We heard a rumour that the developers of the revamped Deptford station, Cathedral Group plc, were pulling out. (see Snippets and Rumours). The project featuring a Richard Rogers design was supposed have been completed in 2008. Lewisham Council say on their website that work is to begin around now in 2010. Since work has not started, naturally rumours abound.
Although we have not been able to find anything that substantiates this story, a Crosswhatfields reader has drawn our attention to the following report in the News Shopper, which refers to a Cathedral Group project in Sidcup:
SIDCUP: Credit crunch hits Cathedral Group's plans for Athena House
18 March 2010
THE first of an expected flurry of applications to reduce financial promises made on the back of planning permissions, has been agreed by Bexley Council.
As part of its planning obligations, Cathedral had promised to pay £542,593 towards various items or projects which residents of the development would benefit from.
Cathedral says, having looked at all the costs of the project again, it cannot afford to pay what it offered, if the scheme is to be viable. It has now made a revised offer of £353,394 with payments for items such as community facilities and education, dropped.
Councillors could have rejected the offer and risked a fresh planning application with less on the table, which was likely to go to appeal if refused and cost the council even more. Councillors reluctantly agreed the new offer, with a deferred payment system, so if the financial situation changes, Bexley could ask for more money.
News Shopper story on Sidcup here.
It may be that our Deep Throat has got his wires crossed, but the above Sidcup tale does not bode well for the Deptford station development which is worth loads more (£5m). Nor for any other Cathedral Group development around the city and further out (Lambeth etc and Bromley).
Enquiries within architect contacts revealed little, but caused considerable rumbles, upset applecarts and almost lost someone a job.
Since Joan Ruddock claims enormous credentials for creating the partnership between Lewisham Council, a n other developer, and Network Rail that will bring us our new station, I asked her for the latest news when I caught her after the Election Hustings at Utrophia on Saturday evening.
She said she had only recently had a meeting about it and had heard nothing that worried her. The delay has been entirely due to Network Rail's intricate and complicated engineering issues, which were now resolved and building will commence in the Summer.
Not the Spring, then, as promised on the Lewisham's website, I asked. The smile said it all, "Network Rail" were to blame. She was certain she hadn't been lied to by the developers. "Dave wouldn't lie to me, I'm sure." (David Cullingford, Development Director, Cathedral Group plc?). She also suggested there were rumours put about for political gain.
I can't forget the look on Joan's face, which she must have employed several years ago to the same effect, as she said, 'How Could Anybody Be Expected To Use That Station As It Is? Especially If You Were Disabled?'.
So, we'll see, eh,