A two page spread in today’s Mercury focuses on QWAG’s Lewisham Gateway campaign.

The article is based on an interview with Matthew Blumler, QWAG’s representative on the Urban Renaissance Lewisham board. It describes Matthew’s annoyance that the developers have not listened to the first consultation on the project back in October 2002. This showed an overwhelming desire to “open up rivers and create more green space and an attractive environment.” In fact we are losing green space and the River Ravensbourne is being buried underground for a significant distance.

The differences between the new layout for the Quaggy east of the High Street suggested by the developers and QWAG’s vision is shown in respective cross sections of the river channel.

The former shows a marginal improvement at best, while the latter incorporates walkways alongside the river, which is integrated into its surroundings and forms a green corridor through the town centre.

The additional four metre wide strip this would require is well illustrated by the above picture of QWAG members James MacGregor, Pippa Bampton and Maria de Jesus by the river in Quaggy Gardens.

Mark Brown, of Lewisham Gateway Developments, asserts that there is “a significant improvement in access to and the contribution made by those rivers (Quaggy and Ravensbourne) in central Lewisham.” This may be true for the short stretches of the rivers in Comfluence Place, but this improvement has to be weighed against the lost opportunity to naturalise the Quaggy and the entombment of the Ravensbourne for over 30 metres. The rivers are acknowledged to be important green corridors through the town centre and we believe this development will have a significant detrimental effect on this rôle in the future.

QWAG strongly challenges the claim by a Lewisham Council spokesman that “the provision of an extra four metres for the Quaggy River would not be achievable without severely compromising other objectives of the redevelopment proposals and the deliverability of the scheme as a whole.” Matthew states that “QWAG has always tried to show a spirit of helpfulness, not just objecting to things, and here we are offering the developer solutions. We are not asking them to re-do their whole plan – either a narrow strip can be taken from the development or it can be moved over, narrowing the ecologically less important green strip by the railway line.”

What you can do
The planning application has been lodged and Lewisham Council want your comments. Write to the Planning Department, Lewisham Council, Laurence House, London. SE6 4SW, or email planning@lewisham.gov.uk, quoting reference DC/06/62375. State that you want the roads to be four more metres away from the River Quaggy and the river restored with gentle, safe river banks, in a green corridor that you can enjoy walking along.

A previous news item – Lewisham Gateway: Your Space – Your Say! (12th June 2006) – explains our views on the Lewisham Gateway development in detail.

Make a splash without getting wet!