We’ve had a look at the documents provided for application DC/14/89953 and have made a few notes. Go to the LewishamPlanning Portal and search for the application number or ‘Creekside’ (it’s the first one listed). Then click on Documents to find the ones referred to below.
Email your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org with the application number DC/14/89953 in the subject heading, and include your name and address. Although the statutory 21 days has passed, comments will be accepted over the next month and up the time (tbc) the application goes before the Planning Committee.
Compared to the monster nearby which is about to grow into an even larger carbuncle (Creekside Village East and Greenwich Creekside East) this could be viewed as a fairly benign development of a long derelict site, if it weren't for the height of the buildings and the very low percentage of affordable housing. Public access to the Creek where there was none before is welcomed, as are the ‘artist workspaces’ providing signs of life on the ground floors.
Of the 143 residential units, only 18 are so-called ‘affordable’ (13%). These will be contained within a 6-storey building fronting Creekside. The heights of the buildings overall range from 6 to 16 storeys and the construction is planned to take 20 months.
The developer, Bellway Homes, was also asked to draw up an “indicative masterplan” of the adjacent Sun Wharf site (presently occupied by Jones on lease till 2022). That site could generate a further 242 ‘homes’ to add to the 148 about to be built at Faircharm.
Construction traffic on Creekside
We mention this first because it affects the most people over the next two years. In the Construction Logistic Plan (p.5), it states:
2.7 During the construction of the nearby Thames Tunnel, Deptford Church Street will be reduced to two-lane traffic with the existing cycle route, and potentially some bus services, diverted along Creekside. The Contractor will therefore ensure that any construction deliveries minimise impact to the operation of Creekside to ensure the free-flow of both vehicular and cycle traffic is retained at all times.
2.10 Drawing upon this experience and using the most efficient logistics available, Bellway Homes estimate that the development of Kent Wharf is likely to generate up to approximately 20 construction delivery vehicles per day during peak phases of the construction process.
2.14 The development of the Faircharm Creative Quarter (FCQ) is located immediately to the south of Sun Wharf and the construction phase is likely to generate some overlap with the construction of Kent Wharf. The London Borough of Lewisham has advised that Faircharm Creative Quarter is likely to generate up to 80 HGV deliveries during the construction phase. This in conjunction with Kent Wharf is likely to total around 95 HGVs throughout the day, which is unlikely to generate any material impact. span> (Er… so that's actually 25 HGVs, not only 20 as referred to in point 2.10)
2.15 Bellway Homes will investigate the potential to deliver construction material via the river, subject to phasing and tidal conditions.However, hidden away in the Transport Assessment (not the Construction Logistic Plan) it is stated (p.57):
7.14 The Council are keen to investigate and promote the potential of Deptford Creek to be used for transporting materials as part of the construction phase.Because of the “sensitive bascule bridge on Creek Road” (2.8 Construction Logistic Plan) their lorries will be coming down Blackheath Hill and Deptford Church Street then hurtling down Creekside from the south end. Although it was a condition of the Faircharm planning application being granted that the developer conduct a feasibility study on using the Creek to transport materials, one can assume that the Faircharm developers, Workspace plc, have come to the same conclusion. Those dastardly tides!
7.15 Bellway Homes have since confirmed that due to the tidal nature of the river and presence of an ecological barrier located adjacent to the river wall, it will not be possible to transport construction materials by barge.
[We have asked Planning for sight of the reports generated in Bellway Homes’ ‘investigations’ and the Faircharm’s feasibility study that prove beyond doubt the case for using the road and not the river.]
Between July and September when public exhibitions were held at Laban, the height of the main tower increased from 12 to 16 storeys. The reasons for this are the usual ones. First of all it’s because it won’t be out of place since there are other tall buildings in the area:
“Emerging development seizes the opportunity to push the massing higher in key locations, in particular along the waterway and adjacent to key transport nodes (such as the Movement, Greenwich) and Distillery Crescent to the south at Deptford Bridge.” (p.18 Design & Access Statement)
"On the basis that the argument for height in this location was sound, it was felt that additional height on Block C was not only acceptable but appropriate, providing a transition between the consented Faircharm tower in the south (12 storeys) and the proposed development at Creekside Village east to the north (22 storeys). The increase in height from 12 to 16 storeys had no detrimental impact on views from the east and, along with the introduction of subtle modelling to the facade delivered a substantially more successful northern elevation to the tower.” (p.38 Design & Access Statement)Then there is the usual old tosh about tall buildings serving as ‘markers’ – in this case, the Kent Wharf tower will serve to “denote the northern extent of the art quarter” on Creekside, and will create “a dialogue between the development…and St Paul’s Church” (and also give better views to its luxury home residents).
Positioning and height of Blocks D and E (5 and 6 storeys) on Creekside “have been determined by consideration of Finch House, the existing residential block…a five storey linear block which, with its substantial pitched roof, is equivalent to six storeys.” These blocks have apparently been particularly “assessed in terms of daylight/sunlight and over-shadowing…” (p.38 Design & Access Statement). See later in this post for more on the Sunlight/Daylight Report.
(click to enlarge)
The affordable housing figure of 13% could only be referenced in the Planning Obligations Statement (aka Obligation Form). 8768sqm goes to ‘Market Housing’ (private) and 1225sqm to ‘Social Housing including shared ownership housing’. (A further 1375sqm goes to artists’ workspace.)
The breakdown of provision can be found in the Application Form. Private housing: 41x1-bed, 66x2-bed, 18x3-bed. ‘Intermediate’ housing (not ‘Social Housing’ then!): 4x1-bed, 13x2-bed, and only one 3-bed flat. (This compares to 18 private 3-bed flats).
So, less wealthy families raising two children beyond primary school age (when they might require separate bedrooms, especially if they are different genders) are not encouraged in this development.
Only 3 parking spaces are available for "affordable accessible" units (disabled occupants in the ‘intermediary’/’social housing’ units). If these are not taken up, they can be offered for purchase by other residents. There is no other parking provision. Like Faircharm, this is a ‘car-less development’ (or whatever the buzz word is). So where they gonna park?
Well, they can park on the street, can’t they! The Transport Assessment has a whole section on Parking. It estimates a demand for 0.481 spaces per dwelling, making it 69 vehicles requiring parking at night and on weekends (or rather 66 because there are 3 provided onsite). The ‘commercial’ spaces (artists) may generate a further 29 vehicles. There is also a 20% rise in car-use in Lewisham to take into account.
The consultants conducted a local survey on available restriction-free on-street parking during a couple of days in June 2014, covering a 200m and 400m radius. They concluded there was enough space to accommodate drivers from Kent Wharf, Faircharm and the potential new 2020s development at Sun Wharf. The figures in the Appendix are difficult to decipher, but it would appear they didn’t include Crossfields in their on-street parking survey. This is where many of the local workers and visitors park – so no wonder the survey found plenty of space elsewhere!
But all that is completely irrelevant, since Lewisham wants to introduce a CPZ on Creekside and other streets nearby and for the developer to contribute money to the implementation of such a proposal. And a condition of a CPZ will be that Kent Wharf residents and ‘commerical’ renters will be totally exempt from applying for a parking permit.
“Should the CPZ come forward,” says the Transport Assessment, “clearly parking impact would be nil…” Of course, they could always park on Crossfields – unless the residents finally drop their resistance to Residents Permits.
It goes without saying that public transport links to Kent Wharf are fantastic. But if one extrapolates the new population from the number of bedrooms (and treat a 1-bed flat as potentially sleeping x2, and so on with the larger flats), there could be up to 500 people moving in. That could make quite an impact on local routes – and it’s not looking good for South Eastern train users right now or in two years’ time (see 853’s latest post).
Never mind, they’ll all be cycling! Or at least half of them – the secure cycle storage provided at the site (a single space for 1- and 2-bed dwellings and two for 3-bed flats) is fairly generous. There’s no provision for the ‘artists’ though – apparently they will want to bring their cycles into their studios, (cos that’s what artists do).
The only other comment we have to make right now on Transport is the rather bizarre statistics on road accidents that have been compiled by TfL (p.105 of the Transport Assessment) in the 60 months leading up to April 2014. We can find no mention of the fatal death of TJ who was knocked off his bicycle by a hit-and-run driver on Deptford Church St at a legitimate crossing in March 2012. The omission renders these statistics a tad unreliable.
We thought this bit about Artists’ Studio Space (p.59 Design & Access Statement) being beneficial to the Kent Wharf scheme was amusing:
• It ensures the ground floor spaces – unsuitable for residential use because of the risk of flooding – will be occupied and in use from the outset.
We’re not going to comment on the design of the building. We like some of the materials proposed but wonder if they’ll actually be used when building starts. This was amusing though:
“Despite the loss of existing industrial fabric on site, a key design principle at Kent Wharf has been to create the impression of a series of buildings that could have grown over a period of time rather than developed in one piece. This approach contrasts with that evident in Creekside Village which makes little reference to its surroundings, choosing to, not entirely successfully, reference the contemporary treatment of the Laban.”(p.46 Design & Access Statement)Yeah, right, even though your buildings are going to completely loom over Laban in the same way as Creekside Village, they'll be nicer.
So when Jones’s lease is up in 2022, the development of Sun Wharf will commence. At Lewisham’s request, outline plans have already been drawn up and are presented with this application. These will not be decided upon with this application, but, being that much closer, they will perhaps be more shocking to Crossfields residents than what is proposed at Creekside Village East.
Considering Bellway Homes describes Crossfields Estate as “a strong element of the area's physical character as well as the heart of the area's existing residential community" (p.11 Design & Access Statement), we wonder why it is necessary to propose yet another tower at Sun Wharf – only 14 storeys here, but oh, how easy it is to justify adding another 4 floors!
(click to enlarge)
These visuals show Cockpit Arts (and the area on the Creek behind their building) completely transformed:
(click to enlarge)
What is mainly missing from this application is a townscape view that shows a dwarfed Crossfields alongside the above, with the new Faircharm and the entire Creekside Village development including Creekside Village East. The nearest to such a visual that we can find is this, but it doesn’t include Sun Wharf or Creekside Village East:
The Sunlight/Daylight Report concludes (like these reports always do) that “the proposal will have little effect on the neighbouring buildings”. Go to p.24 to view the ‘desk study’ renderings which show overshadowing occurring at various times of the day at key points in the year. There is no 3D modeling, so it’s difficult to work out the impact of the shadows on various heights – such as the five storey (oh sorry, six, with the roof) Finch House. You’ll just have to believe them when they say:
“Daylight levels to the neighbouring properties generally adhere with the intentions of the BRE guidance. There are minor deviations from the BRE targets in respect to localized rooms within Finch House however the retained levels remain good for an urban area…the proposal would not cause additional shading…to neighbouring amenity spaces and would have minimal transient effect to Deptford Creek…” (Conclusion, p.8)Apparently, the windows affected in Finch House are just five on the ground floor, four on the first and two on the second – and residents here are deemed lucky to have faced a single storey industrial unit for the past 40 or more years and enjoyed “unusually high levels of existing sky visibility”. Yep, you Finch Housers have been spoilt! Luckily, Farrer House won’t be affected at all.
Sunrise is at 6am in March 2015. According to the report, this is the effect by 8am (click to enlarge):
Any shadowing on the Creek is merely ‘transient’. Although sunset is at 18.15 in mid-March, it’ll be dark on this bit of the Creek by 4pm. And although sunset isn’t till 21.21 in midsummer, the tower will overshadow the Creek in a narrow strip at 6pm. Oddly, by 7pm, the whole world will be in darkness (surely shome mistake?):
Meanwhile, the street and the Laban front lawn may suffer more than any of the others. At 10am in mid-March the street is dark, then the tower’s shadow fills much of the Laban lawn by midday:
In Winter, however, it looks pretty grim. But, “our assessment shows shadows cast by the proposal but this is wholly in keeping with the existing context of shadows cast by lower properties such as Finch House. In mid-winter such shading extents are inevitable but are unlikely to significantly affect the use of any neighbouring amenity areas.” The students will be happy to walk to morning and lunchtime classes in the dark, since they won’t be doing any sun bathing, and anyway, the Sue Godfrey Nature Park is in shadow, so why not Laban as well?
Statement of Community Involvement
This is the applicant's report on the feedback they have received so far. The Conclusion (p.14) states:
“Residents provided a significant amount of positive feedback at the first public exhibition. Recurring comments relate to the viability and usefulness of the commercial units, the scheme’s tenure mix and the ecology surrounding the site.”On p.9 they note the number of times various issues are raised:
“There were some concerns about the revised height of the proposals following the second consultation. However, these comments were balanced against the majority of positive comments regarding the improved access to the creek, the need to redevelop this derelict site and the introduction of artists’ studios.”
Positive comments about regeneration – 7
Commercial spaces and their viability – 5
Ecology – 3
Positive comments about the design – 3
Concerns about tenure and house prices – 3
Positive comments about public access – 2
Comments about the presentation of materials – 2
Height of the tower is too tall – 1
Height of the tower is not tall enough – 1
Make the development car free – 1
But fail to record issues raised that they have not chosen themselves:
- Moorings on the Creek (permanent or temporary)
- Need for more affordable housing
- Overshadowing of Laban and surrounds
- Canyonisation of the Creek and the road, creating wind tunnels
- Reduction in views for existing residents
- No parking spaces resulting in even more on-street parking already at a shortage
- Increase in construction traffic
- Boring design
Appendix 6 shows mainly uncritical feedback from the first exhibition with 15 forms filled in. Appendix 7 shows 4 feedback forms after the second exhibition (at which more detailed plans emerged), the fourth of which states:
“The buildings looked fatter and the tower had got even taller. Don’t agree that the blocks should be any taller than Crossfields opposite – why should the gargantuan glass Creekside development set the precedent?...The general plan for this whole area with its rows of massive blocks linking roads and the Creek will create a series of canyons, blocking sunlight, reducing privacy and making wind tunnels in the winter.”
Appendix 8 has 11 letters and emails highly critical of the proposals shown in the second exhibition. These start on p41 and only two of these does not criticise the tower or general heights. Far from there being only 1 adverse comment on the height of the buildings, there are in fact 9. More comments, therefore, than on any other ‘issue’!
“…5 stories is simply too high for a waterfront development…" (Creekside resident)
“Tower is too high and too near Creekside – why so tall?? Relocate & reduce height. Your choice is not Deptford Creek= lightless canyon or Creekside = lightless canyon…I cannot see how putting x6 storeys across a narrow street from x5 storeys will not result in a drastic reduction to light, feeling of space and to views, even with top-storey set back….” (Crossfields resident)
“…Whilst the provision of artists’ studios is a great addition to the local community, the proposals include a 15/16 storey block, which is not. This would tower over the beautiful Laban building and dominate the area, my block of flats in particular, and is detrimental to the established character of the area. The argument that it would be a beacon to enable people travelling from the station or further is very poor indeed, and takes no account whatsoever of local considerations. The huge tower is deeply unwelcome in this traditionally low-rise area...” (Crossfields resident)
“…The Laban building already seems somewhat swamped / overshadowed by the residential development to its left side, and given it is an award winning building, any surrounding developments should not adversely impact on its occupation and presence…” (Trinity Laban user)
“The 12 story block is far too high… there should be no high rise section and all floors should end at 5 stories. We already have a monster new-build in Copperas St and on the other side of Deptford…” (Crossfields resident)
“…the proposed height of the tall building at 12 storeys was too high for the area…” (Greenwich Society on the July exhibit)
“…Some concerns at the height of the development, particularly the six storeys on the Creekside frontage…also at the 12 storey height of the tower element…”(Greenwich Conservation Group on July exhibit)
16 storeys now, of course, as if 12 wasn’t enough. But that’s OK, because after all, “the argument for height in this location is sound”.
Update 24 Jan: The Deptford Dame has just posted about this development. Importantly, she reminds objectors to copy their comments to their local councillors and the strategic planning committee.