Ladywell Councillors' Loampit Vale reaction

Ladywell Councillors Sue Luxton, Ute Michel and Mike Keogh have submitted a response to the Loampit Vale proposal. Sue stresses it's not the official Green Party position.

The comments are broadly constructive and they have found much worthy of praise in the scheme, while seeking clarification on a number of issues relating to parking, traffic, healthcare facilities and the low level of social housing (though obviously the type of resident this development is aimed at - relatively affluent, young, childless people - is the same demographic which will put least strain on local healthcare services).

The response opens with an attack on the height of some of the proposed buildings, while accepting that this is a legitimate site for a high-density development. And here is the problem. If we want high-density, but place arbitrary height restrictions (based on purely subjective notions of what is 'too high') then what invariably happens is that a height reduction for the towers is matched by an increase in the height of buildings elsewhere. So rather than a few, relatively slender, elegant towers, the development becomes a monolithic slab, like Robin Hood Gardens. If you look at the early massings produced by the architect, you can see the alternative - squat and unrelenting. As for towering over Cornmill Gardens, well the juxtaposition of tall buildings with open spaces can be dramatic and beautiful - see Central Park, or more pertinently, Jubilee Park, for details. The comparison with New York might be ridiculous, but it is no more ridiculous than the regular comparisons with Croydon, which you can find on the petition against these plans.

We like their suggestions for improvements to Loampit Vale / Hill, though we don't buy the argument that a large injection of new people and shops in the area will damage the prospects of businesses located there. The new shops are unlikely to directly compete with the existing ones, and a revitalised Lewisham could benefit everyone. However, by all means drive as hard a bargain as possible with the s106.

Here's their response:

While in principle we welcome the building of a new leisure centre, new retail and housing units on this site, we have grave concerns about some aspects of the proposals. We formally object to the height of the buildings proposed.

24 storeys is too high and will tower over Cornmill Gardens and the surrounding area. The fact that there is a very ugly tower (Citibank) adjacent to the site should not act as a precedent to build more. We are supportive of high-density developments in areas with such good public transport links, but would argue that this is overdevelopment. In addition we would like to flag up other concerns about the proposed scheme, which we would like to see addressed:

1. The impact on existing services, in particular GP services: residents in our ward are concerned that the existing facilities at St John’s Medical Centre are insufficient to cope with an additional 2,000 patients. What work has been done on the impact this development will have on local health services, as well as school places?

2. The impact on neighbouring streets from increased traffic as a result of the development: a controlled parking zone is already in place in part of the surrounding area and a consultation on extending this to further parts of Ladywell is due to commence shortly. Would the stated principle that residents of the new flats will not be eligible to apply for permits for CPZs be confirmed in writing by the Council if the application was successful? What measures will be taken to prevent neighbouring streets such as Algernon Road, Ellerdale Street, Marsala Road, Sandrock Road and Undercliff Road becoming rat-runs and through routes to and from the development?

3. Low level of social housing: while we welcome the fact that a reasonable percentage of the social housing proposed comprises larger, family units, we are concerned that the overall level of homes for social rent in the development is only 19%, and affordable housing overall is only 24% including intermediate housing. This is below the borough’s stated threshold for developments of this size and does not sufficiently contribute to addressing the dire shortage of affordable housing in the borough.

4. If the committee is minded to pass the application, we would request that S106 contributions for improvements to the railway bridges and the footpath on Loampit Vale are added as a condition. We are concerned that with the new development, the existing businesses further up Loampit Vale and Loampit Hill, which are already struggling, will become even more marginalised. We would welcome efforts to improve the streetscape along the lower part of Loampit Vale, but urge that these improvements are carried out further up as well, as far as the junction with Tyrwhitt Road, to help connect the two parts of Loampit more successfully than is currently the case. We would suggest that this should include the planting of street trees, installation of cycle racks outside shops and funds for a community artwork project under the railway bridge arches, which are currently an eyesore.

5. We welcome the fact that the leisure centre will reach BREEAM excellent. We acknowledge that code for sustainable homes level 4 is better than many developments in the borough are currently reaching, but given this is such a landmark development and considering the lifetime of the building, we would like to have seen it reach level 5.

6. We welcome the CHP and the potential for this to be used in the future by the neighbouring school, but 11% on site energy generation is lower than the London Plan specifies and leaves future residents exposed to high levels of energy insecurity in a future with dwindling oil supplies and high energy prices.

7. Is there any provision for on site composting of food waste? The volume of waste generated on site will create considerable extra vehicle movements and carbon footprints if it is all to be processed remotely.

8. In the travel plan it mentions the provision of 8 spaces for car club cars – this is to be welcomed, but we would urge that at least some of these are in publicly accessible areas so the wider community can benefit, as suggested, not just in the private car park.

44 comments:

max said...

I am obviously quite disappointed that this response doesn't mention any issue around the new pool with the exception of praising it for its energy efficiency.

Let's not forget that this will replace Ladywell Pool but the thousands of new flats just by and the vicinity to the station will make this in effect a reduced provision for the current users of Ladywell Pool.

I don't think it would impossible to add two lanes to the current plan for the pool but of course it would be easier to achieve if Councillors would support the request.

Sue said...

Max - we already pushed for an 8-lane rather than a 6-lane pool - are you now saying you want a 10-lane pool?

max said...

Why do you say that I'm saying this "now" when I've been saying it for years. In fact I even said it with supporting documentation at committee meetings you attended.

A 6 lanes pool would have been indecent, of course this didn't stop the Council from proposing it.
A ten lanes pool would be a pool made with the ambition of having a pool that all residents can use rather than one that it's always so busy that many are turned away.

Ladywell Pool works to capacity, this means that any replacement should be substantially bigger, especially if sited in front of Lewisham Station and built together with flats for 4000 new resident.

Anonymous said...

The difference between a six lane or 10 lane pool is going to make no impact whatsoever on the community. Swimming is important - but that important.

Socialist swimmer said...

A 20 lane 50m pool might just begin to satisfy likely demand...........providing Ladywell stayed open and Forest Hill was reopened again.

For an "Olympic" City our provision of sporting faciliites is woefully inadeaquate.

Hugh said...

All new swimming facilities should be built with two pools - one for people who can barely swim and don't want to learn, but love splashing around with their mates, the other for swimmers.

What you tend to find instead is a pool for tots and parents, and one for 'adults', where all the non-swimmers over the age of 12 end up.

Anonymous said...

I didn't have you down as a non swimmer Hugh.

Hugh said...

Quite so.

Anonymous said...

It's good to hear the views of the ersatz Brockley Cross parking inspector.

max said...

This has got nothing to do with the Olympics, but if there ever was an opportunity to build a 50m pool this was it. It takes ambition though.

A 10 lanes pool would go some way to close the gap becasue it would be easier to have lessons or the swimming club going and the public being able to swim at the same time.
At present at Ladywell the pool is only available for the general public for a handful of hours each day and there are days when those slots are so full you can barely fit.

The new pool plan is for 8 lanes of 25 m, that's 200m of lanes, exactly as at Ladywell Pool that's 6 lanes of 33.5 m, so the main pool is not any bigger at all. It's too full now, it'll be worse when this one is up and Ladywell closes.

But of course if one is told that he's got a cheek just for asking then there's no way we'll ever have much above basic provision of anything in this borough.

A full double tank pool as Hugh suggested would be ideal and was in fact what the Mayor initially promised.

To the anonymous that is convinced that an available pool is not that important, let me just point to the fact that swimming is the only possible activity for those suffering with condition such as arthritis that impede practice of any impact sport, it's exceptionally beneficiary to those with asthma (in the increase) and recommended as rehabilitation after an heart attack. And Tthis just to stay on the medical side of the demand.

So your idea that a 6 lanes pool that's basically booked for activities all day has the same value for a community than a 10 lanes pool that has generous windows of access for the general public is I'm afraid completely wrong.
Feel free to tell me why I'm wrong and you're right on this though since you spoke like you knew something I don't.

Anonymous said...

Someone needs to take chill pill...

max said...

You can remain anonymous and write intelligent things too you know.

Anonymous said...

Max - stop being as numpty. Swimming isn't the only activity that people with arthritis, asthma or heart disease can do. It might be one of them but that's a very weak argument for a few extra lanes of swimming pool. Get a grip. This isn't THAT important.

max said...

As I said, if you know anything better then write it, I made a case that makes sense, if they have to spend money to build a new pool then make it big enough for everyone.

And yes if you suffer from arthritis there isn't much besides swimming that you can do to keep fit.
And the warm and moist air of the pool surface is a great help to those with asthma, no other sport gives you that.

But of course we could be speaking of access to sport and active recreation for the rest of the population, why shouldn't people have a pool available when they come back form work? Not if the pool is booked by the club though.
And how can the club expand if there's not hiring time available left?
Size matters.

Anonymous said...

I think you need to do your research.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/3073002/Swimming-in-chlorinated-pools-increases-asthma-risk-five-fold.html

Anonymous said...

Mmmm, sniff that Chlorine.

max said...

And you need to read articles till the end.

Anonymous said...

Oh riiighht, I get it now, you want 4 more lanes just for people in the Lewisham who have non- allergic asthma. Makes complete sense now. Forgive me, I thought the money would wasted.

max said...

No you dind't get it.

To paraphrase that Telegraph's article those that haven't been at the pool long enough are 50 times less likely to get it then those that have.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion there are not enough asthma sufferers who use swimming pools in this medicinal way in the whole of London to make this worthwhile. Get some perspective. There are bigger , more important issues. Be thankful there is a pool at all. Besides - your not getting the extra lanes so live with it.

max said...

Your opinion?

Anonymous said...

Whether the pool has 6 lanes or 10 is not that important. My opinion.

Anonymous said...

Lewisham owes Max a debt of gratitude for his endeavours in keeping Ladywell Pool open - not that I swim - but in the way that he did it. He tackled the Council and didn't let go.

This action led to a big dip in popularity for the Council and many Labour Councillors loosing their seats in favour of the Greens. The Greens would do well to remember this.

The Greens are doing a bit of an about-face on Loampit vale, or at the minimum throwing their hat into the ring to help and garner a bit of public support in advance of the local elections next year. They stand to lose a lot of votes because they have tended to toe the Council line and look for political advantage rather than public support.

max said...

Thanks second Anonymous, I'm blushing.

To the first anomymous, what you're saying is exactly the kind of rubbish that was thrown at us by the Council when they wanted to close the Pool back then.
There are more important things so be good, let go of the pool and be happy.
Not an argument really.

The current plan for the new pool is not adequate for the population is should serve and it will mean restricted access for the current users of Ladywell. That's a fact, not an opinion.

Headhunter said...

I agree with Max. Whilst it's encouraging that a new pool is being built, with the increase in population in Lewisham with all these new flats, I'm sure space in the new pool will quickly be taken up. The really does represent an opportunity to step up and provide a really fantastic facility.

Swimming is an important exercise for many, when I was a youngster I swam with the school, for a club and with my family. Luton at that time had an amazing set of pools on Bath Road, one was Olympic size, another competition size and then 2 smaller pools all on 1 site. The Olympic pool was truly enormous, I've never seen another Olympic sized pool. I even learned to canoe on it!

In its wisdom, Luton BC decided to fill in the outdoor Olympic pool in the 1990s, which was such a shame, and they now want to sell off the entire area to developers to bulldoze the site and turn it into flats. Unfortunately they'll probably get their way as the pools are in a desirable area of town and take up a lot of valuable land. There has also been very little investment in them since the 1990s, so slowly but surely the pools and buildings, constructed in the 1930s I think, are falling apart. Such short sightedness.

Sue said...

Max - apologies for my comment late last night - I know that you were pushing for an Olympic pool when this was discussed at Overview & Scrutiny, though I'd forgotten about the 10-lane bit to be honest.

We restricted our comments to planning-related ones as the committee can only consider the application that's on the table on valid planning grounds, rather than broader political ones.

I realise we've stuck our head above the parapet a bit with sticking this response on our blog, whereas other councillors may be staying silent. Do you know if any of the Lewisham Central (or any other) councillors have submitted a response to the application?

Anon 13.15:
I don't think I'm quite as cynical as you - you'll have to clarify what you mean - how have we done an "about-face" on Loampit?

Tressillian James said...

I regularly go to Deptford and Ladywell pools - Max is correct in stating that the provisioning is inadequate. More often or not I have to squeeze my swimming in between the other uses (sch as lessons) that are scheduled at the pool. At the most there is one double lane for each of the three speeds (slow,medium, fast)of swimming. It is often so crowded that the swimmers are almost lining up to start the lengths or having to stop mid swim because of a line of swimmers in front.

Max is also right in stating that swimming is an excellent sport for those who may not have the fitness levels to practice other sports. The warm supports the body and does not cause unnecessary stresses and strains.

The idea of closing Ladywell for the new pool - which will be in more demand due to the housing and close proimity to the station - is surely shortsighted.

Anonymous said...

If the council are saying there are more important things, then maybe, there are more important things...

Sue said...

I think there's a strong argument for keeping Ladywell Pools open until a replacement for Forest Hill Pools is up and running (whenever that may be), but I'm not sure where the Council would find the money to keep two leisure centres in the town centre open longer-term.

Comment said...

I would be in strong support of a 10 lane pool. This is could well be the attraction/ experience that I believe Lewisham needs to overhaul itself; Lewisham's regional USP.

Anonymous said...

I also have doubts about keeping two leisure centres open. Look around Lewisham on a Saturday. These are not people who take leisure activities. Now if someone was to open a couple more branches of Greggs....

max said...

Because you hang around in the wrong places, if you'd go to the pool you'd see how it's just as full as down to the pub.

But two pools so nearby wouldn't work financially, that's why we need the new one to be good.

Anonymous said...

What do you know about where I hang around?

max said...

I know where you don't hang around.

Anonymous said...

Really?

A said...

yeahbutnobutyeahbutnotbutyeahbut

and you smell

etc

max said...

Hi Sue, I understand that planning committees can only deal with planning matters and there are those matters that are routinely taken into consideration and those that are routinely disregarded, but this is a special development and I need to be explained why such an important community provision that's part of the package cannot be scrutinized by planning.

Members of the planning committee may decide that they can't reject the application on those grounds but they can discuss it and decide for themselves, only if the point is raised in objections though.

And although by itself it may not be cause of rejection it may go some way to make members decide that the development is not good enough and it should be rejected on some other allowable ground.

You asked if I saw objections from Lewisham Central's Councillors, yes, I saw Milton's response and he didn't object about the pool size either.
He raised concerns of the cumulative effect that this and other big developments will have on local transport, health and education infrastructure and also questioned the height and the very low ratio of affordable housing.
I have to say I'm particularly relieved that I remembered to submit an objection on the ground of the poor pool provision alone.

I'd also repeat that since the cabinet approved of the deal for this development behind closed doors then members of the cabinet should not be allowed to sit on this committee and I'd love to hear your opinion on this point?

Anonymous said...

Cheyne stoking...

4x4 said...

I applaud Max for his Herculean efforts in lobbying the council for an Olympic size pool. This exactly what all boroughs should be aiming for. Swimmiing is great exercise and should be encouraged from an early age. (A similar view should be taken for municipal floodlit tennis courts but don't get me started). It should be the duty of every council in the country to provide adequate fascilities. That said, there is only so much money in the pot and the more we encourage social housing in the area the less rescources we will have to pay for these things. I have nothing against social housing if was there to provide homes for people in gainful employment who are in low paid jobs. It is not our birthright to own our own home and like in so many other countries more of us should look to rent. People shouldn't be discriminated against for social housing just because they have a job-quite opposite!
I agree with BC on the issue of high rise buildings-they can look magnificent. Having an influx of tax paying professionals in the area would help to swell the councils coffers rather than drain them. God knows we may even get a decent private health club also with a pool like so many other areas have.
Encouraging white collar business to the area would be great also-a high rise office block with thousands of people spending money in decent shops in the centre of Lewisham-what a shame we failed to keep Citibank and attract more like them. If it was left to some people, we would have absolutely no new architecture and we would have no new thriving shops. The day we can attract the likes of Pizza Express to the area then we will have turned the corner-sad but true. Championing the cause of some of these small run down shops keeps the area looking run down. Why are we so afraid of competition, investment and market forces?
Lewisham is still an affordable place to live in London-cheap if you want to buy your own house/flat. Rents are also cheap-I know I'm a landlord(boo hiss). Housing will be cheaper still if we have more homes built-it's that old thing of supply and demand.
Build a state of the art pool for the people but also encourage investment from the private sector. Otherwise the borough will continue to be underfunded and run down.

fred vest said...

"It is not our birthright to own our own home and like in so many other countries more of us should look to rent"

.....

"i'm a landlord"

lol

Anonymous said...

Lewisham planners really seem to have cracked it. Some time ago there was a deal of discussion about the Lewisham Gateway development and its effect on local infrastructure and quality of life. Now we have a rerun with the Loampit Vale development, however with no mention of the Gateway development in this discussion. Separating consideration of these developments has been a central strategy of the planning department in their seeming unstoppable attempt to get these developments built. These developments will cram 4000 new residents into an area of approximately ¼ square mile, and should be considered in combination when estimating their likely effect on local infrastructure. Also there is the new school at Lewisham bridge to consider but let’s leave that aside for the moment. As mentioned above many people refer to the Corydenisation of Lewisham because of the high-rise nature of the buildings required to achieve this level of population density. Regardless of what the developments may look like, I have always thought that Elephant and Castle provides a far better analogy in terms of the quality of life we can expect in the town centre if (or should I say when) these developments are completed.

Anonymous said...

If you don't now about it there is a meeting in the Tabernacle on Algernon Road (near the Tesco) at 7pm regarding the Loampit Vale development.

It has been arranged by people who are concerned that the development will have a detrimental effect on their lives - not just the height of the buildings - so it's your chance to mingle with people whose quality of life will almost certainly degrade if this goes ahead.

Sue said...

tonight? I didn't know about this mtg and already have other plans for this evening - so apologies from me.

Anonymous said...

Yep, tonight

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