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Barratt ruffles locals with Catford tower block plans

16 Mar Plans for five new tower blocks of up to 20 storeys high in the centre of Catford in south London are meeting local resistance.

The development site, in the middle of the South Circular one-way system in Catford
The development site, in the middle of the South Circular one-way system in Catford

Barratt London has recently completed a second round of public engagement on its plans for Catford Island – the plot of land in the town centre where the South Circular divides into a one way system.

Barratt, in partnership with the Church Commissioners, wants to build five apartment blocks on the site, with heights ranging from eight to 20 storeys. Comments received reveal widespread concern about density and mass.

A visit to the project website, catfordisland.commonplace.is, gives the impression that the people of Catford are welcoming Barratt with open arms – “Over 80% of respondents welcomed the regeneration of the site” Barratt says.

The Catford Island site, also known as Plassy Island, could do with improvement; it is currently home to JD Sports, McDonalds, Lidl and a shut-down bingo hall. It is one of the six key sites identified in the Catford Town Centre Framework, adopted by Lewisham Council in June 2021.

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However, the scale of Barratts proposals is the subject of much adverse comment posted on the project site.

A typical sample of the 200+ comments posted on the project site  read:

  • “Strongly disagree with the height of these buildings. They will be an eyesore and completely out of character with the area. What is the point of having a conservation area literally one street away when buildings like this are going to go up.”
  • “The building’s heights are completely out of character with the neighbourhood, particularly the three largest blocks.”
  • “600 homes in this space is too much and will put immense pressure on the local infrastructure and traffic. The amount should be half that. The blocks must not be taller than 5-8 floors, which is the maximum permissible for Catford’s historic architectural makeup. This was already voted by the community at the time of building Catford green, when building taller blocks was strongly opposed and stopped.”
  • “These plans are all about developers greed and have little to do with the needs of the people who live in Catford or who will here in the future. The current resources/ facilities cannot support this number of people moving into the area. The health, education and transport systems are already over stretched to the point of being not fit for purpose. This will just be a future slum.”
  • “Proposed heights for the new buildings will make Catford look like Croydon & Lewisham. So depressing & soulless.”
  • “The proposed heights represent a grotesque over-development of the site. Catford is a low rise neighbourhood and the height of the buildings on the Island site should be in line with surrounding properties. Over development of this sort is a recipe for social problems and will negatively impact the town centre.”

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