Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Faircharm update: Lewisham to approve planning application?

Lewisham Planning is recommending approval of Workspace's redevelopment plans at the Strategic Planning Committee meeting on Thursday 2nd May (7.30pm in the Civic Suite at Lewisham Town Hall). Those who have objected have been invited to attend (arrive at 7.15) to make further representation. This includes anyone who has signed the petition.

Since the proposed development is not in accordance with THREE of Lewisham's own Core Planning Strategies, the application will then have to be referred to the Mayor of London (GLA) and then, possibly, to the Secretary of State.

You can download the report that will be discussed here. (You may have to update your Acrobat Reader). The main recommendations are contained in Chapter 10.

It would appear that many of the objections raised by locals and business tenants have been glossed over in favour of compromise. Lewisham want to keep Workspace in the area to continue their employment provision (Workspace threatened to close the site down), and they're not too concerned about only 15% affordable housing since they consider the residential component a 'windfall'.

55 written responses were received from local residents and organisations. In addition serious concerns were raised by Creekside Education Trust (who look after the biodiversity of the Creek and will be greatly overshadowed), Greenwich Conservation Group, the Amenities Societies Panel, and the London Wildlife Trust.

GLA, TfL, the Environment Agency, Thames Water, English Heritage, the PLA and various departments within the Council were also consulted and advised. Greenwich Council stated the proposal contravenes Policies D25 and D26 of their Unitary Development Plan due to the 'excessive height' of the proposal and the detrimental impact it will have on the view from Point Hill.

However, the potential loss of sunlight and overshadowing to Holden and Wilshaw is considered 'acceptable'. The impact on APT Studios was considered but dismissed because it is not residential (not like artists need light or anything!). Overshadowing of the Creek is also considered 'acceptable'.

The poor parking provision onsite may result in a Controlled Parking Zone on Creekside. The Council identified far less kerb-side spaces available than the applicants claim, but still seriously overestimate (there are about 35 spaces on Creekside, the Council says 120!). Meanwhile, Creekside may get road humps to slow down lorries so that they don't kill any cyclists.

The height of the tower and the adverse massing and density of the other buildings is considered 'acceptable'. The negative impact on the view of St Paul's Church was weighed up against the 'positive benefits of the development'.

There's quite a lot of Section 106 money to come from this development. Money will go into rebuilding the Creek walls, to employment & training initiatives, education, health, open space, community facilities (Creekside Centre), town centre management (?), tourism, transport (£430K), parking zoning etc.  £100K will go to Lewisham Business Continuity Fund, to assist present tenants to relocate, and to finance the development of Faircharm as a future "micro-business cluster".

The S106 also obliges the developer to use local labour during construction, and for them to complete the business spaces before any residential units are occupied.

Planning have gone to great lengths to negotiate and mitigate some of the unacceptable parts of the original application, and approval will include some stringent conditions attached to many aspects of it. For instance, no development shall commence until:

- the developer has completed adequate archaeological investigations in accordance with English Heritage guidelines (this is a pretty ancient site that has gone through many changes, it is rumoured the Golden Hind may be buried nearby)

- site contamination is identified and remedied (in view of the historical uses of the site which have included industrial processes)

- a Construction Environmental Management Plan (CEMP) is in place (so that the demolition and construction process is carried out in a manner that minimises noise, disturbance and pollution to neighbouring properties and the Creek)

- a Construction Logistics Management Plan has been approved (to rationalise construction travel and traffic routes to and from the site, with detailed proposals for utilising the Creek for transportation of demolition and construction materials, restrictions on hours to avoid network peak hours, measures to deal with safe pedestrian and cycle movement).

Meanwhile, present business tenants are not best pleased. They will have to relocate, never to return – because once settled in somewhere else they are hardly likely to want to upsticks and move back. Some are finding it difficult to locate large enough spaces elsewhere (Based Upon need 22,000 sqft and Wiramu & Schultz need 1000sqft for instance). They also question that the current buildings have outlived their usefulness, and point out there is a constant demand for industrial space in the borough. They believe Faircharm "could be full of successful businesses but for the uncertainties of tenure brought about by this application".


  1. predictable that Lewisham should side with the developers (for legal reasons if nothing else, planning only fails on strict legal grounds, the impact a development may have on local residents is given lip-service only) and also predictable that the developers will fail to comply with many of the conditions in a satisfactory manner.

    Here's another prediction - another few stories will be added to some of the buildings . . .

  2. Having just waded through the weighty document I think they have done a good job in bringing together all of the views. I appreciate not everyone here is for it, but weighing pros and cons up I think it is good to see the area being redeveloped and warmly welcome the changes.

    1. are you mad? it seriously doesn't need development in any shape in form its not good for anyone only the deveopers investors sheer greed!

  3. also interesting to note that the PR tripe is still going strong for Convoys Wharf (evening standard 2-5-13) - 'the new shorditch' - have these people no shame in the face of a great big cheque? (Terry Farrell - I mean you)