Saturday, November 4, 2017

Demolition Deptford #3 : Achilles Street

In May 2016, Lewisham Council unveiled its plans to redevelop the Achilles Street area. The Council is proposing to demolish all of the homes and local businesses in order to build high rise, high density housing in partnership with private developers.

Residents of the existing low-rise housing in Achilles Street have got together with the other residents and businesses affected by the re-development proposals to oppose the plans. You can follow their story on the Achilles Street Stop and Listen Campaign website, or see their Facebook page.

Lewisham's proposals can be found here. The options originally presented to residents in the preceding months can be found on page 7. However, the only option now being considered is demolition.

Retain current estate – this would cause no disruption to residents and businesses but would not create any new homes:

Infill & refurbishment – much less disruption, with up to 25 new homes:

Redevelopmentdemolition of all homes and businesses (except The Venue) to build "at least double the number of council homes, other 'affordable housing' and 'quality' student homes" (numbers unspecified):

Funny how any social housing next to a park is seen as ripe for redevelopment. Naturally the scheme includes a tower block that will afford wonderful views across Fordham Park and central London which will undoubtedly be private.

The other 7-storey blocks next to the park are claimed to also have these views, though the drawings show them only having views of each other. Existing residents will have no choice about where they'll be rehoused – it will be in the 7 storey block on the road at the far end of the park, with a lovely view of the railway.

Obviously, campaigners would prefer the 'infill and refurbishment' option, but argue that Lewisham has not spent any money on working up costs and plans for that option.

They say the existing 87 council homes (the Council says there are only 55) are structurally sound and meet the Council's 'Decent Homes' standard, but are suffering from 'managed decline' through a failure of Lewisham Homes to spend on maintenance, repairs and pest control (the Council insists the buildings attract vermin because they're old). The lack of spending on maintenance became highly apparent after a recent FoI request revealed that income for 4 blocks in the last 6 years in rent and service charges totalled £2,601,009, but in the same period only £238,899 has been spent on repairs and maintenance.

Campaigners have drawn up a Fact Sheet to make their case. They argue that the Council's plan to destroy homes, livelihoods and the local community will do nothing to address the shortage of council housing in Lewisham because the vast majority of the new homes (currently estimated to be between 350 to 450) will be private, for sale and rent at market rates. In other words the ratio of social housing to private dwellings in the borough will actually decrease as more of the latter are being built. See the Council's response to the Fact Sheet here.

After several delays (creating enormous insecurity for residents and businesses), the plans are to be presented to Mayor & Cabinet on November 15th.

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