The Evening Standard, aka London Daily Bozza, was in characteristic Mayor-cheerleading mode yesterday as Jonathan Prynn declared “A £1 billion regeneration of the Deptford dockyards has been given the green light by Boris Johnson. The plan, drawn up by London architects Terry Farrell and Partners, includes 3,500 homes – 500 classified as affordable – shops, offices, restaurants and parks”.
And what would the name in the frame be, perchance? “The scheme, known as Convoys Wharf, is planned for a 41-acre riverside site, the location of the first Royal dockyards, where Queen Elizabeth I knighted Sir Francis Drake aboard the Golden Hind”. The framing of the announcement as a great achievement by Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson masks the reality of what has really happened.
Hong Kong based Hutchison Whampoa had failed to get their plans past Lewisham Council last year, at which point they contacted Bozza directly and urged him to call in the scheme. This he did. And, apart from two small concessions to those opposing the proposals, the Mayor has duly waved it through. Some of the objections (you can see a summary HERE) are worth a closer look.
The proposed development is summed up thus: “The adverse impacts of this masterplan on Deptford and London are huge, mainly as a result of the density and building heights, its failure to acknowledge the history of the site and the character of the locality”. Ken Livingstone managed 37% of “affordable” housing on schemes approved during his tenure at City Hall. This scheme manages a paltry 14%.
It gets worse: “Recent excavations (which are far from complete) have shown recoverable remains below ground. The entire footprint of the Royal Dockyard can be found just below the concrete. Most of the remains found were more extensive and in better condition than had been predicted by initial surveys, and demonstrate the collective significance of the historical remains at the site”.
So all of that is going to be built over PDQ for the benefit of Hutchison Whampoa’s bottom line, and the remains of that “first Royal Dockyard” that the Standard described will be lost for decades to come, maybe even permanently. Oliver Wainwright was clearly on the money in January when he observed “By intervening in the local planning process, the mayor of London is creating a more exclusive, divided city of private enclaves, designed only for the needs of the rich”.
As with the West Kensington and Gibbs Green “redevelopment”, which continues to be vigorously opposed by local people, the message is that London has developer-friendly politicians who listen to money first, and existing residents some time later. Also, whether local transport links can handle the Convoys Wharf extra is doubtful.
Not that the Evening Standard will admit that to its readers. Shame on them.