Inquiry into decision to reject “unaffordable” 34-storey skyscraper

Lewisham Council rejected the proposal for a 34-storey skyscraper near Lewisham station. Pic: Meyer Homes

A planning inquiry is to be held into a decision by councillors to reject its plan for a 34-storey skyscraper to be built next to Lewisham railway station.

The planning application by Meyer Homes was submitted last year before it was deferred and formally rejected by the council this May as ‘lacking public benefits’.

Meyer Homes described the scheme as “residential-led” but the application shows that each of the three buildings offers an amount of affordable housing well below the minimum. It proposed 3 buildings: the problematic skyscraper and two further developments– one of 14 storeys and the other eight storeys.

The company have now appealed against the decision and the planning inquiry will be held in May next year.

The development would sit on the corner of Connington Road and, according to MH, provide “a major opportunity of regeneration within the Lewisham Town Centre area”.

Map illustrating the proposed development site. Pic: Meyer Homes

In a viability report, carried out by MH, it can be seen that the affordable housing on offer through the development is limited. The skyscraper will offer just two percent, while the second and third buildings will offer six and twelve percent.

Both Lewisham and the Greater London Authority have a target of 50% for affordable housing in any new planning application.

Of the already limited offering, 48 percent of the affordable houses will be relatively small “1 bed, 2 person” units.

The report is one of 147 documents submitted by the developer in support of the application.

Nearly 1000 residents have signed an online petition called “Say no to the skyscraper” which was launched by Katy Walsh, a local resident who lives a few roads down from where the residential-led mixed-use building would sit.

Walsh said: “The site is a few metres from homes. It will block light to nearly 300 windows and be completely overbearing.  It is not in keeping with Silk Mills Path and has not been sympathetic to the surroundings.”

As part of their refusal in May, the council said the building needed to offer “more public benefits” if it was to be built.

While their appeal is processed, MH has submitted a “revised” application.

A spokesperson for the company said: “Meyer Homes has worked closely with the council and submitted a revised scheme which responds to the reasons for refusal.

Improvements include enhanced public access to “Skydeck Lewisham” – a public viewing platform which will be open daily and offer unparalleled views of the borough and the London skyline – as well as a fast-tracked payment of £469k towards the Lewisham station design work, to improve and increase station capacity is secured. This will also facilitate the future Northern station entrance.”

Nick Patton, 60, who has lived a few streets away from the site for 35 years, said “illustrative views” the skydeck could offer were not “genuine public benefit”.

He added: “These developments are starting to dominate the skyline from the traditional low-rise Conservation Area where I live just behind the police station.”

Meyer Homes recently met with local residents to explain the changes and have said they are “more than happy to meet with other local residents to help further explain the project and how it can improve upon the derelict car parks nearby”.


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