BY TOBY PORTER
Plans to build 209 flats on the site of a community garden which was once a school have been condemned by politicians.
The Old Tidemill School was turned into an open space by community activists six years ago – but developers now want to build on it as well as several existing homes to create three blocks up to six storeys high.
The plans have been condemned by three Greater London Assembly members – Lib Dem Caroline Pidgeon, Labour’s Len Duvall and the Greens’ Caroline Russell.
The scheme, by Family Mosaic housing association and developers Sherrygreen Homes, would mean the demolition of the former school caretaker’s house in Frankham Street and houses in Reginald Road.
Land to the north of Reginald Road and south of Frankham Street would be used for the 209 flats – including 80 with one bedroom, 95 with two, 26 with three and eight with four.
The letter to London Mayor Sadiq Khan to halt the scheme said: “Old Tidemill School Wildlife Garden is 2,400 sq metres of distinctive and rare wildlife. It truly is a treasure of biodiversity.
“We wish to collectively express our deep concerns about the planning application. We strongly urge you to reject this planning application. We believe it goes against many of the policies set out in the London Plan, your proposed new London Plan and your aim of London becoming a National Park City.
“Secondly, we are concerned that this development could set a very detrimental precedent for other valuable local green spaces, affecting many parts of London, especially inner London.
“The London Plan also sets out some very clear benchmarks as to the access that all communities should have to various forms of open spaces.
“This guidance on access to pocket parks and small open spaces is in our opinion totally challenged by the proposed development.
“Local readings show that the wildlife garden is making a positive difference to reducing air pollution.
“This is important to residents, as adjacent to this site, levels of nitrogen dioxide are already over the legal limits.
“The level of density in this part of Lewisham also needs to be considered. The area is already densely populated, however it is worth noting that if Convoys Wharf develops, the size of nearby Evelyn ward will double.
“The current site has been supported by a range of public bodies and agencies, including Arts Council England, NHS Choose Health, Deptford Challenge Trust, Awards for All and London Play.
“We would also draw attention to past funding that has been received from the GLA Pocket Park initiative.
“Four out of the 10 members of this committee were not even present for this meeting. The decision by the committee was also split, with four voting in favour and two against.
“A total of 1,104 people have objected to this application through a petition.
“We believe full consideration of these factors should lead to this application being rejected in its current form due to the removal of this much needed mature garden space.”
The Mayor’s Green City Fund strategy report, published last August, says of the Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden: “This derelict space has been brought back to life as somewhere people can enjoy nature and outdoor activities. New additions include a striking pink tree house and natural play features.
“The restored pond is also attracting new wildlife. The project was overseen by the Assembly, a studio that works around issues like waste, food, growing, society, and play.”
Please support your local paper by making a donation
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.