The public have until the end of June to comment on this vitally important planning application.
For many months we have been assured that the outline planning application for the Lewisham Gateway project was to be submitted “any time now.” Finally the waiting is over.
In fact the application was registered on the 25th April. Copies of the application were sent out to QWAG and the other consultees on the 17th May, just over three weeks later.
At first we feared this delay would be critical, as the covering letter stated that in order to be considered comments had to be received back by the 7th June. However, this date was inconsistent with that shown on the notification sent out to households in and around the redevelopment area. When queried, the planning department confirmed to QWAG that the 30th June is the closing date.
This allows QWAG six weeks to assess the application, and then develop, write and register comments. This will be no mean feat, as the documentation, supplied on a compact disc, totals over 1,800 pages of material.
The proposed Lewisham Gateway design
The application defines the design and layout of Lewisham Gateway. It is the most important change to affect Lewisham since the ill-fated “Lewisham 2000” project, and will determine the look and feel of Lewisham town centre for decades to come.
The public consultation exercises held on this project to date have conclusively shown that the most important priorities for local people are the restoration of the rivers and the provision of more open, green space. Yet in the design proposed in this application the rivers suffer mixed fortunes and there is an overall loss of such space.
The Urban Renaissance in Lewisham (URL) Development Brief states that “the design should be informed through public consultation.” In order for this to happen effectively we would urge local community groups and individuals to review the application and take part in any public consultations over the next couple of months.
QWAG’s principal concerns
QWAG’s principal concerns relate to the treatment of the rivers Quaggy and Ravensbourne. We have identified three key areas, shown on this aerial view of the proposed development.
1. Confluence Park QWAG is hoping to persuade the developer to tier the buildings back from the river, to reflect a valley landscape and give a more open aspect to the rivers. We also believe that the river will need to be narrower, but with a wider wetland margin. But in general QWAG feels that the proposal for this short section of the rivers is acceptable.
2. The Quaggy Along the eastern boundary of the site, the Quaggy has been hived off into a separate planning application with no money allocated to it. In other words, the developer says it is unable to spend money on restoring this section of the river, even though it forms part of the redevelopment area and will contribute greatly to its overall appeal.
Furthermore, the developer’s proposals for the main site will take away green space that currently exists alongside the Quaggy, and will reduce the width of the path alongside the river. We believe this will make it impossible to fully restore the river – now or ever.
3. The Ravensbourne Part of the River Ravensbourne is already covered over by a road, but the developer is proposing to increase that amount considerably. This is a disappointing step backwards that QWAG has tried to resist.
Over the next six weeks QWAG will assess the application and register our comments. We will also publish one or more updates to this news item. In the meantime see Urban Renaissance update (7th November 2005) for information about QWAG’s alternative proposals.