Amicus Horizon was given planning permission for a revised building on the site of the Tiger's Head in Southend Village at my planning committee last night. In my view it was a depressing failure of Lewisham's ability to work with developers to bring about the aspirations of the Bromley Road Supplementary Planning Document agreed just weeks ago in January.
The plan outlines some of the aspirations for this area particular site within the Southend Village area:
* shops or similar at ground floor level
* no more than 5 storeys high
* consideration to saving the historic buildings
* a mix of tenures
Instead what we have is a 100% affordable housing with no shops or commercial development that completely demolishes the pub.
At the committee weight was given to the pledge from Amicus that they were intent on ploughing ahead with the original plans for this site if we turned down their new application. A bullying approach from a body supported with public funds is never a good start in my book. Worse still, even though Amicus intend to proceed with 100% affordable housing - in planning terms we are only able to request 35% - if this housing association sells the site on with the new planning permission we really are stuffed. But I should add that I don't believe there are any plans to sell the property on - but if Amicus are unable for whatever reason to get the grants they need then that of course will be an option. In planning terms unless it's in writing, guaranteed by a condition or a S106 agreement it has little weight - when push comes to shove in the building phase many fine promises made at committee can be conveniently forgotten if needed.
So there it is - a housing association has turned down the opportunity to make use of the Bromley Road SPD to build on the Tigers Head site in line with community aspirations for the area. On the plus side there will be a larger number of affordable homes available in Lewisham when this development is built - but many local people in the local area will also feel let down that a significant opportunity for improvement in the area has been missed - and I share that feeling.