Friday, 22 July 2011

Seager Distillery art gallery under threat

I'm sure many of you consider me an old cynic when it comes to developers and their particular visions for Deptford. And I worry that there seem to be a lot of people out there of the opinion that because Deptford is a poor and deprived area, any manner of improvement (for this read 'construction of new buildings/facilities') should be applauded and is almost certainly more than we deserve.

I'm afraid I don't subscribe to this view, and luckily I'm not alone in this. I can't see why we should settle for anything less than state of the art - of course mostly we do have to settle for something less, but there's no harm in setting your standards high in the first place. Set them at mediocre or low and there's nothing to aim for - and developers will soon exploit this lack of concern even further.

Unfortunately my cynical attitude is regularly reinforced by experience, and a recent application for a revision to the original planning permission by the developers of the Seager Distillery has continued that trend. 

The developer was originally granted planning permission to convert the old distillery building that fronts on to Deptford Broadway into a ground-floor art gallery and six floors of office space.

But now they are claiming that they've had no interest in the office space, but have been approached by a hotel chain wanting space for a four star hotel with 90 rooms.

The old distillery building would be perfect, if it weren't for that pesky art gallery on the ground floor which is putting the mockers on the plans.

Easy; just shift it round the corner into the ground floor of the newbuild on Brookmill Road.

So rather than giving it the promised high-profile location on a major traffic route, and the opportunity to signal Deptford's art credentials to the wider world, the developers want to tuck the gallery out of sight in a smaller, uninspiring space with limited marketing potential.

It's not difficult to see why the developers want to change the office space to hotel space - and pronto if they intend to cash in on the Olympics of course, as I think it will take some clever marketing to sell rooms in a 4* hotel on Deptford Broadway under normal circumstances - but it really should not be done at the cost of the gallery space, which after all is one of the few benefits that the local community will gain from the development.

If you wish to object to this application, you can find the documents here by searching for the application number DC/11/76500/X.

Objections should be sent as soon as possible, the target date for a decision is 3 August.


Anonymous said...

Paynes and Borthwick development will be watching this space.....

Anonymous said...

Any suggestions on what the best topic to concentrate on in the objection to make it more valid?

Deptford Dame said...

If you wish to email me I will forward some suggestions. Email address is in the panel on the right.

darryl said...

Interesting - there's already a Travelodge being built the other side of Deptford Bridge, the last bit of the Deals Gateway/OneSE8 development. Greenwich Council's very eager to see new hotels in the area, would Lewisham be as receptive?

Sue said...

Why can't the hotel go on top of the art gallery? Perhaps the hotel entrance can be via a new walkway direct to the DLR since the hotel owners obviously expect their guests to be using it and unlikely to be trying to cross one of the worst junctions in the UK to get to the high street.

Keith said...

Move around the corner is only the half of it!  The current consented proposals were for a double height display space with galleries at ground AND first floors.  The new idea would leave us with a bland single story office type space which I fear will eventually be let as offices (because galleries won't want it) and we will have lost it
forever. There is only one objection registered on the Lewisham planning website (mine). We will need at least 3 objections for the case to be decided upon by the planning committee.  At the planning committee hearing, objectors get an opportunity to state their case and appeal to the councillors present.  Otherwise, if there are less than 3 objections the case will be decided internally by the
overworked planning officers.