40-storey towers ‘will destroy Henry’s historic shipyard’

English Heritage is fighting plans to build 3,500 new homes over what was once King Henry VIII’s shipyard.
Convoys Wharf, Deptford
English Heritage fears £1 billion project will bury Convoys Wharf in Deptford
If approved the £1 billion scheme at Convoy’s Wharf, Deptford, will change the skyline of south-east London forever with a series of skyscrapers reaching up to 40 storeys. They will be part of a 42-acre suburb of shops, bars, restaurants, an arts centre and primary school.

Developer Hutchison Whampoa says the scheme will regenerate a still-shabby part of the capital. The plans - described as the south east London borough’s most significant catalyst for regeneration and a major contribution to the area’s housing needs - are currently being considered by Lewisham Council.

But conservationists point out that this is the site where most of Britain’s 16th century warships were built, helping England become the world’s greatest naval power.

Malcolm Woods, historic buildings and areas adviser at English Heritage, has made an official objection to the proposals on a site of such “significant historic importance”.

The dockyards were commissioned by King Henry VIII almost 500 years ago. Original relics surviving on site include the remains of a Tudor storehouse, which is a Scheduled Ancient Monument. Woods complains the rather generic design of the proposals fail to reflect the site’s rich past.

“An understanding of the site’s history should have been used as a stimulus to the creative process,” he said. “It is English Heritage’s view that the regeneration of Convoys Wharf as now proposed fails to grasp the unique opportunity to create a distinctive sense of place that takes full advantage of the rich historical legacy of the site and its local area.”

Neighbouring Greenwich Council also objects, claiming the new towers would loom over nearby Greenwich Park.

Lewisham Council is due to rule on the scheme later this month, although given the scale of the proposals the final say will go to Mayor Boris Johnson. So far the council has received six letters in favour of the plans – and more than 150 against.

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