Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Deptford Demolition: Tidemill in Planning again



The Tidemill scheme is up again before the Strategic Planning Committee this Wednesday 27th September, 7.30pm at the Civic Suite, Lewisham Town Hall, Catford. 

Local campaigners are hoping supporters will join them outside the town hall at 6.30pm "to demonstrate the strength of opposition to these plans".

It’s likely to be a lively meeting, so if you’re free, please show up and lend your support by filling the Council Chamber with your opposition – or even sceptical amusement and horror, as the planning process is probably one of the best examples of democracy gone wrong that exists close to home. If the decision goes against him, he can appeal knowing the Council does not have the legal resources to fight it. Oh, hang on, this is a Council-led scheme! It would be a brave Councillor who opposes it in favour of the community! Not many of those about.

This is about the Planning Application TO DEMOLISH: 

the council block at 2-30A Reginald Road
– 74 mature trees and the entire Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden 
– the former caretaker’s house on Frankham Street (which should be a heritage asset as part of the old school)

All in order to construct 209 new flats. Nothing wrong with building new homes, you might think, but at what cost? There could be another way, but architects Pollard Thomas Edwards couldn't find one, because the brief they were given by the Council didn't allow them to. Their job was to satisfy the planners' and developers' brief and no one else's.

One of the main constraints was how high they could go. 6 storeys is probably too high for the area, but when it's at the expense of green space, maybe they could go a bit higher near to the high street? The Deptford Project by the high street went to 8 storeys, no problem, in a Conservation Area. So what about the top left corner on this site near the high street, where valuable parking space is being removed – couldn't that go higher? 



The plans for Tidemill were drawn up in 2015 but were set in stone much earlier. Meanwhile, there is now a new development popping up at No.1 Creekside more or less opposite this scheme. It's not as though the Planners don't know about it, they went on to GIVE AWAY yet more green space to itIt wants to be 12 storeys high and surely affects what could happen on the Tidemill site. (More on No.1 soon).

The Tidemill scheme was deferred by the Strategic Planning Committee last September, mainly because the developer was not offering the affordable housing he promised. But the GLA have recently stepped in at the last minute with a huge subsidy, so that part of the problem has now been sorted (at our expense, whilst maintaining the developer’s profits at well over 20%). 

The scheme will now achieve about 41% affordable housing, but only a tiny number of socially rented homes. With 59% more private housing being built, the percentage of affordable housing in the borough (and certainly social housing) will increase in deficit. 

To top all that, the land is being sold at less than half price. Lewisham is practically giving it away. (Again, at our expense, whilst maintaining an inflated profit for the developer). We wrote about this in more detail in March 2017.

The other issues for deferral still remain: Right to Light for existing residents in Frankham House and Reginald Road; allocation of amenity spaces (too many private and gated gardens and loss of the Tidemill Wildlife Garden); and concern for the tenants in the council block to be demolished and how they will be reallocated (e.g. their transfer to a housing association with no like-for-like accommodation or secure tenancies).... 

There have been no improvements to these issues after a year. Council officers and the developers insist they have consulted with the residents of 2-30A Reginald Road (but they haven't, and the tenants and leaseholders still don't want to leave their homes). They have had meetings with the garden team but the meetings have been farcical, with north London landscape architects BDP attempting to mimic the features of a mature Tidemill garden into small pocket gardens because the developer and Council would not shift on the building layouts. 

The Council's argument against the garden was that it was only ever 'meantime' use, but the campaigners argue that: 

• It (literally) grew out of a highly successful publicly funded collaborative project in the late 1990s between the old Tidemill School (its children, parents and teachers) and local organisation Deptford Discovery Project working with government-backed green space innovators and facilitators, Groundwork UK, with assistance from Mowlem (who were building the DLR at that time) and supported by Lewisham Council. The most important aspect of it was the contribution the children made to it. Leader of the Council and subsequent Mayor, Dave Sullivan opened it. It seems Lewisham can't remember or celebrate its own achievements.



• In its recent incarnation managed by Assembly, the garden has been cited by the GLA as a celebrated case study in its newly launched Greener City Fund (August 2017). See https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/greener_city_fund_prospectus.pdf


• The garden can cater for children and adults alike to explore nature, wildlife, gardening and growing, in a safe space on their doorstep. It did this when it was part of the school, it did this when Assembly took it on, and it can do it again. It is not a "useless brownfield site", as described by the Council. 



• The tree canopy currently protects the high street from up to 50% of the pollution created by traffic in Deptford Church Street. The Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) readings in the garden and near the high street are 30 micrograms per cubic metre, as opposed to 62 at the Bird's Nest pub (the legal EU limit being 40). 'Particulate matter' readings taken by Goldsmiths academics, Citizen Sense, also tend to back up this theory (though we'll have to wait another two months for their data to be published).



1 comment:

  1. Interesting that Corbyn pledged today to stop this sort of thing in his closing conference speech. Yet so many Labour Councils are doing it (forced gentrification)?

    ReplyDelete