Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Mayor of London gives Convoys Wharf the go ahead

Well, there's no turning back now. As Mayor of Lewisham Steve Bullock said at the hearing at City Hall on Monday at which Boris approved the Convoys Wharf outline planning application, "if we get it wrong now, we won't have the opportunity again in our lifetime". He asked for a bit more time to get it right. Unfortunately, Boris called time, and it's very, very wrong.

The heritage community projects Build The Lenox and Sayes Court Garden appeared to come out well, however, with Boris imposing two conditions on his approval that would help them get a better deal. But although this signalled his enthusiasm for their proposals, much is still to be negotiated and the developer will no doubt continue to stall and obstruct.

Indeed much remains still to be decided – for instance, the design of the buildings. This will happen at a later stage. But the developer now has the green light (and his architect's glossy illustrations) with which to start selling his luxury flats overseas. It doesn't really matter to those investors parking their money in London property what the buildings look like.

Rather too late in the day for Deptford, the debate on London's rising property prices, foreign investors and skyscraper luxury developments has gathered momentum. Only the day before the Convoys application was heard at City Hall, the Observer was publishing a petition by the great and influential which opposes the addition of another 230 skyscrapers to the London skyline. This was part of a response to a report and exhibition "London's Growing Up!" by New London Architecture (NLA) whose research has found more than 230 tall towers over 20 storeys in the pipeline for London. Ironically, the petition is signed by Alan Baxter, whose firm worked on the Heritage Strategy for the Convoys Wharf application.

Last Wednesday, the Prince's Foundation for Building Community published a report on London's housing which said we are under assault from 'faceless' towers and 'poorly conceived' mega-developments, with ordinary Londoners no longer able to afford to live here (download here).

And only hours before the Convoys hearing, the developer's architect Sir Terry Farrell (also an advisor to the Mayor of London) was launching his own government backed 'Farrell Review of Architecture and the Build Environment'. Apparently planners must think about Place with a capital P, working with local people and expert advisors to draw up real, proactive plans for the future.

That'll be the same Farrell who helped the Hong Kong conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa to devise a masterplan that builds over Deptford's Royal Dockyard and has helped them keep local people as far away from the planning process as possible. In fact the bloated old hypocrite turned up at the hearing after his lunchtime launch.

Despite giving the Farrell document a glowing review in the Telegraph, Jonathan Glancy observed "This week, the fight over dismal plans for a pox of hundreds of new and dimly designed skyscrapers defacing London along the Thames promises to become very heated, while planning permission will be granted somwhere near you for ever more cheap-as-chips housing – cheap, that is, to build on land acquired for next to nothing, yet sold as dear as the market will bear".
See also the Deptford Dame's comments, plus a report on Deptford Is.., Build The Lenox and local press. Meanwhile, here's Hong Kong...


  1. See Simon Jenkins in Evening Standard "If Johnson ever runs for Prime Minister, the towers of London should hang around his neck like an albatross."

  2. Told ya so! Li-Ka Shing becomes biggest overseas investor in UK: