On 12 November a Call to the Mayor and Council of Lewisham was sent by a local group, A Better Lee Green


We are calling for your immediate and in-depth scrutiny of the current proposals for redevelopment of the Leegate Centre at the junction of Eltham Road and Burnt Ash Road, SE12 8SS. We strongly encourage you – as our elected representatives and guarantors of the public interest with regards to developments in the borough – to fulfil your responsibilities so that planning policies are observed, not only in letter but also in spirit.

We insist that you ensure that the developer and the London Borough of Lewisham Planning Department apply the best practices by obtaining independent expertise and engaging with the community to produce plans meeting the diverse long-term needs of residents, traders, neighbours and users of the site.

Why is this important?

So far, the plans have undergone three distinct changes, each resulting in increased overdevelopment with progressive loss of public space, reduced choice and competition of retail. Therefore, far from providing a welcoming and “enhanced” space as they claim, the proposals will undoubtedly lead to the worsening of local amenity and quality of life due to their predictable negative effects on the environment and character of the whole of Lee Green which is our district centre.

We call for serious reconsideration of:

  • the overall concept centred on a superstore which will bring thousands of cars to congested main roads with illegal levels of pollution and residential roads with significant safety issues
  • the insistence on a large supermarket within a confined area in immediate proximity to an existing large supermarket
  • the disappearance of the majority of currently available public space and the significant loss of the permeability of the site : instead no more than a widened pavement strip is disingenuously promoted as improvement
  • the misnomer of the provision of “retail mix” as over two dozens of presently operating shops are to be substituted for less than half that number, all of this after years of neglect of the centre have forced even successful businesses to leave

We are further particularly concerned about:

  • the refusal to give information about and acknowledge public rights of way which have existed for decades
  • the uncertainty with regards to the provision of meaningful affordable housing and no mentioning of social housing
  • the misinterpretation by the developer and the failure of the planning department in preliminary consultations to demand compliance with many aspects of national and local planning documents

We are calling for your direct and sustained involvement so that genuine improvements are made through:

  • a robust and open grassroots consultation – with the outcome publicly available
  • the exploration of creative and appropriate alternatives striving to meet the needs of different stakeholders
  • identifying and addressing the legitimate demands of the community for more public space, appropriate retail, cultural and leisure facilities
  • the regeneration of Lee Green to reflect national planning laws and guidance, the borough’s own development strategy and retail analysis in a holistic manner, with a view to the effects on the district centre as a whole

The opportunity should be seized to deliver an up-to-date forward-thinking solution for the Leegate Centre as the residential and business community, Council and developer work together. The planning department and elected councillors could and should use their statutory powers to press for a much better outcome than is tabled at present.

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