The property group behind the £1 billon Convoys Wharf development was criticised for proposing a “poor door” by Lewisham’s strategic planning committee on Monday (June 22).   

Hutchison, behind the 40-acre scheme by the riverside in Deptford, put forward plans for 124 homes in the same building, but with two separate “residential cores” and entrances – one for those paying London affordable rent and one for shared ownership.  

All the homes proposed for Plot 15, which will also have office and retail space, are labelled ‘affordable’, but split into 64 LAR and 59 shared ownership. 

Cllr Kevin Bonavia questioned access, “because we want to make sure it’s as tenure blind as possible”, while the cabinet member for housing, Cllr Paul Bell, said there was an issue around “poor doors […] which Lewisham doesn’t allow”, and asked about pepper-potting, where tenants, owners, and leaseholders are mixed together.  

Planning officer David Robinson said “poor doors” are “not accepted at all in Lewisham”.  

But he added: “A poor door is usually considered an access point which is disadvantaged by design or location where internally occupants don’t have equal access to amenities.  

“In this case both entrances are located in close proximity to each other, on the same stretch of public realm, with equal access to the main spine road, both entrances are well designed and easily identifiable.” 

He added that the design quality is “completely equal” across the block and “all residents will have equal access to amenities”.  

“The reason why this building and many buildings across the borough don’t have tenures pepper-potted throughout […] is that registered providers resist this generally; they require different tenures are located in separate cores, and this way the management and service charge fees can be kept to a minimum to ensure that the affordability of the units being provided is optimised,” he said.  

But Cllr Bell said reducing leaseholder bills was a “pretty poor excuse” from housing associations, and said they should do that by “actually dealing with housing management issues”.  

“The point is you have an entrance for shared owners and leaseholders, and then you have an entrance for the tenants, and that’s not how you create mixed communities and I would say that one is a poor door and one isn’t, it doesn’t matter if they look the same […]” he said.  

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The decision on Plot 15, due to be decided with Plot 8 and 22 on June 9, had to be postponed after the committee only got through two items by midnight.  

Members unanimously voted through Plot 8 last night, the third of 21, but approved an amendment that means the developer will have to “reasonably endeavour” to pepper-pot the flats – this will be written into the S106 agreement.  

Barnaby Collins, on behalf of Hutchison, declined to pepper-pot the building at the meeting – though now the developer must prove it tried to push it – but said it would consider it in future plots. 

10 per cent of flats will be wheelchair accessible, while landscaping and public space details will be decided at a later date. 

The committee is only able to decide on reserved details for the development – plans were submitted to the council in 2013, but the then London Mayor Boris Johnson took over as the planning authority.   

Mr Johnson stepped in after the developer became frustrated at the “unrealistic demands” from Lewisham Council over the project and urged him to intervene.  

The now Prime Minister decided to grant permission for the development in 2014, legally agreed in March 2015.   

Proposals include up to 3,500 new homes, office space, a working wharf with vessel moorings, a hotel, shops, restaurants, cafes, bars, and parking.   

A new primary school, healthcare centre, and bus route are also planned. 

Cllr Liam Curran asked what Hutchison would be doing to reduce the impact of increased traffic on nearby residents during construction – it emerged there are plans to rely on the river as much as possible.  

Emma Talbot, head of planning at Lewisham, said the use of the river for transport would be “maximised […] so that we limit the impact on streets”.  

Objector Malcolm Cadman, from Voice4Deptford, criticised the level of affordable housing, and said “aesthetically, this is a chronic failure”.  

Marian Briggs, UK coordinator for the Alliance for Children, and children and young people advocate for Voice4Deptford and Deptford Neighbourhood Action, said the play strategy must be improved, though these details will be looked at later.  

The consultation, as well as the lack of cultural strategy, was slammed by councillors and objectors at the first meeting, while Cllr Liam Curren pushed both issues again last night.   

It emerged that Hutchison has submitted an “enhanced” proposal for community consultation, though it is not ready to be made public yet.  

Cllr Curran asked the objectors how they would like the consultation improved.  

Mr Cadman said the community wants the developer to be involved, “up close and personal”, and would like to see a development that reflects the history of the site, is green, and takes Covid-19 into account.  

At the last meeting councillors approved the plans for Plot 22, converting the old jetty into a river bus pier, with a restaurant and bar, and Plot 8, which involves 456 private flats.  

The agreed amount of affordable housing across the scheme when the outline planning permission was approved was 15 per cent, but the council has since negotiated 21 per cent for the first phase of the development, of which 52 per cent will be London affordable rent and 48 per cent shared ownership.   

Committee members criticised the low level of affordable housing at the last meeting, with Cllr Bell describing it as “pitiful” and a “disgrace”.