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Agenda item

Build the Lenox

Decision:

Resolved: to note the report and presentation given at the meeting and refer the following Committee views to Mayor and Cabinet-

 

  • On 11 July 2013, the Sustainable Development Select Committee considered a report entitled Build the Lenox and received a presentation from members of the Build the Lenox group.
  • The Committee recommends that the Mayor write to Li Ka-Shing, Chairman of the Board of Hutchison Whampoa to urge a meeting between the developer and the Build the Lenox group.
  • The Committee recommends that a review be carried out by planning officers to determine what support can be given to the Build the Lenox group to assist in achieving the Lenox vision.
  • The Committee acknowledges the potential lasting benefits the Build the Lenox project might bring to the borough, including the employment, heritage, tourism, training and education initiatives it would help to create. The Committee also acknowledges that the project could help to create an iconic destination for tourists from around the world.
  • The Committee acknowledges the success of similar projects in regenerating towns and cities across Europe, including: (list to be provided by witnesses)
  • The Committee urges the Mayor to work jointly with the office of the Mayor of London and the London Assembly to support the project.
  • The Committee welcomes efforts by the Build the Lenox team to encourage the builders of the L’Hermione in Rochefort, France to visit the borough and share their experiences of building a replica warship.
  • The Committee notes the relevance of sections of the Council’s core strategy, specifically section 4B of the spatial strategy for regeneration areas, which relate to community well being.

 

 

 

Minutes:

Councillor Curran declared a non-pecuniary interest in relation to this item due to his high level of interest in the scheme.

 

Julian Kingston (Build the Lenox) introduced a presentation. The key points to note were:

 

The history of the Lenox

  • The Lenox was the first of a fleet of 30 ships built in the 17th century.
  • It was one of a new class of ships, the construction of which turned Deptford in to a maritime ‘power house’.
  • The ship took 60 men a year to build.
  • It had a 125 foot keel, weighed 1100 tons and took 2300 oak trees to build.
  • The Lenox project team proposed to build a replica of the ship at the eastern edge of Convoys Wharf in the double dry docks.
  • A ship called the Hermione had been build in the town of Rochefort in Western France. The area had suffered from a decades of decline and disrepair. However, the construction of the Hermione turned around the fortunes of the town.
  • Approximately 800,000 people were in Rocheford for the launch of the Hermione.
  • Similar projects had been created in Gothenburg and in Spain.
  • The UK had been good a preserving old ships but not good at building replicas, such as the Lenox.
  • The Lenox project created significant potential for a major heritage construction project. There would also be the potential to launch the ship.
  • The project could be managed to create a network of ships so that the ships from Sweden, France and Spain could visit Deptford and the Lenox could visit other ports in the world.
  • The building of the Lenox had the potential to make Deptford a major tourist destination.

 

Current plans

 

  • Convoys Wharf had been bought by a major developer called Hutchison Whampoa, who intended to build several thousand flats.
  • Hutchison Whampoa had used the Lenox project as part of their planning application, however, they had not engaged with the Lenox project team in any meaningful way.
  • The western wharf had been proposed by the developer as the location for the building project.
  • However, the best location would be on the eastern side of the site.
  • Processes could be put in place to ensure that visitors would not be endangered on the construction site.
  • If the proposal to build the Lenox went ahead on the Western edge of the site, it would be difficult for the project to become self sufficient because it would be harder to attract footfall from Greenwich.
  • The project would create training and employment opportunities, as well as the potential for workers to develop highly skilled roles.
  • The Lenox would require 2300 trees to build. The project team would look to source these in the most sustainable way. The group had been in discussion in with the High Speed2 project – which had agreed, in principle, to provide the trees.
  • The group had also had discussions about the use of managed woodlands to provide the timber needed for the project.
  • The group  would like the Council to make the support for the Lenox project conditional to the planning permission for the Convoys Wharf scheme.

 

In response to questions from the Committee, the representatives of Build the Lenox advised:

 

  • The Lenox project had been registered as a community interest company. A core group of people were managing the project but more than 300 people were involved, including a number of local historians and heritage specialists.
  • Discussions about funding had taken place with the Crossrail team. Further discussions needed to happen with the banks, and big businesses in the region.
  • The team would take on a professional fundraiser once the project reached a ‘point of credibility’.
  • When the construction started, finances would be raised by charging people for entrance to the build site. This would allow the project to become self sufficient in a short space of time.
  • It was anticipated that the Lenox would become part of a local tourism strategy, linking the project with the Cutty Sark and the national maritime museum.
  • The team hoped that the project would have a similar income to the Cutty Sark.
  • The management group would tender out the work to be done to other companies.  Part of the tendering process would be ensuring that local labour and training opportunities would be made available.
  • The planning requirements the project needed to fulfil, to become conditional to granting the project’s planning consent, were vague.
  • The developers had been reluctant to meet with the Lenox team.
  • The team would welcome support from the committee to enable the project to overcome the limitations of the planning system and require that the developer take forward the Lenox project.
  • Kevin Reed, the Mayor of London’s planner had indicated that it was difficult to engage with Hutchison Whampoa. The developer also claimed that it could not make sufficient profit from the development if the planning conditions were too strict.
  • The reason for wanting to keep the Lenox on the east of the site was that the most expensive flats were due to be built there. It was felt that the developer did not want the building of the Lenox to spoil the view.
  • The Sayes Court Garden was a separate, but linked part of the heritage at the site.

 

In response to questions from the Committee, Brian Regan (Planning Policy Manager) advised members that:

 

  • The application from the developers of Convoys Wharf was currently with the Council, it did not include proposals that would facilitate the building of the Lenox as it was envisioned by the Lenox project team.
  • There was government guidance on what could be considered a legal planning condition, including requirement that the decision is reasonable, related to development and able to be implemented.
  • The date for the decision to be made at planning committee had not been agreed.

 

Whilst supportive of the scheme, the Committee agreed that they would ensure that they kept ‘an open mind’ about the development.

 

Members urged the Lenox team to ensure that it made all Councillors aware of the project.

 

Resolved: to note the report and presentation given at the meeting and refer the following Committee views to Mayor and Cabinet:

 

  • On 11 July 2013, the Sustainable Development Select Committee considered a report entitled Build the Lenox and received a presentation from members of the Build the Lenox group.
  • The Committee recommends that the Mayor write to Li Ka-Shing, Chairman of the Board of Hutchison Whampoa to urge a meeting between the developer and the Build the Lenox group.
  • The Committee recommends that a review be carried out by planning officers to determine what support can be given to the Build the Lenox group to assist in achieving the Lenox vision.
  • The Committee acknowledges the potential lasting benefits the Build the Lenox project might bring to the borough, including the employment, heritage, tourism, training and education initiatives it would help to create. The Committee also acknowledges that the project could help to create an iconic destination for tourists from around the world.
  • The Committee acknowledges the success of similar projects in regenerating towns and cities across Europe.
  • The Committee urges the Mayor to work jointly with the office of the Mayor of London and the London Assembly to support the project.
  • The Committee welcomes efforts by the Build the Lenox team to encourage the builders of the L’Hermione in Rochefort, France to visit the borough and share their experiences of building a replica warship.
  • The Committee notes the relevance of sections of the Council’s core strategy, specifically section 4B of the spatial strategy for regeneration areas, which relate to community well being.

 

 

Supporting documents: