Campaigners trying to stop a housing development in Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden have now been occupying the site for 20 days – with plans to stay over the winter.

Save Tidemill, Save Reginald campaigners have been occupying the Lewisham Council-owned garden in Deptford since August 29, despite an eviction notice.

The garden is part of controversial regeneration plans between Lewisham Council and housing association Peabody which were submitted in 2016.

The plans include the demolition of 16 homes at Reginald House and the Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden to make way for a 209-home development.

Save Tidemill Save Reginald’s application for a judicial review of the council’s decision to grant planning permission was knocked back by the courts, but the group plans to fight on.

A spokesperson said: “Last Friday we were refused permission on the papers we had submitted. Next we will make an oral appeal, and we will get a date to do that in the next six weeks.

“And if that is successful then it goes to court, but if it is not successful then we will go to the court of appeal,” they said.

Campaigner Andrea Hughes said they were discussing how best to stay warm overnight in the coming months, and that spirits were high.

“We are full of heart and will fight on,” she said.

But the group now needs to raise a further £21,000 by mid-October to cover legal costs.

It has already successfully funded more than £10,000.

Ms Hughes said the campaign had received a lot of support from the local community, and people from as far as Sheffield had come to visit the occupation.

The campaign’s online petition to save the garden from development has more than 1,000 signatures.

Cabinet member for housing Cllr Paul Bell said:“We note the decision of the courts to refuse the application for a judicial review on the planning decision related to the Tidemill development and the Garden Group’s injunction and to award the council £5,000 in costs.

“We remain committed to building more than 100 new social rented homes on the Tidemill site. These new homes will bring safety, security and improvement to the lives of local families who have already been waiting for far too long for a home of their own.

”We now encourage garden group representatives and other interested individuals to engage with the developers, Peabody, to explore whether and how elements of the current garden can be used in the open spaces in the new development. Peabody has also offered to help the group in moving any plants or other structures they may want to keep and use in the new development.”

London Assembly member for Lewisham Len Duvall has previously criticised the council’s decision to push ahead with plans, after the initial agreement between Lewisham Council and Peabody expired.

The council was concerned Peabody could take legal action to recover £3 million already spent on a new public park and design costs as part of the original plans.

The council had also already spent £830,000 on “obtaining vacant possession and securing the site,” according to a document seen by this publication. 

The Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden was only ever made available for short-term use for residents, according to Lewisham Council documents, but is a popular local facility.

A Peabody spokesman defended the scheme and said there would be improvements to the area.

He said: “The approved plans at Frankham Street and Reginald Road will deliver 117 new social rented homes for people on Lewisham Council’s waiting list. These will be partially funded using the money from the 51 homes for sale.

"There will also be 41 low-cost shared ownership homes for first-time buyers.

"All residents of Reginald House will be offered a new home at the same rent on the same tenure as they have now.

"As well as creating jobs and apprenticeships for the local community, we will increase the amount of green space and gardens that are accessible to everybody, plant more semi-mature trees than there are now, and provide new private green space for new and existing residents.

"We have had offers from current residents to help us shape new proposals on the green spaces this development will bring. We look forward to working with the community, the council, and anybody else who wishes to get involved to deliver a new scheme that will provide huge benefits for local people.”