Loampit Vale development goes to planning committee this Thursday

A very important development is going in front of the Strategic Planning Committee this week, it’s the Loampit Vale development. Among other things this large development includes the forecast replacement for Ladywell Pool.
This is only the first post on this subject, I’ll post more considerations in the next few days.
The full application is available from this link. Here’s the proposal in short:

The construction of eight buildings ranging from five to twenty-four storeys, incorporating balconies and terraces, comprising 788 residential units (including up to 186 affordable), a leisure centre, 1,856m² of commercial floorspace (Use Classes A1, A2, and B1, including 626m² for creative industries), an energy centre, replacement London City Mission facilities, public and private amenity space, together with associated landscaping, bin stores, 866 cycle, 26 motorcycle and 181 car parking spaces on ground and first floor levels, associated highway works, plant and servicing.

I submitted an objection to the planning application, here’s the full text:

I write here to object to the proposed development at Loampit Vale
(Ref: DC/09/71246/X) because of the inadequate size of leisure provision and specifically the swimming pool.

The development is of strategic importance for its sport and leisure component since it’s supposed to replace the Borough flagship pool at Ladywell Leisure Centre.
Unfortunately the sizing of this new pool has been determined through a study that is grossly flawed.
The Leisure Needs Analysis commissioned and accepted by Lewisham Council as its policy and that stands at the foundation of this development did not consider the impact on the usage of the pool caused by the developments at the Town Centre themselves, which according to the Council’s own estimate stand at 4000 new housing units. It does not account for the impact of the transport interchange and doesn’t include any possible usage from outside Lewisham Borough boundaries, and despite the fact that the border with the London Borough of Greenich is extremely near and the pool will be very accessible to many Greenwhich residents.
This is an enormous underestimate of baffling proportions which means that this strategic development will only be able to deliver a largely insufficient amount of swimming opportunity for the resident of Lewisham within the catchment area of the Loampit Vale pool. This is in real terms a reduction in sport, health and leisure opportunities for this local community.

I ask this authority to reject the plans unless modifies are introduced so that adequate sports and leisure opportunities are provided to the residents of the area.

This planning application goes to Strategic Planning committee, and that is a special committee that also includes members of the Cabinet, which in this case are the same people that approved of the sale of Council’s land to the developers to build this very development.

On top of this the Council decided that the matter is covered by commercial confidentiality, so we cannot know what the agreement is and if there is room for improvement on what was decided.
But this is a very important and valuable piece of land transferred from Council’s property to a land developer, one wonders if it is appropriate to keep such a tight lid on the deal. I don’t think it’s so outlandish to think that it would have been the democratic thing to do to let us know what we’re getting and how those money are being used.

But putting aside the secretive nature of the financial deals involved and ignoring how appropriate (or not) it is for Council members tightly involved with the same development to sit on the planning committee that decides on its merits, there still is a serious issue that was raised many times over, and the answer from Mayor Bullock has always been a deafening silence.

This is in fact exactly the subject matter of my previous post and what the Mayor decided without motivating, and what the Overview and Scrutiny Business Panel couldn’t scrutinize because of the curtail on discussion imposed by the Labour councillors at Overview and Scrutiny Business Panel committee.

We said it loud and clear, the calculations of the leisure needs analysis are a masterpiece of numerical illiteracy.

In 2007 I presented this document to the Overview and Scrutiny Business Panel, it’s my analysis of what’s wrong with the Council’s analysis, the design of the development has since fortunately changed, but the specs of the pool remain the same. But thanks to some astonishing committee tactics the Mayor’s decision on this aspect of this important development was never scrutinized.

If this development goes ahead as proposed many of those that now use Ladywell Pool will see a serious reduction in availability and it’s quite possible that some will be pushed out altogether for lack of available slots that fit with their life, and the range of users is big, from the fitness lifestyle swimmer to the competitive swimmer, to the therapeutic swimmer, to children and the families.
Do we have to receive this unnecessary damage to our available amenities?

This development was the once in a lifetime opportunity to have a seriously good new pool, built with the same ambition that motivated those that built Ladywell Pool back in the 60’s.
The ambition to expand, not to contract.

I believe that my objection has legs, the case is supported by a solid research and the letter that I received from Planning specifies that one of the Planning considerations is “amenity space in the scheme”.

Will the Strategic Planning Committee do the right thing this Thursday?
Will this plan get the chance to become good enough or will it be forced through again?

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2 Responses to “Loampit Vale development goes to planning committee this Thursday”

  1. Loampit Vale #2 « . Says:

    […] I wrote in my previous post on Loampit Vale, I submitted an objecion and would be pleased if it was upheld and the plan being […]

  2. Loampit Vale application approved « . Says:

    […] negative judgement. Cllr Sue Luxton also spoke against it and so did I, for the reason expressed in my objection. There were also other objectors speaking at the meeting, Geoffrey Thurley of the Ladywell Society, […]

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