Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Deptford news roundup

A few short items of news that have made it on to the Deptford radar; firstly the news that the Olympic flame will be travelling along Deptford High Street on Monday 23 July, although the organisers seem to have baulked at taking it past our betting shop cluster; the torch bearer will come up from Evelyn Street and then turn along Giffin Street past the Deptford Lounge before heading off to the Stephen Lawrence Centre and on to Lewisham.

The torch, which is made of gold-coloured aluminium alloy pierced with 8,000 holes (to represent the number of torch bearers and the number of miles of the route), should feel quite an affinity with the Deptford Lounge. Perhaps one was inspired by the other? It's all the rage these days, seen locally not just on our new library but also on the ugly new buildings at Greenwich Pier which make the Deptford Lounge look quite classy.

In the meantime and on a more mundane level, over at Deptford Misc, Bill reports that Lewisham Council has launched a consultation on the scoping report that will set out the methodology by which the sustainability appraisal will be carried out. This is part of the process for developing the Deptford Creekside Supplementary Planning Document. The document will set out the council's key considerations for future development within Deptford
Creekside, and the policies it contains will be used to assess relevant planning applications.

The consultation document is here and the closing date for comments is 27 April.

Finally you may have read elsewhere that the Deptford Project was granted planning permission recently. I was present at the strategic planning committee meeting at which the decision was made, but I haven't written about it because I found it such a depressing, box-ticking experience.

The presentations from developer and architect included a lot of general flim flam about inspiration and creativity, and some vague comments about what's going to happen in the public realm outside the station which is currently under the control of Network Rail. Apparently negotiations for Cathedral Group/Lewisham Council to incorporate the station forecourt (and indeed the overlap at the top of the carriage ramp) into the rest of the new public realm of the carriage ramp are still ongoing. As yet the future of the Deptford Project train cafe is still in doubt as there is nowhere for it to move to, and the uncertainty about plans for the station forecourt, the first part of Deptford that arriving visitors will see, is worrying.

And scrutiny of the application by our elected representatives? There were extensive comments from councillors about the colour scheme, which seemed to preoccupy them so much that I found myself wondering if they'd actually studied the planning application or had they just looked at the pictures?

The developers were quizzed on how they were going to stop residents from putting bikes/windbreaks etc on their balconies and spoiling the look of the building (they can't but believe that providing lots of secure bike parking will minimise the problem) and how many parking spaces they were providing (the details are in the planning document, so this councillor clearly hadn't read it). One councillor was outspoken about the fact that she did not like the building and said that she found it 'arrogant'. But when it went to the vote a few minutes later, she still put her hand up with the rest of the committee.

Another councillor was scathing about the role of the Design Review Panel - a group of independent specialist design advisers who act in a voluntary capacity with the intention of promoting high standards of design in new developments. Such a dismissive attitude was highly inappropriate in this context, given that developers and architects were present among about 20 members of the public. I did wonder what sort of message this was giving to such developers: 'Don't worry about the design, we do have a Design Review Panel but we don't respect their opinions'.

I sincerely hope that this new development will make a positive impact on Deptford, despite its gaudy colours (I'm afraid the Resolution Way building has rather set a precedent in this regard) and its height (ditto the Distillery Tower), and that the new public realm design befits its high-profile location. While not being impressed by the scrutiny process, I'm afraid I was not entirely surprised by it.  

Anyone had the same/different experiences at strategic planning committees either in this borough or any other? Please feel free to share in the comments.

1 comment:

Delmin said...

Had v. similar experiences with Oxestalls Road, The Deptford Arms and the John Evelyn - seems people listen to yours views, then go quiet for ages, then get granted planning permission out of nowhere