Monday 1 March 2021

Albany Theatre garden earmarked for construction in new local plan

Deptford's Albany Theatre and its back garden are earmarked for construction of more than a hundred new flats in the new Lewisham local plan, the document which sets out the council's planning strategy for the next two decades and which is out for consultation at the moment.

The Albany is being put forward for 'comprehensive mixed use development' which would see the theatre retained, but with residential accommodation built above and behind it, including on the rear garden which includes more than half a dozen mature trees.

In happier times, when the cafe at the Albany is open, this garden is probably Deptford's best kept secret for a quiet coffee/beer and sandwich in the sun. It's a little overgrown and has never really been used to best advantage by the facility, but it is a delightful oasis of calm especially on the busy market days we hope to see return again soon.  

If the draft plan is adopted, it will formalise the plans that the Albany has been talking about for more than a decade now - most recently in February last year. 

While there is no planning application yet submitted for the Albany, having the land included as a 'site allocation' in the local plan essentially enshrines the case its development and sets out the density and type of development that the council would support within the boundaries.

According to the document, the Albany site on Douglas Way is suitable for up to 102 residential units on an area of land measuring just over 0.6 hectares. 

You can get an idea of the kind of density this represents by taking a look at the development that is just nearing completion on Amersham Vale opposite the police station. This has 120 residential units on around 0.7 hectares, which doesn't include the small park adjacent to it and also doesn't have to accommodate a theatre and 'town centre' uses at ground level. 

In consultation up to now, the Albany has said it will retain 'outside space' in the development, but it seems unlikely there will be room for anything like the size of what's there now.

The Albany land is just one of 18 'site allocations' being proposed for the North Lewisham area, which covers Evelyn and New Cross wards. The majority of those listed have been in the pipeline for at least a decade but the Albany is one of a number of new sites, alongside several which have been planned for redevelopment but which the revised document proposes can accommodate increased density of development. 

I'll be writing more about the draft local plan in the coming days, but if you want to comment on it I suggest you start reading now - the full consultation document is 870 pages long, it's one of a number of documents, and you only have until 11th April to comment. 

You can either submit your comments via the Commonplace platform that the council uses for a lot of its consultation, or you can just download the documents from the council website or Commonplace, and send your comments in by email or post. 

The council is also holding a series of 'information sessions' on Zoom for which registration is necessary - those focussing on the borough-wide issues have already taken place although the recordings are being uploaded to a YouTube channel here and the slides are available on the Commonplace website here.

Sessions focussing on the five 'character areas' of the borough, which include the specific site allocations, run over the next few weeks and require advance registration. Just in case you fancy a bit more screen time in between work and home schooling.