Last Saturday we walked from Lewisham Station to Ladywell, passing via Loampit Vale. It smelled strongly of wee as we crossed the little patch of grass and walked through the underpass toward Algernon Road. It was a hot day and two people who also smelled strongly of wee stood around, for want of anything much else to do.
It was for this reason that, when we received the email from Matt, informing us that the revised planning application from Barratt for Loampit Vale was available online, we were predisposed to look favourably on it.
The plan is for:
The construction of eight buildings ranging from five to 24 storeys, incorporating balconies and terraces, comprising 788 residential units (including up to 186 affordable), a leisure centre, 1,856m2 of commercial floorspace (Use Classes A1, A2, and B1), including 626m2 for creative industries), an energy centre, replacement London City Mission facilities, public and private amenity space, together with associated landscaping, bin stores, 866 cycle, 10 motorcycle and 181 car parking spaces on ground and first floor levels, associated highway works, plant and servicing.
The development is dense and reasonably tall, though to give some sense of scale, the tallest of the proposed buildings (24 stories) is roughly half the height of the Pan Peninsula buildings (48 stories) in Canary Wharf and is likely to be equal in height to the existing "Lewisham House".
The planned pool will be eight lanes, which is very good news. The play areas, podium gardens, public spaces and main roads look high-quality. The green roof scheme is good though should be standard for any development of this kind. The architecture and planned materials are decent, particularly on buildings C and E, which have nicely-proportioned recessed windows. Unfortunately, the tallest of the buildings is also the most disappointing, employing the randomised cladding that is heavily overused by developers at the moment.
As we write this, there are probably others in the borough poring over the planning documents, cataloguing flaws. Matt, who tipped us off, does not seem like a big fan himself, writing:
They seem to be trying to get a huge development through on the promise of the new leisure centre. If you consider that this site backs onto roads of terraced housing the impact on these people will be significant. Of course for us all means another couple of Citibank towers to look at.
Well, we like looking north and having the horizon punctured by Canary Wharf. We don't like looking east at the horror that is the Citi tower, but that's because it's a bad building. These are not bad buildings and they will improve the view from Hilly Fields by screening that 70s folly.
The more important issue is the scale of the development, but again the positives surely outweigh the negatives; these buildings will play a key role in the revival of Lewisham as an urban centre and help the borough meet its housing commitments, injecting some vibrancy in to the area.
The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) concluded that "we see its potential to create a vibrant public destination and a pleasant place to live, whilst the quantum and size are large, this could be acceptable if carefully handled." The final point is surely the most important - Loampit Vale needs something ambitious. This is the deal that's on the table, but the devil is in the detail.
So what do you think?