reprentation hearing on 31st March 2014 to listen to concerns. Cllr Alan Hall was present and he had led the Lewisham Council non executive councillors who had agreed that the use of the river for construction materials and waste from the commencement of the project should be used to manage and mitigate construction impacts.

Surprisingly, Boris Johnson agreed with the Council’s representation that the Build the Lenox Project – a vision to build a replica wooden ship in the historic dockyard – was important. However, he granted the application and passed it back to Lewisham Council to sort out the details of implementing his decision.

“The approach to Sayes Court fails to provide a meaningful green link between the site of the Gardens with the remains of Sayes Court House. The opportunity to link these two historically significant spaces should be fully explored. The Lenox preferred building location is either within the Double Dry Dock or Olympia Warehouse. These options need to be explored further, as does the future use of the Olympia Warehouse and an agreement reached on the deliverability of the double dry dock or Olympia Warehouse as options for constructing the Lenox.”

Lewisham Council’s formal response in 2014 led by Cllr Alan Hall
Promises made to reflect the historic and strategic importance of Deptford

Port of London Authority Statement:

“Convoys Wharf is currently safeguarded by ministerial direction and planning policy protects it for waterborne cargo handling use (policy 7.26 of current Plan – Sl15 of emerging London Plan). As part of the Mayors Safeguarded Wharves Review (2018), the safeguarded wharf boundary for Convoys wharf is recommended to be reduced in size to reflect the extant planning permission for the site (Ref: DC/13/83358). The PLA supported this proposed change, whilst emphasising the requirement for the site owners and partners, including the PLA to expeditiously progress with reactivation of the wharf.

The GLA hearing report (March 2014) on the overall redevelopment strongly features the requirement to reactivate the wharf (which would be located at the western part of the application site) stating the overall redevelopment was acceptable.

And that the location of the Wharf provides a viable, flexible and commercially attractive environment for a range of potential river freight operators. The PLA is aware of interest from several operators about reactivating this as an operational wharf. The PLA wish to work with all stakeholders to achieve this.

We point out the S106 agreement for the overall development requires that “every 6 months commencing no later than 18 months prior to anticipated completion of Phase 1, the owner shall request details of suggested potential wharf operators….using it for waterborne freight handling uses from the PLA, GLA and the Council”. The PLA is keen to ensure this forms a key part of the overall project plan for the Convoys development.

Turning now to the specific recent applications for plots 08 and 15 (both southeast corner of site) and plot 22 which comprises the proposed riverbus terminal. We understand the planning committee discussed all three plots and plots 08 and 22 were approved. Plot 15 has been deferred.

Plot 15

The PLA made representations on this in May 2019.

We emphasised the need for the design to take into account potential impacts (eg noise) of the adjacent wharf (once reactivated) on future occupants of the building. We highlighted the need for the development to progress in line with the Agents of Change principle, set out in para 182 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and policies D12 and Sl15 (water transport) of the emerging London Plan.

The PLA also requested further information regarding use of the river as part of the construction stage. The previously submitted site wide Code of Construction Practice (CoCP) referred to the potential for bulk deliveries and material removal using the Thames. It further stated the client and their consultants would explore river use with all contractors to achieve this. The CoCP stated the volumes of river movements would be determined on a phase by phase basis to confirm river use was economic and viable. The developer committed to investigating for each phase or sub-phase a strategy to maximise river use where reasonably appropriate. It was not clear from the submitted documents for plot 15 whether this process was carried out.

The submitted Remediation Strategy for the application stated the contractor will produce a works specific Construction Phase Environmental Management Plan (CEMP). The PLA emphasised this must include full consideration of using the Thames as part of the construction phase of the development and that this form a condition as part of any planning permission.

The PLA’s position on these matters is unchanged.

Plot 22

The PLA initially raised an objection (Aug 2018) due to the lack of a Navigational Risk Assessment (NRA) in the submitted documents. However following discussions between the PLA and the applicant – including on the need for freight operators to be involved because of the close proximity of the safeguarded wharf to the river bus terminal – the scope of the NRA was agreed. An appropriately worded condition was also agreed. Further issues were also discussed and agreed to be dealt with via condition including on riverside lifesaving equipment.

Plot 08

The PLA raised no in principle objection to the proposals for plot 08 (July 2018). However – as with plot 15 – we emphasised again the importance of using the river during the construction stage of the development.

Deptfords narrow and congested streets by the River Thames

Lewisham Council has clarified some frequently asked questions here:

1.     What arrangements will there be for using the wharf for the the delivery and removal of construction materials and to limit traffic through Deptford’s narrow streets in this area?

This was addressed in the outline approval.  Condition 44 requires the submission of a code of construction practice for each plot or phase and needs to include details of arrangements for the use of the river for construction.

2.     Will there be a proper cycle path along the riverbank and pedestrian footpath? The Thames Path is well loved and a new development is a great opportunity for a proper cycle path as well.

Yes – this was secured in principle in the outline approval

3.     Has the Port of London been involved in the decision making process? What do they say?

Yes – their comments are reported in the committee reports in the P22 officer report at paragraph 6.29

The full text of this paragraph says:

  1. No objection subject to the following issues being managed by condition
  2. The Navigational Risk Assessment (NRA) for the proposed river bus terminal and consultation with freight operators. It would be helpful to confirm that depending on the outcome of the NRA, the final position of the terminal may need to be amended.
  3. Provision of Shoreside Safety Measures
  4. Requirement of further assessments mentioned in the jetty structural assessment (part 2.6 of the assessment)
  5. Ecology statement (Timber fenders) and lighting strategy (sensitive lighting strategy) conditions

4.     Have all the formal conditions of the planning permission granted at City Hall in 2014 been discharged or satisfied?

No – not all are required to be discharged by this point.  The committee reports outline what conditions have been discharged in table 8 in the P22 officer report, table 11 in the P08 officer report and table 10 in the P15 officer report.

5.     What was the final formal agreed decision of the Strategic Planning Committee? I would not wish to misquote or misunderstand this.

Plot P22 was approved subject to additional informatives.  Plot P08 was approved subject to additional conditions/informatives.   An informative note allows the local planning authority to draw an applicant’s attention to other relevant matters – for example the requirement to seek additional consents under other regimes.

Lewisham Council’s Strategic Planning Committee reconvened on Monday, 22nd June at 8pm and approved the remaining application subject to a condition on ‘pepperpotting‘ the affordable housing.

Cllr Paul Bell said that London Affordable Rent was social housing and this has prompted questions in the past.

Here is the exchange of letters between the then, Mayor of Lewisham Sir Steve Bullock and the then, Mayor of London Boris Johnson. This outlined the Lewisham Strategic Planning Committee’s concerns in 2014.

It is interesting to note that Boris Johnson heeded the advice of his officials and refused to meet the Mayor of Lewisham directly on a planning matter he was to determine and referred the representations to his trusted Deputy Mayor, Sir Edward Lister former Leader of Wandsworth Council.

In the news: South London Press

Demolition of Bell Green Gas Holders Approved

Lewisham Council has made the decision to approve the demolition of the Gas Holders at Bell Green, Lower Sydenham.

A decision notice was posted on the Council’s website on 11th July here 

Campaigners fighting to save the Bell Green gas holders (These Streets Belong to Us from Perry Vale and the Sydenham Society) expressed their regret and disappointment at the London Borough of Lewisham’s recent decision to allow the demolition of the locally listed cast iron structures.

Annabel McLaren, Chair of the Sydenham Society said: “The Bell Green gas holders are a visual reminder of the rich history of gas production in Lower Sydenham. The decision to allow the demolition of these iconic cast iron structures is, in our view, vandalism. Demolishing the gas holders will inevitably lead to a bland streetscape, of the kind that is found everywhere. The Sydenham Society will continue to fight for the enhancement of the Grade II listed Livesey Hall, the adjacent war memorial, bowling green and pavilion, with the aim of securing a sustainable and appropriate development in the longer term.”

Speaking on behalf of the campaign, Cllr Alan Hall said: “Residents are not opposed to development, but they are in favour of an imaginative scheme that includes the listed and historic buildings on the site. Bell Green urgently needs a Masterplan. The fight continues!”

House Sparrows and Peregrine Falcons have been sighted but these protected species have not prevented the approval to demolish the locally listed gas holders.