Friday 9 July 2010

Convoy's wharf revised proposals

If you made it to the Convoy's Wharf public consultation you may well, like myself, have been underwhelmed by the display materials available.

Aside from half a dozen boards made up mostly of the stuff on the website, there was a 3D model that had no labels on it and could only be interpreted in conversation with one of the staff (who were also rather unhelpfully unlabelled!).

A lot of information of interest to local residents (such as the heights of the proposed buildings, the number of car parking spaces, the access to the riverfront, school facilities etc) could only be discovered by asking. In short, the material available was conspicuous by its paucity.

Many people were looking for answers and not shy in demanding them - although due to the limited number of staff available, it was not easy for everyone to get their questions answered. As is usually the case with this kind of public consultation set-up, the more vocal members of the public tended to dominate, even those who regarded it as an opportunity to vent their spleen rather than acquire information.

The plan above has been annotated with some relevant information that I managed to wring out of those present. In addition to the statistics I included on the previous post (and a lot of the information from last year's site visit), the changes I noted were as follows:

1. The 'working wharf' area has been relocated to the west end of the site. This is in order to free up the area where the double dry dock is located, which will be developed into some kind of public area. Don't get too excited - they don't propose to excavate it and reinstate it (apparently this might damage the remains) but they are suggesting creating some kind of landscaping to reflect the significance of the site, along with a small area of park to the south of the Shipwright's Palace. This will have the benefit of enabling as much of the riverfront path to be opened up as possible, and is intended to create a much more sympathetic setting for the Shipwright's Palace.

2. The number of residential properties remains the same - 3,500 proposed, with just 25% of these intended for the 'affordable' market. It's a shamefully low percentage even by the standards of London developments. And of course, affordable is a movable concept depending very much on individual circumstances. It's debatable whether your average Deptford resident currently living in rented accommodation and wanting to buy a home would be able to afford one of the Convoy's Wharf 'affordable' homes. None of which will be in the blocks with the riverside views, I would hazard a cynical guess at. How many of these affordable homes will be suitable for families is yet to be seen.

3. A site for a school has been included in the plan (although with the government's current budget for school building this might be shelved before it even gets to the planning stage!). This has been located right next to Sayes Court Park with the suggestion that a connection through to the park could be included.

4. The number of car parking spaces has been reduced slightly compared to the previous number. So instead of 2,500 parking spaces, there will be 2,300 - just less than 2,000 for residents, the rest for visitors. One of the staff pointed out that the car parking areas would be hidden in ground-level parking areas in between the blocks, with landscaped roofs. Hidden or not, they still have to get in and out of the site, and it's still a hell of a lot of cars.

5. The exhibition did have additional information about the archaeological excavations that were carried out - given the significance of the site this should be an important and thorough part of the pre-construction work. A full report will be submitted with the planning application, we were told. At the moment there are brief details on the website.

6. The proposed public square in front of the Olympia warehouse has been split into two smaller areas on advice from an independent reviewer. This is intended to offer more appropriately-sized public spaces and reduce the risk of them becoming desolate, unused areas - a good revision in my opinion. Unfortunately they are still penned in by two huge tower blocks, which I predict will create serious wind-tunnel problems for these public areas in such an exposed location.

7. Ah yes, the building heights. Nothing has changed on these - the proposed construction still consists of three massive tower blocks (highest one about 46 storeys) and a series of blocks which themselves range in height from 4 to 16 storeys. Just to put this in perspective, the monster being built at the Old Seager Distillery is miniscule 26 storeys. Aragon tower on the waterfront is 29 storeys high.

Assuming that the storeys are approximately the same height, the main tower on Convoy's Wharf will be about the height of the Nat West Tower and just a bit lower than Canary Wharf Tower. The true impact that this development is going to have on the homes of the adjoining Pepys estate can only be guessed at by studying the model and assessing the difference in height between the proposed blocks and the existing ones. On the model, the existing blocks are totally overwhelmed by the new blocks. It is not an attractive prospect for those living nearby, either in terms of overshadowing and loss of light, or in terms of privacy.

8. Just one final comment for now. Don't be fooled by all the green space on the plan - much of this is private gardens located on the top of the parking garages between the blocks and will be for residents only.

The application for outline planning permission is expected to be submitted in the next couple of weeks. I hope to bring you further analysis and information once it is available.

If anyone else picked up additional information at the consultation, or if I have missed anything, please feel free to add it in the comments.


CarolineLD said...

Thank you so much for all this info: these consultations always seem to coincide with my holidays. The height comparison is very useful - and alarming.

Gareth Gardner said...

My guess is that the buildings might be a little bit lower than this - although only a bit - as I believe storey heights tend to be a little bit less than for commercial buildings (you don't tend to have the raised floors or suspended ceilings).

Whether or not, it's shameful that a consultation exercise like this isn't bound to provide clear information on the heights of buildings. It's all smoke and mirrors - like the image on their website which is panoramic and thus cuts off the tops of the towers so you can't see how bloody tall they are!

Chris said...

Thanks for this post DD, I was away and unfortunately missed the consultation.