The latest edition of Progress got me thinking – as it usually does. This issue has a focus on London and there’s lots to digest. In particular a piece about how Ken’s pushing up the density of the city and the compromises he’s made to get what he wants.
It seems to me there are a few things in the article that people thinking about Lewisham Gateway should be thinking about as they wrestle with that development.
The meta-context for London is that apparently we can expect an increase in the numbers living in London by 800,000 over the next decade or so, who will require an extra 450,000 new homes, many of which will be in the Thames Gateway. We already know that Ken’s a bit of a fan of tall buildings and with his hands on housing policy the article argues:
It is envisaged that these new homes—most of them connected to transport hubs—will be built at Parisian levels of density: between 240 and 435 dwellings per hectare in central London (and 55 to 275 in outer London), which means that almost all will be part of medium-rise flat complexes without gardens.
The article notes that:
Local residents often oppose major new developments, and the boroughs generally reflect this bottom-up pressure. However, Livingstone has just been given new planning powers that will make it possible for him to give approval to such developments regardless of borough opposition.
I don’t think that this means that those opposed to the Gateway (as currently conceived) won’t be able to push the developers for a better deal, but I can’t see that they’ve got much of a chance of getting the development stopped. Indeed there are clues in the report Ken received when he last looked at the application in October last year as to where pressure might be applied .
In summary he was told:
This is a complex urban regeneration scheme facing a significant set of heavy engineering constraints and other technical challenges. There is currently insufficient information to reach a judgement on the overall transport impact, particularly in relation to the highway network due to the absence of adequate modelling work. The scheme will bring significant regenerative benefits to Lewisham town centre, enhancing its role and position in the town centre network, and is likely to act as a major regeneration catalyst for the wider area. As with any regeneration scheme of this scale there are a number of significant issues which need to be resolved, relating to energy, children’s play space, design quality, noise, air quality, access and sustainable design and construction.
He was advised to tell Lewisham Council that “the broad principle of redevelopment is fully supported but a number of significant strategic planning issues remain outstanding.” And, looking at this letter, Ken took the advice he was offered.
Maybe Richard P can tell us how he thinks this’ll play out and whether what he’d like to see in the town centre can live with Ken’s vision for the city?