But if you want to comment don't let this put you off; the planning officers will accept feedback right up to the time the application is considered by the strategic planning committee, although the sooner you get your comments in, the more likely they are to impact on the final report.
As always, don't forget to copy your comments to your local councillors, as well as members of the strategic planning committee, whose details can be found here. Objections and other feedback is usually summed up by the planning officers for the purpose of the report, so it has a more direct impact if you copy it to the councillors themselves (assuming they read it of course!).
|What kind of trees are those? Monster trees?!|
The 16-storey building has been put at the corner of the site, apparently after a series of pre-application meetings with council planners and feedback from the design review panel, much of which is detailed in the design & access statement if you want to read it. There's a lot of focus on how the buildings reached their final positions and layouts, but little on how they reached their final heights, which I would have been more interested to hear.
As usual there seems to have been no consideration as to what is appropriate in terms of building heights for the area, with developers always benchmarking their proposals against the tallest examples they can find. It would be so refreshing to read a design statement explaining how the architects had put together a masterplan that respected the four-storey neighbouring residences rather than ones that competed with a series of blocks three streets away. They nearly always try to justify towers as creating 'landmarks' and 'way finders' but fail to acknowledge that it's going to be impossible to identify one from the other when they are all the same height and block views of anything but the street and the nearest facade.
|View from Deptford Creek - the white block on the left is the building currently housing Jones Furniture|
In the case of this application, the height of the buildings is my biggest gripe, mainly due to the impacts they are going to have on the neighbouring land, in particular the public spaces and parks which will suffer much greater shadowing as a result. But is there any process for measuring this loss of amenity? Some of the flats on Crossfields estate will also lose light as a result of the tower and they have a case for objecting - ultimately though the greater good of building more housing will no doubt prevail over the quiet enjoyment of a handful of residents.
|The view along Creekside with the three-storey Cockpit Arts in the foreground. More monster trees!|
Just one more word about scale: the elevation above, which is looking directly at Kent Wharf from the Deptford High St direction, is useful in that it shows the scale of the smallest buildings - you will have to peer on the extreme right of the image where you can see the Cockpit Arts studios coming into view. And below is a mock-up of the scheme in situ, although the only item for scale here is the shelter in Ferranti Park.
I put this rendering in to show the view from street level, although it was cropped in the report, preventing me from enjoying the full rearing presence of the main tower. The inclusion of only two cars makes it look very weird, especially without any of the double parking that's usually rife along this stretch of Creekside.
Which brings me to traffic and parking.
The development includes just three car parking spaces, which I welcome wholeheartedly. The cycle parking provision is not as good as it could be, but still generous. Of course the lack of parking will encourage the new residents to use the surrounding streets - already heavily overloaded both in daytime with local workers and commuters and overnight with residents - making the introduction of a controlled parking zone inevitable. However the site's proximity to the boundary with Greenwich will need the two to work together if this is going to be successful. According to the transport assessment, residents of the new blocks will not be eligible to apply for parking permits if and when a CPZ is introduced.
Construction traffic is stacking up to be a major problem on Creekside - not necessarily due to this development, but the cumulative impact of the multiple developments that are expected to move to construction shortly. Everyone makes noises about using Deptford Creek for material deliveries and spoil removal, but no-one has made any effort to actually put it into practice.
Don't forget the Thames Tunnel shaft is expected to start construction some time soon, requiring Deptford Church Street to be shut down to just two lanes for a period of three years, and requiring a predicted 140 vehicle movements per day. Faircharm redevelopment is estimated to require 180 vehicle movements per day so Kent Wharf's 20 vehicles (or 40 vehicle movements) is a mere drop in the ocean. But with the two sites next to Creekside Village having applications pending, not to mention Convoys Wharf, we look set to be dodging HGVs for the next five years or more.
I was particularly confused to read that construction traffic is only being allowed to come via the A2 because the lifting bridge on Creek Road is dodgy (er, get it fixed? It has no weight limit posted as far as I can see).
The travel plan suggests construction traffic should turn along Creekside at the Birds Nest roundabout which seems like a particularly risky route - not only will traffic be snarled up by the heavy parking that Creekside endures, but it will direct traffic along a quite major cycling route. HGVs and cycles? Rarely ends well.
I also gave a hollow laugh when I read that construction workers would not be allowed to park on the roads in the vicinity, and this would be policed by the contractor. The shambolic situation on Norman Road and surrounds (cars parked halfway up the Ha'penny Hatch footpath) when the Movement was being built was brought to mind, and the efforts and nagging I know people had to exert to get the situation resolved to any extent. It's a fine aim but in my opinion not worth the paper it's written on - many subcontractors are expected to bring their own tools and equipment and in practice I cannot see how this can be imposed.
One of the positives aspects which the design review process seems to have brought to this development is accessibility to the creek and some level of permeability on the site. A new path will open up access to the Creek, and presumably link into one alongside the Laban (otherwise it will be an utterly pointless dead end).
From the ground floor plan (above) you might be forgiven for thinking it is three buildings but in fact the two on Creekside are actually linked about ground floor level (see below)
A walkway leads into what they are classifying as 'semi-private' space - on paper a nice idea but even in this rendering I can't help wondering what those shady-looking characters are doing hanging about in the underpass.