Phase two of Lewisham Gateway, the huge development next to Lewisham station, will begin this autumn after councillors approved final “cosmetic” details of the £375m scheme last night.
The plans include four blocks of between four and 30 storeys containing 530 flats, 20 per cent of which will be let at “London living rent”, where rent is set at one third of average local income, and 119 co-living spaces. There will also be a nine-screen cinema, work and retail spaces and restaurants and a gym.
Phase one of the development saw 362 flats built over two buildings at 25 and 15 storeys high, and involved the rerouteing of the Ravensbourne and Quaggy rivers and the redesign of the road network near the station.
But councillors on Lewisham’s strategic development committee expressed frustration that they could only influence the layout, appearance, scale and landscaping of phase two, with the application already granted outline planning permission in 2009.
Paul Bell, the cabinet member for housing and councillor for Telegraph Hill, said new members to the committee were “being asked to make a decision on something which has little bearing on what our view of the scheme is and what is happening in Lewisham Gateway area”.
Meanwhile, Joani Reid, the safer communities cabinet member whose Lewisham Central ward covers the development, branded the design of phase one an “architectural circus”. Phase one was one of six finalists in a last year’s Carbuncle Cup, an annual prize for Britain’s worst building.
Objector Geoffrey Thurley, of the Ladywell Society, described the use of gold panels in the designs for phase two as “brash and overpowering”.
The committee agreed to recommend the application for approval on the condition the architects would work with council officers on aspects of the design including the external materials and landscaping.
Bell voted against the recommendation and also expressed concerns about the corporate structure of the development’s future landlord Get Living. As a real estate investment trust, the company pays no corporation tax and distributes 90 per cent of its income to shareholders, which include the state of Qatar.
John Paschoud, chairman of the committee and Perry Vale councillor, said the corporate structures of a company could not be taken into account when taking a planning decision.
Lewisham’s strategic planning committee is the equivalent of Greenwich’s planning board, and unlike Greenwich, allows cabinet members to sit on the committee. Late last year it approved a 34-storey tower for a site next to Lewisham’s Tesco store.
Bridie Witton is the Local Democracy Reporter for Lewisham. The Local Democracy Reporter Service is a BBC-funded initiative to ensure councils are covered properly in local media.