Full response to alternative Leegate plans

July 2017


Leegate revised proposals: response from Lee Green Assembly working group

We welcome the revised plans for the regeneration of Leegate. They are a considerable improvement on the earlier ones, which would have resulted in a retail imbalance while creating too great a negative impact on the environment – traffic and pollution – and, although the extra housing was welcome, insufficient thought had been given to the social consequences of the extra housing and its relationship with the retail provision.


The new plans are particularly welcome as they will contribute to meeting housing need, free up extra public and more usable space and include a permeability that could increase usage of the site. In addition, the loss of the overweening large retailer should result in less traffic and pollution than would have been the case in the earlier plans.


We want the plans to succeed. However, we believe the shift in balance creates a new set of problems, the solutions to which we think are not insurmountable. Some of these solutions are a matter for Lewisham Council’s planners, so we are copying them into our comments.


We hope that these comments will give you further pause for thought before submitting your revised plans to Lewisham Council. St Modwen have always been willing to meet with the Assembly working group both inside and outside the formal consultation process, and we would be happy to maintain that dialogue.


Our comments are, as follows:



This has long been one of our priorities, so we welcome the increased numbers. However, we want to see levels of genuinely affordable (i.e., social) housing that reflect existing need in both the local area and the borough more generally. That means raising the percentages of social housing. For the new community to become socially sustainable, there needs also to be a good balance in rented and owner occupied accommodation, as well as between family and single unit housing.

Plans need to include ways of ensuring current residents’ needs are met in developing the site and allocating their housing in a sensitive and supportive way.

Chief concern about the height of some of the blocks is they don’t overshadow the square and lower residential units in the passageways, denying light to and impacting on safety of the rest of the scheme.

While recognising that the numbers will mean relatively high density, it is important that the new more permeable layout is designed in ways that ensure the safety and security of residents and shopper alike.



Such a change to the local demographic also needs to be accommodated by effective infrastructure planning, most notably the impact on local health and education services, and on transport links.

These considerations might mean support for existing health centres or schools, or working with the affordable housing provider to create a greater synergy with the community centre, gym, and so on. Within any discussion of transport, in addition to liaising with TfL and train providers about bus and train routes, the walkability to it and cycling facilities ought to be considered.


Public realm

Again, it was encouraging to note your plans for a much larger, recessed public square and, while there will be a need for some street furniture, greater emphasis should be given to trees and shrubs/hedges as contributors to reducing pollution. In particular, we believe the plans should incorporate the existing London plane trees, the loss of which would have a serious environmental and legacy impact.

Maintenance of the public realm will be vital, with adherence to quality contract specification. This is important as a contributor to the social viability of the scheme.


Retail/leisure/arts mix

The identity of the smaller retailer/s supermarkets needs confirming relatively quickly in order to effect a sensible balance with other retailers, and to anticipate any additional shopping (car) traffic. The loss of the covered alley and larger public square should create a better “ambience” within which to cater for independent smaller shops and café/restaurants.

There should be public toilet facilities.

In addition, the creation of more housing will necessitate catering for residents’ more immediate needs – small-scale shopping, banking, newsagent, laundromat, etc. Consideration could perhaps be given to a small cinema or other popular leisure activity to increase the precinct’s night-time viability. Office space should take account of a growing trend of short-term usage of computer-based facilities.


Community centre and social cohesion

While pleased that a community centre remains within the plans, we don’t believe the 27% allocated loss can be justified, particularly in view of the increased population which will have, if anything, greater needs. A community centre would make a big contribution to establishing and maintaining the area’s social cohesion, in particular in providing extra space for young people. Its location on the first floor, while perhaps increasing security, will make it less visible and accessible to the community. We know that Lee Green Lives are writing separately, but we would emphasise our support for their arguments that the size and ground floor presence it had under the first scheme be maintained, as well as the potential synergy with the neighbouring gym and offices.



As cited before, we welcome the improved permeability, particularly the north-south passageway. We are concerned, however, that its design should avoid it’s appearing as an alley, thus encouraging crime and even inhibiting access by emergency services. Some residents at the consultation expressed concerns about the interface with Carston Close, so efforts should be made to improve the physical environment of the north end of the close.

Similarly, there are concerns about the need to ensure welcoming entrances at both ends of the central passageway and pedestrian-friendly links with Burnt Ash and Leyland roads. Information boards and site maps to help visitors access their destinations quickly are a relatively small but vital requirement.


Character and identity

Related to the particulars of signage and safety is an overall approach in providing complementary identities to the scheme’s components, say, different looks for different blocks. It is important, particularly if developing it in phases, that there is an overall integrity of design.


Traffic and parking

While the absence of a superstore will mean reduced traffic and short-term parking, there will still be a need for more residential and shopping spaces for cars. This could be resolved by locating the extra spaces underground, thus releasing more space in the public realm.

Bicycle storage/parking ought to be included in any scheme and could reduce car usage.

Consideration of this demand should be accompanied by the necessary environmental impact assessment, its results helping to determine to scheme’s viability.


Financial viability and site management

We appreciate the loss of the superstore means that St Modwen have had to reconfigure plans to ensure its financial viability and would hope that the changing retail and housing markets would allow a new financial restructuring that would enable that to happen. St Modwen have suggested the new scheme allows for greater flexibility, with phasing of the components facilitating such an approach.

Before adopting any phasing of the scheme, we would counsel the need to ensure that doesn’t lead to a loss of overall site integrity. Selling off one block to realise an early financial gain might jeopardise the viability of the entire scheme.

Conceivably, it could mean different owners, each operating within separate management and maintenance arrangements. If the north end, for example, were to proceed first, it is important that sufficient levels of social housing were included to avoid any chance of reneging on those commitments in subsequent phases.

Our understanding is that St Modwen will be appointing an RSL to manage the affordable housing. That should be done soon, so signalling the intent. Any separate sales of the other phases, if permitted at all, should fit within an overall agreement that ensures meeting the housing need, the financial viability and a commitment to maintaining the upkeep of the whole site.

We would also be concerned that any phasing of the site’s development should avoid construction “blight”. Otherwise, life for the new residents might suffer and business for the new retailers never get the lift-off they deserve.


S106 and CIL

Because of changes to the way community gain is calculated, we are uncertain under which regime this scheme now comes, with the plans as initially submitted coming under Section 106, but now likely to fall within the Community Infrastructure Levy. We would want guarantees that, if the former, sufficient money is made available to meet the various community needs, cited here, and, if the latter, that the 25% is allocated in a transparent way so as to ensure that it all benefits the locality. Whatever the case, we believe we need planning guidance and that this will need to be discussed with Lewisham Planning.



Much of the success of this scheme will be dependent on the details of the application which we have yet to see. For this reason, we believe it vital that there is a meeting between St Modwen and LBL planners and ourselves to discuss the details of the plans meaningfully before a full application is made. Otherwise, we all run the risk of unnecessary loss of time and goodwill attempting to overcome any potential differences.

St Modwen have an opportunity to create a scheme that might serve as a model for a regeneration scheme that meets the medium and long-term needs of the new community and the wider population with whom they could live together in harmony. Our comments are designed to support that vision. We hope you will respond to us in a constructive way.


Cllr Jim Mallory on behalf of Lee Green Assembly’s Leegate Working Group




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