Sunday, March 3, 2019

Sun Wharf planning application

Here we go again...

Application no: DC/18/110290

Demolition of all existing buildings and comprehensive redevelopment to provide 3 new buildings ranging in heights of 3 to 17 storeys to provide 233 residential units (C3 Use Class) and approximately 1,363sqm flexible commerical floorspace (B1/B2 Use Class) plus 254sqm flexible commercial floorspace (B1/B2/A3) in a container building, together with associated wheelchair accessible parking, cycle parking, landscaping, play areas, public realm, public riverside walkway and associated works at Sun Wharf Creekside SE8.

View the proposals on the Lewisham Planning Portal here (search Sun Wharf). Deadline for comments is 26 March 2019 (send to planning@lewisham.gov.uk with the application number in the subject heading, and include your name & address in the content).

We have looked at the Design & Access Statement, Planning Application form, Viability Report, Community Involvement report, and the Environmental Assessment Summary (476 pages!) plus the Environmental Assessment Appendices (1276 pages!). Individual reports (such as Daylight/Sunlight studies, Transport, Air Quality etc) are usually listed separately but here they are hidden in two massive documents, which is likely to discourage many from reading them.

We last wrote about Sun Wharf in February 2016 when the first public consultation was held. There was a second consultation in May 2017 which the Deptford Dame covered, noting that all the building heights had gone up among other things. But since then there has been no further public engagement, although the proposals have changed quite a bit.

In the 2017 proposals Cockpit Arts were to get a new building within the development and their own building replaced by an 8 storey residential block on the street front. Cockpit have subsequently declined to be part of the development. The number of homes has gone from "up to 270" down to 233. Previously there were 62 podium parking spaces, now there are only 6 disabled bays. Another change is that Lewisham Council's favourite housing association Family Mosaic who own the site jointly with Bellway Homes have now merged with Tidemill developer Peabody.

Building heights (click to enlarge)
The basics:
1 x 17 storey tower (one floor higher than the Kent Wharf tower)
1 x building behind Cockpit Arts at 9 storeys going down to 8 and 5-6 storeys
1 x building next to Kent Wharf at 8 storeys (one higher than Kent Wharf) and 5-6 storeys.

233 homes:
48 'social' homes at London Affordable Rent (20%)
34 shared ownership (15%, making a total of 35% so-called "affordable")
151 private homes (65%)

10% of the site will be commercial, eg "creative business space", on the ground floors. Whilst this is described as providing "active frontages" and fulfilling Lewisham's plan for mixed employment & residential use in the area, the real reason is because they can't have residential on the ground floor in a flood plain.

All that on a 1.78 acre site. For comparison, the Tidemill site is 3.11 acres where only 209 homes are planned. This begs the question why destroy Tidemill Garden (as they did on Wednesday 27th February by demolishing 74 trees) when you can fit 233 homes into a site a third of its size?

74 trees demolished at Tidemill Garden by Peabody on Feb 27 2019


Tenure mix:
1 bed = 51 private, 13 shared ownership (SO), 19 London Affordable Rent (LAR)
2 bed = 78 private, 21 SO, 14 LAR
3 bed = 22 private, none SO, 15 LAR

Note that London Affordable Rent is 63% higher than Council Rent, but Lewisham Council calls this 'Social' Rent.

Only 16% are 3-bed family homes, none of which are shared ownership. As for shared ownership, it's assumed this is initially 25% and the rent on the remaining 75% is set as "affordable to household incomes of £51,500 – £67,500" (see Viability Report). The 'Socio-Economic' report (p269 of the 476 page Environment Statement) says that the median household income in New Cross Ward is £31,520 and in Evelyn Ward it's £30,560 (p.273). It notes the following:

Household income in New Cross (click to enlarge)
The same would be true of the 41 Shared Ownership homes offered at Tidemill (also by Peabody), so when Cllr Joe Dromey and Lewisham Council boast about housing people from the local area and off the housing waiting list, they're talking out of their arses. Local people can't afford it.

Statement of Community Involvement

As we said above, there have only been two consultations, and these were on the old proposals. The report is presented in such a way as to suggest there was a lot of support for them. But in the published comments it is clear this is not the case.

Consultation comments (click to enlarge)

130 attended the first one in Feb 2016, and 26 comments were received. Of these, nearly 60% (15) were critical or negative. Most of the comments in favour came from people who don't live in the area, eg, SE26 (Beckenham), SE9 (Sidcup), SE13 & SE12 (Lewisham), SE11 (Kennington). What are these people doing at a local consultation?

The second consultation held in May 2017 drew 22 comments, of which over 60% (16) were critical or negative. Those in favour hailed from SE4 (Brockley) and WA4 (Warrington). The exhibition boards (reproduced in the report) showed a timeline that said the application would be submitted in the summer of 2017, with work starting onsite in early 2019. Phew! Glad that deadline got put off.

There was no third consultation but the lackeys in charge of it (Your Shout) sent out an email locally to say Cockpit was no longer involved and that the site was car free with up to 230 new homes. No mention of how much was affordable, but recipients were invited to visit the website to find out more and complete an online survey. On the site, the respond button said something like "Support this proposal to find out more". So we didn't.

The previous comments still stand, only it's a bit worse now because there's no parking proposed on site. We all thought it was bad in 2016, but the traffic and parking situation on Creekside has only got worse.

Your Shout only got two responses to their third 'consultation' (undated in the report), which indicates this was hardly a proper consultation on the current plans. These were from a couple of hapless new Kent Wharf home owners, who hadn't even been in residence at the last 2017 consultation.

They were obviously shocked to find that their views and peace of mind would be disturbed by the building works and subsequent new housing blocks. A little online research might have thrown up some concerns but perhaps they relied on sales talk and their solicitor's local searches. The latter would not show up the plans unless an application was in. Any pre-planning discussions between LBL and the developers (which have been going on for some time) are invisible to everyone. But since Bellway bought the land in 2015, it was surely their responsibility as owners of Kent Wharf to warn their buyers that they intended to build next door.

Creekside Village East proposals that includes a parcel of land owned by Lewisham Council (Laban on the left, Essential Living to the right)


At Creekside Village residents have had to tolerate the building of the Essential Living towers (owned by offshore private equity 3i and funded by government Build To Rent grants) and will now have to contend with what Lewisham are allowing to happen behind the Laban where they are exchanging a parcel of public land in return for some enhancements to the Laban as part of the long awaited redevelopment of Creekside Village East (the land next to the Essential Living plots).

See the latest on this here by From The Murky Depths. Unfortunately he fails to examine Lewisham Council's contribution to the plan, but the Deptford Dame saw it coming in March 2016 before a previous application was subsequently withdrawn. The latest proposals went to Planning in August 2018, but there is no decision yet, perhaps because there is only 10% affordable on offer.

In addition, there is also a new development planned on the other side of the Creek at Saxon Wharf by so-called housing association Notting Hill Genesis, which From The Murky Depths covered in May 2018. Lovely views for the new Kent Wharf residents! Despite it being a housing association development, the affordable quota is only 35%, with 69% of that 35% being London Affordable Rent and the rest Shared Ownership, while 65%, obviously, is private.

Across the Creek at Saxon Wharf, a development by Notting Hill Genesis housing association
with only 35% 'affordable' housing.


A quick look at all the stuff in the 1752 pages of Environmental Statement & Appendices 

TRANSPORT

While it's perfectly obvious there's going to be a problem on Creekside with parking and our public transport links will be further overloaded without any promise of an increase in services, as usual, the report claims the impact will be neutral.

We're more concerned with the construction phase and which way the HGVs will be travelling. They'll be using the A2 apparently, even though Euromix is only round the corner. They say vehicles will go up Deptford Church St from the A2, along Creek Road and into Creekside at the north end, thus avoiding the south end of Creekside. There's some uncommitted nonsense about using the Creek and something about checking vehicle heights to see if they can get vehicles under the railway bridge on Creekside (in other words, south Creekside isn't ruled out). Just to show how seriously they take it, they provided this handy route map:

Construction route (click to enlarge)
LBL asked them to take into account the cumulative impact of other developments – 1 Creekside (Bluecroft and Lewisham), 2 & 3 Creekside (Artworks); Greenwich Pumping Station (Tideway); Essential Living (3i); Creekside Village East on Copperas St (LBL's co-development with Kitewood); and Tidemill (Peabody).

Oddly, but perhaps not surprisingly, LBL have left Tideway's works on Deptford Church Street off their list. They seem to be in denial about that. Or perhaps they're only listing what will be going on in 2022. However, the applicant has only looked at Kent Wharf (which is already built), No.1 Creekside and Convoys Wharf. See p.438.

The applicant is obtuse about how many deliveries per day there will be, giving figures for specific movements in different timelines, eg per day, per week or per project (eg 26 weeks) without providing a provisional table of movements per day over the course of the build.

No real construction logistics plan is provided. Drawings indicate HGVs will enter the site and turn around to exit front forwards, showing that at some point there will be some reversing within the site. This was terrible for Crossfields residents when Faircharm was in construction as the reversing happened at the entrance, and reversing vehicles use a beeping alarm which is really annoying when it happens 30 times a day. In this case, Cockpit Arts will bear the brunt of that noise, whilst Finch and Farrer Houses will be slightly shielded by the Cockpit building.

Nevertheless, as with Faircharm (when cement trucks queued with their engines running all the way up Creekside) and as with Kent Wharf (where they used Bronze Street and Creekside), this is likely to be hell for any poor soul at home during the day. Of course that all happened with assurances it wouldn't happen, and continued despite endless complaints to Lewisham Environmental Protection (charged with policing construction sites) and to 'Considerate Builders' (building industry regulators run by the building industry).

We also had to laugh at promises that construction workers will be required to use public transport! As if!

The transport report ends on a high note (summary p.442). Basically there'll be a neutral affect on Creekside because Jones's delivery vans currently generate more traffic than this construction site ever will and will be gone when it starts.

DAYLIGHT/SUNLIGHT

All neutral and negligible of course. Finch House will lose a bit of light at some times of the year, as will Holden House on the south side. The main impact from the building heights will be on Kent Wharf residents and new Sun Wharf residents, which it's admitted will be "major adverse". There's also a pretty sizeable and obvious impact on the Creek, but this and surrounding commercial properties (plus Creekside Centre and Laban) are not specifically addressed.

March equinox 8am (click to enlarge)

March equinox 4pm

June equinox 6am
June equinox 6pm
Dec equinox 2pm

AIR QUALITY

As always, all the data is modelled so that the outcomes are neglible with no risk to health. Construction dust will be dampened down (like it wasn't at Faircharm). Exhaust emissions (PM10) from construction vehicles are not assessed. There are the usual assurances about no idling vehicles or generators (like there were at Faircharm and Kent Wharf, but never heeded).

Last week, on the same day that Peabody demolished Tidemill Garden's 74+ trees (sanctioned by Lewisham), the Council passed a motion to declare a Climate Emergency and to make Lewisham carbon free by 2030. Fair enough, the newer buildings going up are supposed to be more sustainable energy wise, and are not allowed to have any car parking, but in the meantime, we are being choked to death by construction vehicles, and there is nothing carbon neutral about demolishing buildings or constructing new ones.

BUILDING HEIGHTS

Well of course this isn't relevant because precedents are already set nearby. The canyonisation of the Creek and the creation of another Lewisham Gateway continues apace, as this illustration from the Saxon Wharf planning application shows (thanks to From The Murky Depths). Note this doesn't include No.1 Creekside (12 storeys) or Tidemill (not so tall of course, though a taller building on that site could have saved the garden and demolition of Reginald House), and doesn't extend to the Seager building which started all this skyscraper malarkey around Deptford Creek.

Creek developments (click to enlarge)
An analysis of tall buildings is included in Environmental Statement under the title Townscape & Visual Impact (p.334), which refers to LBL's Tall Buildings Study. As we have noted previously in other posts, this study states that tall buildings should be avoided in "riverside environments where [they] might harm biodiversity interests through overshadowing" and where there might be "microclimatic problems at street level".

The latter is very much in evidence at Creekside Village on windy days, but of course this is all 'negligible' in relation to Sun Wharf, and the effect on the biodiversity is OK because they've taken advice from Creekside Centre.

None of Lewisham's own guidelines have been applied to any development along the Creek, just as none of their strategies on the environment are implemented when pitted against house building (even though most of this isn't providing the affordable homes required).

Apparently the proposed visual impact will have "moderate beneficial significance" for the Creek (p.364) and everywhere else of course! From Point Hill, "the project would not significantly affect the character and appearance of this ever changing London panorama...although the project is visible, it is not considered overly intrusive, unsightly or prominent...the magnitude of change is considered to be minor...".

The Creek townscape at Laban (click to enlarge)
Townscape at Creek Bridge
Townscape on Creekside
Townscape from Point Hill

WATER/FLOODING

Sometimes there are rewards in looking at all the local research various bodies have contributed to planning applications. In the lengthy report and appendices on the water environment, we were interested to see an updated Sewer Assets map from Thames Water (p1176 of appendices), which shows the drains on Crossfields are owned by Thames Water, not Lewisham Council.

The latter has been charging Crossfields residents for maintenance of these drains, which belong to TW (who residents also pay in their water rates). We first challenged the ownership of the drains over three years ago when Lewisham Homes got MITIE to include maintenance of them in their Major Works schedule. Thames Water finally admitted ownership, but Lewisham still won't acknowledge this. People might also be interested in the flood maps in this section (p.1095, p.1141, p.1129).

Thames Water sewer assets (click to enlarge)
Viability Report

The summary on p.121 shows the figures used to balance the books in order to provide 35% affordable housing in the scheme. It claims that revenue from the site is likely to be £100m, and the costs of building and finance also £100m, producing no surplus profit for the joint developers (though ample profit is already built into costs).

Page two of the Viability Summary (click to enlarge)
Included in the costs is the Acquisition of the site, stating a "Residualised Price" of £8,043,358. (Note that only 3.9% stamp duty is payable on a non-residential site). But according to the Viability Report for Tidemill (p13), Family Mosaic paid £15.15m for the site in February 2015.

Extract from Tidemill Viability Assessment (click to enlarge)
The Land Registry Title bears this out, except there are joint owners: Family Mosaic (Peabody) and Bellway.

Sun Wharf Title Register (click to enlarge)
However, what developers have actually paid for a site has long been irrelevant when it comes to the Viability of a project that fulfills the aims of the local authority's strategic planning and the developer's 'planning obligations'.

Instead, a 'Residual Land Value' (RLV) is arrived at through some jiggery pokery. According to Savills' explanation, the RLV = Built Value (ultimate sales values of both private & affordable homes + rental values on commercial properties) minus the Build & Finance costs (which include a guaranteed 20% profit for the developer on the private sales, 6% on the 'affordable', as well as 20% on the rentals).

Residual Land Value (click to enlarge)
It is not at all obvious how Savills arrived at an RLV of around £8m. That 'Residualised Price' is then incorporated as part of the 'Acquisition costs' in the Summary of Revenue and Costs – which are the same revenue and cost figures used in arriving at the RLV.

It's a very odd recipe. Say you want to make pancakes but don't have much time. You need flour, eggs, milk, oil and seasoning to make a batter and it takes 20 minutes to mix and cook. The recipe doesn't then say to add the batter you've made to a mixture of flour, eggs, milk etc and take another 20 minutes, thereby using twice as much ingredients and taking twice the time. Perhaps one of our readers can explain, but can a Councillor on the Strategic Planning Committee understand it?

Incidentally, the private sales values have been calculated on current prices that are likely to be much higher in 2029 when the development is complete.

Estimated sales values (click to enlarge)
But anyway, the books are balanced to allow for 35% affordable housing, and for that we should be grateful. Savills state that the project isn't viable but the applicant still wants to do it. It certainly might not be viable if the actual acquisition costs of the site (which are not mentioned at all) were taken into account. Hurrah for the bean counters.

What's a bit weird is Savill's Timescale (p.20 & p.119) which states the site will be purchased in Jan 2019. But they already bloody own it! Still, the timeline is comforting, since construction work is not planned to start till 2022 when Jones have vacated the site. (Incidentally, Jones' rent is now increasing year on year by £50kpa under the new owners).

Proposed timescale (click to enlarge)
Another point of note is the selective evidence used to make comparisons of affordable housing ratios in surrounding private developments (p.80):

Lewisham:
Kent Wharf: 143 units – 125 private = 87% private, 13% affordable
Timberyard: 1132 units – 943 private = 83% private, 17% affordable
Bond House: 89 units – 77 private = 86% private, 14% affordable
Foundry: 316 units – 276 private = 87% private, 13% affordable
Greenwich:
Maritime: 125 units – 81 private = 65% private, 35% affordable
Gramercy: 83 units – 54 private = 65% private, 35% affordable
Charters' Wharf: 87 units – 27 private = 31% private, 69% affordable

Charters' Wharf is a Peabody development on Deptford Creek, opposite Kent & Sun Wharves, which somehow manages to deliver 69% affordable in the borough of Greenwich, but struggles to reach 35% in Lewisham. Note that Greenwich developments are at least managing to achieve 35%, but Lewisham private developments rarely achieve more than 17%. Why is that?

Update 4 March: A reader has just alerted us to another Creek development just gone into Greenwich planning – the tallest yet at 26 storeys, 111 flats with only 26% affordable – which we previously missed on the From The Murky Depths blog.



Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Tidemill update: the hypocrisy of Lewisham Councillors

Update 12 November 2018: read analysis by Corporate Watch of Lewisham Councillors involved in the demolition of Tidemill Garden and Reginald House here.


Recently, Cllr Paul Bell, Lewisham's Cabinet Member for Housing, described Tidemill campaigners as "middle class anarchists who don't care about working class families in housing need".

Paul Bell's grasp of reality has been questionable ever since he rather hypocritically took up position in the Mayor's cabinet, having also stood in the Mayoral elections on a platform to get rid of the elected Mayoral system (and its unelected Cabinet)! Although all mention of this aim has been deleted from his blog, this Clarion interview with him from September 2017 spells out his previous views: "the reality is that the system of having a directly, elected executive mayor makes collective decision-making we need to fight austerity very difficult, as power is not shared between all councillors, which is why I want to abolish it." The article is worth reading in full.

Click to enlarge

Criticism of Tidemill campaigners has long been aided and abetted by another career politician, Joe Dromey – who, once re-elected in May 2018, along with his fellow re-elected councillor Brenda Dacres, couldn't wait to stand as an MP for Lewisham East when Heidi Alexander stood down. Within a few days of being re-elected!










Joe Dromey has been vigorously defending the Tidemill application on Twitter and Facebook since he spoke in favour of it at the bogus planning meeting back in September 2017, posting up the same mantra about homelessness, getting figures wrong, and refusing to listen to counter argument. His engagement on social media in defence of the scheme has been so sustained (minute-by-minute), it's a wonder he actually does any paid work, either in his day job or as a councillor.

Cllr Paul Bell's assimilation of campaigners is deeply flawed and disrespectful. For starters, some Tidemill campaigners are paid up members of the Labour Party, and some support the Greens. Nor can they all be described as middle class. If opposing a Lewisham Council plan to demolish housing and green space means you're both an anarchist and middle class, then there's thousands of anarchists in Lewisham! The fact is, while Labour won 60% of votes in the local elections, only 37% of the electorate voted. Out of a population of 306,000, less than 20% voted for the current Council. In New X Ward, the turn out was only 33% of the registered electorate, so Dromey's exorbitant claim for a Labour mandate in New Cross and Deptford is totally invalid (and also not very sincere, as he couldn't wait to jump ship!).

Perhaps Bell meant to say "artists" rather than 'anarchists'? There are certainly plenty of them in the campaign and the current occupation – painters, writers, musicians, theatre practitioners, film-makers, photographers, performance artists, sculptors, designers and architects – working collectively with people from countless other professions, jobs and walks of life, and all prepared to defend to the hilt what they believe is right.

Perhaps the only type of people missing from the campaign might be politicians. But no, in fact the campaign has received cross-party support from GLA members Len Duvall (GLA Assembly Member for Lewisham & Greenwich and Chair of London Labour), Caroline Pigeon (Lib Dem), and Caroline Russell (Green Party). The campaign has also been supported by the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, London Wildlife Trust, London Play, the Alliance for Childhood and others.

Significantly, Cllr Paul Bell served on the Strategic Planning Committee when the planning application was first submitted in September 2016. Bell said at the time that there appeared to be no justification for the demolition of existing housing (Reginald House).

Because Family Mosaic were only offering 11% 'social' housing (which would in fact be 'London Affordable Rent' not real social housing), the demolition of Reginald House, the loss of green space and neighbours' loss of light could not be justified. Campaigners then pursued all the so-called democratic channels available to them to persuade the council to change their plans. In meetings held before the planning application was resubmitted in September 2017, none of the issues raised by the campaign (such as demolition of sound Council homes against the residents' wishes) were addressed – the Council only wanted to talk about the new landscaping with what they described as "the gardening group".

As previously reported planning permission was granted in September 2017 with only 37% social housing on the table. It was another six months before the the Council announced they had secured 53% social housing by pledging £4.3m of Right To Buy receipts into the plan, effectively subsidising the developer for profits lost on changing previously planned private homes to 'affordable'. 

Since the 2017 decision, campaigners had lobbied countless stitched up Council meetings and bogus Scrutiny Committee meetings – the most recent being the total lack of scrutiny of the new Mayor & Cabinet's decision to renew their contract with Peabody (formerly Family Mosaic) and Sherrygreen Homes. Campaigners saw the contract renewal as an opportunity for the Council to reconsider their plans.

But in response to the campaign group's lobbying of all Lewisham's councillors, Cllr Paul Bell put out a Briefing to the Labour Group explaining the Council's reasons for proceeding – whilst also admitting the Council would not suffer any legal consequences by not renewing the contract.


The fact that Family Mosaic (now Peabody) had spent £3m already but had nothing to show for it was due partly to not being able to get on and build at Amersham Vale (approved in 2015), to which the Tidemill plans were twinned in the Southern Housing Sites scheme, and also due to the delays caused by them not stumping up a high enough quota of affordable housing. They only have themselves to blame. Nevertheless, the Council put out a press story that they would be sued by the developer if they did not go ahead.

Confident that they had won the battle, the Council's Regeneration Team gave notice on the garden for the 'gardening group' (which by now was a full-on campaign known as Save Reginald, Save Tidemill) to hand back the keys. When they came to lock up the garden at 6am in the morning on August 29th, the campaigners were ready to occupy it. Tents and tree houses had been erected the previous night and a vocal crowd gathered outside. Council Regeneration Officers did not even attempt approaching the gates, claiming (untruly) that the protesters were violent and not even part of the campaign group.


Only two days before, the campaign had applied to the High Court for permission to mount a Judicial Review of the 2017 Planning Application, for which they had begun crowd-funding.

Three weeks later, on September 20th bailiffs served a Possession Order to 'Persons Unknown' (despite the Council knowing who the campaigners are), but this was fought off a week later in Bromley County Court and the possession order was postponed on the grounds that an application for Judicial Review was in progress, and its outcome was to be awaited.

Unfortunately the Judicial Review application was refused by a High Court judge who failed to understand the technical point on which the case was based. Undaunted, the occupation continues, whilst a further 'oral hearing' for Judicial Review is pursued. A third option is to appeal should the oral hearing fail.

In the meantime, a further eviction order has now been served by the Council.

The occupation has now been in place for 8 weeks and has generated much interest in the media, with BBC London Live, BBC Radio London and independent film-makers coming down to report. The garden has been open to the public during most of that time, with local people bringing food and supplies to the occupiers. Support has grown hugely for the campaign, whilst Lewisham Council's popularity ratings have declined considerably (except among themselves).

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Update November 2018: the violent eviction of the Tidemill Garden occupation on 29 October (in which two members of the campaign were assaulted, including a grandmother) has been well documented in other places, notably here:

http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2018/10/30/the-violent-eviction-of-the-old-tidemill-wildlife-garden-lewisham-councillors-make-sure-they-will-never-be-welcome-in-deptford-again/

https://deptfordischanging.wordpress.com/2018/11/03/a-tribute-to-tidemill-garden/

Other accounts can be found on YouTube – search "Tidemill Eviction".

Find the campaign at www.facebook.com/savetidemill

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Tideway Tunnel upate – worst fears confimed

We fought the law, and the law won. Or rather, back in 2014, the poor people of Crossfields fought the lawyered up people of Millennium Quay over whether the monolithic Tideway Tunnel would locate a shaft on Deptford Church Street (and destroy 45 trees) or on the river at the privatised Millennium Quay.

Naive campaigners who joined Don't Dump on Deptford's Heart to stop the site at Church Street didn't even realise that the main event would be at Greenwich Pumping Station, just across Deptford Creek. All information on that site was reserved for those living in Greenwich and not open to consultation to anyone living in Lewisham. For Crossfields peeps on the border of Lewisham and Greenwich, the two were both relevant and now we're surrounded by disturbance from both.

Tideway CONsultation has been set in place with so-called regular meetings with the community, but the meetings are always centred on Greenwich and chaired by a Greenwich councillor. The Deptford site is treated as secondary – it's as though no one is actually running the site at Church Street, and therefore no one is answerable.

Yet it is Deptford Church Street which has been causing major noise since mid July. Apologies and notifications come from the Greenwich site about piling in the Creek (indeed very loud, but not continuous), but there is no news or resident notification from the Church Street site where they've been drilling two holes, one of which operations sounds like an air-raid siren stuck on a continuous note for hours at a time. The noise went on for two months. They just denied it had ever happened. The higher tones of the droning noise is lost in this YouTube video:


We now have an update from Tideway on future plans, as reported back by Crossfields TRA from a recent meeting on 2 October. The news is that the local situation is only going to get worse:

Notes from the Greenwich Pumping Station & Deptford Church Street Community Liaison Working Group (Tideway project) Meeting, Tuesday 02 October 2018 
There are three things that will happen soon and affect Crossfield residents, some more than others:
From November 2018 until 2021, the northern lane of Deptford Church Street will be closed to traffic. This is so that Tideway engineers can build an interception chamber and connecting tunnel to the original sewer, built by Joseph Bazalgette, that runs under Church Street. The southern lane will become two-way. This will cause congestion and more cars could come along Creekside, as an alternative route. 
From November 2018 for three months, the acoustic shed will be built over the shaft at the Greenwich Pumping site. The shed will be 70 meters tall. It will be closeto the DLR track and cannot be built during the daytime when the DLR is in operation, because of risk to the travelling public of falling steel girders or tools. It will be built through the night from 01:00 to 05:00, from November for 9 weeks. The engineers claim the usual level of outdoor night-time background noise is 61dB and that the level at the construction site is expected to be 67dB (the sound of a passing car, 7.6 metres or 25 feet away, travelling at 65mph). There will be light pollution. The site will be very brightly light.
Residents affected by the work can ask for support to minimise the disruption, such as black-out blinds or curtains. Do it quickly by contacting the Tideway Helpline on 08000 30 80 80 or email helpdesk@tideway.london
The acoustic shed is designed to reduce tunnelling machinery noise. When tunnelling starts in 2019, it will happen for 24 hours a day, for two and half years. It will connect the shaft at the Greenwich Pumping Station to the one in Deptford Church Street. The tunnel will run 70 meters below Farrer House lawn. It will be 7.7 meters in diameter – as wide as the Channel Tunnel.
When the tunnelling starts the spoil will be taken away by trucks and by barges. At the Greenwich Pumping Station there will be 110 trucks a day arriving empty and leaving full via Norman Road and Greenwich High Road. The site can only accommodate 6 trucks at once. To manage the number of trucks there is a plan to have a waiting area in Greenwich High Road, similar to the one outside Frankham House in Deptford Church Street. So, even more traffic congestion in the area.
Back in 2014, campaigners predicted pollution in the area would increase dramatically with Tideway's plans to partially close Church Street whilst redevelopment at various local sites was set to increase. Yet Lewisham Council not only continue to work with developers on plans for more construction work (Sun Wharf and Creekside Village East), but are actively instigating them too (Tidemill and No.1 Creekside).

Read more about the full cumulative impact on local residents in journalist Andy Worthington's recent blogpost.

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Here is Tideway's response to complaints about noise at the Deptford Church St site:

Thank you for your reply. I am sorry if you felt we had not answered all your points.
Please see our response as below. I have tried to answer all your points and I look forward to meeting with you.

Thank you for your reply of 24 August. Unfortunately, you haven’t answered all my questions. 
NOISE MONITORING
1. You say that the noise reports are available on your website, but there is still no published noise report on the website for Deptford Church St since April 2018 – or at least not where you’d expect to find them, e.g. https://www.tideway.london/air-quality-and-noise-reports/
2. You did not provide me with the latest noise reports as I requested. 
3. You state that there have been no noise ‘exceedances' recorded in July and August, which I take issue with. 

Noise 
Unfortunately, we do not supply noise prediction data to residents. We prepare noise predictions and associated assessments, based on planned construction activity as part of our Section 61 submission to the local authority. The Environmental Health Officer (EHO) then reviews the submission to ensure that the construction activities, and the associated noise mitigation proposed, is appropriate. Only once the EHO is satisfied that we are following Best Practicable Means (BPM) to minimise noise impacts to those living or working around our construction sites, would approval of the Section 61 be granted.   Please be assured that one of the EHO’s key roles is to ensure we are keeping noise levels as low as reasonably practicable and that as a specialist in this field, they review the predicted noise levels in the S61 submission in detail.

During construction, noise monitoring using both fixed and attended monitoring is undertaken to ensure works are in accordance with the approved S61 and any exceedances, together with an explanation of their cause, are reported to the EHO. Residents are advised of any monthly exceedances at the next Community Liaison Working group and this information is also available on the Tideway website within the CLWG presentation.

4. No doubt you are only requested to report peak occurrences (variance from agreed norms) as is the case with construction sites in general. However, the noise we are having to tolerate is a continuous drone with few peaks so is unlikely to get reported. The noise is there all the time, but is particularly accentuated by wind direction, and is notably intolerable when there is a north or north west wind. 

We monitor the equivalent ‘A weighted sound pressure level’ over standard reference periods, with the daytime period being 10hrs. This metric is used as it is most appropriate and inclusive of all sound energy during the day.

We have a management system on site to ensure that all practicable measures are implemented to ensure that thresholds agreed with the local authority are not exceeded.  Meteorological conditions, do not have great influence on sound pressure levels over relatively short distances and influence is dependent on frequency, with greater reduction experienced in higher frequencies, where some shadow regions may be produced upwind of sound source. Please see below illustration which explains the effects based on wind velocity upwind and downwind.

5. The noise started in July. That is surely significant (see point 6 below). There was minimal noise from the site in April. Now it is exceedingly loud. Is it not important that people can no longer enjoy the quietude of St Paul’s Churchyard since July?

In April, we started site installation works including; platform preparation, office installation, services connections and plant installation ahead of construction of the Diaphragm Wall. The machinery required for those works was light to medium plant.  From June, we started the bulk of the construction work. The first phase of the Diaphragm Wall works, required the use of heavy plant such as cranes, a hydrofraise, (which is a is a drilling machine), and a grab (which is a large vehicle with a hydraulic loading arm).  We expect to continue using both light and heavy machinery during the ongoing construction work.  I am sorry for any disruption caused during this time.

6. You have failed to acknowledge my request that you come and monitor noise levels at surrounding elevated sites (such as my home). I would therefore like to take up your offer to meet with you to discuss the issues. I suggest the meeting takes place at my home so that you can hear for yourself the source of our complaints. 

We currently undertake attended noise monitoring at points agreed with the local authority. We also have static noise monitoring points around the site perimeter.  Myself and a colleague would be happy to make an appointment to attend your address during the day. I would propose either:
  • 11 am on Friday 21 September or 
  • 2 pm   on Monday 1 October
Please let me know if any of these dates and times are suitable for you.

INFO ABOUT WORKS AT THE CHURCH ST SITE

7. Thank you for the information on the Deptford site. I note there two excavations going on at two different parts of the site. You don’t mention or account for the second excavation which increases the noise levels, but only refer to the main shaft construction.

We have recently finished constructing a Diaphragm wall on both the Combined Sewer Outfall (CSO), and the shaft area.
The work consists of the following sequence:
  • Excavation using the hydrofraise for the shaft and the grab machine for the CSO.
  • Installation of reinforcement cages
  • Concreting
We are therefore excavating and pouring concrete concurrently.  We progress the two areas at the same time to concentrate the works during a reduced period, rather than consecutively.

8. I note that this information is STILL not available where you would expect to find it on your website (https://www.tideway.london/the-tunnel/construction-sites/deptford-church-street-deptford/). Where there was absolutely no information before when I wrote to you, now there is a report about the works at Greenwich Pumping Station. This is not the information I expect to find on the Deptford Church Street page. It is not the same site, even if your engineers consider the two sites inseparable. 

There are separate Tideway web pages for both Deptford Church Street and Greenwich Pumping Station worksites. When the latest Information Sheets for each site are distributed they will also be posted on the website.



We do have a joint Greenwich Pumping Station and Deptford Church Street Site Community Liaison Working Group (CLWG).  The last presentation, which includes information about both sites, can be found  athttps://www.tideway.london/media/3987/depcs-greps-clwg-may-2018-final.pdf

9. As stated previously, residents have not received any information via our letterboxes regarding the work at Deptford Church Street. We only get information about Greenwich. Re the points above, the noise from Deptford Church Street began in July and significantly affects everyone who is above ground and first floor level in surrounding ‘receptors’. The noise started without notice, warning or advance apology and there has been nothing to acknowledge that inconvenience.

The previous information sheet sent out specifically for Deptford Church Street was in May, as previously mentioned.  These are only sent out when there is a significant change in work.  A further Information Sheet for Deptford Church Street site, was sent this week and is now on the website. You can find a copy of this here .

Any Information Sheets are hand delivered to a 100m radius of each site, emailed to those who have requested to be kept updated and posted on the site notice boards.  As with all construction sites the information provided is regularly updated.

10. You have indicated that the current phase of construction works will continue until mid-October. Are you therefore able to say what comes next? Our concern is that similar noise will continue for four years; you have not addressed this.

The latest programme of work will be presented at the next Community Liaison Group (CLWG) on Tuesday 2ndOctober and posted shortly after on the websites.

INFO ABOUT THE GREENWICH SITE

11. Prior information to residents about the Greenwich site has been good, unlike at Church St (I assume the notices go to all flats on the estate?). The piling work in Deptford Creek has been intermittently loud, but this has been bearable because it is only temporary, and at the site in general the noise has so far been much less intrusive than Church St, although low frequency noise and vibration has been perceived this past week in the early hours of the morning. 

Information sheets are delivered to a radius of 100m at both Deptford Church Street and Greenwich Pumping Station. The River Times publication is hand delivered to a 250m radius. 

12. Thank you for the update on the acoustic shed at the Greenwich site. I had assumed the lower volume of noise from Greenwich was due to the shed already having been installed, but now I’m concerned that the louder work is still to come and that this will be at night (24 hours). The merits of the acoustic shed at Greenwich have yet to be tested. In my opinion, such a construction is also required at Deptford Church St. 

An acoustic enclosure will not be located at the Deptford Church Street site, nor any other Tideway site not associated with the tunnel boring operation. This approach was agreed with the Secretary of State and Local Authority.  In addition to this, unlike the Greenwich site, we are not intending on working overnight at Deptford Church Street and will be working in accordance with our consented hours (from 0800 to up to 2200 on weekdays, 0800 to 1700 on Saturdays and not on Sundays).

SUB-CONTRACTING DRAIN WORK ON OUR ESTATE (ON A SUNDAY!)

13. You have stated that “neither CVB Tideway nor Thames Water have been working on a Sunday, or on drains near to the Browne House and Castell House as you mentioned”. Whilst I appreciate your information, I find it strange, as the sub-contractors McAllister (01753 916339 according to their van signage) said they were working for Thames Water. 

14. We assumed it was part of the Tideway Project as the three drains in question are major connections to the storm drain on Deptford Church Street. Perhaps McAlister have been called out by Lewisham Council’s housing managers Lewisham Homes. However the three drains they have been working on are not private drains – they belong to Thames Water. I wonder if you have the capacity to investigate this strange anomaly further on our behalf with the contacts you have at TW? Meanwhile I will enquire via Lewisham Homes. 

Thank you for the updated information and for permission to pass on your details and enquiry to Thames Water, this information and request has sent to them. They are currently investigating this matter further and will reply separately.

SPECIAL CASES

15. You have suggested that perhaps rather than follow up with you, I should instead contact Carlo Ombello who deals with specific circumstances on a case-by-case basis. 

16. However, I believe this issue affects more than those identified by Tideway's definition of Special Cases – for instance, retirees in particular and parents with young children. They are not included. Everyone should be protected from the intolerable noise currently being created by your work, however valuable that work is.  

Individuals are entitled to apply if they consider they are being adversely affected. Each case is individually assessed by an independent panel.

17. I also note you do not comment on provisions made for other ‘receptors’ such as St Joseph’s school and Resolution House. I can see that St Joseph’s doesn’t have the promised double glazing on upper floors (especially when the noise from the site is intolerable from the elevated Deptford station platform). 

Whilst we cannot comment on individual circumstances and agreements, I can state that we remain in contact with both the school and the church. The noise mitigation measures agreed with the school have been put in place to their satisfaction.

CLWG MEETINGS

18. I have given up going to these, they are meaningless in terms of consultation. Tideway refused to share any data on baseline noise and dust to Goldsmiths research project Citizen Sense, and that is indicative of how much information you’re prepared to share. 

I am sorry if you feel that the CLWGs are not useful for you. The Code of Construction Practice Part A (S3) outlines the requirements for meetings to be held with the residents (or their representatives), businesses and other local occupiers to keep them informed about the works and to provide a forum for them to express their views. The Terms of Reference for the Community Liaison Working Group can be found here:


19. The last meeting occurred well before this noisy work started. I still receive notifications, but I leave it to our TRA rep to attend. Any information is disseminated in minutes rather than more widely, so it is not enough for you to rely on these meetings as a form of ongoing consultation. Likewise, important information shouldn’t have to be searched for in ‘minutes of meetings’ on your website.

As previously mentioned the last CLWG was held on 8 May.  We deliver Information Sheets to addresses within a 100 metre radius and the River Times to a 250 metre radius of the sites. We also send out these updates and minutes of the meetings via email to those who wish to receive it, place information the notice boards and have a 24/7 helpdesk to answer queries and complaints.  Each email or telephone call is investigated and receives a full response.

20. I note that the September meeting was postponed till October, perhaps not down to holiday arrangements as claimed, but maybe to avoid some difficult questions about noise while that noise has been ongoing for several weeks, yet so far no one at Tideway will own up to it.

The next Community Liaison Working Group as previously stated will be held on 2 October. This postponement was requested by the Chair, Cllr Mahboob, due to his commitments.

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Monday, June 18, 2018

More on No.1 Creekside – the long read!

Our visual showing the impact of No.1 Creekside and the Tidemill/Reginald Road development
As it is now (Google Maps image)
Crosswhatfields reported Bluecroft's acquisition of the MOT site at No.1 Creekside back in November 2014. We were then shocked to discover in July 2015 that Lewisham Council had "disposed" of the adjacent land (a strip of woodland that lines the busy main road) to the developer, in exchange for commercial space in the new development that the Council would lease back. Mayor & Cabinet did this without any consultation with local people. The same evening they were hypocritically patting themselves on the back over their new Biodiversity Action Plan "A Natural Renaissance for Lewisham" which extols the virtues of street trees in the borough and their role in combatting pollution.

The stretch of trees will be demolished and replaced with a building that fronts directly onto the road and dwarfs all the buildings adjacent to it:




The gap between the two towers is because the site lies in the viewing corridor for St Paul's Cathedral (from The Point in Blackheath and the General Wolfe Statue in Greenwich Park). The gap only slightly mitigates the loss of light to Frankham House residents opposite, whose windows will lose more than 20% of their daylight thanks to the towers. They will also be the only people who will be able to take in this particular view.

Ecology and environment 

The trees which Lewisham so carelessly disposed of as "surplus" are described in the applicant's Arboricultural Survey as being of little value except for bird nesting. The accompanying Ecological Appraisal was conducted in January (winter – when nothing was growing!) and states the woodland contains little of any ecological value and little or no biodiversity.

These assertions are strongly contested by local resident Ruth who lives next door to the site and says the area supports lots of wildlife. Bird species include robins, blackbirds, wrens, starlings, blue tits, great tits and goldfinches. Butterflies and moths include Orange Tips, Red Admirals, Painted Lady, Black Arches, Skipper moths and Jersey Tiger moth. The wildness of the area supports insects including Damsel flies, which bats feed on. The report states their survey found no evidence of roosting bats, making no mention of the fact that bats come to feed here in warmer months. Residents say they roost in the old Tidemill school caretaker's house that has been left to rot by Lewisham Council (as they intend to demolish it).

The wild wood is a bit of publicly-owned land that the Council have neglected to maintain or make anything of for years. Access to it has previously been through the Crossfields Estate – estate children have long played here and a BMX run was created by some lads who cleared the shrubland and used it for ten years or more. Residents thought it was part of the estate. As an ex-primary school teacher who taught in the area, Ruth believes wild areas like this give children "the opportunity to observe, learn and respect the natural world with the likelihood that they will respect each other more and grow into more sensitive adults". Everything Ruth says could be backed up by Lewisham's own Biodiversity Action Plan, but not in Deptford it would seem.

Mayor Egan has now introduced "a new ring-fenced 'greening' fund to support the work of local community groups, already doing so much to protect and enhance our green spaces". Yet more hypocrisy from a Council that wants to demolish all the green space in our area that local people are fighting to keep!

Local Pollution

Like others, Ruth also knows how the tree canopy helps mitigate against the high levels of pollution from the road, and bemoans the number of trees and green spaces being lost in the area. Crossfields Green was lost to Tideway Tunnel (45 trees removed) and Tidemill Garden is about to be lost (79 trees). In the map below we illustrate the lack and loss of green space in the area. Crossfields Estate (and other estates) and Creekside Discovery Centre are not included, because they are not public open spaces.

(Click to enlarge) Loss of green space before and after Tidemill and No.1 Creekside (grey areas are tall buildings over 5 storeys, dark grey areas are polluted roads).
Local studies have shown how polluted and polluting this road is. Our own tests for Nitrogen Dioxide in 2014 showed levels of 62ug/m3 at the Birds Nest roundabout (40ug/m3 is the EU limit) while at the junction with Deptford Broadway, it was 84ug/m3. These readings were taken before some serious building work began to take place at Faircharm, Kent Wharf and Tideway Tunnel on Deptford Church St and at Greenwich Pumping Station on Norman Road, as well as the other developments on Norman Road.

(Click to enlarge)
Goldsmiths academics ran a Citizen Sense project in the area in 2016/2017 to monitor Particulate Matter PM2.5. The highest readings were found at Deptford Bridge, but the second highest were on Crossfields Estate, as a result of the Deptford Church Street traffic to the west, including increased construction traffic, and to the east construction sites at Faircharm and Kent Wharf with attendant HGVs, as well as work at Greenwich Pumping station and sites along Norman Road.

(Click to enlarge) Deptford dustbox monitoring by Citizen Sense – 
Dustbox 103 on Crossfields Estate measured the second highest readings
Shockingly, the applicant's own Air Quality Assessment recommends that a filtration system will have to be supplied to all first floor and above spaces in the new development and that Bluecroft should advise future occupants to avoid opening their windows during high pollution episodes, ie, every morning and evening during the commuter run.

Deptford Church Street is identified by the GLA as one of eight Lewisham Air Quality Focus Areas, but Lewisham's own Air Quality Action Plan focuses on what it calls "The Evelyn Corridor" and fails to identify as hazard spots not only the two Tideway Tunnel sites in the area, but also the two construction sites it has an active interest in (No.1 and Tidemill/Reginald Road).

(Click to enlarge) A map showing the location of the PM2 monitoring box on Crossfields Estate drawn for Citizen Sense showing active construction sites, pending works and the concrete mixer routes using Deptford Church Street, Creekside, Creek Road and Norman Road.
Since pollution from construction work was raised as a concern at the public consultation nine months ago, you'd think the applicant might include a Construction Logistics Map in this application, to show how construction vehicles will arrive at and leave the site and what impact they will have on traffic in Deptford Church Street and Creekside. Especially since there will be construction work going on at Tidemill as well. But nothing, zilch. Already Tideway Tunnel have established a lorry park outside Frankham House (opposite the proposed development) which closes off the bus lane.

Because Lewisham Council became a partner in the scheme with its gift of valuable green space, the proposal for the site is now so over-developed there is no room for construction vehicles to turn, and no space for concrete mixers to queue, with their engines running, as they did in Creekside during the Faircharm redevelopment.

Impact of tall buildings on the local character of the area

The cumulative impact of two adjacent sites being built at the same time should be a consideration for Lewisham planners, and councillors on the Strategic Planning Committee. Also there is the cumulative impact that a new cluster of tall buildings on this corner (see visuals above) has on the local character of the Conservation Area – and local people. For the latter, it's increased pollution and the creation of a wind tunnel that could make for a hostile environment, despite the Council's and developer's excitement about opening up the street frontage.

The Lewisham Tall Buildings Study states that "Tall buildings in Conservation Areas will be considered inappropriate and careful consideration will need to be given to any impact of a tall building on their settings". The area is not identified as a strategic location for tall buildings in this study, and the character of the area is also defined as successful and distinctive in that it has a strong element of human scale whilst it’s acknowledged that at a local scale “significant trees and spaces can act as landmarks”.

In the introduction to the Lewisham Development Management Plan, they state their objective as being "to foster the delivery of sustainable development, not to hinder or prevent development" with an emphasis on 'collaboration'. They say they lead this process by "working closely with those proposing developments and others, particularly the local community". If that's the case, why has there been no further public consultation since 14 September 2017?

Creekside Conservation Area

The applicant waxes lyrically about the design of the building being based on the industrial character of the area with reference to the 2012 Creekside Conservation Area Appraisal's account of its history. But in fact the CA Appraisal praises the 'human scale' of the Crossfield Estate buildings (which make up most of the zone) and the low topology of the warehousing by the Creek. When the appraisal was written, the only tall building was APT Studios at Harold Wharf.

The designation was specifically created by the Conservation team to limit the impact of Workspace plc's redevelopment of Faircharm Trading Estate. Lewisham wouldn't allow them to extend the area further north where they had plans for their own development on publicly owned land behind the Laban Centre. Nor did they want the zone to include Frankham House, for the same reason. The latter had to be fought for to be included, otherwise it would currently be up for demolition as part of the Tidemill redevelopment. Nevertheless, the green area south of Frankham that became part of the Conservation Area, was appropriated without any consultation into the Tidemill redevelopment.

To justify the trend for high-density, high-rise buildings in London's inner city, the developers (probably advised by Lewisham planners) reference the long gone 19th century mills that once stood to the south of the conservation area. Only one remains, Mumford's Mill, outside the zone. It is however, like Crossfields Estate and Harold Wharf, handsomely built of red brick, but that is not referenced in this application. Instead we have here the same boring, drab and bland design with the same colour cladding used in all those other uninspired new builds going up across the capital.

If developers want to refer to the historical character of the area, why not build a windmill surrounded by small terraced homes and market gardens? (This blog is not called Crosswhatfields for nothing). If they must build tall (which is nothing to do with the housing crisis, but about getting maximum returns on expensive land), why do planners restrict architects with this drab 19th century industrial-use nonsense?

Great looking residential and mixed use buildings are being designed and built elsewhere (as a walk down Coldharbour Lane in Loughborough Junction revealed to this writer the other night) that use lots of colour and yet still manage to blend into their surroundings, whilst brightening them. The Creekside Conservation Area Appraisal celebrates the creative culture of the area most of all, but no creativity is apparent here.

We don't want to be surrounded by buildings that are trying to reference long gone dark satanic mills (but then try to avoid the darkness by using light coloured cladding) – so please stop referencing them and design something lovely! Something smaller, something quirky, something locals can be proud of, something that doesn't ruin the local character, perhaps even something covered in greenery, that celebrates the Council's somewhat dubious green credentials, rather than an ugly landmark for Lewisham's new flagship economic hub.

Commercial workspace

The application has been brought to planning far too soon, and one of the issues raised in the only public consultation event remains unaddressed. People wanted to know whether the new workspace would be affordable (especially to locals), and even questioned why it was needed. You would think that might warrant a full business case for the commercial space being presented with this application. That should come from Lewisham Council, but there's nothing.

Several pages of Bluecroft's Design & Access Statement refer to how creative spaces work already in the area, supporting the idea of flexible use. But a statement from Kalmars, the commercial estate agents of choice for Lewisham, reveals that the kind of flexibility the Council are really thinking about is more to do with who they can extract the highest rents from.

Although the scheme is dressed up with exciting visions of a creative industry 'hub', Kalmars suggest that any kind of office-based business could fit in here; the flexibility of the physical space is equally about being able to create rabbit hutches for office users or large floor space for call-centre operations. We wouldn't be surprised if the Council ended up moving Lewisham Homes in here, especially when they start concentrating on expanding their estate regeneration and demolition plans in the area.

Second Floor Studios have been involved in the planning of the space. Second Floor have up till recently been known for their artist studio provision but now seem to have become much more commercially orientated. Artists are described by Lewisham's Economic Strategy officer as not making full and 'sustainable' use of their workspace; the emphasis from Lewisham is on digital enterprise and TMT (technology, media and telecommunications) and for Kalmars, any kind of office/retail use that makes money would fit the bill.

If the space is for the 'creative industries' why isn't music production designed into it along with the sound proofing that would require? Music making is a strong facet of the cultural heritage of the Creekside Conservation Zone. Affordable rehearsal space for musicians is in deficit in the area. Music production/recording/rehearsal space would also support and complement existing community use such as the Birds Nest pub.

If the aim is to make as much income as possible for the Council to prop up services, affordable rents are unlikely, especially for the sort of creatives who established the Creekside area as one of artistic excellence which the Council uses to boast their cultural credentials (for instance, in their bid to become Borough of Culture). Lewisham are shameless 'art washers' – they have always used Creekside to attract developers and inward investment. Their promotion of the borough's creative output is purely about attracting money. What they want here is business that has been priced out of more expensive areas such as London Bridge or Bermondsey. This is not for locals, and especially not for artists or musicians.

Is it needed then? Aren't there going to be new workspace 'hubs' at Faircharm and Kent Wharf? Isn't there already a plethora of un-let office space in the area? Didn't the office space provided in the Seager building get turned into a hotel, there was so little demand? There is certainly quite a lot of un-let retail space (at the Deptford Project and Deptford Market Yard, for instance) which could be changed to other uses without losing too much 'active street frontage'.

That is why a business case should be presented as part of this application. Failure to do so makes it impossible to justify the need for this monster of a building.

Only 35% Affordable Housing and Poor Doors

As we mentioned in our previous post, the affordable housing quota is only 35%, and the affordable units are separated from the private ones by a 'poor door', with the affordable in the north 'core' (overlooking Cremer House) and the private in the south tower (overlooking the Birds Nest).

Mayor Egan's election promise was to achieve 50% 'genuinely' affordable homes in developer-led projects. He also promised to publish developer's Viability Assessments and there is one accompanying this application. The developer states they would struggle to achieve 35%, but a quick analysis of both current sales prices for new builds in the area and comparison with their figures indicates they could stand to make at least £4m more from private sales than they have estimated.

Lewisham's Core Strategy Policy 3 says that "60% of affordable housing provision should be for social rent and 40% for intermediate or sale, and that priority should be accorded to provision for family housing". Here the ratio is 55% social rent and 45% intermediate, with family homes being only 30% of the total.

While the Council may argue that they are providing employment space instead, we'd argue that the need for affordable housing is currently greater. That was certainly the argument presented by local ward councillor Joe Dromey to justify the demolition of Reginald House and Tidemill Garden.

Lewisham Labour's 2018 Manifesto also pledged "not to sell strategic council land to private developers", but this not only what the Council is doing at Tidemill by flogging off public land to Peabody housing association and Sherrygreen Homes, but indirectly what they have done at No.1 Creekside through extinguishing ownership of public land.


The most annoying thing about this development, apart from its size, is that the Council are partners and will want to drive it through regardless of how local people feel, just as they have done at Tidemill (see previous post). And like Tidemill (where it's taken officers several years to achieve any sort of decent 'social housing' quota on the site to justify demolition of homes and green space), the proposals for No.1 Creekside fulfill Core Strategy Policies on housing and employment whilst negating several others: Core Policy 5 (reduce carbon emissions), Core Policy 7 (protect open spaces and environmental assets), Core Policy 10 (protect local character) and Core Policy 11 (promote community wellbeing). These policies might as well not exist.

Even more annoying is that the new administration has promised change; they won't be like the old administration under Mayor Bullock, they say. But they forget to admit that Bullock's co-driver was Deputy Mayor Alan Smith, the main person responsible for most of the hideous regeneration plans implemented or planned by Bullock's administration, eg Lewisham Gateway and Millwall. Bullock may have gone, but Cllr Alan Smith is still here and has managed to wheedle himself onto all the most important committees so that he can continue to control and influence our futures with the same machiavellian relish he has always done, in cahoots with the same unelected council officials who are still running the show the same way they always have.