Locals have protested against a new development on the Lordship Lane Estate in Dulwich this weekend over concerns around overcrowding, traffic and the environmental impact.
Southwark Council’s current plans indicate that seventeen new homes will be built on the garages adjacent to Maxwell Court. All of which will be for social rent.
“We are not anti-council housing, we want homes for decent working-class people,” said campaigner Elizabeth Shirley, who has lived on the estate for decades.
“But like all estates in this area, we are totally over density, there are too many people crowded in here.”
She believed that instead of developing their “harmonious” and ”sleepy” estate the council should “take more radical action” to use empty properties and refurbish existing ones.
“They keep saying they cannot afford to do it, but sorry it is not good enough.”
Cllr Stephanie Cryan, cabinet member for council homes and homelessness, said: “we’re looking at a range of innovative ways to provide the affordable housing our residents desperately need.”
“As well as building new council homes, we’re converting garages and disused areas,” she added.
There are currently 16,500 households on Southwark Council’s housing waiting list, while 3,500 live in temporary accommodation.
Other protestors were concerned about the lack of a clear access route to the site, meaning “big lorries” may have to pass by people’s homes and the estate’s child’s play area.
“The noise will be horrendous for everybody,” said council-tenant Bill Newman who lives right next to the estate’s entrance. “It is really frustrating.”
“With all the traffic coming and going it is actually going to be quite dangerous.”
In response to this claim, Cllr Cryan said: “As on all our New Homes sites, we would ensure that construction traffic is carefully managed, with fixed timed slots and vehicles accessing the site at times when other traffic is less busy.”
Campaigners have launched several petitions and planning objections to the development.
Protestors claimed that the communication from Southwark Council has been poor and they have been repeatedly left in the dark about the planning process.
“We don’t trust the council,” said Elizabeth. “First of all, they said the new building would only be two stories, now it has gone up to six stories.”
“This will block out the light for so many people on our estate.”
The protestors, who said there “was lots of green and lots of trees on the estate”, were worried about the long term environmental impact of the new development.
“They are concreting over the whole bloody world,” said Elizabeth.
“This is using up so many resources that have a massive effect on our carbon footprint.”
“We don’t want to be a part of that. Enough is enough,” she added.
Brain Kelly and his wife Lynn, who are part of the Yes to Fair Development campaign, said that ultimately the development of Lordship Lane was a political issue.
“We understand that the government has pulled back money from the local authority that they need to claw back through new housing. But it is local people who are paying the price.”
Planning approval for the new development on Lordship Lane will be sought this summer.