Locals have lost their battle to save a hidden South London beauty spot after the High Court backed a council’s plans to build a seven-storey tower block next to it.

Judges dismissed residents’ objections to the construction of 110 council homes near the Sydenham Hill Wood nature reserve in Lewisham.

The City of London Corporation and Lewisham Council intend to bulldoze Mais House – a block of former supported living accommodation for the elderly – to make way for the development.

The two councils will split the completed apartments on the Sydenham Hill estate between them. 

Lewisham says the planned flats will provide homes for some of the more than 10,000 families in need of a council home in the borough. 

But campaign group, Friends of Mais House, complained the area will be overwhelmed by the new development and wanted the planned number of homes slashed. 

It raised more than £60,000 through an online fundraiser to fight the plans.

On its fundraising page, the group writes: “The huge increase in scale in an environmentally sensitive location will mean felling mature trees and reducing much needed green communal space.

"It will impact on a conservation area, the historic and natural environment, and the much-visited ancient woodland opposite, as well as local infrastructure.”

But a judicial review carried out by Mr Justice Fordham ruled that there were no grounds to overturn Lewisham’s decision to grant planning permission for the development.

Following the High Court decision, Cllr Brenda Dacres, Lewisham’s cabinet member for housing development and planning, said: “I am pleased that the High Court has upheld our original decision to grant planning permission for this important 100 per cent social housing development at Mais House.

“With 10,000 families on our housing waiting list, building new social homes is a key priority for Lewisham.

"The development at Mais House will see an empty building and garages replaced with 110 much-needed social homes, helping families on our housing waiting list.

"It will also see more trees planted and the creation of a new play space for residents, while retaining current green space on the estate.”

Lewisham Council originally approved plans for new council homes on the site in August 2020. Locals subsequently appealed the decision in the High Court and won.

Judges blocked the plans due to errors made by the council during the planning process. 

Lewisham brought the proposals back to its planning committee and approved them a second time in June 2021.

Residents then launched another appeal.

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