Despite the objections of the Forest Hill Society, the Sydenham Society, Councillor John Russell, and over 60 local residents, the planning committee tonight accepted the proposed development in Redberry Grove.
Only three of the councillors turned up to the planning meeting - John Paschoud, Sue Luxton, and Paul Maslin - the minimum number needed to hold the meeting.
Despite a number of good arguments put forward by Michael Abrahams on behalf of the objectors, and by John Russell as a ward councillor, there was little discussion from the committee of their reasonable objections.
Sue Luxton was most concerned about making the modern building the highest environmental sustainability rating of any building in Lewisham, something that the developer, to their credit, was happy to accept.
There was some concern about possible loss of biodiversity and Sue Luxton recommended that the decision was deferred until after a biodiversity report was completed. However, this was overruled by John Paschoud's casting vote as chair. What biodiversity has been lost we shall not know, despite evidence of deer close to the site from the 1990s. If you visit Albion Millennium Green please keep an eye out for deer the size of dogs hiding the bushes. And if you see one, take a photo and email it to us!
The councillors showed no concern for the Sydenham Park conservation area, not even discussing the effect this modern building will have on the character of the conservation area. Lewisham council policy towards conservation areas appears to be that any modern building is acceptable as long as it is energy efficient and we can expect to see more buildings of this type in some of our most historic streets (of which Redberry Grove is certainly one).
Despite the defeat it is worth noting that the local residents fought a good campaign against this development, to protect their streets, so worthy of conserving, and to protect the adjacent area of nature conservation.