Third attempt at riverside site ‘fails to put heritage at heart’
English Heritage has criticised Farrells’ £1 billion Convoys Wharf masterplan for failing to put the site’s history at the centre of the scheme.
Developer Hutchison Whampoa wants to build 3,500 homes on a 16.6ha riverside site at Deptford which once housed Henry VIII’s naval dockyard as well as Sayes Court, the 17th century home of diarist and gardener John Evelyn.
The plans, which include three towers rising to 40 storeys, were drawn up by Farrells after an earlier Aedas scheme was criticised as “monstrous”.
Responding to the planning application, English Heritage acknowledged that the new scheme was a significant improvement and praised the developer for carrying out the largest archaeological investigation of an historic dockyard in the world.
“The scale of work undertaken is a reflection of the importance of the site, the anticipated quality and quantity of archaeology and that the applicant recognised that a detailed understanding was essential in developing a planning application to redevelop this nationally important site,” said EH’s archaeology advisor Mark Stevenson.
Yet the eight “overarching design principles” listed in the planning application do not include a consideration of the history of the site as an objective.
“This would appear to be at odds with the expectation of heritage being a core element of the design approach alluded to in the heritage statement,” said Stevenson who complained recent archaeological discoveries were not incorporated.
He urged Lewisham council to “seek further opportunities” to reflect the historic character in the design.
A proposed Sayes Court interpretation centre should have been used as a design starting point to provide a distinctive character for the “Evelyn Quarter”, he said, recommending the reconfiguration of two buildings to this end.
“The position and orientation of the Sayes Court sequence of building and associated space is lost within the proposed arrangement of roads and building blocks,” he said.
“Also the inclusion of a garden city green strip along the centre of one of the routes in this area as the main landscape reflection of the John Evelyn legacy is on its own a disappointment.”
He also recommended “serious consideration” be given to the retention of the 16th and 17th remains of the Navy Treasurer’s House.
The site, recognised as being of national importance, was also once the subject of a Rogers Stirk Harbour scheme.