Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Tidemill School & Amersham Vale redevelopments go to committee

Contentious plans to redevelop the old Tidemill School, gardens and adjacent housing on Reginald Road are due to go before Lewisham's strategic planning committee this Thursday 29th at the civic suite in Catford. Objectors will be present at the meeting both outside the building, where they intend to stage a peaceful protest, and inside where they will speak out against the plans and ask for the decision to be deferred.

At the same meeting the committee will consider plans for the associated development at Amersham Vale, on the site of the former Deptford Green School.

I've written about Tidemill before, causing a bit of a hoo-hah by revealing that the claims the council was making for the number of social/affordable housing units the development would deliver were overstated.

The council responded with a statement which you can read at the bottom of the original post, but my point is still valid. The current application for Tidemill is for 209 units; 175 private and just 34 'affordable', not the 78 that the council is trumpeting. The mix that the council is shouting about will only happen if the developer manages to access some mysterious, unspecified 'grant' funding which will subsidise it.

As the committee report states: 'The delivery of this uplift in affordable units is dependent on grant funding being secured by the applicant.' 

While the agreement commits the developer to make 'reasonable endeavours' to secure this unspecified funding, I am sure there are many circumstances beyond the developer's control that could derail the process. It's great to be optimistic but the council's statement that this development 'will provide' 37% affordable housing looks a little threadbare.

There have been a great many objections to the redevelopment plans, including anger at the loss of the green space of the former school grounds; objections to the height, proximity and overlooking/overshadowing impact the new blocks will have on existing housing such as Frankham House and Princess Louise Building; complaints about the lack of consultation from residents of the Reginald Road housing whose block is to be demolished; objections to the creation of gated public space; concern about the demolition of the caretakers house (the smaller building next to the school) and so on.

Some of these objections have been addressed, with the revised application showing amendments to certain blocks to reduce the proximity to existing buildings, and some of the overlooking issues. But objectors say that loss of light and overshadowing is still a major issue.

The loss of the gardens will mean quite a significant habitat reduction in the centre of Deptford. While we have plenty of public space, much of it is hard landscaping with trees, which is of limited interest to wildlife. The open space that will replace the Tidemill garden will also feature a lot of hard landscaping and a few manicured lawns - a pitiful substitute for the existing sprawl of green.

Over at the Amersham Vale site it's a similar story in terms of affordable housing. The proposed development will create 120 flats in blocks of up to five storeys high. Of these 120, only 19 will be for shared ownership/social rent - again the council is banking on the developer being able to achieve grant funding to subsidise additional 'affordable' units and improve this ratio from 16% to 32%. If the grant is not forthcoming, the ratio will remain pisspoor.

The proposed buildings take up half the site - the remainder now being occupied by the newly-built Charlottenburg Park, itself intended to compensate for the part of Fordham Park that was annexed for outdoor space for the relocated Deptford Green School.

As the officers report points out, the arrangement of the blocks is sufficiently cramped/awkward that some of the new units are overshadowed by their neighbours, and four of them will not receive any direct sunlight in the winter. There is also one living-room window that will not receive the required level of daylight - let's hope the resident is a night worker.

With these two developments on the table and scrutiny of Lewisham's planning process currently rather keen, it will be interesting to see how the meeting on Thursday pans out. I doubt it will be dull, so if you are keen to find out more about how the planning process works without having to stick pins in your eyes to keep yourself awake, this is probably the meeting to go to.


Anonymous said...

I think you mean the relocated Deptford Green school, rather than Park

Deptford Dame said...

Doh, I seem to have a bit of a mental block on that one, although I did get it right on one of the two mentions! I've corrected it now thanks.

Si Spurrier said...

Interested to learn more about parking plans and construction-vehicle access plans for the Tidemill Dev. Reginald Road is already chaotic when it comes to parking (some of the bays are unregulated, some are permit-only, some appear to've been earmarked for permits but nobody ever got around to fitting the signs to the otherwise pointless signpoles). In recent months there's been a huge influx in cars using the unregulated spaces along Reginald Square (I can't figure out why there's been a sudden spike - did some other unregulated spaces gets shut down recently?). Previously Reginald Square was only crazy-busy on market days, but now there are ludicrous scenes literally every day: cars parked on verges, pavements, corners, endless minor scrapes and scratches as vans nudge through narrow gaps, etc. I can't imagine the new development will do much to alleviate any of this. Presumably the existing spaces on both sides of Reginald Road will be ditched during some or all of the construction, so cars will inevitably migrate round the corner to Reginald Square. Fun times ahead.

Deptford Dame said...

I can only assume the spaces are being used by trade workers on Kent Wharf and Faircharm developments on Creekside. Construction impact planning tends to focus on the number of deliveries/vehicles to and from the site, and ignore the fact that the chippies, electricians, plasterers etc all bring their own equipment and often drive to the site so they then have to find somewhere to park.

Unknown said...

That unambitious social housing target which can only be improved if the developer accesses the unspecified 'grant' is interesting and dishonest. Is it the case that if the developer doesn't make any attempt to access the magic grant then further units are not allocated as social/affordable? Developers hate social housing (see poor doors and marketing abroad boasting 'no social housing'). Why would they even try and get the grant?

Got my Labour election leaflet in the door (Evelyn) with some vague reference to fighting the "Tory Cuts". Is this housing/planning situation not withing the control of the LABOUR council? The Millwall CPO situation is very fishy indeed. Labour councillors and mayor very friendly with developers. Can we trust them? I'm not sure.

Big shame for Tidemill. It's a pity the garden wasn't more accessible to everyone and turned into a community park. The campaign might have had more traction. Reality is they did good events but for a lot of the same people. I enjoyed them but many people don't even know it's there. Good luck with the fight on that.