Friday, April 1, 2011

Convoy's Wharf demolition in progress

 Pictures taken by Sue from Deptford Adventure Playground

Despite Planning Permission not yet being granted, and serious concerns that this 16th century Royal Naval site has not been thoroughly surveyed nor is being properly protected, agents of Convoy's Wharf developer Li Ka-shing (Hutchison Whampoa to you) are presently demolishing everything on this site except the Grade II listed Olympia warehouse (the wavy roofed structure), another brick structure and some trees.

Much lies beneath the present concrete surface. More to come on this, but meanwhile see Crosswhatfields posts here. See also Deptford Dame, Shipwright's Palace, London's Lost Garden or do a google search – even Wikipedia has more information on this site than you'd ever get from the present vested interests of both council and developer.

There is another way, say local campaigners...that doesn't include 3500 residential riverside apartments in three towerblocks, retail outlets and parking for 2,300 cars that will never see their way out onto Creek Road.

The site is, in Lewisham's own planning guidance, designated for commercial use, so how did such high-density housing get into the mix? There are also debates around the use of the wharf as a protected marine area with the developers arguing that such protection takes it below economically viable levels if preserved.

Local visionaries see the area as the ideal location for a Marine Enterprise Zone, based on new advances in British industry in navigational equipment. Why not, while we're at it, create a working boatyard, training projects and other maritime and heritage-related facilities (an annex to the Maritime Museum for instance), use the river to its utmost, and enhance Deptford as a World Heritage Site – and not some dormitory for the City as it is fast becoming, or a short-term (thinking) holiday home for Olympic visitors.

It may seem at first an equally ghastly idea to turn the area into a tourist spot, but nevertheless there's a logical link with Greenwich's naval history to where it began, in the King's Yard, Deptford, the first of the Royal Dockyards, developed in 1513 by Henry VII to build vessels for the Royal Navy. It's a short walk from Greenwich (or would be if Greenwich council and the presently dormant Galliard Peninsula development co-operated, possibly a snag here).

Job creation in the Marine Enterprise Zone? It promises to be a lot more than the presently proposed cleaning, retail and waiting on tables.
No money in it? Maybe not as much as there could have been if some foresight had been shown some time ago to not only cash in on the Olympics, but allow Deptford to become Lewisham's flagship heritage area (ya boo sucks to Greenwich) instead of being its number one dumping ground for people it doesn't want in Lewisham and then, conversely, a dormitory for the City...But no money for Mr Murdoch and News International waiting for a percentage on the sale of those luxury flats if the present plan didn't go ahead, boo, hoo...Not so much money for a weak local authority, now suddenly attuned to new Tory rules on business rates but still looking at Council tax on 3500 new properties in three tower blocks....

Too late? Never too late for Real History, Ethics and Respect.
Lewisham Council's motto is Live, Work and Learn. But it long ago forgot how to Listen.

And that is no April Fool joke.

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