- Convoy's Wharf
Convoy's Wharf is the site of Deptford Dockyard the first of the
Royal Dockyards. It is a riverside site in Deptford, by the Thamesin Londonfirst developed in 1513 by Henry VIIIto build vessels for the Royal Navy. Currently owned by News International, which used it to import newsprintand other paper products from Finlanduntil early 2000, it is subject to a planning application to convert it into residential units. [ [http://www.richardrogers.co.uk/render.aspx?siteID=1&navIDs=1,4,25,124,125 Concept ] ]
Established in 1513 by
Henry VIIIas the first Royal Dockyard building vessels for the Royal Navy. [ [http://www.portcities.org.uk/london/server/show/ConNarrative.52/chapterId/774/Deptford-and-Woolwich-Londons-Royal-Dockyards.html Deptford and Woolwich: London's Royal Dockyards - The working Thames - Port Cities ] ] In 1698 Peter the Greatof Russia came to Deptford to learn about shipbuilding. It closed as a Dockyard in 1869.
From 1871 until
World War Iit was the City of London Corporation's Foreign Cattle Market. In 1912 The Timesreported that over 4 million head of live cattle, and sheep, had been landed.
In 1923 a director of the
News of the Worldbought the site and began to import newsprint. Eventually the site, as with the newspaper came into the ownership of News International. Although significant investment was made on the site in the mid 1990s restrictions on heavy lorries in Greenwich town centre made it uneconomic to continue using the site as a freight wharf.
In 2002 News International applied to the
London Borough of Lewishamfor outline planning permission to erect 3,500 residential units on the site. Lewisham councillors resolved to approve the application in May 2005. As of July 2008 the application has yet to be referred to Mayor of London Boris Johnson. Boris has the power to direct a refusal of planning consent and if the matter is ever referred will probably direct a refusal.
If Mr Johnson allows the application it will then be referred to the
Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. This is for a variety of reasons, not least a Government direction that half the site is safeguarded for freight use. Since freight wharves on the Thames were safeguarded in 1997 by, the then Secretary of State for the Environment, John Gummerno wharf has been lost to residential use without a full public inquiry.
If News International succeed in gaining planning permission then the site will be sold to a subsidiary of
Cheung Kong Holdingsfor £100million. The supposedly confidential sales agreement dated 13 May 2005 can be purchased from HM Land Registryfor £10 by post (or downloaded for £5) where it is filed against title number SGL292753.
Local community groups, businesses and churches in Deptford, and beyond, have and are campaigning under the banner of Convoys Opportunity to have the current application refused and the safeguarding order upheld. London is exceptional amongst major cities, with the necessary depth of water, in not having a purpose built Cruise Liner Terminal. If the application gets past Mayor Boris then Convoys Opportunity will ask Hazel Blears to call-in the application for a ministerial decision (after a public inquiry).
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