Hillcrest Estate - report published

The place for serious discussion, announcements and breaking news about Sydenham

Moderator: frenzarin

Post Reply
Growsydenham
Posts: 81
Joined: 27 Jan 2018 09:23
Location: sydenham

Hillcrest Estate - report published

Post by Growsydenham » 18 Nov 2018 16:39

Dear all,

You may recall that on October 9, Lewisham decided to cancel the proposed council housing development at Hillcrest Estate, following a campaign by a number of local residents' groups (including a demonstration outside the council office). This housing was for 22 Lewisham Homes properties for people on the housing waiting list.

This campaign argued that the development would damage the ancient woodland and jeopardise habitats.

The decision to pull the development was taken on the basis of a new ecological report, which the council at the time described as "inconclusive".

There's a news report here: https://www.newsshopper.co.uk/news/1697 ... mes-plans/

and coverage of the protests there:

https://www.londonnewsonline.co.uk/lewi ... es-on-top/



WHAT'S NEW?

That report has now been published. You can find a link here.

https://www.lewishamhomes.org.uk/new-ho ... nham-se26/

It finds:
- This is categorically NOT ancient woodland.
- Some of the mature trees for felling need to be removed anyway
- The development would require removing some trees and habitats, with some effect on the estate. But would not pose "significant long-term adverse impacts" and with mitigation measures planned by the development would give a "slight positive impact on the overall biodiversity value".


Interpretations of the report, and the weight that each passage should be given, will differ from person to person.

However we must ask: has the council made this decision based on expert advice -- or by listening to those who shout the loudest?


FROM THE INTRODUCTION TO THE REPORT


PJC Consultancy Ltd were commissioned by Potter Raper Partnership to undertake an
Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA) in relation to the proposed development of Sites 1,
2 & 3 at Hillcrest Estate, Lewisham, London. The proposed development includes replacing
the existing garage block within Site 1 with a new terrace of houses each with associated
gardens to the rear, replacing the existing garage blocks with Site 2 with a two-storey
residential dwelling and garden and replacing the community centre within Site 3 with a sixstorey
residential apartment building.
This EcIA was undertaken in accordance with the Chartered Institute of Ecology and
Environmental Management (CIEEM) Guidelines (2016) and BS42020:2013.
A comprehensive review and evaluation of existing ecological reports prepared by PJC
Consultancy was undertaken, the findings and recommendations of which were used to
inform this EcIA.
An assessment of the ecological baseline identified a small number of important ecological
features. These included Hillcrest Estate Woodland Site of Importance for Nature
Conservation (SINC), bats, reptiles, nesting birds and non-native invasive plants. In
addition, it should be noted that woodland within the Site is not included on Natural
England’s Ancient Woodland Inventory. Similarly it is not designated as Ancient Woodland
in the Council’s local plan.
The National Planning Policy Framework defines ancient woodland as “an area of woodland
that has been wooded continuously since at least 1600AD”.
A review of historical land-use maps was undertaken of the Sites and wider Site, which
concludes that woodland coverage within Site 1 and Site 2 has not been continuous since
1600AD. In regard to Site 3, the woodland within and immediately adjacent Site 3 appears
to have been continuously wooded since at least 1885AD, therefore the possibility of it
being continuously wooded since at least 1600AD cannot be ruled out.
Overall the woodland parcels bordering the Sites are considered to be of sub-optimal
condition as they exhibit limited floral structure and diversity comprising predominantly selfseeded
sycamore trees and non-native tree and shrub species. It should be noted that no
ancient woodland indicator plant species were recorded within Sites 1, 2 and 3 during the
original and updated extended phase 1 habitat survey.
On this basis, the woodland within the Site is considered highly unlikely to qualify as ancient
woodland. Therefore, the proposed development is considered highly unlikely to result in
any direct and/or indirect adverse impacts on the structure, integrity and function of ancient
woodland.
In addition, it should be noted that the woodland bordering the Sites are subject to edge
effects such as increased levels of air, light and noise pollution which are exacerbated even
further given the highly urbanised locality of the Sites. The ecological structure and integrity
of woodland relies, in part, to maintaining the continuity and quality of woodland habitat.
As such, it is probable that marginal habitat losses along exposed edges are less likely to
affect the woodlands ecological structure, integrity and function.

The development of Site 1 will result in the loss of approximately 325m2 of Hillcrest Estate
SINC and woodland. This will include the loss of two small groups of semi-mature elder
and hawthorn, a single mature sycamore, and part of small group of semi-mature cherry
laurel. The development of Site 2 is not anticipated to result in the loss of any land within
Hillcrest Estate SINC. However, the proposed development will result in the loss of a small
group of cherry laurel, a single early mature sycamore and an over-mature scots pine which
are located outside the Hillcrest Estate SINC. The development of Site 3 will result in the
loss of approximately 50m2 of Hillcrest Estate SINC and woodland. This will include the
loss of a single mature oak, a single mature holly and nine mature sycamores. It should be
noted that the mature oak does not fall within or immediately adjacent the proposed
development site but has been recommended to be removed regardless as the tree was
identified as having a number of significant defects giving it a life expectancy of less than
ten tears.
Prior to any relevant mitigation and/or compensation measures being recommended,
adverse impacts were anticipated on designated sites and a variety of protected and
notable species and habitats including Hillcrest Estate Woodland, deciduous woodland
Habitat of Principal Importance, bats, reptiles, breeding birds and invasive plant species.
However, given the size of the Site and nature of the proposed development and providing
the avoidance, mitigation and compensation measures detailed within this report are
adhered to, no significant long-term adverse impacts on these identified important
ecological features, including Hillcrest Estate SINC and the woodland it supports, are
anticipated as a result of the proposed development. In addition, should the enhancement
recommendations detailed within this report be implemented, a slight positive impact on
the overall biodiversity value of the Site, Hillcrest Estate SINC and the woodland it supports,
is anticipated.

In summary, mitigation/compensation measures would include:

Undertaking new woodland planting on a minimum 3:1 ratio to the total area of
woodland/number of scattered trees lost. Native, locally appropriate tree species such
as oak Quercus sp. (as detailed within the Hillcrest Estate SINC designation) will be
planted.
• An area of land within the Hillcrest Estate SINC, approximately 1400m2, selected as
being a potential candidate for receiving the compensatory woodland/tree planting has
been identified to the north of Site 2.
• Other measures to mitigate and compensate for adverse impacts on woodland within
the Hillcrest Estate SINC could also include installing screening barriers (i.e fencing
and/or dead hedges) along access tracks/footpaths and installing appropriate signage
in order to deter members of the public from deviating from the access
tracks/footpaths and into the woodland. It is also understood that the existing
playground within Hillcrest Estate will be renovated, thereby potentially encouraging
public use of the play area facilities, thereby potentially reducing recreational pressure
on the Hillcrest Estate SINC.
• Green/blue roofs are proposed for all buildings within each Site. The green/blue roofs
will be designed to enhance the potential for biodiversity within each Site. The
green/blue roofs will provide a variety of microhabitats to encourage a range of
invertebrate species including many London priority species such as stag beetles which
are potentially present within the woodland habitat. The roofs would also provide
foraging opportunities to bats and bird species such as black redstarts which is also a
London priority species.

Enhancement measures could include:
• Enhancing the existing woodland network within the Hillcrest Estate SINC by
implementing a long-term eradication/management programme of non-native plant
species within the Hillcrest Estate SINC, including species such as Japanese knotweed,
rhododendron and cherry laurel which were recorded throughout the wider site during
the initial Extended Phase 1 Habitat survey.
• Other enhancement measures targeting the existing woodland within the Hillcrest Estate
SINC could include restoring traditional woodland coppicing practices or enhancing the
structure and diversity of the woodland understorey through additional tree and shrub
planting.
• Enhancement measures could include the installation of additional artificial bird and
bat boxes (in addition to those already prescribed) within the Hillcrest Estate SINC in
order to increase the available roosting opportunities for bats and nesting opportunities
for birds within the immediate surroundings.
Additional mitigation, compensation and enhancement measures are presented in further
detail within the main body of this report. To ensure the long-term success of the
mitigation, compensation and enhancement and management measures within Hillcrest
Estate SINC, a long-term woodland management plan could be produced for the
development. This woodland management plan could cover the pre-construction phase,
construction phase and the first ten-year operational phase of the proposed development.
The woodland management plan would be reviewed and agreed by Lewisham Council (who
are also the owners of the SINC) and any other relevant key stakeholders prior to
implementation.

Sydenham
Posts: 265
Joined: 2 Sep 2007 09:08
Location: Wells Park

Re: Hillcrest Estate - report published

Post by Sydenham » 18 Nov 2018 22:41

Or maybe they used this report as a diversionary excuse for cancellation as it enabled them to walk away from the scheme as it stood without having to acknowledge it was fundamentally flawed.

I.e. they could maintain some semblance of dignity.

This is pure conjecture on my part; I have no inside knowledge; but I can't believe the developers would just cancel a scheme on the basis of an 'inconclusive report' after spending so much time, energy and money. It doesn't feel right.

Growsydenham
Posts: 81
Joined: 27 Jan 2018 09:23
Location: sydenham

Re: Hillcrest Estate - report published

Post by Growsydenham » 19 Nov 2018 08:11

What were these fundamental flaws?

It seemed clear to me that it was cancelled because of the pressure put on the council via the lobbying campaign - there were letters to the Standard from the Sydenham society and a demo outside the council office.

Sydenham
Posts: 265
Joined: 2 Sep 2007 09:08
Location: Wells Park

Re: Hillcrest Estate - report published

Post by Sydenham » 19 Nov 2018 10:11

As I said I can't answer your question but on the recent (pre-decision) tour of the site with councillors and architects the architects were surprised at how steep some of the slopes were and how much water flowed under the site. This seems to confirm as was suggested earlier that the architects, who were based in Scotland, had designed from satellite imagery and other plans. Not saying they hadn't visited at all though.

Maybe the design contract didn't allow for sufficient and appropriate travel costs to enable a proper survey to have been undertaken - i.e. trying to get something done on the cheap (nothing wrong with this as long as it is done properly).

I come back to the council saying the scheme has been cancelled because of an 'inconclusive' ecology report - this seems so strange as if it was inconclusive why not carry on with the scheme. Something else must be behind this.

And yes without the comments and objections for this scheme from local residents I am sure it wouldn't have been cancelled. That is different to saying it was their objections that were the reason for cancellation - but maybe have been used as a smokescreen.

Pure conjecture on my part - I'm not claiming full knowledge - only an alternative interpretation of the facts as I know them to the one others have come to.

Tim Lund
Posts: 6635
Joined: 13 Mar 2008 18:10
Location: Silverdale

Re: Hillcrest Estate - report published

Post by Tim Lund » 19 Nov 2018 11:49

I think Sydenham is right to suggest the ecology report is being used as a smokescreen. My suspicion is that what it's hiding is the difficulty Lewisham Homes has with any development project, especially with the complications arising from leaseholders being involved, as well as tenants, thanks to 'Right to Buy'. I think Lewisham Homes has also abandoned attempts to put more housing on the Bampton Road estate. Although I can't find confirmation of this on line, I know opposition came from leaseholders.

I have some sympathy for the Hillcrest objectors, because I don't think that's a great location for densification - places nearer the Overground and other public transport options are much more suitable. In the long term, by which time many of us will be dead, it is nuts that were new houses gets built is determined by there the land assembly problems are least

I have less sympathy for the objectors with their loose use of terms such as ancient woodland, because when used about land which was a railway track until the 1950s, it devalues the term where it really matters. In the long run, it undermines those who care about bio diversity. A project I've suggested to London Wildlife Trust is to map the occurrence of ancient woodland indicator species, such as native English bluebells and wild garlic, across the entire area. Some citizen science along such lines could engage many more people, not just those concerned about a particular housing development. Both of these species are to be found in my garden, but there are more in Hillcrest

JGD
Posts: 415
Joined: 5 Feb 2018 11:39
Location: Lewisham

Re: Hillcrest Estate - report published

Post by JGD » 19 Nov 2018 12:59

Tim Lund wrote: I think Lewisham Homes has also abandoned attempts to put more housing on the Bampton Road estate. Although I can't find confirmation of this on line, I know opposition came from leaseholders.

....

A project I've suggested to London Wildlife Trust is to map the occurrence of ancient woodland indicator species, such as native English bluebells and wild garlic, across the entire area. Some citizen science along such lines could engage many more people, not just those concerned about a particular housing development. Both of these species are to be found in my garden, but there are more in Hillcrest
I share the view that a decision on the Bampton estate proposal has been difficult to track.

The proposal was of very poor quality and opposition from leaseholders was not the only source of objection. Residents generally seemed resistant to the crammed nature of the development and loss of play space and general amenity.

The consultation process was flawed and Lewisham notified residents that this process in itself had to be subject to review. It again has been difficult to get a transparent view of what this meant and what the outcome was.

I think the point on native English bluebells and wild garlic along with citizen science having the potential to engage many more people is well made and has merit.

Growsydenham
Posts: 81
Joined: 27 Jan 2018 09:23
Location: sydenham

Re: Hillcrest Estate - report published

Post by Growsydenham » 19 Nov 2018 14:08

Thank you for your replies everyone.

Would we all agree that whether supportive of a proposal or not, it’s in everybody’s interests that decisions being taken are transparent and clear? I’m sure I’m not the only one who doesn’t want a situation where major decisions – for or against – are being taken on unclear grounds. That would set a bad precedent for future cases.

mosy
Posts: 3714
Joined: 21 Sep 2007 20:28
Location: London

Re: Hillcrest Estate - report published

Post by mosy » 19 Nov 2018 20:47

Growsydenham wrote:Thank you for your replies everyone.

Would we all agree that whether supportive of a proposal or not, it’s in everybody’s interests that decisions being taken are transparent and clear? I’m sure I’m not the only one who doesn’t want a situation where major decisions – for or against – are being taken on unclear grounds. That would set a bad precedent for future cases.
If you're referring to projects which don't go ahead, chapter-and-verse transparency ought to have the test of what is "in the public interest", but who would or does decide what is or isn't?

Also, disclosure beyond that already decreed to be obligatory would be voluntary and almost certainly would not be full disclosure. What's deliberately not said could be more important than what is, so would we be any nearer to knowing what's left unsaid by demanding transparency?

Post Reply