Plans are in for a 30-storey tower in Lewisham on the site of Carpetright with an adjacent 16-storey block beside. Columbia Threadneedle are behind the scheme and have run a couple of low-key consultations in recent months. The planning app number is DC/17/102049 and comments can be made after searching here.

First, the good news. The taller tower out of the proposed two is not a basic box with a flat roof! It has a stepped roofline which contrasts with other towers in the vicinity. A possible new station entrance is included. It’s also good to see single-storey retail sheds by major station converted to high density residential.

242 residential units and 867 sq metres of commercial floorspace are planned.

Now the bad news; the colour scheme and materials are really quite dreary and the smaller tower significantly worse than earlier plans. The colour scheme according to documents is an exciting mix of “dark grey brick”, “light grey brick” and “mid-grey metal”.

Of course the images in the planning document are on a bright, blue sunny day. They don’t show a tall grey building on your average cloudy and damp Monday morning.

Leaning tower of Lewisham

And what’s with the dead frontage on Thurston Road seen above? With regards to the shorter block, earlier design iterations had warm orange/brown materials:

Then these designs were also considered before the final design was chosen:

And just why have they placed an apparent “wall” on Loampit Vale which presents a black inactive frontage? Get rid of it and open up the space. Here it is lining the road:

Reducing noise in the square is hardly an argument for this. We don’t stick up 8-foot walls on every bit of paving or greenery facing onto main roads. If they really wanted a noise barrier then why not incorporate a building with windows facing the street; perhaps a nice bar or coffee shop for passing commuters. There’s reference to this “wall” being panels with gaps but it still appears as a solid wall on approach if the renders are any guide.

The use of “aluminium panel cladding” on the taller building will also raise eyebrows given recent events. It also looks very “cheap” and this scheme sees extensive use of it.

Back to the positives, and double-height street level units are planned, though as shown, apparently not on Thurston Road in contrast to earlier plans.

A possible new station entrance

Another good part of this scheme is a new station entrance. Original 2015 plans did not include this and Lewisham Council insisted on revisions. By 2016 it had become a car free development which makes sense given its location and local congestion. A car club membership could be provided to residents.

A site directly north is a bus station and projected to be a Bakerloo station site. However  this is 12 years away and probably longer with Central Government averse to infrastructure investment and limiting the ability of London to raise finance to construct major projects. Can anyone see Chris Grayling pushing it?

On the subject of Grayling (a pet topic I know), his refusal to allow TfL to control rail services through the station could well push back the new station entrance. If the Department for Transport doesn’t specify that a new franchise operator uses it (and they aren’t normally on the ball) then the private operator will NOT fund the fit out and staffing of their own accord. And given the inflexible nature of franchises it could mean nothing happens until the franchise is re-let in 2025 or 2027. TfL are so much more flexible.

This scheme sees 242 flats planned in total, and many other schemes are underway or planned in the area, as covered here, including:

Lewisham Retail Park – 536 homes

Connington Road (Tesco car park) – 367 homes

Lewisham Gateway – 362 in stage one. 300+ in stage two.

87-89 Loampit Vale – 49 homes

Heathside and Lethbridge estate redevelopment: 1200 homes

Flora Villas: 50+ homes

Citibank Tower (if it ever gets underway): 200+ homes

Once again, for this latest Carpetright plan the planning app number is DC/17/102049 and comments can be made after searching here.