A developer has apparently backtracked and apologised after saying Lewisham Council lobbied to get more housing on a protected wharf in Deptford.  

Following outline planning permission being granted in 2015, Hutchison Property Group is developing the 40-acre Convoys Wharf site with plans for 3,500 new homes. 

See related: Developer behind Convoys Wharf proposes 'poor door'

See related: Lewisham approves detailed Convoys Wharf applications

One part of the site, dubbed Plot 21, is protected from housing development – it is safeguarded for use as a wharf. 

But residents were shocked when plans for housing on the site emerged during a community webinar, held by engagement consultant Forty Shillings in lieu of a face-to-face meeting because of Covid-19. 

See related: Convoys Wharf: Lewisham denies lobbying for Plot 21 housing

They were told that not only does the developer have plans to build housing on Plot 21, but Lewisham Council asked Hutchison to do it. 

Representatives of the scheme said heavy goods vehicle access was not compatible with Plot 21, that the council was under pressure to build more homes, and that housing would be a better option for the site.  

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Mike Stowell from Farrells said more housing on the site has already been agreed with the GLA in principle. 

“The council have asked for housing on this site now – this has been agreed with the GLA in principle,” he said. 

After locals voiced their concerns online, Lewisham’s cabinet member for housing and planning, Cllr Paul Bell, put out a statement denying the claims. 

He said: “I have been made aware of reports that Lewisham Council has been lobbying the Greater London Authority (GLA) for additional homes to be built on Plot 21, a protected wharf within the Convoys Wharf development. 

“These reports are completely inaccurate and do not represent the council’s position. 

“We have been consistently clear to the developer that any planning application for Plot 21 would require a strong planning justification. This has yet to be provided.” 

He told the local democracy service: “At no point have we lobbied the GLA to put more units on this site.” 

Concerned residents looked to confirm this in public questions to Cllr Bell, published ahead of full council this week.  

In his response the cabinet member said the council had written to the developer about the claims made during the webinar.  

Cllr Bell said: “The council has written to the developer to highlight the misrepresentation of our position on the development of Plot 21.  

“In their response, the developer confirmed that the council has not asked them to consider additional housing on the safeguarded wharf site and apologised for the confusion caused by the webinar.  

“The developer has outlined that they wish to develop plans for Plot 21, which include housing. 

“The council have consistently outlined that the safeguarded wharf direction and London Plan and Local Plan policies would resist residential development on the wharf.  

“The developer has been advised by the council that if they wish to consider alternative uses for the wharf, they must first present a clear and robust policy-based argument for such – this justification has not been provided and officers have therefore declined to meet to discuss the detail of a housing scheme for Plot 21.” 

Both Hutchison and Forty Shillings have been contacted for comment on this issue – neither has responded.