Thames Water ‘super sewer’ threatens Deptford landmarks

St Pauls Church, Deptford. Pic: Pippa Bailey.

St Pauls Church, Deptford. Pic: Pippa Bailey.

Council representatives and Deptford residents have presented their objections to a proposed ‘super sewer’ that will disrupt a Lewisham school, church and green at a public hearing.

Thursday morning’s hearing took place as part of the Planning Inspectorate’s ongoing examination of Thames Water’s application to build a 25km long sewage tunnel.

The £4.2bn construction, running from Acton in the east of London, to Abbey Mills in the west, would involve the excavation of Crossfield Green on Deptford Church Street and disrupt local services for at least three years.

Local residents and business owners expressed concerns about the project’s effect on noise, pollution, travel and local business trade.

Thames Water estimates that the noise level caused by construction will average 52-65 decibels and that 32 HGVs a day will visit the site at peak times.

Nick Williams, speaking on behalf of the Don’t Dump on Deptford’s Heart campaign, said: “Crossfield Green is at the heart of our community and losing it until 2022 is a very significant loss. Its use is already blighted by the threat of development.”

Crossfields green spaces at risk. Pic: Pippa Bailey

Crossfields green spaces at risk. Pic: Pippa Bailey

Construction would also affect St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School and Grade 1 listed St Paul’s Church, which sit on either side of the proposed site.

Edward Hill, Coordinator at Friends of Greenwich Maritime Museum, said of the eighteenth century baroque church: “This is a wonderful, wonderful church. Putting a sewer next to it says something about how we hold our religion, our culture, our history, our heritage. If we destroy our history, if we destroy our heritage, we are destroying our future.”

Councillor Crada Onuegbu, Lewisham Cabinet Member for Youth, said: “All the efforts we’ve made to make the environment a place that people would actually enjoy being in, all that is just going to be removed from the local people.”

She continued: “This decision is totally, totally wrong, and I would urge you to reconsider. Deptford deserves a chance, the local people in Deptford deserve an improved area. Please don’t take away what we’ve worked so hard to build.”

However, Philip Stride, Head of London Tideway Tunnels for Thames Water, has attempted to reassure residents: “We do understand the very important role that St Joseph’s school and St Paul’s Church play in the local community. Within the context of the works proposed we want to do all we can to support both the work of the school and that of the church.”

He added: “In addition, we’re also keen to work with the London Borough of Lewisham and the local community in developing the design of the new open space so it suits the needs of the local people.”

The plans for the Tideway Tunnels scheme have faced opposition since they were first announced in November 2011. The development was originally planned for Borthwick Wharf, but was changed after the first phase of public consultation.

The scheme also faced opposition from residents of Shadwell in May 2012 over a different tunnel. If permission is granted, construction is due to begin in 2015 and end by 2023.

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