Developer accused of separating “rich from poor” in Convoy’s Wharf scheme in Deptford

By Grainne Cuffe, Local Democracy Reporter

Town hall leaders have insisted a £1billion developer sprinkle tenants among owners and leaseholders in their 3,500 new homes.

Hutchison, which also wants to build offices, a hotel, shops, restaurants, cafes and bars in Convoy’s Wharf, Deptford, have been told their designs currently look like “poor doors,” separating renters out from their more affluent residents.

The firm, which also wants to build a new primary school and health centre on the 40-acre plot, plans two separate “residential cores” and entrances – one for those paying London affordable rent, and one for shared ownership.

All the homes proposed for Plot 15, which will also have office and retail space, are labelled ‘affordable,’ but split into 64 London Affordable Rent – which is more expensive than social rent, and 59 shared ownership.

Cllr Kevin Bonavia said: “We want to make sure it’s as tenure-blind as possible.”

Cabinet member for housing, Cllr Paul Bell, said: “Lewisham doesn’t allow poor doors.”

Planning officer David Robinson said “poor doors” were “not accepted at all in Lewisham,” but added: “A poor door is where internally occupants don’t have equal access to amenities.

“In this case both entrances are close to each other, with equal access to the main road. Both entrances are well designed. All residents will have equal access to amenities.

“This way the management and service charge fees can be kept to a minimum to ensure the affordability of the units.”

But Cllr Bell said reducing leaseholder bills was a “pretty poor excuse” from housing associations, and instead they should be dealing with housing issues.

He added: “An entrance for shared owners and leaseholders, and then an entrance for tenants is not how you create mixed communities. It doesn’t matter if they look the same.”

The decision on Plot 15 had to be postponed after the committee only got through two items by midnight.

Members unanimously voted through Plot 8 last night, the third of 21, but approved an amendment that means the developer will have to “reasonably endeavour” to mix the flats – this will be written into legal agreement between Lewisham and Hutchison.

Barnaby Collins, on behalf of Hutchison, declined to mix the building at the meeting, but now the developer must prove it tried to push it. But he said the firm would consider it in future plots.

Then London Mayor Boris Johnson stepped in and agreed outline planning permission in 2015 at the developer’s request, after the company became frustrated at the council’s “unrealistic demands”.

The now Prime Minister decided to grant permission for the development in 2014, legally agreed in March 2015.

Councillors have already approved the plans for Plot 22, converting the old jetty into a river bus pier, with a restaurant and bar, and Plot 8, which involves 456 private flats.

The agreed amount of affordable housing across the scheme when the outline planning permission was approved was 15 per cent, but the council has since negotiated 21 per cent for the first phase of the development, of which 52 per cent will be London affordable rent and 48 per cent shared ownership.

Hutchison believes the development will create nearly 2,150 full-time jobs and 1,200 construction jobs.

Managing director Raymond Chow said: “We are delighted Lewisham has backed our plans to transform Convoys Wharf. We will now start work on unlocking future plots across the wider site, thereby unlocking a package of community investment worth £60 million.

“Over the last few years, we have consulted widely with the local community. That collaboration will continue to ensure the plans meet the needs of the area and celebrate Deptford’s rich heritage. We are here for the long haul.”

The Save Achilles campaign afterwards tweeted: “London Affordable Rent is not social rent…it does not meet the affordability needs of the households on the lowest wages in the way that social rent does.”

Pictured top: Plot 15 f the Convoy’s Wharf development





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