People living next to Deptford Creek fear they will be left living in “near complete darkness” after Lewisham Council approved a 19-storey tower block close to their homes.
Councillors on Lewisham’s strategic development committee narrowly blacked plans to knock down a warehouse at Sun Wharf in Deptford, next to the Greenwich railway line, to make way for 220 new flats on Wednesday night.
Three apartment blocks, two of seven and one of 19 storeys, will be built on the site behind Cockpit Arts on Creekside, and next to another new development, Kent Wharf. Developers say they want to see the first residents move in by 2025.
One resident at Kent Wharf – referred to as Laurence F – said: “We are not opposed to all forms of development of this site and we are aware of the need for housing in the borough. However any development must not cause the extreme and dangerous impact that are associated with the plans before you today.
“Bellway’s plans will lead to devastating loss of light for homes in Kent Wharf and will provide very poor levels of light for homes in Sun Wharf. The proposed daylight and sunlight impacts are extreme and unprecedented.”
He added: “From my own home, daylight levels will be just 1.8 per cent. Coupled with 100 per cent loss of sunlight the result will be near complete darkness. These are the homes of children, home workers, disabled residents who cannot leave their home often. This is unforgivable. These impacts will be devastating for the mental and physical health of residents.”
One councillor on the committee, Jacq Paschoud, said she was concerned that the residents would lose light to the main room of their properties. She said: “They have one room which serves as their living room, their kitchen and their dining room. If the light is severely affected on that room, their one daytime room is dark. We’re not talking about being able to see the sky because we live in an urban environment, you’re not always able to see the sky. We’re talking about people who have already moved into flats losing light.”
But John Barnes from eb7, the developers’ sunlight consultant, said the planned apartments had been designed to minimise the impact on residents of Kent Wharf, which was only given approval seven years ago, and that the area was always earmarked for development.
He said: “With any sort of development coming forward – this is an opportunity area and it has been and it was when Kent Wharf came forward – with any development coming forward on this site there will be significant losses of light to the units within Kent Wharf.
“And therefore it’s clear the scheme has been designed sensitively and respectfully to these neighbours. The continuing massing sits away from these neighbours and the thinner blocks come towards them.”
But Scott Hudson, planning agent for Peabody housing association and Bellway Homes, said developers had put in lots of effort to improve the planned flats with Lewisham Council.
He said: “The application will provide many substantive benefits which include new homes, new public realm, new public river walkway, a provision of creative commercial units providing up to 70 jobs on site, a significant Community Infrastructure Levy payment which will cover infrastructure requirements. Peabody and Bellway are keen to deliver this site as soon as possible.”
Of the 220 flats, 21 per cent would be for London Affordable Rent – half market rents and available to people on housing waiting lists – while 14 per cent would be for shared ownership.
Councillors backed the scheme by five votes to four. The new flats will count for 13 per cent of Lewisham’s annual homebuilding target.
The Sun Wharf tower, which will have a distinctive saw-toothed roof – is be the latest tall building to be given approval on the Deptford side of the creek.
On Creekside, the Faircharm development has a 12-storey block while Kent Wharf rises to 16 storeys. On Copperas Street, blocks of 26 and 30 storeys were approved in November 2020. They will be next to the 23-storey Union Wharf development by Deptford Creek Bridge.
A 28-storey tower at Ravensbourne Wharf, on the other side of the creek, was approved by Greenwich Council in January 2020.
Greenwich objected to the Sun Wharf scheme, saying there was enough information on how the scheme would look from Greenwich town centre, or on the effects on residents of the 12 and 16-storey Saxon Wharf blocks, across the creek on Norman Road.
Future occupiers of Sun Wharf will have to be warned about noise from Brewery Wharf, across the creek in Greenwich, and about their neighbours at Cockpit Arts, which is planning its own redevelopment scheme with new studios and a public cafe.
Additional reporting by Darryl Chamberlain
Robert Firth 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.
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