Objections to planning application for Convoys Wharf, Deptford, SE8


Ref: Application No.


Introductory statement

The proposals put forward do not reflect any of the consultations with local people. When this question was put to the architects they used the argument that they would make use of existing nearby facilities on Sayes Court and Pepys estate, which could have the effect of taking over these facilities has the number of new dwellings proposed is 3500.

Disagree with the proposed 'recycling plant' as Deptford already has the SELCHP, scrap metal recycling on Pepys estate, recycling in Deptford High Street, plus other recycling plants. Isn't it time to say that we have sufficient already in Deptford without putting more on to Convoys?

What is required is places to work - that employ more than 50 people - not small workunits with few employees that have no scope to expand in the future.

What is missing in general are features like a primary school, a secondary school, places for the community to meet, primary health care, sports facilities of the larger scale, e.g, football, rugby, cricket, athletics, etc (both outdoor and indoor). The existing local facilities will not be able to cope with the vast increase in population, and therefore demand, if this proposal were to go forward.

We support the Convoys Opportunity Groups' ideas around re-introducing an active marine environment including a cruise liner terminal. This will complement the range of skill levels required to generate a wide range of employment opportunities for existing local people - unskilled, semi-skilled, and skilled.

There should be an increase in the proportion of 'affordable housing', above 35%, because of the high degree of people on the waiting list for accommodation. With a genuine allocation of positioning throughout the site to mix the community together, not isolate one income bracket alongside another. A definition of 'affordable housing' needs to be stated.

There needs to be genuine activities to attract people to visit the site many many times over. Not just features of limited use and focused on particular sections of the population - the economically better off.

The local community have not yet heard from the Council what objections they have to the proposal, which needs to be made evident before any proposal goes to outline planning.


1 Planning policy,

The proposal has the wrong vision for the site.

Under the 1947 Planning Act it is designated as 100% 'employment'. We believe that employment should be encouraged, again, on the site. in the past Deptford was self-sufficient in employment.

The following quotes are indicative of the proposed vision, each of which is disagreed with :

"Changes in the economics and technology of river based industry has meant a steady desertion of Convoys style wharf facilities now largely obsolete for modern large scale commercial use" - Page 42.

"... the proposals are for a rich mix of overlapping high density uses in accordance with the Urban Task Force recommendations" - Page 43.

"In addition making provision for major new industrial wharf/recycling/manufacturing facilities the employment elements will respond to strong local demand for small scale work units and business start up facilities" - Page 43.

Yet there is no proposal for any large/significant single public green space - such as a park of fullsize football pitch, or half size football pitch. Instead at least 10 isolated green spaces surrounded on all sides by buildings.

"Three residential towers marking the three principal routes ... placed in strategic positions to avoid St Pauls view corridor ..." - Page 48.

Main square - "The historic basin adjoining the Olympia building is conceived as a central water feature echoing the original Kings Yard dock on the site" - not connected to river or proper marine use. Alongside a hard surface square ... the 'Deptford piazza'.

Olympia, as proposed, is disconnected from the real activities it was designed for, here made into a sterile exhibition container alongside two disconnected 'ornamental ponds'.

Bulk of 'massing' of the main 'low' buildings alongside wharf stifle human activity. Need to be opened up by a more versatile design features, e.g, leaning away from the river bank, openings, features, transparency. Refer model Page 56.

Multi-level wharf for recycling from barges/containers wrong focus of activity on this principal frontage. Should be more imaginative/picturesque use such as cruise liner terminal, tall ship (historical) moorings, regular river and sea going vessel moorings. With associated facilities to generate marine-based employment.

A series of huddled self defensive housing sections of flats with interior green squares - resemble fortress constructions. Which completely contrasts with the open and permeable park spaces on the adjacent Pepys estate and the surrounding Sayes Court estate. Private courtyards. Page 58.

The site has had shipbuilding since 1420. In period 1513-1869 a Royal Naval Dockyard. This covers a period of Tudor, Stuart, Georgian and Victorian. Yet the only new water usage in this proposal is a formal pond to 'recall' a mast pond or dock - not actually a real one! - Page 63.

Canals - north side adjacent to Pepys - ornamental again? Why not link a real canal structure to connect back to the SELCHP plant?

Scattering of informal water courses and small ponds. All ornamental and a maintenance problem for the future.

Grove Street entrance to site - forms arrowhead of access road that meets extended High Street into site. Page 68.

Density of buildings onsite is 'borrowing' green park open land access and benefit from Pepys parks, Upper and Lower, and Sayes Court Gardens.

The whole development of the site is over-controlled urban design - no ability for nature to really establish itself, it is only allowed in enclosed squares surrounded by high density housing. No free expression of green spaces, no naturally occurring lines, no wild life areas, no linking together, no permeability from one to the other.

The one exampled rare species of bird - the black redstart - will not inhabit this type of urban area as it is known as a shy, retiring species, that makes its home in quiet and 'abandoned' areas, with little effective trespass by people. Here there is no escape for such wild life from people.

No creative use is proposed for the water features, canals and marine life park - as recently exampled at nearby Greenwich and Woolwich, re-establishing reed beds, etc.

No walkways around and through these features, and building housing near to water edgings, to soften urban impact.

Why do modern architects have only one 'string to their bow' when it comes to landmark buildings? To build tower blocks! As exampled in the 3 extremely tall towers!

Why not a thrilling horizontal building on the site of the Tudor warehouse only demolished in the 1950's (which today would not have been allowed! Today we would celebrate and preserve!) . For example this building would have been more impressive than the Mumford Flour Mill being restored at Deptford Bridge.

Why not innovative buildings and structures that have a real marine purpose about them - the history - a housing purpose - the need - an employment purpose - the requirement - a community and recreational purpose - to serve local people?

Why close down the skyline views for those on the ground by imposing 3 very tall towers on it?

It does little to take us forward in urban design, as this could be built anywhere, as it now commonly is. It has no uniqueness to the site. Which is on a part of the former Royal Naval Dockyard.

The diversity of cultures in the Evelyn Ward of Lewisham indicates that the extant tenant profile has over 45% of the population on the made up of BME groups. There is a need to integrate these residents into the everyday life on the site or there is a real danger that half the population will remain isolated from it and unable to contribute.
Further figures showing in excess of 30% unemployed with 50% of households claiming housing benefit give a clear indication to the economic status of many of the residents in the adjacent area.

The policies and proposals in the Lewisham UDP (1992) ... in summary ... seek to :

1 - Protect the principal areas of open space.
2 - Protect and enhance the Thames Walk.
3 - Ensure that archaeological remains are preserved and recorded.
4 - Prevent new high-rise development.
5 - Retain the existing employment generating uses.

Yet there is no community benefit in this proposal for Convoys site by a private developer,

Whatever happened to "preventing new high rise development" from the UDP quoted above?

Policy HSG 20 relates to the density of new residential development and states that they should to be built within a density range of 70-80 habitable rooms per acre. The policy sets out a number of exceptions to the policy where higher densities can be acceptable in certain cases. One of the exceptions set out in the policy is the River Thames frontage at Deptford where higher densities may be acceptable subject to compliance with HSG 19.

Clearly this is being offered as an exception for the redevelopment programme as a whole, as density is being unnecessarily increased.

It is not clear in this submission what the actual densities are to be. This may be deliberate to obscure.

What percentage of 'affordable housing'? ... 35% to 50% ...? How is 'affordable housing defined?


3 Site layout

This proposal will be over development of the site for high value housing and not reflect its employment and history.

Car parking is proposed to be underground ..... contrasts with recent planning approvals of Pepys .....

Open spaces and river views are not exploited in visual terms, and the 3 very tall towers will dominate the visual horizon for the immediate site, and all around.

What is the number of proposed car parking spaces?

The income level of the new residents mitigates to more than one car per unit occupied. So where will the actual overflow of the new private occupiers cars, and their visiting cars, be located?

An indicative Increase in pollution from several sources, e.g, car exhaust, noise, increased volume of use, etc, for all new properties as they will have a new access roads built, themselves accessed through nearby quiet residential back streets.

Potential for reduction of 'defensible space' for nearby properties, as they will be located alongside any intended access roads into the site, rather than the existing very local estate access roads and walkways, giving rise to more opportunities for crime.

'Play safe' areas for children and young adults adjacent to the existent dwellings are not indicated, and may eliminated by the new access roads and car parking. Supervision needed is increased and safety jeopardised.

Higher buildings will be out of character in architectural style sight line to the Foreshore - which is of historical significance as a Grade II listed building. As well as the Greenwich historical buildings.

Interfere with the wind turbulence for those around by being very tall with up to 50 storey.

The river Thames is an open 'wind tunnel' for London. The very tall towers will effect this distribution.

Sight lines to the river will be blocked by very high buildings adjacent to the Thames shoreline.

Very tall buildings will cast a longer shadow over adjacent properties at certain times of the day.

Object to this planning application as a whole as being wrong in itself (for reasons given above).


4 Effect on Neighbouring Property

The increased height. This will diminish, not enhance, the vision and airiness in the local area such as Pepys and Trinity estates. Which is rare and should be celebrated. It is all too easy to lose the advantages that already exist.


5 Effect on Surrounding Area

The proposed exterior treatment is a stark modern style, out of keeping with the historical and listed buildings on nearby Pepys estate like the Foreshore, The Terrace, and the Colanade. As well as the 1960's buildings. The 3 very tall towers would be prominent, especially from the public ground level, and visually damaging to the overall context and landscape.

The development could attract more heavy commercial traffic to have access to what is a uniquely envisaged pedestrian and extensively landscaped area. It would destroy the vision of a breath of air and light brought through the site to all its surrounding from the nearby river Thames.


6 Conclusion

This proposal does not recognise the need for successful employment regeneration in the area to meet the needs of a largely disadvantaged local community. It does not recognise the real historical significance if the site - only in a 'tokenised' way, not a 'living' way. It does not recognise the need to bring back genuine and sustainable marine based activities to a site that has a unique geography to do exactly that.

The redevelopment proposal as a whole gives nothing back to the community as a benefit. No Section 106 agreement benefit indication from what may amount to a 1bn development scheme, in the socially deprived Evelyn Ward, at a time of housing shortage.


Lewisham Planning Service is urged to take account of these. and other comments, in forming a better way forward for any proposal for the Convoys site

The content of this information has come from our regular contact with local people.


Tenants Action Group, Pepys - TAG.