The Hatcham Society

The Lewisham skyline - the future of New Cross Gate and Hatcham?

Lewisham local plan - ignore at your peril....

This week, the beleaguered contested clerk of Handforth Parish Council, Jackie Weaver asked: "What do ‘young people’ perceive as the greatest barrier to engagement with local democracy- TELL me - don’t assume I know!" Ms Weaver shot to fame earlier this month when an over-the-top Parish council Zoom meeting crawled its way out of obscurity and into BBC news headlines

In a time where we are all juggling childcare, sick relatives, our own health issues and a precarious job market that is pushing thousands to food banks and homelessness every day, engaging with local democratic procedures, understandably, takes a back seat. But, I cannot stress the importance of engaging with the consultation phase of the Lewisham Local Plan enough. The local plan acts as the blueprint of what Lewisham council will approve in the borough until 2040. If a developer comes to the council's planning department with something in line with the plans, it will more than likely be approved no matter how many residents oppose the plans. That's why it's vital to engage with the plans and have your say now - you have until 11th April 2021 to respond.  The timing isn't great, and we don't really agree with the consultation going ahead during a pandemic, but the beat of local bureaucracy drones on....

Lewisham's local plan for Hatcham 

The plan is expansive, spans hundreds (if not thousands) of pages, and goes into intricate detail on a variety of topics from Heritage, Infrastructure, Transport, Housing, Greenspaces, Trees, Pubs, Town Centres, Shops - the list is endless. I've concentrated on Hatcham in the following, because, this is a local newsletter for local people (that's a reference to The League of Gentlemen, btw, not me being a parochial idiot in Zone 2 London). The Newshopper is running a series on the Lewisham plan on their website. Local newspapers are on their knees because of a catastrophic loss in ad revenue, so always buy a copy if you can. 

Hatcham and New Cross fall into the 'North' area of the local plan which you can read about here on the council's website (p63) or see below. 
Please note, this is not an application from Sainsburys, it's nothing to do with Sainsburys but what Lewisham wants to happen on the site. 

The (draft) Local Plan supersedes the New Cross Gate Supplementary Planning Document which the Hatcham Society objected to because it recommended the opening Harts Lane and Hatcham Park Road to traffic from New Cross Road for access to the Sainsbury's site once developed. Hatcham was going to be opened up to buses and all sorts of vehicles. You can read how we opposed these plans here. Anyway, it appears that Lewisham Council has climbed down from these plans in the draft Local Plan:

"The layout of the site should incorporate sufficient space to accommodate interchange between bus, tube, rail, cycling and walking" (p49)

We believe this means that the council is no longer looking to re-open Harts Lane and Hatcham Park Road to traffic but to be sure, make sure you write in your concerns when responding to the local plan consultation. There is no mention of how car access into 'Hatcham Works' will work in the local plan, so that's still worrying. If cars are allowed into Hatcham from New Cross Road, we are at risk of turning into a rat run for people going to Bermondsey and Deptford, so make your voices heard now.

Other important bits to comment on:

- Lewisham want to build a town centre on 'Hatcham Works' with 912 residential units, a tube station and interchange, a supermarket, an overground interchange, and some offices. 
- They are committed to the Bakerloo line extension and won't accept a development that gets in the way of this (TFL have already said they want New Cross Gate to be a key tunnelling site to deliver the project - although their finances are in dire straits so no tunnelling for quite a while yet...)
- New cycle and walking access with a planned bridge over the station, connecting us to Goodwood Road (probably not until after the tube station arrives, so a very long time yet!)

The 912 residential units seem very high, considering the previous local plan of 2013 gave an indicative number of 200 residential units for that site. But the council probably justifies the intensification of housing due to the proposed tube station interchange. Although, personally, it seems counterintuitive for more residential spaces to be built in an area with a high footfall due to commuters. I'd love to hear what people think, but more importantly, tell Lewisham Council! In the years to come, we can look towards the successes or failures of the flats at Nine Elms Station or Lewisham station to find out whether this strategy of surplus residential units by stations work...Do such developments create a lasting community for those who live there? 
A planning application to demolish and rebuild the Montague Arms in 289 Queen's Rd into a monstrosity has been submitted to the council. We've written a letter opposing the plans and you should too! You can read our response here. The brilliant Sister Midnight Records in Lewisham is looking to buy the Ravensbourne Arms in Lewisham through an Asset of Community Value bid - is anyone keen to do this for the Montague Arms? Respond to this email and i'll connect you with each other and support you! 
Goodbye Cllr Joe Dromey, Joe was a friendly ally when Sainsbury's tried to develop their New Cross Gate site last year, which would have blocked the Bakerloo line extension. It's not easy being in local politics, as anyone in Handforth Parish Council can tell you...It's often thankless with long hours with bureaucracy tangled in party politics. An absolute nightmare. We wish him luck in his life outside of the council and thank him for the thousands of hours he's spent on Lewisham! We will be hosting a local husting (virtual) ahead of the by-election in May 2021.... 
The boxers of Hatcham...Why did a professional wrestler, boxer, gym owner and trainer dubbed ‘the most popular man in New Cross’ in the late 1880s disappear from local and sporting history, and end up in an unmarked grave? Jack Wannop and his wife Miriam arrived from Cumbria around 1880, living first in Wandsworth before swiftly settling in New Cross. The family grew on Batavia Road, moved to Brockley, then settled back in New Cross on Cottesbrooke Street. Jack made headlines around the world for his wrestling and boxing feats, performed for the Prince of Wales, and ran shows and tournaments to huge audiences at the New Cross Public Hall and Amersham Hall. He pioneered the practice of catch-as-catch-can wrestling – a new style at the time - set up training gyms at the New Cross House and Lord Derby, and launched his own in 1891 off Hatcham Park Road, furnished with two full-size rings, workout equipment, and space for everything from comedy donkey wrestling to heavyweight championship prize fights. Goldsmiths, University of London press officer, part time historian, and trainee wrestler Sarah Elizabeth Cox has spent the past two and a half years researching the life of Jack and his fascinating circle of pugilists in east and south east London. You can find her stories on or follow @wrestling1880s
Copyright © 2021 Hatcham Conservation Society, All rights reserved.

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