The current proposals consist of 3,514 new homes in a mixed-use development, to include retail and office space, a primary school and a working wharf.
The forty acres of Convoys Wharf dominate the river. Long closed off to the public at large, at first glance it looks like any other brownfield site in need of some urgent and much welcome development. However this is not entirely the case. The dockyard still exists and many of its major features still survive below ground level: the great basin, the mastponds, five slipways and, most importantly, the great double dry-dock where the original Lenox was built.
Above ground there are also survivors: the Master Shipwright’s house and the vast Olympia Shed, both of which are listed structures.
When shoe-horning a new neighbourhood of this density into an existing community, creative thinking is needed to find the best way to integrate the two. The success and longevity of such a development depends to a large extent on a sensitive response to the site and its surroundings – both cultural and physical. To achieve these aims the design needs to be distinctive and engaging: heritage assets hold the key.
The most romantic place to build the Lenox would be in the great double dock dry-dock originally built by Henry VIII next to the Master Shipwright’s house. The double dry-dock could be excavated to accommodate the ship but if this proves impractical then it could be built at another location inside the dockyard in the Olympia shed. This structure was constructed in 1846 to enable ships to be built under cover, and a use for it is presently being sought. Building Lenox inside it would be a most economical and practical solution.