Back in May 2017, Meyer Homes proposed building three blocks comprising 367 homes (including a 34 storey tower) on the former Tesco car park next to Lewisham station. This was rejected in April 2018 but a slightly revised scheme was narrowly approved by Lewisham’s new Strategic Planning Committee in December 2018. However, in an unexpected twist, the Greater London Authority (GLA) has now used its statutory powers to instruct Lewisham to reject the scheme they have approved on the grounds of insufficient affordable housing and inadequate viability review mechanisms. This is despite Meyer offering to increase the amount of affordable housing from 20% (73 units) to 25% (88 units) if the scheme was approved by 31 March. After that date, the scheme’s cost would rise because of a large increase in the rate of GLA CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy), making the extra affordable units unviable.
This GLA decision is something that Meyer Homes can appeal against, as is Lewisham’s rejection of its original scheme, so it’s not over yet. The Blackheath Society has continually objected to this development on a number of grounds, including insufficient affordable housing. It is encouraged by this decision by the GLA to take a tougher line on developers who propose schemes with low levels of affordable housing – the target is 50% - but without robust viability justification. It also hopes that it will encourage Lewisham to think carefully about the likely adverse impact on affordable housing and scheme viability of significantly raising its rate of local CIL, as it has proposed.