Friday, March 14, 2014

Only 6 days left to object to the plans for Convoys Wharf

So, how do you help Mr Pepys to save Deptford's Royal Dockyard? 

The Mayor of London is 'keen' to hear your views about Convoys Wharf! 
Email before 20 March 2014. Quote the application reference DC/13/83358 and include your name and address.


If you have previously written an objection to Lewisham Council, there is no need to write again to the Mayor of London. You can, however, make comments on the very slight changes to the application that have been agreed by the developer in talks with the GLA. These changes are so minor you might want to write to say that they're welcome but it's just not enough!

For those who wish to object in general, here's some notes taken from Lewisham Council's report on the application, plus a couple of policy points from the Mayor of London's London Plan, which you might want to use (in no particular order):


The Mayor of London's London Plan states:
Policy 7.7:
Tall and large buildings should
•  generally be limited to sites in the Central Activity Zone, opportunity areas, areas of intensification or town centres that have good access to public transport
•  only be considered in areas whose character would not be affected adversely by the scale, mass or bulk of a tall or large building
•  incorporate publicly accessible areas on the upper floors, where appropriate (not offered in this application)
Tall buildings should not
•  affect their surroundings adversely in terms of microclimate, wind turbulence, overshadowing, noise, reflected glare, aviation, navigation and telecommunication interference
•  should not impact on local or strategic views adversely
General comments
• the buildings, and especially the towers, are too tall
• the density and number of units proposed is too high
• this site has terrible public transport links (in reference to London Plan's guidelines on tall buildings above)
• the tall buildings are out of scale with the surrounding area
• this proposal does not incorporate publicly accessible areas on the upper floors
• locals will lose satellite TV throughout construction and after (to be mitigated by being offered FreeSat)

English Heritage note: “the cumulative impact of the three tall buildings within the proposal is at odds with London Plan Policy 7.12D.A which states that panoramas should be managed so that development fits within the prevailing pattern of building and spaces and should avoid a canyon affect on strategically important landmarks...the view that the impact of the three towers within the Blackheath Point and Greenwich Panoramic Views is dramatic and contributes towards a potential canyon effect.”

Lewisham Council required a reduction in scale and massing on some of the proposed buildings, especially in relation to the historic buildings and spaces which they consider "overbearing in a number of locations and views"; Lewisham's Design Panel called the towers 'monolithic' 

NB: Minor revisions to the application have now been made that allow for greater flexibility at the design stage, plus a reduction in the heights of one of the blocks, but those towers will still be there.

The image below shows the Seager Tower on Deptford Broadway with the proposed 48-storey Convoys waterfront tower superimposed beside it. No, the Convoys building isn't nearer, they are side by side, that is the size it will be compared with the 26-storey Seager Tower – almost twice as tall, and twice as wide. (Click to enlarge)

Here's the architect's illustration which shows the new Paynes & Borthwick tower in the foreground of the proposed development. The foregrounding makes the waterfront tower look only twice as high, when in fact when pictured side by side it is three times as high (click to enlarge).

Here's the proposed waterfront tower side by side with Aragon Tower on Pepys Estate.

• Deptford Royal Dockyard is an historic site worthy of international recognition that goes back 500 years: founded by Henry VIII in 1513, it was the most significant royal dockyard of the Tudor period, and central to the development of the British Royal Navy for the next 350 years

• It is strongly associated with several of Britain's most famous people: Henry V, Henry VIII, Elizabeth 1, Charles II, Capt James Cook, Sir Francis Drake, Sir Walter Raleigh, Nelson, Samuel Pepys, John Evelyn, William Bligh, John Rennie (and other famous engineers)...(see end of post for more detail on ships and people) 

• The World Monuments Fund has placed the site on its 2014 Watch List because it's endangered by insensitive redevelopment. See their statement on Deptford Is... here.

The Mayor of London's London Plan states:
Policy 7.9:  Heritage-led Regeneration
A  Regeneration schemes should identify and make use of heritage assets and reinforce the qualities that make them significant so they can help stimulate environmental, economic and community regeneration. This includes buildings, landscape features, views, Blue Ribbon Network and public realm.
Planning decisions
B  The significance of heritage assets should be assessed when development is proposed and schemes designed so that the heritage significance is recognised both in their own right and as catalysts for regeneration.
Wherever possible heritage assets (including buildings at risk) should be repaired, restored and put to a suitable and viable use that is consistent with their conservation and the establishment and maintenance of sustainable communities and economic vitality.
• Many of the significant above and below ground remains are being ignored by the developer: inter-related heritage assets include a scheduled ancient monument, six listed buildings and structures, and a further structure under consideration for listing, in addition to the dockyard archaeology uncovered during recent investigations – but all except the Grade II listed Olympia Shed will be built over.

General comments:
• The plans do not go far enough to reflect the heritage assets
• The relationship between the river and the Olympia Shed is unacceptably restrained
• The scale of buildings around the Olympia Shed and its setting is wrong
• Failure to reference many of the dockyard features
• No feasible or sustainable use of the Olympia Shed is provided
• The treatment of the Double Dry Dock is ‘unimaginative and disappointing’.
• The archaeology on site should result in a reduction of the density

• The historic significance of the dockyard is classified as high under National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) guidelines; NPPF paragraph 131 states “In determining planning applications, local planning authorities should take account of: the positive contribution that conservation of heritage assets can make to sustainable communities including their economic vitality…”

English Heritage "remain concerned that the overall scale of the development is such that the opportunity to create a distinctive sense of place which responds to the outstanding historic legacy of the site has not been realised"

English Heritage believe "the overall scale of the scheme, including the tall buildings, will cause harm to the significance of designated and undesignated heritage assets"

English Heritage remains concerned that "the proximity and massing of the feature buildings and 14 storey riverside block create a dominating scale around the listed building [Olympia Shed]...The narrow glimpsed view fails to make the best opportunity of this prominent and centrally located heritage asset...the current proposal would appear to represent the most restricted view.”

The Council for British Archaeology says “Currently, the proposed development of the site is considered to be at the cost of a proper historic appreciation, and is therefore unacceptable.”

Lewisham Council says “there are parts of the site where historic connections and layouts have been lost or ignored...and more detailed aspects of the proposed layout fail to respect the underlying heritage assets or the location and setting of key buildings..."

• Paragraph 7.4 of the London Plan states that local people “should have access to a…built environment that reinforces a strong, unique local history and character.”

• Local heritage project Build The Lenox CIC should be accommodated in the Olympia building along with a Deptford Dockyard Museum; this is a better use of the listed building than shops and boutiques

• The Great Basin should be reinstated so that Build The Lenox can have a home port and be a venue for visiting ships; buildings infringing on the footprint of the basin should be altered, but will benefit from a larger waterfront

• Local heritage project Sayes Court Garden CIC should be fully accommodated on the site and their aims to create a John Evelyn Centre of Urban Horticulture fully supported, with more adequate surrounding space given to a new building so that a green area is created that joins the archaeological remains of John Evelyn's Sayes Court Manor House with the present Sayes Court Garden

See also the report from Deptford


General comments in local objections:
• The element of Social Housing proposed on the site is NIL
• The affordable housing allocation is only 14%
• The affordable housing includes shared ownership and would not be affordable to local people on incomes of £20K pa or less
• Housing units are likely to be marketed at a starting price of £300,000 for a studio and the wider Lewisham community is not likely to see any benefit whatsoever from this.
• Restrictions on units sold abroad and on the number sold as buy-to-let investments are required in order to stop the local rental market from seeing mass rent increases and more local people being priced out of the Borough
• A percentage of affordable housing should be by the River Thames to avoid ‘class distinction’.
• More family housing is needed to make the development sustainable

NB: This latter point is partly addressed in the minor revisions made since the application has been with the GLA to slightly increase provision for affordable rented units and provision of family-sized affordable rented units. Lewisham Council were challenging the developer's formula for 'viability' – more realistic 'growth' assumptions [property values] "would allow for more affordable be increased from the applicant's present proposals."


The application includes parking for at least 1800 cars. See Deptford Is... reports here and here.

General points raised by local objections:
• The use of misleading figures to ‘manipulate’ traffic statistics by including side streets with lower usage than Evelyn Street, plus misleading statistics for traffic on New King Street
• Existing bus journey times will be considerably lengthened
• Potential for bus and DLR overcrowding
• Rail capacity has been overestimated and the increased use of Deptford Station in recent years has not been accounted for
• Cumulative impacts on the road have not been assessed
• Construction impacts have not been assessed properly
• The potential for nuisance and disturbance during the construction period, including for homes ‘downwind’
• Parking for construction workers will infringe on local parking
• HGV traffic and the impacts on surrounding residents and safety for children on local roads
• Condition of local roads already poor
• Removal of parking spaces on New King Street unacceptable
• A CPZ will be unavoidable
• Access would be on to Evelyn Street, which when combined would greatly increase traffic and cause future gridlock
• All heavy traffic will have to be diverted along a route of Grove Street and Oxestalls Road and past the local Deptford Park School, causing hazardous air and noise pollution
• More effort should be put into using the river for material access rather than by road
• Parking provision for over 1800 cars on the site, without counting service vehicles, will add to vehicular congestion on the A206 which is already a very heavily trafficked road

• In Lewisham Council's report, Transport for London concluded that further assessments need to be made in order to comply with the London Plan.

• Lewisham Council said, "Given the scale of development and predicted vehicular movement to/from the site there will be a significant increase in traffic, both vehicular and non vehicular, on the local highway network, and modelling of key junctions by the applicant has highlighted potentially significant and unresolved capacity issues. These would be exacerbated if the London Mayor’s Cycle Superhighway scheme on Evelyn Street is implemented as this will reduce capacity..."

“….TfL acknowledge that when they come to look at the detail it may throw up impacts which have not been identified so far and that it cannot accept on the network. They also note that the extent of that risk is yet to be determined… [Lewisham] Officers have serious concerns with this approach and leaving matters for resolution after the outline application has been approved. ..[The GLA and] TfL must ensure that the impacts are fully assessed and understood before the case is determined.”

NB: We have not had time to read up on whether these very obvious transport issues have yet been reviewed, but there is certainly no modification in the 'minor revisions' that relates to the number of car parking spaces.


• [the] impact on existing infrastructure…will place an unacceptable burden on existing services such as utilities providers, water supplies and sewerage

Thames Water states in its consultation response: “With the information provided, Thames Water has been unable to determine the waste water infrastructure needs of this application. The existing water supply infrastructure has insufficient capacity to meet the additional demands for the proposed development."

• Thames Water had not been furnished with the finer details of “the points of connection to the public sewerage system as well as the anticipated flow (including flow calculation method) into any proposed connection point”. So they had not been able to determine the impact of the proposed development on the existing water and sewer system

• Local objectors and Lewisham Officers “remain concerned that daylight/sunlight impacts have not been properly assessed” 


• Over 300 ships were built or refitted at Deptford; warships include HMS Neptune and HMS Colossus, which fought under Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar

• Refitted ships include HMS Endeavour, HMS Resolution and HMS Discovery used by Capt James Cook, as were HMS Discovery and HMS Chatham captained by George Vancouver, and William Bligh's HMS Bounty and HMS Providence

• Privateer Sir Francis Drake was knighted here by Elizabeth 1 in 1581 after his circumnavigation of the globe in the Golden Hind, which was moored for exhibition in Deptford Creek until the 1660s

• Explorer Sir Walter Raleigh had the Ark Raleigh built at Deptford; the ship was purchased by Elizabeth I and renamed Ark Royal; Raleigh laid his cloak before Elizabeth at Deptford

• Diarist Samuel Pepys, Secretary to the Admiralty and Master of Trinity House, initiated and oversaw Charles II's 1677 shipbulding programme here (including the Lenox)

John Evelyn, diarist, author, horticulturist, inventor and founding member of the Royal Society,  lived here in Sayes Court Manor; his ideas formed the basis of the National Trust, and much of Deptford Dockyard was given by Evelyn to the Admiralty at a peppercorn rent as long as a ship lay on the stocks: with no ship in the dock, the yard actually belongs to Evelyn's descendents

Tsar Peter the Great learned about the latest technologies in shipbuilding here in 1698 – because Deptford Dockyard was the "cradle of the Navy" and the 'Cape Canaveral' of its time

• Deptford was the first of the royal naval dockyards to have a wet dock or basin: where John Evelyn carried out the first diving bell experiments, where Cook hoisted the pennant on board the Endeavour in 1768, where Bentham built the dry dock in 1802 with Edward Holl, where in 1814 John Rennie rebuilt the basin entrance with the latest caisson gate technology, where Capt Sir William Denison built the slipways to the basin with slipway covers built by George Baker &Sons, where George Biddel Airey tested the effect of a ship's magnetism on navigation instruments...


  1. Looks like another one has gone to Hong Kong

  2. Expect the same with Faircharm 'Creative Quarter'