The council has promised to listen to residents' concerns about plans to build homes on existing estates.  

In 2019, the council looked into bringing forward a series of sites for infill development, where vacant or under-used parcels of land within existing urban areas are developed.   

They form part of the Building for Lewisham programme, a plan to build council homes across the borough to tackle the 10,000-strong housing waiting list, mainly by the council’s housing company Lewisham Homes. 

According to a report on its programme requirements, which went before mayor and cabinet on Wednesday (May 19), the earmarked sites include Valentine Court in Perry Vale, estate in Dacres Road, Perry Vale, Drakes Court in Forest Hill, Greystead Road Estate in Forest Hill, Hensford Gardens in Sydenham, Markwell Close, Prospect Close, and Peter’s Path in Sydenham, and Walsham Road in Telegraph Hill.  

See more: Lewisham plans to build council homes on existing estates

All the proposed schemes, which are in the early stages, are still subject to planning permission and further feedback from locals.  

Following section 105 consultations with secure council tenants on the estates, mayor and cabinet agreed to “continue with the proposals to build to new homes”.

Abbey Darling, a resident of Greystead Road, spoke at the meeting on behalf of people living on the estate and surrounding roads.  

She said more than 70 per cent of residents signed a petition against the plans going ahead, while more than 100 people signed online.  

News Shopper: Greystead Road 

Ms Darling described the consultation process as “inadequate” and said the time given to respond was “utterly shameful” during a pandemic.  

However, Cllr Paul Bell, cabinet member for housing and planning, assured residents that the consultation was only a small part of the engagement process and people would have many opportunities to feed into the plans.  

Ms Darling said the infrastructure on the estate is “unsafe” and “not viable to sustain up to another 250” possible new residents, while multiple repairs have been “neglected” following a basement flood on the estate.  

She added: “Building on green space during a climate emergency is criminal.  

“The section 105 letter to residents contains an image showing ‘permanent loss of amenity up to the edge of the boundary’, destroying all of the established boundary trees and decimating the green space which has been a vital lifeline to residents throughout the pandemic and beyond. 

“There will be considerable damage to the root systems of existing trees and extensive loss of light and privacy for estate residents.” 

Ms Darling also raised concerns about a local school. 

“These plans sit right next to a primary school – this will make the Covid-safe drop off and pick up point for children totally inaccessible. 

“It will make the site totally unsafe for small children during construction and it will mean a four-storey block looking directly into a primary school playground, compromising the privacy and safety of all children who attend that school.” 

She said construction and more residents would “make air quality for children even worse”.  

“For a borough which has witnessed child fatalities due to air pollution, clean air for its children should be at the top of its priority list. 

“I assure that the residents of Greystead Road will fight to protect this green space for the children that live here and go to the school,” she said.  

Jamila Astwood, who lives on the Dacres Estate, spoke on behalf of residents and also criticised the consultation process.  

News Shopper: Rosemount Point on Dacres Estate 

“We are really concerned about the speed at which this is being pushed through and feel that the distraction of the coronavirus pandemic has been used to take advantage of us and our relative inexperience in these matters,” she said.  

Ms Astwood said residents were concerned about the consultation not being transparent, the impact on green space and air quality, as well as the loss of trees, wildlife, and views. 

“This is important as evidenced by Covid-19, the need for green space is imperative for all of our well-being,” she said, adding that many flats have young children who can use the green space for safe play.  

She said the estate could become “concrete jungle” and that there were very few details about what was planned.  

Ms Astwood added that the lack of transparency from the council and Lewisham Homes has had a “significant” impact on residents’ wellbeing.  

Perry Vale Cllr John Paschoud spoke at the meeting and said he has been “really impressed with the consultation process” so far.  

“This isn’t the formal planning process […]. 

“Jamila has made the point that she hasn’t been given full details of what anybody proposes to build on the Dacres Estate – that's because nobody has drawn up any detailed proposals yet because they’re trying to go the extra mile and get more information to form that before they plonk something on the table for either approval or refusal by a planning committee,” he said.  

When Cllr Bell presented the report he said engagement with residents is an “absolutely vital part” of the Building for Lewisham programme. 

News Shopper:

He said the section 105 consultation is a statutory requirement and forms only part of the process.  

“We will seek to minimise the loss of green space in schemes where there is an impact, and any trees lost will be replaced.  

“Where there is a loss of green space in a proposed development we will also seek to deliver a net increase it the number of trees on site,” he said, adding that concerns about privacy would be addressed through planning policy requirements.  

Cllr Bell said the proposals are about housing people with no home and that he was happy to meet with residents to speak about them.  

“What’s become very apparent during the pandemic is that we have a number of people who are severely overcrowded in Lewisham, living in properties that are not suitable.  

“We have supply issues with bigger homes, and the stories of children who have been trying to study in sometimes temporary accommodation where everyone’s in the same room are harrowing,” he said.