Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Convoys Wharf - critical meeting this week

Deptford is..., which is spearheading local opposition to current plans to develop Convoys Wharfon the Deptford riverfront, is reminding people that a crucial meeting is coming up this week. They say:

'you are probably already aware that the planning application for redevelopment of the Royal Dockyard/Convoys Wharf site has been called in by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, at the request of the developer Hutchison Whampoa.

Recent meetings with Dame Joan Ruddock and planners at Lewisham and City Hall have made it painfully clear that the future of community projects Build the Lenox, and Sayes Court Garden is being put at risk in the rush to meet housing targets. The fact that the planning application for Convoys Wharf offers not a single unit of housing for social rent, with the 'affordable' element on offer being far beyond the means of the capital's key workers, is in danger of being disregarded.

On Thursday 19th December there will be a crucial meeting between the planners, the developer, and the Mayor of London's deputy to discuss the site's heritage. We believe that the fate of the projects will be decided at this meeting, even though the final decision on the application is not expected until next year.

We are therefore urging all our supporters to reiterate their objections, or submit new ones, in advance of the meeting. The 1,400-signature petition on change.org demonstrates the strength of support for our campaign, and we are immensely grateful to those who have helped us reach this number. In truth, however, objections from individuals carry just as much weight - sometimes more - and we are asking for your help in this matter.

We realise that this is an extremely busy time of year, but if you could find a few minutes to assist the campaign in this way, we would be eternally grateful. There is information on the Deptford is...website about how to write an objection, and where to send it, if you need some guidance.

In the meantime we would like to wish you a Happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year'.

The petition states:

'We, the undersigned, are gravely alarmed at the proposed scale and impact of the current plans by Hong Kong developer Hutchison Whampoa, that will irrevocably destroy the site of Britain’s historic Royal Dockyard and Sayes Court Garden at Deptford by the River Thames in London.

We welcome the recognition of this fact by the inclusion of Deptford Dockyard (now known as Convoys Wharf) and Sayes Court Garden on the World Monuments Fund Watch List for 2014 and the serious concern expressed by English Heritage and many other heritage bodies, Lewisham Council and local community groups represented by Deptford Is.. (www.deptfordis.org.uk) We note that this year is the 500th anniversary of the founding of the Royal Docks by Henry VIII in 1513.

We also applaud the extensive work carried out by the Sayes Court Garden www.sayescourtgarden.org.uk and Build The Lenox projects www.buildthelenox.org to create two visionary regeneration schemes. These will reinterpret and celebrate the heritage of the area while at the same time creating major new tourist attractions, safeguarding Deptford's maritime and horticultural links, and creating skilled jobs for local people around the birthplace of the National Trust and Deptford Royal Dockard.

We regret the lack of meaningful engagement with the community by Hutchison Whampoa so far; note that at the developer’s request, the Mayor of London has used his powers to take over as the planning authority and further note that Sir Terry Farrell, who is the Mayor's Design Adviser, is also the architect employed by Hutchison Whampoa.

We reject any claims that this scheme will address London's housing needs. With a maximum of 15% affordable housing, just 4% of this for social rent, we believe it will make no significant difference to the capital's housing crisis.

We therefore call on the Mayor of London as the planning authority, Sir Li Ka-shing, chairman of Hutchison Whampoa as the ultimate applicant and the Secretary of State to revise the proposals with greater sensitivity for their location. We ask them to respect 500 years of British maritime history and 360 years of horticultural history on this internationally-significant site; one which is inextricably associated with Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, Sir Francis Drake, Sir Walter Raleigh, Samuel Pepys, John Evelyn, Octavia Hill, Christopher Marlowe, Tsar Peter the Great, and Captain James Cook.'

Good to see that the campaign is continuing to highlight the lack of affordable housing in this area of acute housing need. As I've said before I support the campaign to recognise the history of the site, but it's certainly possible to imagine the developers offering a diluted heritage window dressing to what is essentially a property investment scheme for the wealthy.

Previous Transpontine posts on Convoys Wharf

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