Support us at Waitrose throughout February!

We are delighted to announce that Waitrose in Greenwich has selected us as one of their three local good causes to participate in their Community Matters charity scheme during the month of February.

During the whole of this month, anyone shopping at Waitrose will be able to show their support for us by dropping the green token into our box next to the checkouts. At the end of the month, a total of £1,000 donated by the Greenwich branch will be divided between the three charities based on the proportion of tokens in each box.

community mattersWe are up against some stiff Greenwich competition – namely the Royal Observatory and the Old Royal Naval College – but we hope that we will get a strong vote not only from our Deptford supporters but also from our Greenwich neighbours.

They are all great causes to support, but we hope you will choose ours as being the one of greatest need!

So don’t forget to give us your token – and if the checkout staff forget to give you one, don’t be embarrassed to ask!

Further extension to the signing of the section 106 agreement for Convoys Wharf

The Mayor of London has authorised a seventh extension to the deadline for completion of the Section 106 agreement relating to the Convoys Wharf planning application, taking it to 27th February.

The planning report, which was issued on 28th January by the GLA, states that the extension is partly related to consideration of representation received from both the Lenox and Sayes Court Garden Projects. However, on this occasion expert advice is also being sought regarding the affordable housing review mechanism.

A link to the GLA planning report dated 28th January 2015 is here.

Dan Snow presents ‘The Mary Rose: A Timewatch Guide’

Dan Snow, one of the patrons of the Lenox Project, will present a Timewatch documentary on BBC4 this week about the discovery of the Mary Rose. Dan will use BBC archive footage from the last 40 years to chart the discovery of the wreck, her excavation and eventual recovery, and will examine what the latest research has revealed about this iconic ship and her crew.

The wreck of the Mary Rose (copyright Mary Rose Museum)

The wreck of the Mary Rose (copyright Mary Rose Museum)

Tuesday 3 February at 21:00hrs. For the link to the BBC website click here.

If you miss the documentary, you can always visit the Mary Rose Museum website to discover more about this amazing vessel.

Sixth Thames Shipbuilding Symposium

Lenox specialist Richard Endsor, the project’s leading historian, is among an eminent collection of experts giving presentations at the Sixth Thames Shipbuilding Symposium organised by the Docklands History Group in May.

Lenox6thSympThe event will take place at the Museum of London Docklands on Saturday 9th May, and the programme includes Professor Andrew Lambert, Dr Ian Friel and Des Pawson among others.

The full programme can be found here.

For more information on the Docklands History Group visit the website.

Further extension to the signing of the section 106 agreement for Convoys Wharf

The Mayor of London has authorised a sixth extension to the deadline for completion of the Section 106 agreement relating to the Convoys Wharf planning application, taking it to 30th January.

The planning report, which was issued yesterday by the GLA, states that the extension is partly related to consideration of comments received from both the Lenox and Sayes Court Garden Projects. The Lenox Project is still awaiting sight of the revised Section 106 document and terms of the feasibility study.

Please see a link to the planning decision below.

GLA planning report dated 6th January 2015

Drone film of Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Happy new year to all our supporters – we look forward to a busy year ahead and hope that we will be bringing you exciting news of progress in the near future.

This short video shows the drama of ships and dockyards, captured beautifully by an unmanned aerial vehicle or drone which did the filming at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Convoys sign-off delayed to 2015; no progress for Lenox

The deadline for signing the Convoys Wharf Section 106 agreement has been extended for a fifth time, with a new date of 9 January being set.

Since planning permission is not deemed to be granted until this agreement is signed, this also delays the start of the Lenox Project feasibility study. In their application, the GLA planners said that the extra time was required to continue discussions over the review mechanism for the amount of affordable housing that the redevelopment will provide, and to allow comments on the draft agreement from the two community groups – The Lenox Project CIC and Sayes Court Garden CIC – to be considered.

We welcome this statement and trust that we will see our extensive comments reflected in the wording of the final agreement. We have expanded our previous comments in response to the latest documents, but many of the fundamental issues that we raised before have not been addressed. As a result we are not confident that we will see any real change.

The last time we met with the GLA, Lewisham Council and Hutchison Whampoa to discuss the terms of the agreement that relate to the Lenox Project was in August. At the time we gave detailed feedback on those clauses that were of concern to us, on the understanding that it would be taken into account.

It was not until 14 November that we were issued with a copy of the draft planning condition and a revised draft of the section 106 agreement, and we were given a week to submit comments – very short notice for a community group in which most volunteers work full time. We did manage to meet the deadline, and hope the new target completion date will provide time for our comments to be properly considered.

Unfortunately past experience suggests that further changes may not be forthcoming and we will be left with conditions that render the project infeasible.

The conditions currently being proposed are no better than those on offer before outline planning permission was granted on 31 March 2014. Despite eight months of negotiations between the GLA, Lewisham Council, developer and the Lenox Project team, there has been no appreciable progress towards a set of conditions that would support the wider aims of the project or its long term viability.

• Mayor pledges support for The Lenox Project, but only after a site has been selected.

The Mayor has expressed his support for The Lenox Project, subject to the most feasible site being selected. But neither of the sites on offer would be feasible on the terms proposed in the draft Section 106 agreement, so we are left with a classic ‘Catch 22′ scenario.

• No offer of promised long term educational, training, research and employment opportunities for Deptford or a permanent museum and berth for the Lenox.

Fundamentally, the lease terms on the sites that are being offered do not recognise the long-term aims of the project, and could even prevent us from applying to the Heritage Lottery Fund.

As previously reported, the Mayor has expressly excluded the double dry dock from the study, even though it could be the most feasible. The lease terms offered for the Olympia Building at market rates or the Safeguarded Wharf at a peppercorn rent only last for 10 years. But the project is not just about building the Lenox; we want to ensure a long term legacy for the Royal Dockyard by providing educational, training, research and employment opportunities, a permanent museum and berth for the Lenox, coupled with ongoing historic ship building and restoration.

• Section 106 community project clauses contain conditions which only offer short term occupancy of a site for up to 10 years.

There are no provisions which promote a permanent location for the project. All the terms rely on renewal of a short term lease under conditions biased towards the owner. The Heritage Lottery Fund, in particular, will not usually support a project with a lease of less than 15 years. The lease terms pre-empt the outcome of the proposed feasibility study and contradict the original planning condition made by the Mayor. The conditions also work against the need to get the project started as soon as possible; the only locations on offer are in the second and third phases of the development.

Phasing of the project: phase one shown in yellow, phase two in pink and phase three in blue. The developer proposes to include the Safeguarded Wharf (brown) in phase two.

Phasing of the project: phase one shown in yellow, phase two in pink and phase three in blue. The developer proposes to include the Safeguarded Wharf (brown) in phase two.

The current wording of the documents rules out early occupancy of the Olympia Building. What’s more, we have only been offered half of the building, which provides sufficient space to build the ship, but not enough to realise the wider project aims, and no provision for launching the ship or a home berth.

The constraints currently in place on the Safeguarded Wharf mean that we would not be able to occupy it without approval from the Secretary of State, something which is not guaranteed. Hence the project could be delayed indefinitely if the Safeguarded Wharf were selected as the most feasible site, pending this approval. There are also competing planning interests which need to be resolved before it can be considered as a viable location for the project. The restriction on uses for this site expressly excludes the processing of timber –  a procedure that is fundamental to construction of a seventeenth century sailing ship.

The planning conditions do not require the developer to accommodate the Lenox Project on the Convoys Wharf redevelopment site, so the success or failure of the project relies on the wording of the Section 106 agreement. Whichever site is chosen, access could be restricted by the developer; either by delaying the information submitted to discharge planning conditions or delaying provision of the infrastructure needed to start the project.

The agreement requires the developer to approve the Lenox Project business plan in conjunction with Lewisham Council. We have argued that the developer is not a disinterested party and that approval should rest with Lewisham Council alone, who should consult the developer on any matters that affect their development.

The odds of achieving a successful outcome to the feasibility study under the current terms are stacked against us. We will continue to lobby the Mayor to intervene by asking his officers to amend the Section 106 conditions to support the project and its wider aims for the benefit of the local community and London as a whole. We make no secret of the fact that we aim to provide a centre of excellence with an international reputation. We just need others to take an equally imaginative approach.

If you share our concerns, please write to the Mayor atboris.johnson@london.gov.uk.

Urgent: the Lenox Project needs your help!

In the eight months since Boris Johnson made a feasibility study into the Lenox Project a condition of the Convoys Wharf redevelopment, our small team has been working tirelessly to try and ensure that the legal agreements being drawn up will give our project the best chance of success.

These include the Section 106 agreement, which sets out the payments the developer must make to counteract the impact of the development on the local community, and the scope of the feasibility study that will be carried out.

We have attended meetings with the Greater London Authority, Lewisham Council and the developer; we have written many letters, compiled and submitted additional information and commented on draft documents, making clear our concerns about certain crucial aspects of the Section 106 agreement and the feasibility study scope.

Throughout we have expressed our concern that due process is not being followed and that the drafting of the documents is being driven by the applicant, rather than the planning authority.

After all this time we have lost any confidence that the process is being conducted fairly, transparently, or with true impartiality, and so we took the decision to engage a solicitor to investigate the matter on our behalf and advise us of possible options.

But seeking legal advice costs money.

Since establishing the Lenox Project Community Interest Company we have existed on our personal funds, the generosity of occasional donors, and the money from those fund-raising efforts that we have had time to run alongside the more essential campaigning and lobbying.

Almost all of the money that has been raised through merchandise sales and donations has been spent on printing flyers, posters, our Vision document and other marketing materials as well as general administration fees. Once we have an agreed site for the project we will be able to draw on funding from the developer and make our own applications to funding bodies such as the Heritage Lottery Fund. But in the meantime we have to continue our fund-raising efforts.

Our legal advisers Richard Buxton Environmental & Public Law have kindly agreed to work on a reduced hourly rate, but even in these circumstances, we now owe around £1,500.

We desperately need help from our supporters to cover these costs. We know that this is not the best time of year to be asking people for money, but every little counts! 

How can you help? 


  • buy our merchandise! You can buy a Lenox tote bag at Ralph’s Greengrocers, 77 Deptford High Street with all the money going direct to the Lenox Project. If you can’t get to Deptford, contact us on buildthelenox@gmail.com or go to http://www.buildthelenox.org/contact/ for details of how to buy online. We also still have a limited number of Deptford 500 T-shirts for sale.
  • organise a fundraiser for us! Can you organise a cake or craft sale, an auction or a christmas collection on our behalf? We can provide Lenox Project flyers or posters, and we can promote the event through our website, blog or email newsletter if you give us at least a week’s notice. We will also acknowledge your contribution through our website and social media.
  • tell your friends! Please share our website and Facebook page with your friends and colleagues, we need to reach as many people as we can at this time.
  • do you know of any local businesses or organisations that have charity funds we can apply for? Please let us know via buildthelenox@gmail.com

If you have any other suggestions we would love to hear them!

Lenox Core Team A (BW) LR

Most importantly, thank you from the core team at the Lenox Project for your help and support so far. We will continue to fight for as long as we can for what we believe is a worthwhile cause. We are continually heartened by the feedback we get from our supporters all around the world; it means a lot to us.

Mayor turns down request to widen feasibility study

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has rejected a request that the site of the Double Dry Dock be considered as a potential location for construction of the Lenox, as part of the feasibility study that is planned. This study was made a condition of the outline planning permission granted for Convoys Wharf in March.

At the same time, he has granted his planning officers at the GLA a third extension of the deadline for agreeing the Section 106 agreement for the site with developer Hutchison Whampoa. The deadline has now been extended to October 31st.

Article 300914 Image 01

Convoys Wharf with the Olympia Shed on the left; the site of the Double Dry Dock is to the extreme right of the photograph.

Since the hearing in March, the Lenox Project team has attended a number of meetings with Greater London Authority and Lewisham Council planning officers, as well as representatives of the developer, Hutchison Whampoa, to discuss aspects of the Convoys Wharf section 106 agreement which relate to the project. Until the agreement is signed, the planning approval will not be validated.

The approval included an obligation for the developer to fund a study to determine the most feasible location for the Lenox Project on the site; this obligation also states that the study should be concluded as soon as possible.

However requests by the Lenox Project CIC for the feasibility study to consider the Double Dry Dock site have been rejected by the Mayor. This is potentially the most feasible site for the project and our preferred choice, being the location where the Lenox was originally built. The site has strong associations with the adjacent Master Shipwright’s House, the only above-ground building of the former Royal Dockyard that survives.

Article 300914 Image 02MR

Above: The Double Dry Dock and Master Shipwright’s House: Extract from an aerial view commissioned by the Navy Board (National Maritime Museum)

The Lenox Project questions the validity of a feasibility study that assesses only two locations and ignores what could arguably be the most feasible.

At the hearing in March, the Mayor of London did not stipulate in the planning condition how many sites should be included in the study, only that the study should determine the most feasible site. The developer has argued that only the Safeguarded Wharf and Olympia Shed should be included in the study, and this view is being supported by Greater London Authority planning officers. This position is unchanged from that which the developer was adopting before the mayoral hearing. 

However Lewisham Council has consistently advocated including the Double Dry Dock and the council recently wrote to Boris Johnson in support of our request to include it in the study. The Mayor received letters from Lewisham Deptford MP and Lenox Project patron Dame Joan Ruddock, Lewisham Deputy Mayor Alan Smith, a number of other Lewisham councillors and three GLA assembly members, all supporting our request.

In his response, the Mayor of London cited advice from his planning officers that the dock ‘no longer constitutes a functional piece of civil engineering’. This is strongly challenged by the Lenox team on the basis that the majority of the dock was excluded from the investigations carried out by Museum of London Archaeology. The small area which was excavated revealed a substantial stone-built structure in very good condition.

Article 300914 Image 03

The Great Dock: Photograph from Museum of London Archaeology Evaluation Report April 2010

We believe the aim of the study should be to choose the most viable location for the project and not the most convenient one for the developer.

The terms offered by the developer for use of the two sites currently proposed in the study, coupled with their availability in relation to the development construction programme, would delay the start of the project for anything from 8 to 12 years.

This could seriously undermine the project’s viability and it is for this reason that we want the Double Dry Dock to be included. We believe it is the only option that will enable the project to begin at the earliest opportunity.

The Lenox Project team intends to use the additional time offered by the deadline extension to continue lobbying for three sites to be included in the study and for the terms proposed for use of all of the sites to be modified to provide the best chance of success for the project.

WMF study day at the Master Shipwright’s House

If you missed the chance to visit Deptford’s Master Shipwrights House on Open House weekend, or you want to learn more about the history of the dockyard and its significance, the World Monuments Fund is hosting a study day at the house on Wednesday 15th October. Supporters of the Lenox Project and other local community groups can benefit from the reduced rate.

IMG_0939

Deptford Dockyard & The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich
Wednesday 15 October, 9.45am – 4.30pm

Deptford Dockyard was included in the 2014 World Monuments Watch due to the outstanding global significance of the site, both historically and archaeologically, and the threat of unsympathetic development.

In 1513 Henry VIII founded the Royal naval Dockyard at Deptford,and the King’s Yard became the foremost Royal dockyard of the Tudor period. Hundreds of warships and trading vessels were built here, including ships for exploration, science and empire.

The Mary Rose was launched from Deptford in 1517, and the dockyard remained a naval powerhouse for another 350 years. The history of Deptford as the lost piece of the Thames jigsaw will be explored in the comfort of the Master Shipwright’s House which sits alongside this threatened site and an afternoon trip to the archives of the National Maritime.

Tickets: £50 Members of Deptford Community groups, £60 non-members.

Bookings can be made on the WMF website.

Price includes a hearty lunch and refreshments throughout, and admissions are included in the cost. Will include some walking between sites and only suitable for those who are physically able. Please advise of dietary requirements in advance.