The developers of the Mortlake Brewery site have indicated they want to build up to 980 new residential units, a large new secondary school, offices, shops, restaurants, bars, a cinema, gym and hotel. A development of this scale could increase the population of Mortlake by some 40 per cent, with the risk that the unique, historic character of the area is replaced by large mansion blocks and warehouse-style architecture.
As a member of the local community, I am not opposed to the redevelopment. Almost everyone I know sees this as a great opportunity, and in my view the emerging designs are not without some attractive elements and features. I believe the consultations carried out by the MBCG with the community supports the concept of a sustainable, high quality mixed-use development.
As a member of the MBCG, we also understand that there is a shortage of housing, especially affordable homes in London and the South East, and see the opportunity for this large site to make an appropriate contribution to those needs. But that must not be at the expense of the character of the area and the very specific geography of the site, which sits on a narrow stretch between the river and the railway line, which complicates access and traffic management issues.
For the past several years I have taken the role of developer liaison for the MBCG and, like the wider community, am concerned that the cumulative effect of the current proposals is inappropriate and unsustainable in terms of overall density and resultant impact on traffic congestion, protected open space, and the quality of the environment.
Clearly this large site will develop its own character as it develops, but this must not be in such stark contrast to the predominantly low-rise, low density, sub-urban grain and character of the surrounding community.
At the MBCG’s meeting on 14 June, attended by some 80 residents, our newly elected MP and local councillors it was agreed that a cap of nearer 560 residential units was more appropriate, of which at least 50% should be affordable. Other goals were discussed and agreed on sustainable transport solutions, protection of green space and the community infrastructure needed to serve the residents on and round the site for years to come. (See Our Goals in detail –LINK)
While there have been some modifications to the developer’s emerging proposals through a managed consultation processes, there is a growing fear among those of us that have been watching this process for some time that that the owners of the site do not intend to move on the fundamental subject of density, despite this being at odds with the agreed vision for the area, the Adopted Planning Brief, the Published Local plan and density guidance from the Mayor and the GLA’s official Policy documents.
We remain hopeful that the developer and their design team will listen to local concerns and come up with a scheme we can all support and which will transform and revitalise the area.
By Peter Eaton
Read more about Our Goals