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Sivyer, Morden Wharf - Planning Application

19/3298/F – Sivyer site at northern end of Morden Wharf

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Following discussion and agreement at our last public meeting on 25th November East Greenwich Residents Association (EGRA) has submitted the following objections to the above application.

There has been great consternation locally at the presence of Sivyer on this site, directly adjacent to the Thames Path. The company has a reputation for flouting planning conditions and they caused many problems during their previous occupancy of part of the Hanson site at Victoria Deep Water Terminal.

We would also like to point out that there is no site notice for this planning application on the Thames Path or anywhere else, despite the wide ranging impact of the proposals. There has similarly been no notification for residents across the river on the Isle of Dogs, even though they have regularly complained about noise and dust from this site.

Our main objections are:

Wharf “Flip"

EGRA members are very concerned about the proposal to swap the existing public space at Primrose Pier – opened to the public by Tunnel Refineries back in the mid-1990s – for Tunnel Wharf. Tunnel Wharf has not been used in living memory, has not yet even been surveyed and may well be structurally unsound. Its redevelopment would be contingent on the U+I property development at Morden Wharf going ahead and this has not even gone to Planning yet. In the current conditions, this project could be very far-off and the loss of public realm long-term. This could hardly be described as a “flip".

Furthermore, while Tunnel Wharf has always been included on the Port of London Authority’s list of Strategic Wharves, Primrose Pier has never previously been mentioned. It's a surprise to find that it is now regarded as “Strategic”. This seems to imply that “Strategic” is a fairly flexible designation.

Sivyer's rationale for taking over public space is that they will be able to bring in some material by barge and that this is “greener" than road transport. However, this would only be true if they were proposing to employ electric tugs to move the barges. Tugs are currently one of the most polluting types of shipping. Other European ports are pioneering electric tugs but there are none in the UK. As it stands this Application would simply swap one source of pollution for another.

Loss of trees

There is a great deal of local concern over the loss of the willows that have always made this section of the Thames Path unique in an industrial area. It seems very retrograde to be removing mature trees which offer irreplaceable habitat for wildlife with no possibility of replacing them. We regard the arboreal survey as partial and inaccurate and not to be relied on for planning purposes. A number of trees are not mentioned and the convenient conclusion that all the trees are in poor condition is simply nonsense. An independent study is required urgently and the damage done to the existing trees since Sivyer moved onto this site should be taken into account.

Danger to riverbank

The RSA Geotechnics Report makes clear the likely damage to the revetments which will be caused by removing the willows. This will be compounded by the strong probability that Sivyer will exceed the 4.2 metre height limit for stockpiles as they have done regularly. The quantities of material intended to be brought in and out of this site are not detailed. Even more alarming is the likelihood that there may be unexploded ordnance on the site. The potential for causing a whole sequence of serious problems is very high.

Danger to Thames Path Users

We believe that allowing a company with Sivyer's poor reputation to operate overhead conveyors across the Thames Path will be fraught with danger to cyclists and pedestrians. This is a National footpath and very busy. Materials falling from conveyors would have serious consequences. Users of the Path already have to contend with heavy equipment working a few feet away, creating noise, dust and vibration.

EGRA believes that the entire Sivyer site should be enclosed so that polluting dust is reduced. This would also help alleviate noise problems. Similar sites across London are now enclosed in buildings rather than working on open spoil piles and it is high time RBG insisted on comparable operating standards.

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