Lewisham set to decide again on 324 homes at Besson Street, New Cross

Lewisham Council’s planning committee will meet tonight to again decide whether to permit a development of 324 homes in New Cross.

This site has a long and tortuous history, lying vacant for many years as Lewisham’s housing crises worsened.

Internal garden

A plan for housing in 2009 went nowhere. Six years ago Lewisham’s Mayor and Cabinet agreed to create a 50/50 joint venture for the site. Four years ago Lewisham decided to that joint venture with Grainger plc for a Build to Rent project.

Despite a sharp increase in homeless households, the development will not include any social housing.

2009 plan never progressed and site vacant 11 years later

Earlier this year I covered how the cost of housing people in temporary housing in Lewisham was £109 million over four years.

The total “affordable” homes will be 35 per cent, which is “London Living Rent” and not “London Affordable Rent” which is closer to the old social/council homes level of rent.

This means rent on a 2-bed will be £1,098 per month.

A prior approval earlier in 2021 has seen subsequent issues arise. The proposal is “being returned for consideration at Strategic Planning Committee following an application stage Design Review Panel review and an Independent Noise Survey having been undertaken in relation to the adjacent Music Room.”

The development also includes:
• GP Surgery
• Pharmacy
• Community Space
• Flexible Retail/Commercial

Tallest block at junction of Besson Street and Briant Street

One issue since prior approval is the Music Room. This is a former library building (116-118 New Cross Road) which dates from 1911. This building is used as rehearsal rooms and locally listed.

Sound measurement was undertaken last month: “The survey found that and has found that based on the noise survey and noise assessment detailed above, it is concluded that the building envelope sound insulation performances proposed by Cole Jarman are sufficient to control music noise from The Music Room’s operations to meet the agreed internal music noise limit spectrum.”

A Design Review Panel meeting in November 2021 stated: “As highlighted at previous LDRP review, the Panel do not feel that the base of the tower has been successfully resolved either architecturally or in its relationship with the public realm, and the fenced off community space unconvincing on the pivotal Briant Street/Besson Street junction.”

It noted improvements from earlier stages and also stated: “The landscape design is very successful and the Panel feel that most of the design moves are successful. The Panel were pleased to see the retention of the remaining major trees.”

The proposal includes a GP surgery with space for 18 doctors, increasing patient capacity by 3,000. This is achieved by closing an existing surgery, though the net increase is three GPs:

“The Lewisham Infrastructure Delivery Plan, as referenced by the Core Strategy, has identified a need for an additional 27 GPs in Deptford and New Cross.

The existing surgery is understood to employ 15 GPs whereas the proposed GP surgery would employ 18 GP jobs”.

Lewisham councillors are set to make a decision tonight.


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J Smith

I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

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