On 19 October, Ruth Kelly, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, granted permission for development of the long derelict Bell Green Gasworks site. The approved development plans provide a huge retail and business park with a Homebase and garden centre, 4 additional retail sheds, business/industrial units, a family restaurant and 156 residential units.
The Sydenham Society is disappointed at the outcome but pleased that we were full participants at the recent inquiry where we were able to express the many concerns of a large number of local residents. By taking part in the inquiry we made sure that these concerns were taken into consideration and examined fully by the independent Planning Inspector. We were able to challenge various statements and statistics provided by the developers and the council when arguing in favour of the development.
Although the outcome is not what we wanted, we have represented local views on this subject at the highest level, which after all is the primary role of the Society.
The Sydenham Society has always acknowledged that Bell Green is an area in need of regeneration and has for many years argued with Lewisham Council that this could be achieved by other means. One welcome benefit of this decision should be the construction of an overdue pedestrian tunnel through the railway embankment at Southend Lane rail bridge – a long agreed safety measure which should not have been contingent on the outcome of a planning decision.
The die is now cast and we in Sydenham, residents and traders alike, are going to have to live with this development, whatever its consequences.
We would like to thank everyone who has given their support to this campaign, whether through a donation or by giving their time and expertise