Thursday24 July 2014

Mayor approves £1bn Convoys Wharf scheme in face of opposition

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Farrells is third architect to work on controversial site

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has given the go-ahead to Farrells’ £1 billion Convoys Wharf scheme by the river at Deptford.

Johnson granted planning approval subject to a section 106 agreement, which requires City Hall planners to meet with Lewisham council and the developer, Hutchison Whampoa, to come up with a workable alternative scheme for the historic Sayes Court Garden site.

The 16.6ha plot includes the site of John Evelyn’s 17th-century Sayes Court Garden and one of Henry VIII’s naval dockyards where the Lenox warship was built.

Local campaigners, working with David Kohn Architects, have been trying to persuade the developer to incorporate these into a more imaginative scheme. Last year the World Monuments Fund placed Convoys Wharf on its watch list.

Johnson made the controversial decision to become the planning authority in October after Hutchison Whampoa complained that the council was taking too long. Lewisham blamed the developer for the delays. Earlier this year, Lewisham advised him to reject the scheme unless Hutchison made major changes.

Johnson said today: “We need to build thousands of new homes in the capital and proposals to do that at Convoys Wharf have stalled for far too long. I am pleased that we have been able to work on a scheme that will have enormous social and economic benefits for local people while preserving the heritage aspects of the site.”

The Farrell masterplan includes 3,500 homes in three towers, just 525 of them “affordable”.

Johnson said the developer must fund a feasibility study into the Build the Lenox project to reconstruct the warship. Hutchison Whampoa must also build a community hub linked to Sayes Court Garden, with a new primary school included at the heart of the site.

Convoys Wharf’s recent history dates back to 2002 Richard Rogers was appointed to draw up a plan for 3,500 homes for News International.

Hong Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa bought the site in 2008 and appointed Aedas to redraw the plans.

These attracted so much criticism that Aedas was replaced by Farrells last year.

Johnson has also taken over planning powers at another significant London site: Mount Pleasant near King’s Cross.


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Readers' comments (11)

  • Of course the Bufoon has approved this horrible scheme. I don't think he has ever rejected anything he has called-in. Nothing must stand in the way of greedy developers and other vested interests. It's called 'localism' isn't it?

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  • Why is every development always resisted. Surely we must progress. Is it any wonder that our infrastructure is so long winded to achieve, when every step forward is thwarted. We need to be more Victorian in our approach and be proud of our ability to improve as well as retain all that is good. Access to the River especially in the East is very restricted so almost anything that opens up to the Public is to be welcomed.

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  • Robert Park

    I am rather hoping that this is the April Fool.

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  • Why does it have to have a dumb tower at the centre? Surely our esteemed design talent can mange to house the same number in a more interesting, community spirited thoughtful manner?

    Then again, I guess not.

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  • Ptolemy Jones

    Sometimes I feel that Boris is too Thatcherite for his own good, or at least that of Old Blighty as a whole. Here he is giving a smack in the face of Charles. Carbuncle Wharf will introduce high densities and hideous buildings at the same time. Hopefully no one will actually live here, and that it will only be a Chinese investment vehicle. Richmond Riverside anyone?

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  • Was the outcome to this awful scheme in any doubt, Terry Farrel the designer of the scheme is also one the Mayor's Architectural advisor's for London!
    Peter Halpin RIBA

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  • I endorse above comments. Hideous tower at the centre lacks imagination

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  • Presumably this is part of Farrell's "vision for London" we're all supposed to be "getting behind".

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  • @DAvid Preston: We need to be more Victorian in our approach? You mean, child chimney sweeps, workhouses, back-to-backs, that sort of thing?

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  • basically any scheme with housing numbers is being powered through so that BoJo can say he's done something about new housing starts..

    Reading this scheme from east to west - starts well, then the obligatory giant erection bang in the middle of the historic fabric, (not that I'm against towers per se) but this really just wrecks the whole thing!

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