Action for a Judicial Review of Convoys Wharf Planning Permission

by Voice4Deptford

Action for a Judicial Review of Convoys Wharf Planning Permission

by Voice4Deptford
Case Owner
Voice4Deptford is a coalition of community groups and other interested parties who are working for a better development at Convoys Wharf in Deptford, South London.
on 30th June 2020
pledged of £20,000 stretch target from 153 pledges
Case Owner
Voice4Deptford is a coalition of community groups and other interested parties who are working for a better development at Convoys Wharf in Deptford, South London.

Latest: Nov. 25, 2020

Last day of our campaign

It's the last day of our Crowd Justice Campaign. We've raised a massive  £15,850 thanks to our 116 backers who made 147 pledges. Thank you all for your support.

If you intended to g…

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Voice4Deptford is a coalition of community groups and other interested parties who are working for a better development at Convoys Wharf in Deptford, South London. We have been active since 2016, arranging public meetings with the developers and working with elected representatives, planning officers, young people and youth workers and reaching out to community groups and other concerned individuals.

We are taking legal action to determine that the outline planning consent for a large development at Convoys Wharf in Deptford has timed out and is no longer valid. 

By backing our fundraiser you will enable us to have a Judicial Review and give Deptford a voice on Convoys Wharf.

Demonstrating that the outline planning consent has timed out means the developers will have to re-apply and come forward with a new, fairer masterplan which respects the site and includes the voice of Deptford people. We then have a chance of getting a development which meets the housing need, respects the historic site and is a place we can all be proud of.

Convoys Wharf, formerly the King’s yard and Deptford Royal Dockyard, is about to be lost forever to an exclusive, unaffordable and impractical, inequitable and unfair development.

The action we are taking is to get independent judgement on whether the outline permission for the development has timed out. There are two time limits for outline consent. 1. the time within which reserved matters are to be agreed and 2. the time within which to begin construction. We say that the way these limits have been applied in the outline permission is not correct and if applied correctly this would show the permission has timed out.

We are raising £2,000 initially. This will allow our legal team to do the research and written work. We will require a total of £45,000 to proceed all the way to Judicial Review.

Please donate now. Thank you.


Local communities, organisations such as English Heritage, and Lewisham Council have previously rejected the Hong Kong-based developer’s plans due to their: 

  • lack of respect for the site’s profound history and archeology
  • lack of genuinely affordable and social housing
  • shortage of green spaces
  • the burden on public transport, local amenities and schools 
  • lack of genuine consultation with local people

Despite this opposition, in 2015 the then Mayor of London approved the developer’s plans for a mixed development with 3,500 homes in outline, with some matters to be agreed (reserved matters) by Lewisham Council as the local planning authority. A number of conditions were set out in a Section 106 agreement. This included:

  • establishing a Cultural Strategy and Cultural Steering Group, 
  • the inclusion of two heritage projects, Build the Lennox and Sayes Court Garden
  • provision of affordable housing 
  • and more.

Since then, the developers have made next to no effort to engage with the local community, leaving Deptford without a say in its own future. 

The world has changed significantly since the granting of outline permission, increasingly in the last few months. What was unacceptable then is unlikely to be permitted now due to factors such as the housing crisis, the environmental crisis, changes in work practices with more working from home, inequality for the BAME community, the crisis in children and young people's physical and mental health and opposition to segregation by tenure.

Now, over five years later, the first reserved matters for the first phase of the development have been applied for and Lewisham Council, constrained by the outline permission, is being forced to agree to them against their better judgement and for construction of this outdated, unfair plan to begin.

However, we have one last chance to stop it and have Deptford’s voice heard.

Through our research we have discovered that, according to planning law, the developer’s window of opportunity has now closed and the planning permission granted in 2015 has expired. 

With your help, we can ask a legal team to challenge this unfair development on these grounds. If successful, we can then work together to rethink Convoys Wharf as a place that meets the needs of the whole community and highlights the heritage of the site.

Our initial target is £2,000. This will allow our barrister to begin proceeding towards Judicial Review.

By backing our fundraiser you can support us to have a Judicial Review and give Deptford a voice on Convoys Wharf.

To learn more about why the current plans are unfit for purpose or how else you can help, please visit 

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Update 28


Nov. 25, 2020

Last day of our campaign

It's the last day of our Crowd Justice Campaign. We've raised a massive  £15,850 thanks to our 116 backers who made 147 pledges. Thank you all for your support.

If you intended to give, but didn't get round to it, now is your last chance to do it. We are looking for just under £1,500.

Here is the link:

Please share this on social media.

Once more thank you for your help and encouragement in our attempt to get a Judicial Review of the planning permission at Convoys Wharf. The work goes on to get a better designed, inclusive development, affordable for all, that respects the world important, historic site of the Deptford Naval Dockyard.

Update 27


Nov. 19, 2020

Our Crowd Justice campaign is drawing to a close

Our legal process is coming to a close, but our campaign to give the people of Deptford a voice in the development at Convoys Wharf continues.

Although the result of our claim for a judicial review is disappointing, Voice4Deptford has learned a lot from the experience. Your generous support has been heartening. It has been encouraging to read your comments and to know that you feel as strongly as we do that a better development accessible to all is necessary for the Deptford  Dockyard.

Our Crowd Justice page will remain open for donations until 26 November, 2020. We have not quite reached our target. The Court ordered us to pay £8,000 towards the costs of LB Lewisham. We've raised £6,500 of that and £1,500 is still needed. You can help us to meet this £1,500 in the next week. 

The ways you can help are by:

The Mayor of Lewisham has pointed out that since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic the Council is facing significant pressure in terms of finances and resources and are focussing on maintaining critical services. They are looking to recoup their legal costs of £14,000. Whatever anyone might think about them spending that amount of money challenging our claim in the first place, it is a valid point that the financial pressure is great.

So supporting us to find the funds we need will also ease some of this pressure, however small in the scheme of things it might be.

Meanwhile, Forty Shillings is carrying out a community consultation on behalf of the developers. Please get involved and make your views known. Here is their website: You can hear about Plot 12 here:

If you would like to keep in touch with Voice4Deptford and hear about the next stages of our campaign, send us you email address at [email protected]. Or register via our website:     

Thank you once more for your past and we hope ongoing support.

Convoys Wharf site

Update 26


Oct. 30, 2020

A New Phase is beginning

It’s almost the end of the month and we have raised another £459. Thank you everyone who has backed us and also those who have shared on social media. 

LB Lewisham have been in touch to say that they will contact us about the situation of our Cost Order around the middle of November to see how much we have moved towards the full amount of £8,000. Meanwhile we have paid them £5,800 and we have the further £459 thanks to your generous support.

We still have a fair bit to go and will continue our fund raising efforts. You can support us by: 

Convoys Property Ltd have asked a community engagement agency called Forty Shillings to work with the local community around Convoys Wharf.

They are consulting on the next plot to be brought forward, Plot 12. They are also forming a Community Forum and Youth Forum.

Vicky Foxcroft, MP for Lewisham Deptford, is urging constituents, in her latest news item, to take part and to make their views known. 

She concludes by writing the following:

"As I have frequently said, it will be very disappointing if this huge development goes ahead without sufficient benefit for the local community through the provision of affordable housing. Earlier plans for the site are in desperate need of a refresh in light of the changing needs of the UK and London. I hope my constituents can take the time to tell CPL and Forty Shillings what it looks like for them."

Voice4Deptford wholeheartedly agrees with her and we will be making our views known. We ask you to please take this opportunity and do the same.

You can register here:

The development is entering a new phase and Voice4Deptford will be putting our demands for a fair and inclusive development that :

  • Includes social rented housing
  • Provides well designed, ecologically sound buildings
  • Is child friendly 
  • Has respect for the heritage and history of the site
  • Has more green and public space

Thank you for your continuing support. 

Update 25


Oct. 22, 2020

We have almost come to the end of this road…

We have now heard back from LB Lewisham that they want us to pay the full amount of their Costs awarded against us, an amount of £8,000.

As you know, our application for a Judicial Review of Lewisham Council’s decision was declined. The judge could not see any legal basis for our claim to go ahead. This was sorely disappointing. Our attempt to show the Outline Consent had timed out had not succeeded.

This means that Convoys Properties Ltd can proceed as planned: three high rise towers up to 40 storeys, 3,500 new homes packed into a small plot of land, with only 15% so called affordable, little public or green space or designated play space for children and young people and scant regard of the importance and potential of this historic site.

We were ordered by the Court to pay the Costs of the other side: £8,000 to Lewisham Council and £2,000 to the Mayor London. The Mayor of London waived his costs. We asked Lewisham Council to do the same, at least up to the amount we have raised through your generous support. They have declined so far to do this.

We managed to raise an extraordinary amount through our CrowdJustice Campaign so far. It has paid for our legal fees, the filing of the claim with the court, and most of the Costs Order. But we are still that little bit short.

We now need to raise a further £2,200, plus a bit more to cover CrowdJustice costs, to add to the £5,800 we have in hand and pay off the full amount ordered.

We have rounded up to make our target to raise £2,500 by the end of the month, 31st October.

You can help us to achieve this by making a donation towards this amount. Follow this link:

Any amount will be greatly appreciated. Please remember to comment when you make your pledge. Let us know what you want for Convoys Wharf.

You can also help by:

  • Asking a friend or colleague to do the same
  • Sharing our request on social media: Facebook; Twitter @voice4deptford

We are extremely grateful for your generosity. It has been inspirational to see so many of you commit to helping us bring this claim, and we are sad that the application hasn’t achieved the outcome we had hoped. But we have more plans to work with the Council and the Developers to see them change their development to make it more suitable for our community and the surrounding areas. Your support now will bring closure to the judicial process and help us carry on this important effort.

Your donation at this time would go a huge way to freeing us to take the next step in our campaign for a better, more inclusive development. With your help, we can stop Convoys Wharf becoming the eyesore that it is planned to be. We aren’t giving up the fight. There is more that can be done.

We want a development that provides social rented housing, respects the heritage of the site and the culture of Deptford, and takes fully into account the aspiration and needs of Deptford people.

Artists impression of planned development. Note the size of existing buildings. 


Update 24


Oct. 14, 2020

A Model for Convoys Wharf?

We are still waiting for a response from Lewisham Council to the letter we sent regarding the cost order against us. The Judge ordered that we pay £8,000 of the Council's costs. We do of course recognise the Order of the Court and our requirement to comply with it. The Mayor of London waived his costs. We have asked the Council to consider doing the same at least up to the around £5,000 we have remaining from our Crowd Justice Campaign. We are £3,000 short of the full amount.

If you would like to contribute to reducing this shortfall, you can do this by following this link:

In the meantime, as we come to closure of this campaign, we are considering our next steps.

The developers at Charlton Riverside in Greenwich have developed a masterplan for the area. Listed below are the things it incorporates - everything we are asking from Convoys Property Ltd. If it can be done for Charlton Riverside, why not Convoys Wharf?

Below is a summary from an article in Building about the Charlton Riverside development. The elements in it are what we will continue to push for:

“Often when a major developer works in an area, it tries to create a new identity to set the place apart from what’s around it and build as much housing as possible, to create higher financial value,” says Aecom director Patrick Clarke. “In the case of Charlton Riverside, it was about creating a place that reflects the identity of the existing area and community. We wanted to celebrate its mix of uses and activities as a strength, not a weakness.”

The masterplan: 

Centres on local people’s needs

  • provides more affordable housing – half of all these should be family homes, with more than two bedrooms 
  • emphasises other priorities, including employment, open space, facilities to develop skills and for higher education, the provision of shops and local services, and the need to reconnect the local community to the riverside and improve the streetscape. 
  • redefines what “value” means– how it is calculated and to whom and what it is ascribed 
  • somewhere local people would want to live, not somewhere full of high-rise apartment blocks for international investors
  • a mixed-use neighbourhood. “This was about providing an environment where people would choose to live and put down roots. ... The way to do that is to provide an environment that allows people to work, educate their kids and take their recreation in the neighbourhood, which is something the community is keen to have.”

Gives a sense of character

  • shops, community use, residential space and offices sitting within the same block, 
  • low- to medium-rise high density housing, spaced in a way that facilitates social engagement. “If you’re on the 17th floor of a high-rise, your children can lose connection with the street and you’re reluctant to let them out, which has a demonstrable impact on mental wellbeing 
  • the place feels like it’s in London – not that it could be anywhere.
  • retains the area’s existing heritage and culture.  
  • reinstates some of the historic street patterns from when the area was marshland, including walkways to the river, which the community has been cut off from by a busy road for decades.

Involves the community

  • Understanding about the site’s physical and social characteristics, rather than chasing after an exciting design concept and then trying to convince people. 
  • Engaging the local community in the decision-making process, to reflect their ambitions, aspirations and needs. 

“The [Local Community] turned up to the [planning] inquiry en masse to emphasise that the plan articulated their vision for the area and that they were involved in shaping it.” 

Charlton Riverside: A model for living Building 8th October 2020

Update 23


Sept. 25, 2020

Some Good News

We had a message from the Mayor of London, one of the Interested Parties in our Claim for a Judicial Review, that he will not be claiming the costs awarded to him under the (Costs) Order. However he did draw our attention to the judge’s comment at paragraph 6 of the Order that he was “especially unimpressed that the Claimant did not observe the pre-action protocol”. Had the protocol been followed, this litigation and the use of public funds could have been avoided.

We appreciate very much that the Mayor has made this decision and thanked him for it.

It is possible that what is called the Pre-action Protocol could have led to avoiding Court action. However, following the strategic planning committee's decision on 9th and 22nd June to approve the first three reserved matters applications, we had to make a decision to do this or to go for a Judicial Review because of a tight deadline. We have been in discussion about the timing of reserved matters applications in the Outline Planning Permission since April 2018 with the GLA as the authority that made the decision, then Lewisham as the authority to see it carried out. We were not able to reach a common understanding on the way that the timing for making applications for approval of reserved matters was applied or to have a clear explanation of why they did not consider that the application had timed out.

We are writing to LB Lewisham to see what arrangement we can make over payment of the fees as we do not have the full £8,000 to pay them. 

Meanwhile if you would like to make a pledge towards the remaining £3,000 we need to find to pay LB Lewisham and meet the requirement of the Court's cost order, please give here:

Thank you again for your support for our campaign.

At a time when there is a surge of interest in Britain's past links to slavery and colonialism, it is more important than ever to develop the heritage of Deptford Dockyard as a way of bringing this history to life. This is one of the reasons we will continue our campaign. The Mayor has highlighted the need for a Museum of Slavery. The initiative to create a Museum of Slavery and Freedom in Deptford, ideally at the dockyard, could fulfil that role. 

Update 22


Sept. 24, 2020

The Judge has decided against our Claim for a Judicial Review

A Judge has given his decision. In a paper exercise, he has ruled against us. His ruling concurs with the arguments of the Defence and Interested Parties, concluding that our Claim should not go to a Judicial Review and it is 'Totally Without Merit'. This rules out the possibility of making a request for our Claim to be considered in person.

There are a number of factors which concern us about the whole legal process.

The case depended on us showing that the 13 year period for agreeing reserved matters was absurd, unusually long and must have been a mistake - even for a large scheme to be built out in 3 phases. A witness statement from the GLA planning officer who was involved in drawing up the outline permission was able to show the 13 years was a deliberate choice. 

We have been asking since April 2018 to know why they do not think the permission has timed out. The GLA and LB Lewisham both declined to give us a clear answer on the legal basis. They told us that it was their “legal privileged” not to reveal it. It would probably have avoided the need to apply for a judicial review had they told us in a way we could accept.

We had an ‘Intervener’, that is someone, in our case a former barrister, who believes something important is being missed in the Claim. The argument they submitted to the Court was that our Claim should be considered a Substantial Planning Case which had considerable public interest. Also that in not applying a timing for making reserved matters applications to each phase, they were giving too much control to the developers. The aim of the 1990 Town and Country Planning Act is to give the Planning Authority control over the development process and prevent sitting on land until its value increases. This is known as “land banking”. Therefore they are defeating the purpose of the Act, which is unlawful. 

This intervention was to raise the importance of our Claim and show there was another level to be considered, which is as relevant now as it was at the time the outline planning consent was granted. This was not accepted by the judge who said he had already made the decision by the time he read it. 

LB Lewisham as the local Planning Authority, has no real control of the process. The developer, if they choose to do so, could wait till the day before the end of 13 year period to submit the remaining reserved matters application. The applications do not need to be approved before the 13 year limit is reached so long as they have been submitted, then they could take a further 15 years for construction. That means a possible 30 years before the development is completed. That is the absurdity of it.

As it stands, bringing forward the development in a reasonable and timely way depends on the persuasive powers of the planning officers and the good will of the developer.

We considered going to the Court of Appeal and sought a second opinion on whether that was feasible. It was clear we did not meet the grounds for appeal. There are very tight grounds in law to argue for a judicial review. We have not been able to make our point within these constraints. We are not able to have our day in court!

The judge did allow our costs to be capped at £10,000 under what is known as the Aarhus Convention, though he did not accept our request for a reduction to £5,000. He made an order for us to pay £8,000 costs to LB Lewisham and £2,000 to the Mayor of London/GLA.

With your support we have raised £15,000. After deducting our barristers' fees, the fee for the second opinion, court fees, Crowd Justice costs and a small amount for printing and posting legal documents, we have just over £5,000 in hand. We now need to raise a further £5,000 to be able to pay the costs of £10,000.

We are continuing our Crowd Justice Campaign to raise this £5,000. Our stretch target remains at £20,000. 

With your help we can achieve this. We have just over 100 Crowd Justice Backers. Some of you have given more than once. Thank you for your support. 

We can reach our target of a further £5,000 if 100 people give £50. Can you give £50? Can you ask a friend to give £50 or a number of friends to give £50 between them? Any amount is helpful, though, whether more or less than £50. Give here:

This is a big disappointment for us, but it's not the end of our campaign!

We will keep you informed of our next steps to ensure that:

    • The heritage of the Deptford Dockyard is respected
    • There is more genuinely affordable and social rented housing on the site
    • The needs of children and young people are met
    • There is more green and public space
    • Steps are taken to make the development more sustainable and take into account environmental issues.
    • We keep the local Deptford community informed of developments concerning the Convoys Wharf site and 
    • Put pressure on the developers to do their public consultations in a meaningful way

We have been heartened by the level of support and the strength of feeling for our campaign to transform this outdated development. Thank you all.

If we can't acknowledge history, with both positive and negative consequences, and build truly inclusive, healthy developments, what future do our children and coming generations have in London? To quote Chris Packham when his claim against the HS2 rail link was recently turned down by the Court of Appeal, "And please remember winning is not standing outside a courtroom with a smile on our faces. Winning is not giving up.”

Blind Justice

Update 21


Sept. 15, 2020

A solution to child poverty in Deptford

Footballer Marcus Rashford has made a stand on eliminating child food poverty. This month he visited the Evelyn Centre Food Store in Deptford. 

Child poverty in Evelyn Ward stands at 49% of the population. 1 in 3 children have free school meals and applications are increasing because of the present economic conditions. Nobody wants to see children go hungry, especially in one of the richest countries in the world. It is essential that the root causes are tackled. 

Three actions to alleviate child food poverty identified by the Mayor of Lewisham, Damien Egan are:

  • More social housing
  • Paying people a living wage
  • Encouraging more small businesses

The developers at Convoys Wharf could do a lot to help remedy this situation. They can agree to increase the amount of genuinely affordable and social housing. Lewisham's policy is for new developments to provide 50%. That means there could be at least 1,500 genuinely affordable and social houses provided in the Convoys Wharf development.

The developers can also provide space for meaningful employment.

I spite of all attempts so far to persuade the developers, they have scarcely moved from the plans in the outline planning consent to provide a minimum of 15% affordable housing which turns out to be not so affordable.

This is one of the reasons we have gone for a Judicial Review to ask a judge to consider that the outline consent has timed out. We need a new masterplan that takes account of the drastic changes that have taken place since the granting of the permission in March 2015. Surely it would also be to their advantage to cater for the present need in a viable way now their market is disappearing.

Back us in our campaign.

  • Ask 3 friends to pledge though our Crowd Justice page by email or social media. 
  • Pledge or pledge again if you have already done so.  

Thank you to all our backers for your support.

 Marcus Rashford speaking with users of the Evelyn Community Store in Deptford, London, about their experiences of food poverty Photograph: Courtesy of Fareshare.

Update 20


Sept. 8, 2020

Statement from Royal Dockyard Society

We are £75 shot of £15,000. Can you help us to cross this Threshold?  

You can do this by:

  • Emailing five of your friends asking them to pledge to our case
  • Posting a link to Facebook asking their friends to pledge
  • Tweeting in support.
  • Pledging or pledging again

Thank you to everyone who is backing our campaign for a judicial review to show that the outline planning consent for the Deptford Dockyard, known as Convoys Wharf, is no longer valid.

The Naval Dockyards Society (NDS) sent the following statement to V4D on 1st September 2020. It is given here in full and shows what is happening to the heritage of the Deptford Dockyard and how it could be more sensitively developed. With thanks to NDS.

The Naval Dockyards Society welcomes Voice4Deptford (V4D)’s campaign to contest the three planning decisions passed by the London Borough of Lewisham (LBL) in June 2020, through an application for a Judicial Review. These decisions concern three Plots, 8, 15 and 22, which comprise a fraction of the total site called Convoy’s Wharf, for which Hutchison Whampoa was granted outline planning permission on 10 March 2015. The three plots were approved by LBL planning committee on 9 and 22 June 2020.

Calling the site Convoy’s Wharf, which imported paper products for News International until 1999, diminishes the significance of Deptford Royal Dockyard. For most of the last 500 years this 40-acre site comprised Royal Deptford Dockyard, Sayes Court, John Evelyn’s seventeenth century manor house and garden, and part of Royal Victoria Victualling Yard. 

The overall scheme, described in LBL planning application DC/13/83358, will provide a mixed-use development of up to 419,100m² comprising up to 3,500 residential units (including ‘three tall buildings’) and offices, restaurant/café/bar and hotel space. It will retain and refurbish the listed Olympia Building and demolish all the remaining non-listed structures. The phrase ‘three tall buildings’ omits the fact that they are intended to be 26, 32 and 40 storeys high. Only 15% of the homes across the development will be ‘affordable’: 5% at London Affordable Rent (60% of market rent) and 10% shared ownership. LBL target is 50%. This characterises the development as high-cost, offering little relief to LBL’s housing shortage. 

The NDS has critiqued regeneration designs for Deptford Royal Dockyard since 2004. Since the first Richard Rogers Partnership design, we have criticised all the planning applications for not reflecting Deptford’s maritime location and underground archaeology, but merely providing a generic high-rise development, with no specific connection to this site. They have all needed a richer conceptual vision to add authentic heritage, environmental and social value to the site. 

Hutchison’s latest design set out in the site-wide Convoys Wharf Heritage Design Proposal (Dec. 2019 rev.1, ), demonstrates almost no appreciation for the history of Deptford Royal Dockyard.  On p. 5 it declares: ‘Due to its condition (sic) (non-existent or fragile), location (underground), much of the site's history cannot be used in a meaningful manner. Therefore, it is important that this information is displayed through how a space is used and also through information points.’ 

This document then proceeds not to link spaces to underground remains, despite extensive archaeology conducted on the site since the 1990s. This declaration is preceded by Hutchison’s true message: ‘The need to include heritage principles should not be an excuse to hold back on creating a modern and striking design. It is possible to use the past as a design cue to create new places with enhanced layers of meaning and interest.’

This document then proceeds not to link spaces to underground remains, despite extensive archaeology conducted on the site since the 1990s. This declaration is preceded by Hutchison’s true message: ‘The need to include heritage principles should not be an excuse to hold back on creating a modern and striking design. It is possible to use the past as a design cue to create new places with enhanced layers of meaning and interest.’

The Mast Ponds section (p.7), states ‘This gives an amazing opportunity to create a water feature reminiscence of the layout and the journey of the water from the Thames.’ Unfortunately, we do not know what they plan, as the concept images bear no relation to timber clad mast ponds. The Royal Dockyard section (p.10) suggests ‘stone and brick can be used in the construction of buildings on this plot; this being the dominant building material revealed by the Tudor storehouse foundations.’ Concept images are closer here, depicting strong rectilinear and arched brick structures but also weathered steel, which is striking, but not relevant to the underground archaeology. How the miniscule water feature called the Rill (p.14), overhung by monolithic office blocks, highlights ‘how the site has transformed from an industrial site to one of leisure’ is anyone’s guess. The few imaginative images, such as the Sayes Court outdoor museum (p.23) are rare. Pepys and Evelyn would have turned in their graves at the misappropriation of their names! 

What the NDS would like to see in a new plan is the explicit linking of the local, national and international significance of Deptford Royal Dockyard, recognised by the World Monuments Fund’s inclusion in its 2014 Watchlist ‘to raise awareness about this rich heritage and to advocate for sensitive integration of its historic vestiges into redevelopment plans’. Deptford is characterised as the:

  1. Second oldest British royal dockyard, founded by Henry VIII by 1513 (500 years old)
  2. Leading R&D dockyard on England’s capital river until 1869; developed prototype ship designs; its master shipwright was the most senior and skilled of all master shipwrights; Samuel Bentham upgraded the master shipwright’s house to house a projected Deptford resident commissioner in 1803/4  
  3. Dockyard node of collaboration with East India Company ships and shipwrights
  4. Ceremonial destination of monarchs from Henry VIII to George III; Queen Elizabeth I knighted Francis Drake on board Golden Hind in Deptford in 1581 
  5. Shipbuilding exemplar for Czar Peter the Great of Russia, who studied shipbuilding at Deptford in 1698 before building Kronstadt/St Petersburg dockyard
  6. Home of seventeenth-century diarist and horticulturalist John Evelyn who lived in Sayes Court, part of this development site
  7. Administrative destination of seventeenth-century diarist and Navy Board official Samuel Pepys who described many official and unofficial visits in his Diary
  8. Primary supplier of overseas colonies, naval bases and dockyards
  9. Fitting out dockyard for major world explorations, circumnavigations and wars: Sir Francis Drake, Commodore George Anson, Captain James Cook and Joseph Banks, Commander William Bligh and Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson
  10. Location of civil engineer John Rennie’s remodelled basin mouth, caisson and riverside wall c.1814.

The archaeology of Deptford Royal Dockyard conveys its size: ‘the largest archaeological excavation of a naval dockyard’, and multi-period aspects. Since its planning process began in the 1990s, Deptford Dockyard archaeology (pre-assessments, excavation and publication) has cost at least £3m. One outcome of this activity is that most of the site has been excavated to test for piling locations and underground car parks, therefore a detailed archaeological record is now available. Archaeologists rarely find above-ground structures and usually have only robbed out foundation trenches and post-holes with which to work, but here there is a wealth of precise floor-plan information supplemented by historic plans and images.

The buried remains of the Tudor storehouse at Deptford are the earliest known remains of a naval storehouse in England; no other Tudor storehouse remains are known to survive. Its below ground remains, including the undercroft and buttresses, survive in very good condition and have been little altered by later activity. The original Tudor range apparently remained intact until 1952 when the above ground parts were demolished. Many of the bricks salvaged from the demolition were reused to repair Hampton Court Palace, and an ogee-arched niche containing an inscribed foundation stone was re-erected inside the Department of Computer Science at University College, London. By 1984 the rest of the storehouse complex had also been demolished.

An imaginative realisation of the seventeenth century L-shaped Deptford Officers’ terrace, the first palace front terrace in a royal naval dockyard and possibly the first in England, would restore original architectural ambience and scale. Other housing blocks might replicate the floor level plans of excavated buildings, just as refurbished officers’ houses at Chatham and Sheerness dockyards have restored residential quarters to add character and value. 

Preservation of the double dock’s footprint is essential to understand its evolution. The inner end also needs investigation. The assumption that it is concrete has led to rejection of the need to preserve it. Docks were enlarged and rebuilt; that is their story. The Tudor dock is likely to have been subsumed in the enlargement: this is its story. Failing to find physical evidence does not negate the site's importance.

This archaeology can inform interpretation with overlaid maps, public archaeology involving schools and colleges, 3-D modelling of lost buildings, sensory displays, a replica ship (Lenox), storytelling and the arrival of successive Deptford communities. Based on ten-plus years of excavation, more of the archaeological footprint should not only be preserved, but integrated within the design, to reflect the significance of Deptford Royal Dockyard. 

The former Master Shipwright’s House (1708), outside the development site but next to the Double Dock, is a Queen Anne house remodelled internally c.1804, ‘retaining significant fabric from both phases’. It is the ‘only surviving example of a purpose-built Master Shipwright's residence in a naval dockyard nationally.’ It extends into the former office of Samuel Bentham who was appointed Inspector General of Naval Works in 1796 to reform naval dockyards and forms a group with the storehouses.

The foundations of the Tudor and early Georgian storehouses are a scheduled ancient monument, the surviving 1846 shipbuilding shed (Olympia) is Grade 2 listed, and extensive remains of the basin, docks and slipways survive below ground, signifying the continuity of building and repairing great ships at Deptford.

Ideally, Deptford Royal Dockyard will endure visually as an entity through a range of forms, using vistas, planting, paths and roads for demarcation, new buildings which respect the form and size of dockyard structures, and at least one replica terrace or storehouse to convey the grandeur of the officers’ terrace and the utilitarian elegance of industrial buildings. Vistas through the yard towards the river, and particularly from Olympia and the basin to the river should be key features of any design.

Interpretation through the Sayes Court and Lenox projects will bring activity and community engagement. Below ground remains embody Deptford’s tangible and intangible heritage and will give this project a unique character which should distinguish it from any other new developments, inform the overall design and improve its ‘brand’. 

1.  NDS website campaign; Ann Coats, ‘Five Hundred Years of Deptford and Woolwich Royal Dockyards and counting…’, Philip MacDougall, ed., Transactions of the Naval Dockyards Society, Vol. 11, Five Hundred Years of Deptford and Woolwich (Naval Dockyards Society, 2019), ISBN 978-0-9929292-8-2, £15.00 plus P&P from [email protected], or Kindle edition

2.  MOLA, ‘Discovering Deptford Royal Dockyard in Pictures’ (13.12.2017)

3.  Antony Francis, The Deptford royal dockyard and manor of Sayes Court, London: excavations 2000–12 (MOLA Monograph 71, Museum of London Archaeology, 2017), ISBN 978-1-907586-36-1.

4.  Historic England, Scheduled Tudor naval storehouse at Convoys Wharf (2003),

5.  Historic England, Grade II* Former Office Building of Royal Dockyard, Deptford (1993), 

Update 19


Sept. 1, 2020

We now have 100 backers

Thank you to all 100 of you who have backed our campaign for a Judicial Review to show that Lewisham passed three reserved matters application for an Outline Planning Consent that had timed out. Thank you also to those who made more than one pledge.

You can support us by:

One of the reasons we want more green space can be seen in this article on a study published in the Guardian last week: 'Children raised in greener areas have higher IQ, study finds'

There is very little green space planned in the over-dense Convoys Wharf development. What's more the developers include the existing green space in the parks around the site as green space for their potential residents. For their allocation of children's designated play area required by the latest London Plan, children over 5 years and young people are being sent elsewhere to local play areas, away from the area around their homes.

Help us to get a new plan which includes more green space for health and mental well-being.

Update 18


Aug. 28, 2020

Another Step Forward

Now all three parties - the Defendant, Lewisham Council, and the two Interested Parties, the Mayor of London and the developers - have lodged with the Court their counter arguments to our Claim. The papers will be considered by a judge and he or she will decide whether our claim can go forward for a Court hearing. 

We are moving towards £15,000 in pledges. Crowd Justice have rolled over our campaign period for another 30 days. Help us to get beyond £15,000 and on towards the £20,000 we need to fund our legal process. 

Support us by:

Thank you to all our backers and supporters.

The following is as true now as it was in 2013 when it was written:

"..let's stop for a minute before anyone decides that somehow giving local people access to the river by sticking huge residential towers on their doorstep is regeneration, or that somehow or other they will benefit or be grateful. This is pure real estate development, and represents everything that is wrong with our property industry. 

"What Deptford needs is not more high-density housing in an area of existing high density, putting more pressure on existing infrastructure. What's needed is more open space, freedom to enjoy access to the river, and new employment opportunities that go way beyond construction." 

Paula Hirst, Head of Regeneration at Mazars, writing as guest columnist in Estates Gazette. Read the whole article on Deptford Is...

We want to show that the present planning consent has timed out. We need a new masterplan that is right for Deptford and meets the needs of our changing times.

The Great Storehouse, originally built in 1513 and added to during the life of the dockyard, survived the second World War, but was demolished in 1990 by Rupert Murdoch's News International who bought the site from the MoD in 1980. Murdoch also sold off the Master Shipwright's House, which has since been restored by the private owners.

Update 17


Aug. 21, 2020

Our case for a Judicial Review - latest

Voice4Deptford are continuing to pursue our case against Lewisham Council, on the ground that the Outline Planning Permission (OPP) had timed out. Statutorily, OPP’s in England should have a cap of three years in which the local authority is able to make decisions on applications for approval of Reserved Matters (the more detailed parts of the plan). The Town & County Planning Act (T&CPA) 1990 does allow a discretion to the local authority granting the OPP for them to extend this three year period to as long as they see fit. The then Mayor of London, who approved the OPP in 2015 exercised this discretion and provided 13 years for Reserved Matters to be decided. (Responsibility to oversee the development was then passed back to Lewisham Council.)

We say that this is unreasonable: that an extension of 10 years beyond the statutory recommendation is absurd and the Planning Authority has misconstrued the (T&CPA) 1990; the 3 year period should apply, meaning the OPP has timed out and the decision made by Lewisham Council's strategic planning committee on 9th June 2020 to approve Reserved Matters on the first three plots in the development is unlawful. 

We have filed our action with the High Court, and the Parties have been served the claim. Two out of three of the parties have filed their objections to our claim and they are fighting back hard. Once all the parties have responded, a judge will decide whether our claim can proceed to a full hearing. The parties have asked that the claim is thrown out on the basis of it being ‘Totally Without Merit’.

Our team of lawyers are preparing our case thoroughly and we are confident that we will have a date set by the judge for a full Judicial Review of the local authority’s decision.

Our legal costs are continuing to build but we aren’t ready to give up the fight. If you are able to make a pledge and support our legal costs, you can do so here: 

Or share on social media:

Facebook Twitter @voice4deptford 

Update 16


Aug. 17, 2020

Preparing for the next stage

At present we are waiting for the Defendant, Lewisham Council, and the two Interested Parties the Mayor of London (via Transport for London's legal department) and the developer Convoys Property Ltd to file their argument against our claim with the Court. Then everything will be in place for the Court to decide whether our claim can be heard before a judge.

If the judge agrees our claim can go forward for judicial review, we need to be ready. We are asking for your backing to achieve our funding target of at least another £6,000. This is in addition to the £14,000 plus we have raised so far and will enable us to pay our legal team fees and court costs. 

You can help us to reach this target by:

Thank you for your backing and support.

The image is a section of a map of the Deptford Royal Dockyard (Convoys Wharf), spotted in a cafe in Greenwich. You can see the extent of the buildings whose foundations are the archeological remains presently underground: 

From Stanford's Library Maps of London and its Suburbs.

Update 15


July 31, 2020

A "home away from home"

The Hong Kong press have been reporting the Lewisham's planning decision from 9th and 22nd June. The South China Morning Post points out how the decision coincides with the governments granting of right to live and work in the UK to the nearly 3 million Hong Kong citizens eligible for a British National (Overseas) passport. Many Hong Kong citizens are now contemplating buying property in London and they believe that the Convoy's Wharf development would provide a 'home away from home'.

View of Hong Kong, where the developers are based

Deptford has always welcomed incomers from many parts of the world and no doubt will not make an exception for people from Hong Kong escaping the new conditions there. That is if they really do want a home in Deptford and not a bolthole which they will scarcely live in. They will feel at home in the small flats and in this dense development. 

At the same time any development at Deptford Royal Dockyard (known as Convoys Wharf) should be equally welcoming to 

  • families on the housing list who need decent sized homes, 
  • young people who want to leave home but stay in Deptford near to their family and friends
  • people already homeless or about to become homeless because of the current and coming economic crisis who need 'new start' homes

All must be genuinely affordable to buy or rent.

We've passed £14,000 in donations and are moving towards our £20,000 target. Thank you to all our backers for your donations and your comments. Please continue to back us in our bid to have a judicial review to show that the planning consent is no longer valid and pave the way to a new masterplan. Give here or share our Crowd Justice page link or do both: Remember to comment on what kind of development you want to see when you make your gift. Thank you. 

Update 14


July 29, 2020

Three things happened today in our action for a judicial review

1. Overnight we received a donation of £4,000 from an anonymous donor, whom we thank sincerely for their support. 

2. Crowd Justice have rolled over our campaign period for another 30 days so we can continue our efforts to raise the funding we need for a judicial review.

3. We've stretched our target to £20,000 which takes into account the minimum we need to raise to be confident enough to go forward, should the judge decide we can be heard in a judicial review. 

With your help, we are able to mount this campaign for a new masterplan at the Deptford Shipyard, where the archeology and heritage of the site is paid the respect it is due, which provides genuinely affordable homes for everyone who wants to live there and plenty of green space for health and where children can play.

Thank you for your backing. Continue to support us by donating or passing on the link to our Crowd Justice page  to friends and colleagues: However large or small the amount, everything helps.

When you donate, comment on what you would like to see in an improved masterplan.

This image is Deptford's crest. It shows Deptford's connection with the sea and shipbuilding. Back us and help to honour this connection.

Update 13


July 24, 2020

We've passed the £6,000 milestone

We thank all our backers and everyone who has helped to spread the word, bringing our funding over £6,000 . 

The next step in our campaign to be granted a judicial review to show that the development at Convoys Wharf is out of time is to raise £15,000 before the end of August. This means we will be prepared for when and if we are given approval to proceed to the judicial review. We will need to cover our barristers' fees and court fees in advance. In our step by step approach, we can only proceed as far as we have the funds.

You can help us achieve this. If you can give, please do. If not please ask three of your friends or colleagues to donate and send them the link to our Crowd Justice page: 

The Build the Lenox project aims to bring shipbuilding back to Deptford.

The Deptford Dockyard, opened in 1513 and was first used by Henry VIII to build his naval fleet. The HMS Lenox was commissioned under Charles II in 1678 as the first of 30 ships built during his reign to expand the Royal Navy into a leading force in Europe.

The Lenox project came about when developer Hutchison Whampoa (now Convoys Property Ltd), which owned the site of the former dockyard, put forward plans to redevelop the site, largely for luxury housing. There was (as there is now) a strong desire in the local community to see greater recognition of the heritage of the site, and the proposal to bring ship-building back to Deptford is one way of acknowledging the heritage of the site, while creating jobs, training and apprenticeships for the young people of the area.

Read the latest news here:

Update 12


July 22, 2020

Our claim for a judicial review is with the court

We have made our claim for a judicial review to the court. It will take around 6 weeks to be considered and for us to find out if the judge agrees we can go forward to the judicial review.

In the meantime we need to raise a further £15,000 to cover the cost of going forward.

This is what you can do to help:

The McMillan sisters, Margaret and Rachel were given the use of Sayes Court and its garden by a descendent of John Evelyn for their open air nursery school.

In 1908 Margaret and Rachel McMillan opened the country's first school clinic in Bow. This was followed by the Deptford Clinic in 1910 that served a number of schools in the area. The clinic provided dental help, surgical aid and lessons in breathing and posture. The sisters also established a Night Camp where slum children could wash and wear clean nightclothes. In 1911 Margaret McMillan published The Child and the State where she criticised the tendency of schools in working class areas to concentrate on preparing children for unskilled and monotonous jobs. Margaret argued that instead schools should be offering a broad and humane education.

In 1914 the sisters decided to start an Open-Air Nursery School & Training Centre in Deptford. Within a few weeks there were thirty children at the school ranging in age from eighteen months to seven years. Rachel, who was mainly responsible for the kindergarten, proudly pointed out that in the first six months there was only one case of illness and, because of precautions that she took, this case of measles did not spread to the other children.

Margaret said, in 1918, when it became statutory to have Nursery schools – preferably open air, that 'a garden grown humanity cannot be as the humanity of the grime and of the street. It will have spent its first cycle in a place where living things are taken care of so that at least they spring up into things of beauty and colour and perfume. Those who do all this culture work will be cultured. The little gardeners themselves, not the flowers or the vegetables or the trees, will be the glory of the garden.’

Read more here: 

Queen Mary visits Deptford in 1921 

Update 11


July 19, 2020

Nature makes a comeback at the King's Yard

Next time you pass Convoys Wharf, have a look at how nature is blossoming all over the site. The present masterplan has scarcely any green public space. Most green space is gated off in the residents' gardens. 

We've learned in the last months how important parks and green spaces are for our health. Imagine in the image below a public park which includes children's play spaces, solely for the children and not incidentally in the adult space.

The image shows how much has grown, looking towards the protected trees next to the Master Shipwright's Palace.

Our campaign is to prove that the present outline planning consent has timed out and to get a new masterplan that respects the site of the former Naval Yard, provides plenty of green space and builds genuinely affordable housing for all.

You can help. We would like to find people passionate enough about the King's Yard to donate larger amounts, £1,000 and more. If you are one of these people or know someone, please back us and give them the link to our Crowd Justice page. Here is the link: Thank you.

Of course, any donation is welcome.

Update 10


July 15, 2020

We've made it - we're ready for our next step

 Our legal team believe our case is strong enough to go forward and we have the funds we need. We have instructed them to lodge our appeal for a judicial review. Thank you to all our donors.

Now we need to prepare for step 3. We've increased our stretch target to cover likely barristers' fees and legal costs. You can continue to help by sharing our updates with friends and colleagues and sending them our Crowd  Justice link to donate:

The image below is what the outline planning consent permits. Thank you for helping us to get a better solution for the site. One that respects its historic importance and provides genuinely affordable housing for all.

Update 9


July 14, 2020

We're getting there - our aim of raising £1,000 in two days almost reached

Can we get to our target by this evening? There's not much further to go. Then we can instruct our legal team to go forward to the next stage.

Your help to increase the donations and share widely is much appreciated. Thank you.

Here is an arial view of the area which was Sayes Court where the foundations of the house remain underground in Convoys Wharf. The green park is Sayes Court Gardens, cultivated in the 17th century by John Evelyn.  One thing we want to see happening is the Sayes Court Garden project in that corner of Convoys Wharf.

Update 8


July 13, 2020

Two days to reach our next target

It's time to have our next payment to our legal team ready. We need to move towards our new stretch target of £7,000 and raise another £1,000 in the next two days. You can help by:

This is the jetty where the plan is to build a three storey marketing suite, to be converted into a restaurant. The original application promised a linear park with food outlets and access to the river. Under the reserved matters application given consent on 9th June, the jetty won't be accessible till many years later than anticipated.

What would you like to see happen on the jetty?

Update 7


July 10, 2020

It's time to be ready for the next step

Our legal team have asked us to be ready for the next step. This is the drafting of grounds, assistance with claim form and pre-action correspondence. For this we need to allow just under £3,000.

You can help us reach this target. Back us by donating up to £50, or more if you can - everything helps - or invite a friend to give to our campaign. Here is the link to donate:

Below is an artist's impression of what the development would look like from Greenwich. The large 48 storey tall building interferes with the protected view from Greenwich to St Paul's Cathedral. If you would like something better than this, please back our campaign. Thank you.

Update 6


July 7, 2020

Our legal team begin their work

With your help, we have been able to pay our barristers’ fees for the first step. They can now do the research and test how strong our case is to go forward for judicial review. We are expecting them to complete this and come back to us by the beginning of next week. We are taking a step by step approach, paying the barristers in advance. That way we do not commit ourselves without having the means to cover the costs. 

There is something you can do to help us to be ready for the next stage -

  • Email five of your friends asking them to pledge to our case and send them the link to our Crowd Justice page:  
  • Pledge again - you can pledge any number of times to support us in our campaign to challenge the outline planning consent and get a renewed masterplan that respects the heritage and provides genuinely affordable homes for all.

Thank you.

Below is an image of a painting of The 'Buckingham on the Stocks at Deptford' by John Cleveley. 

John Cleveley the Elder lived and worked at King’s Yard Row, near the Royal Dockyard (now called Convoys Wharf). Many of his paintings were of local scenes - mainly shipbuilding and ship launches - including the Buckingham on the stocks at Deptford. The 'Buckingham' was launched at Deptford in 1751, the year before this painting was made and so it is generally accepted that this is the vessel shown. This is all part the heritage of Deptford that we want to protect and celebrate. See more details here:

Update 5


July 5, 2020

Our thanks to NHS workers - give them homes they can afford

Today is the 72nd anniversary of the NHS. A nurse earns £25,000 a year. The majority of care workers are on zero hours contracts. One fifth of NHS staff are from the black, Asian and minority ethnic community. How many of them, or others who have supported us over the last months, can find a home on Convoys Wharf? Let's express our thanks by pushing for more genuinely affordable housing to buy or rent. 

Thanks to all our backers for bringing us over the £4,000 threshold. Please tell your friends about our campaign and ask them to donate.

Update 4


July 3, 2020

Where will the children play?

Thank you everyone for you support and comments. It's good to hear how strongly you feel about this development.

This image is the mural in Pepys Park with Convoys Wharf appearing over the wall. 

Despite its size, the plans for Convoys Wharf do not give enough play space for all the children and depend on them using the surrounding play areas, such as in Pepys Park. We need to have space in Convoys Wharf for all children to play and move safely around the development.

Update 3


July 2, 2020

From the Anchor to the River

Day 3 and we're at 25% of our stretch target.  Thank you to everyone who has donated and is sharing our campaign. How far can we stretch today?

This is the view towards convoys wharf from Deptford High Street. 

We want to keep the connection from the anchor to the river. The developers have been given the go ahead to build a huge luxury block of private flats blocking our direct access to the river. Help us in our attempt to overturn this consent.

Update 2


July 1, 2020

Day 2 and we've reached 16% - £3,515 - of our target

Thank you to everyone who has donated. Can we match yesterday's achievement? Let's keep the donations flowing. Please share as widely as you can, by email and social media.

The image shows the archeological dig by the Museum of London. This is the archeology to be buried under a massive development which does not respect the site or meet the present needs created by the housing crisis and the environmental crisis or value the international importance of this site.

Update 1


June 30, 2020

Initial target reached within hours of launch

We've reached our initial target of £2,000! This means our campaign is well underway. How quickly can we make it £15,000?

With £15,000 we have enough to go to the next stage of the Judicial Review process.

Thank you everyone who has donated so far.

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