By Grainne Cuffe, Local Democracy Reporter
A local group is calling on Lewisham council to extend the consultation period of the final plan for the £500 million pound redevelopment of Catford town centre.
Team Catford, leading public engagement on behalf of Lewisham council, is consulting with residents before the Catford Town Centre Framework is finalised.
“Given its infrastructure, accessibility and facilities Catford town centre has been identified as a location for major growth, including a significant number of new homes to meet Lewisham’s and London’s housing need,” according to the framework.
But the 131-page document states there are a number of long-standing issues that need to be addressed.
Issues of particular concern include the dominance of the South Circular, a poor sense of arrival into the town centre, a shopping centre that is “hidden and inward-looking and provides a limited retail offer”, the state of Milford Towers, and poorly linked council offices.
Team Catford has allocated five different dates between December 10 and January 11.
But campaign group Catford Against Social Cleansing (CASC) has written to the mayor of Lewisham asking for an extension.
CASC spokeswoman Cheryl McLeod said: “We are trying to achieve the best outcome for Catford. We want to see regeneration without gentrification.
“CASC have formally requested that this consultation is extended to take account of the holiday period and best practice.
“Mayor Egan, as a Labour leader of the council, should agree that the planned consultation period on this complex matter is unreasonable.”
The letter quotes from the Government’s guidance on consultations.
“The section about consulting during a holiday period states: ‘Consultations should take account of the groups being consulted
‘Consult stakeholders in a way that suits them. Charities may need more time to respond than businesses, for example.
‘When the consultation spans all or part of a holiday period, consider how this may affect consultation and take appropriate mitigating action, such as prior discussion with key interested parties or extension of the consultation deadline beyond the holiday period’,” it states.
A spokeswoman for the council said Mayor Egan is set to respond to the letter shortly.
Lewisham’s cabinet member for housing and planning, Cllr Paul Bell, said the council has given careful thought to the Christmas period.
“This latest phase follows four years of engagement with the local community to gather ideas and feedback on the future of the town centre, which has helped inform the Framework Plan.
“We have given careful consideration to the impact of the festive season – and the Covid-19 restrictions – on this consultation and we are confident that the planned period of consultation, lasting until early February, will provide sufficient opportunity for the local community to engage in this final discussion on the Framework Plan.
“I feel confident that as we approach the finalisation of this important vision for the town centre, we can be certain that our ambitious plans for regeneration clearly respond to what local people have told us over the last four years,” he said.
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