Following deferral of a decision on this application back in December, the Strategic Planning Committee unanimously rejected a scheme to build 345 homes on the former car park of Tesco next to the DLR line in Lewisham, including a 34-storey tower. Despite addition of a public viewing platform open at least 10 days a year, the applicant, Meyer Homes, failed to convince the Committee that the public benefit of the development justified the height – well above the current ‘datum line’ for the town centre - and the impact of the proposed tower on the local skyline and at ground level. Doubts were expressed about the adequacy of proposed access to and management of the viewing platform and its limited facilities. Concerns were also expressed about the type and quantity of affordable homes (20%), the plans for naturalisation of the river at an unspecified and uncertain future date, and the adequacy of access from the development site to the already overcrowded station and to bus services. As the applicant had failed to address adequately the concerns raised in December, the Committee felt it had no option but to reject the whole scheme.
This sequence of events echoes what happened to Gateway Phase 2 first time round: it was deferred then rejected last year, leading to a new and better application that was finally approved in February this year. No doubt we will see Meyer Homes return with amended plans which will doubtless get approved eventually, but hopefully they will be more sensitive to local needs and concerns.
Objectors (including again the Blackheath Society) and councillors are to be congratulated on a thorough debate of all the relevant issues and for rejecting a scheme that was not in the best interests of Lewisham and its residents. The Society is in favour of development of this underutilised site for mixed residential purpose, but it is good to see that concerns about the local skyline and about overcrowding and poor access at Lewisham station, a major and growing transport hub, are being taken seriously, along with the need to provide more affordable homes for Lewisham residents.