Unspent Hospital Fighting Fund donated to charity

Remember the legal fight to save Lewisham Hospital? Lots of you sent money to Lewisham Council and said you wanted to help with our legal costs. We said that if we won and our costs had to met by the Secretary of State we would give the money to charity. We did win of course and we have given the money to a great local charity called Children First. Thanks to you the charity received £9,237 last week.

Childrens First donation

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Boris lets Deptford down at Convoys Wharf

I am disappointed that Boris Johnson did not see fit to make more significant alterations to the Convoys Wharf scheme to better address the real concerns of the local community.

However, the Mayor’s supportive comments about the heritage projects proposed for this historic site were more encouraging. I welcome the undertaking to jointly commission an independent feasibility study of the use of the Olympia Warehouse and Wharf as locations to build the Lenox and to achieve the meaningful incorporation of the Sayes Court Garden project.

Lewisham Council will now  be working hard to secure the best possible legal agreement that ensures the enduring legacy this site deserves and harnesses the energy and enthusiasm built up for the Lenox and Sayes Court projects.

 

When I spoke at yesterday’s hearing I set out the concerns of our community as follows:-

The importance of this site must not be underestimated – it is the largest development site in Lewisham occupying a prime riverside site of great historical significance.  If we get this wrong now we will not have such an opportunity again in our lifetimes. We want to see this site developed but our concerns are not minor issues which we can resolve or fix at a later stage – we must get them right now.

I will begin with the scale, massing and relationship of the proposals to the historic buildings and spaces.

The Olympia Warehouse is both a listed building and the only visible reminder within the site of its history.  We feel that the scale and position of the proposed buildings around it dominate it and in fact detract from its setting; In particular they will limit views of the building from the river and of the river from the building.

The heights of new buildings should be reduced and their siting changed to give it a generous and respectful setting, safeguarding views of the building, and allowing its connection with the river to be celebrated.

Sayes Court has inspired two of important developments in the history of our relationship with the natural world.  John Evelyn lived here and was one of the first to examine questions of the environment and sustainability – centuries later the National Trust came into being here.

As our school children know this was also the site of Henry VIII’s Dockyard – and shipbuilding continued on the site until the mid-19th century. There is now a unique opportunity to provide a real and visible link to that history through these projects.

The current scheme does not however provide either the space needed to deliver them or a commitment to ensure that they create an enduring legacy. We believe that minor changes are needed to the development parameters to allow for the meaningful incorporation of the Sayes Court Garden project. We welcome the undertaking to jointly commission an independent feasibility study of the use of the Olympia Warehouse and Wharf as locations to build the Lenox.  We are, however, disappointed that the possibility of a permanent home for the Lenox is not included.

The risk remains that these community projects will be shut out and the energy and enthusiasm they have generated will be lost.

I now refer to Transport and Access. New King Street connects Convoys Wharf with Deptford High Street and its station and will be the main walking route for people living on, working at and visiting the site. A clear, direct and safe crossing of Evelyn Street that prioritises pedestrians is critical to creating a useable connection.

We have serious doubts about TfL’s current assessment of the scheme in the absence of detailed traffic modelling and the current proposals fail to prioritise this important north-south route. We urge that finding a solution which includes a pedestrian phase at this junction be prioritised

We have looked very carefully at what is proposed by way of Community Benefits and Sustainability because this is a £1bn project with commensurate impacts on the local area.  Despite its history Deptford today is one of the most deprived parts of both Lewisham and London.

If the new Convoys Wharf is to become genuinely part of Deptford supporting social cohesion will be crucial and we look to the financial contributions through the s.106 agreement to make that possible. We believe that the current development is able to afford what are in any case modest increases in financial contributions of some £5m being proposed by the Council to match the commitments made by the previous owners of the site in 2005.

There is a great need in this area for affordable Housing and the scheme should be making a greater contribution – a financial review mechanism is essential to secure additional units as the viability improves.

We have the chance to develop a genuinely sustainable community at Convoys Wharf.  A few simple changes now that will in no way undermine or detract from the overall vision for the site will go a long way to ensuring that this vision becomes a reality rather than something future generations will see as a missed opportunity.  For that reason we urge you to take just a little more time to ensure that these issues can be addressed and resolved satisfactorily before giving your approval to the scheme.