Earlier today, I wrote a letter to the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, to request a meeting to discuss the planning application for Convoys Wharf.
The Mayor ‘called in’ the planning decision back in November 2013 following a request from the developer, Hutchison Whampoa, meaning he is now the decision maker and not the Council.
The Council was negotiating hard with the developer to ensure that the community benefits from the development. But by asking the Mayor of London to take over the decision, our ability to ensure the development provides the affordable homes and school places Lewisham needs has been taken away.
The Council’s Strategic Planning Committee met earlier this month to agree the Council’s formal response to the Mayor. Whilst the Committee supported the principle of mixed use development of the site, it did not consider that it should be approved in its current form and suggested that you seek a number of amendments which would ensure that the local community benefits from the development.
The letter I sent today presses the importance of community infrastructure to the local area, and I have urged the Mayor to make sure the developer includes GP facilities, funding for additional secondary school capacity, jobs and training for local people and open space.
I also expressed concern that the current planning application does not reflect the historical significance of the site. The site is the location of the former Deptford Royal Dockyard, which was founded by Henry VIII. It was the place where Sir Frances Drake was knighted by Elizabeth I, and was the location of Charles II great ship building programme. The site housed John Evelyn at Sayes Court and his magnificent gardens, which, centuries later, inspired the establishment of the National Trust.
I am sympathetic to proposals which would include an expanded Sayes Court Garden and the Build the Lennox project. The proposed approach to Sayes Court fails to provide a meaningful green link between the site of the Gardens with the remains of Sayes Court House. The council believes that the opportunity to link these two historically significant spaces should be fully explored.
I hope I will get the opportunity to discuss these issues, along with others raised by the Strategic Planning Committee, with the Mayor.