Convoys Wharf - Speech to Council & Local Stakeholders 16/01/14
I first became involved with Convoys Wharf 13 years ago when News International proposed its redevelopment. My immediate response was that any development must relate to Deptford, its surroundings and its history. It should not be gated and should allow for permeability and access to the river for all.
These views have not changed, though I have dealt with different companies, different architects and master planners. At all times I have maintained close contact with Lewisham planners and I do not believe the present owners Hutchison Whampoa were justified in asking the Mayor of London to determine their application. Everything Lewisham planners were questioning and everything they were asking for was consistent with Lewisham Council policy and with the expressed interests of local people and organisations in so far as they could be promoted within national policy constraints.
I am here to represent my constituents. Very few of us will be able to afford to live on Convoys Wharf so it must serve the local community in other ways and it must not be to the overall detriment of the vibrant and diverse community that is Deptford.
In a few minutes I can only headline the issues of concern.
National and GLA policies demand the maximisation of housing units. Many people oppose such density and those who accept it believe there are better ways of dealing with the massing of the blocks. Current government policies have decimated social housing but such is the desperate plight of people in housing need that we have to press for the maximum possible number of homes for affordable renting.
We all know the immense traffic congestion already affecting Deptford and New Cross throughout a large proportion of the day. No one believes the developers have grasped the need to limit car-borne traffic. Much more extensive public transport solutions are required than those already proposed.
Local people want to ensure that the company maximises local employment and uses the opportunity to work with LeSoCo and Lewisham Council to develop an apprenticeship programme. [Second Wave?]
There is concern about the effect of such a dense development on the already poor air quality in the area and the apparent siting of most green space within the blocks themselves.
As the site of Henry VIII’s naval ship yard Convoys Wharf offers a unique opportunity to create a distinctive place in London, a source of local pride and a fascinating visitor attraction.
The latest archaeological survey has uncovered a great deal that was previously unknown and it is vital that full account is taken of this with viewing where possible. Knowledge of the history and archaeology of the site have led local people to propose two projects that have had my support since their inception.
They are the plans for the Sayes Court Garden and the building of the replica of the Lenox. The project leaders are here tonight so I will not describe their plans. But I do want to stress that the present outline planning application does not do justice to them.
A relatively small reconfiguration of blocks and re-siting of the proposed school could enable the Centre for Urban Horticulture to sit within open space at the very entrance to the development.
As for the Lenox, the obvious place for it to be built is the Olympia Building. The company’s proposals for the use of the Olympia are extremely thin and mimic retail and arts spaces elsewhere in London. But Deptford isn’t like anywhere else and these two projects would enhance its unique status.
My presentation has raised all that is inadequate about the application, but I do acknowledge constructive engagement with Hutchison Whampoa over the past few years and the significant changes they have made in response.
As a community we are now asking them to go further and for the GLA to ensure that they do.