POLITICIANS are heaping pressure on Boris Johnson not to squander Deptford's heritage by approving plans for a £1bn high-rise riverside development.
The Convoys Wharf scheme, which would create 3,500 new homes, was discussed in the House of Commons last week, where Culture Secretary Ed Vaizey appeared to back calls for the area's heritage to be protected.
Power to approve the scheme by Hong Kong developer Hutchinson Whampoa was dramatically seized from Lewisham Council by the Mayor of London last year, shortly after he returned from a business-boosting trip to China.
Convoys, the former home of News International, covers the site of Henry VIII’s naval shipyard, where archaeological surveys have revealed the foundations of diarist John Evelyn’s 17th Century manor house.
Lewisham Deptford MP Dame Joan Ruddock used an adjournment debate in the Commons to back the Build the Lenox project - which would build a full size replica of a 17th century warship - and creating a garden at Sayes Court, while asking for an emergency listing.
She said: "It would be a place of which everyone in Deptford could be proud, a place that would sit alongside the world heritage sites that are Greenwich, the Cutty Sark and the National Maritime Museum, a place offering green lungs and riverside walks in the heart of the inner city, a place giving new hope to young people of training and jobs and to enterprising local artists and entrepreneurs.
"It would be not just for the people of Deptford and Lewisham, but for London and those way beyond this great city. Once again, Deptford and its dockyards could become a jewel in London’s crown."
Mr Vaizey said he would "assist" the MP in meeting with interested parties and told her: "It says in my brief that Convoys Wharf is of historic interest—well, that has to be the understatement of the century. It is incredibly important."
Meanwhile, in a letter to Mr Johnson, Mayor of Lewisham Sir Steve Bullock claims the current plans "do not have proper regard to the needs of the local community".
A council strategic planning committee this month called for changes to the scheme, and Sir Steve's letter raises concerns about the need for a new primary school, GP facilities, open space, jobs and training to cope with so many new residents.
Sir Steve also writes of the need to reflect the historical significance of the site, and says he is "sympathetic" to proposals for an expanded Sayes Court Garden and the Build the Lenox project.
He wrote: "I would urge you to fully consider the view of English heritage before any decision is made."
A planning decision is expected in February.