A developer’s appeal against a planning refusal for a block of flats by a playground in Deptford has been dismissed by a planning inspector.
Aurora Apartments wanted to build the three-storey building on a small plot of land by the Armada Community Project and Charlotte Turner Gardens in McMillan Street, just off Creek Road.
Locals set up a campaign group to stop the development, saying children would lose out on “vital” play space, while a nursery playground would have been plunged into darkness by the proposed build.
Greenwich Council rejected the original application at the end of March, concluding that the design, massing, and scale would be “unsympathetic and over dominant” to its surroundings.
The developer appealed against Greenwich’s decision but the appeal was dismissed because of the impact it would have on neighbours and the area in general.
The planning inspector wrote: “The proposed block, in view of its scale, location and visual context, would be crammed onto its site and would appear over-dominant, impinging harmfully on openness and obliterating the pleasant views into the park enjoyed by passers-by, whether on foot, cycle or in cars.
“To my mind, the development’s intrusive nature would represent the antithesis of good quality urban planning and would case unacceptable harm to the well-balanced townscape that such planning has achieved.”
A spokesperson for the Stop McMillan Street Development group thanked the community for its support, but said they were concerned that the developer might come back with another scheme for the land, which is the site of an old pub, originally called the Duke of Wellington but later known as Blusher’s.
He said: “On behalf of the community we welcome the decision, which was critical to protect the local area from this intrusive development, and which follows a strong response from the community. We are concerned the developer will return with further damaging proposals, and the site remains hoarded off with unattractive fencing and is now the scene of fly-tipping.
“We would like to work with Greenwich Council to protect the land, and the park within which it sits, for community benefit.
“We are incredibly grateful to the support we’ve received from the local community, from [community group] Deptford Folk and from the local MP Matthew Pennycook,” he said.
The land was was given to a local music charity, which provides studio space for young people, more than 20 years ago.
Midi Music sold the land in 2019 for £105,000. According to a document filed to Companies House, the charity said the sale “contributed towards increasing our reserve fund, easing the charity’s cashflow and even though we received £20k less from our land investment due to the reporter Japanese Knotweed presence, the reality of our financial position is positive”.
The site once had a covenant protecting it for community use, but the charity negotiated with the donor for it to be removed. This means the developer is free to build flats on the site if it gets planning permission.
The developer has been contacted for comment on the decision.
Gráinne Cuffe is the Local Democracy Reporter for Lewisham. The Local Democracy Reporting Service is a BBC-funded initiative to ensure councils are covered properly in local media.
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