Richard Southall; Assistant Director, South East Neighbourhood L & Q replies

Residents visiting the building site of their promised Community Centre

Dear Richard Southall,

I am writing on behalf of residents and Lewington Centre users.

Re your letter 20th Sept 2012 distributed to Silwood residents:

1- Was this letter circulated to all Silwood residents? If not why not?

2- Can you outline the process and mechanisms by which you ” regularly consult with residents” ?

3- How did the residents identify the priorities you cite and how many responded?

4- How and when are you going to “make available opportunities for local people to give us their views about our services”?

5- Does the new use of the Lewington Centre comply with the funding agreements between L&Q and Lewisham Council?

6- Does the new use of the Lewington Centre comply with the funding agreements between L&Q and Southwark Council?

7- Please can you forward Lewington Centre business plan and accounts for years 2010/11 and 2011/12

8- The SIlwood Community Centre Business Plan April 09-Aug 09 shows profits of £65,244 ( 08/09) 47,366 (09/10). Where do these profits go?

9- The income from the 25 flats above the Lewington Centre is meant to go towards community use of the centre. Is this the case?

10- When did L&Q agree with BEC re use of the Lewington Centre? Please can we see a contract.

We would appreciate a written response to these questions.

I thank you in advance for your prompt response.

Thanks

Mark

Dear Mr Saunders

Re: The Lewington Centre, 9 Eugenia Road SE16 2RU

I write in response to the issues raised in your email of 7 November 2012 the contents of which are noted.  I have structured my response to address each of the ten separate issues raised.

1.    The letter dated 20 September 2012 was hand delivered to all residents (irrespective of Landlord or tenure) living on the estate.  In addition to this the letter was also delivered to those Southwark homes located in St Helena Road adjacent to the centre.
2.    L&Q undertakes, through an independent market research company monthly resident satisfaction surveys designed to test satisfaction with existing services and opportunities for residents to express their personal priorities.  This information helps to inform our forward strategies.  These randomly selected candidates can number up to 570 surveys each month.
3.    Through the independent surveys described in two above.
4.    In addition to the process previously described we undertake localised surveys at L&Q organised events and projects.  Those engaging in these activities are given an opportunity to complete a feedback form that also asks them to identify their individual priorities.  This information also helps to shape our future strategies.
5.    Lewisham are satisfied with arrangements at the centre.
6.    There are no outstanding financial agreements between L&Q and Southwark in relation to the centre.
7.    These will be made available, on request from London Borough of Lewisham.
8.    All generated income supports the operational upkeep of the centre and on-going service delivery.
9.     As above
10.  BEC have rented space at the centre since October 2011.  It is not appropriate to disclose contractual details to a third party.

I hope the above is of assistance to you and I appreciate your concerns surrounding the running and use of the Lewington Centre, however I can assure you that this centre is run completely in line with our policies and procedures and any agreements we have with third parties.

Kind Regards

Richard Southall

Please leave a comment if you have any remarks, further questions or suggestions regarding this issue.

We have put some of the issues these documents raise to Richard Southall Assistant Director, South East Neighbourhood of London and Quadrant see the following blogs.
Click Silwood Video Group for more blogs
Or visit PlanA our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.
See our Silwood Video Group project pages for more information and videos.
Support our work by ordering Silwood related books, maps, dvds and prints from Spectacle’s shop.
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Lewington Community Centre Silwood Estate- Freedom of Information Request

Residents of the Silwood Estate, Rotherhithe, were promised that when the estate was “regenerated” their existing and community managed community centre and other facilities would be replaced with a better purpose community centre- later called the Lewington Centre.

London and Quadrant received grant of £3,334,653.00 of Section 106 money, of which £1,964,728 was to build the community centre- it also included £2,240,000 SRB money to build new flats above the main hall that would provide the community with a constant rent revenue stream of £32,500 p.a. that was to go towards community capacity building.

However since it opened in April 2009 local residents have struggled to get access. The rents are too high for the Tenants and Residents groups to use it for office space. The hall is either inappropriate or unaffordable for most community uses.

Now the “owners” London and Quadrant, without any meaningful consultation with residents, have let out the centre to Bede Educational College and the residents are almost complete excluded. There appears to be no L&Q staff based there.

In order to find out what is going on it has been necessary to make a Freedom of Information request to Lewisham Council see below.

Lewisham Borough Council have now responded, late, to our freedom of information request. Here are details of the original request and their reply:

From: Mark Saunders

2 October 2012

Dear Lewisham Borough Council,

Re Lewington Centre 9 Eugenia Road
Rotherhithe London SE16 2RU

Regarding the Lewington Centre and the flats above please can you
provide the following information and documents:

Documents relating to Section 106 agreements with L&Q

Documents relating to L&Q’s commitments to funding and services
provided for the community centre

Details of any funding from Lewisham council to the centre and the
terms and conditions of this funding.

L&Qs financial reports and business plans for the use of the
Lewington Centre since it was opened.

Yours faithfully,

Mark Saunders
c/o
Spectacle
Studio 25
99-109 Lavender Hill
London
SW11 5QL

From: Foi
Lewisham Borough Council

7 November 2012


Attachment Silwood Update Report September 2009.pdf
423K Download View as HTML

Attachment grant agreement community fac silwood 3b.pdf
682K Download View as HTML

Attachment grant agreement phase3b.pdf
744K Download View as HTML

Attachment community fac 3b silwood estate.pdf
2.1M Download View as HTML

Attachment Lewington centre Buiness plan Update 300909.xls
37K Download View as HTML


Dear Mr Saunders

Re: Freedom of Information Act 2000
Reference No: 197880

Thank you for your recent request. We apologise for the delay responding.
We enclose the following information.

Regarding the Lewington Centre and the flats above please can you provide
the following information and documents:

Documents relating to Section 106 agreements with L&Q
Section 106 Agreements once signed are public documents and can be viewed
either at the Council offices or via the Council’s website.
Below is a link to the Section 106 Agreement we believe you are interested
in. That agreement relates to Silwood Phase I and was signed on the 23
October 2001.

[1]http://acolnet.lewisham.gov.uk/ACOLLATED…

Documents relating to L&Q’s commitments to funding and services provided
for the community centre
Please see attached report.

Details of any funding from Lewisham council to the centre and the terms
and conditions of this funding.
Please see attached.

L&Qs financial reports and business plans for the use of the Lewington
Centre since it was opened.
Please see attached report.

We hope you find this information helpful.

You have a right of appeal against this response. If you wish to appeal
you must do so in writing to the Corporate Information Manager at the
following address:
Corporate Information Team
London Borough of Lewisham
1^st Flr, Town Hall Chambers,
London, SE6 4RY
or
[2][email address]

Yours sincerely

Maria Kaminski
Corporate Information Team
Tel: 020 8314 6848

We have put some of the issues these documents raise to Richard Southall Assistant Director, South East Neighbourhood of London and Quadrant see the following blogs.
Click Silwood Video Group for more blogs
Or visit PlanA our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.
See our Silwood Video Group project pages for more information and videos.
Support our work by ordering Silwood related books, maps, dvds and prints from Spectacle’s shop.
Spectacle homepage
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Contaminated Soil: An NHH + L&Q Response

silwood estate returfing

On the 28th of July, Spectacle received a reply to inquiries into the contaminated top-soil on the Silwood estate. We have recently compared the answers we received from Notting Hill Housing and London & Quadrant in response to the questions we posed:

Spectacle: From where was the topsoil currently being removed brought?
Notting Hill Housing + London and Quadrant: We understand from the groundwork sub-contractor the original soil was sourced from the South-East area. (where?)
S: Have soil tests been conducted on the contaminated soil, and if so, what did the results of these tests reveal?
NHH + L&Q: 15 gardens were tested by a geotechnical engineer between May and September 2009. The laboratory tests confirmed 11 of the 15 gardens had soil marginally above Environment Agency ‘Contaminated Land Exposure Assessment (C.L.E.A) ‘trigger levels’ for domestic gardens. (what are ‘trigger levels’? what is the scale?)
S: What are the health consequences related to this soil contamination?
NHH + L&Q: We do not consider the marginal nature of the soil classification poses any threat to health. It is key to note the soil was classified as being adequate for communal gardens and that of the sample tested 27 percent were deemed to be suitable for domestic use by the Environment Agency C.L.E.A. (27 percent, 4 out of 15, is not a laudable percentage. has an independent party provided comment on/ looked into health concerns?)
S: How is any contamination thought to have arisen?
NHH + L&Q: As part of the build contract, Higgins Construction sourced and imported top soil. (… which was already contaminated? … which became contaminated en route? … which was not fit for purpose (domestic use) and became contaminated after installation? when did contamination occur and how?)
S: For how long has Higgins Construction known about any contamination present in the topsoil?
NHH + L&Q: In March 2009, it was brought to our attention that a Planning Consent condition relating to ground remediation had not been discharged. In order to satisfy the condition, Higgins Construction arranged to take further soil samples from across sample of gardens in May and September 2009. The results of these tests were sent to the Lewisham Council Environmental Health Officer and Planning Department to sign off the condition that all soil and sub-soil met the required specification… a few fell outside of the required level s for domestic gardens.
S: Will any contamination have affected the fruit and vegetables grown in some residents’ gardens in such a way as might adversely affect the health of anyone who might eat them?
NHH + L&Q: The marginal nature of the soil classification does not pose a threat to health from eating produce grown in the soil. It is key to note that soil in any garden would have a degree of ‘contamination’ and that the issue is about present day classification.
S: On what basis was the £250 compensation for each affected garden calculated?
NHH + L&Q: The £250 is an arbitrary without prejudice figure offered by Higgins as fair compensation for the disruption to residents’ lives’ during the works.
S: How long will these works (removing contaminated topsoil, replacing it with new topsoil, and repairing residents’ gardens) take?
NHH + L&Q: As of the 16th July the works are complete to approximately half of the gardens, with the end of August being the forecast completion of the last property. This is slightly longer than first envisaged but ensuring the work is completed safely and correctly remains the priority. The quantity of residents’ garden apparatus and replanting to some gardens has elongated the original programme , but Higgins wish to ensure all tenants receive a high standard garden replacement.
S: How much will these works (removing contaminated topsoil, replacing it with new topsoil, and repairing residents’ gardens) cost?
NHH + L&Q: As it was a contractual obligation of Higgins Construction PLC to discharge the planning consent, the cost of the remedial works is being met by Higgins Construction PLC and notbeing passed to the respective RSL. The estimated cost is over £100,000 and is being wholly financed by Higgins Construction PLC as part of their contractual obligation.
S: In addition, we were informed during a conversation on Silwood Estate with a Higgins Construction employee that some paperwork related to the contaminated topsoil had been lost. We would therefore also like to know:
Of what nature was this lost paperwork?
How was this paperwork lost?
If this lost paperwork was in connection with the contamination of the topsoil, why is the issue only being addressed now, several years after the topsoil was bought and laid in residents’ gardens?
NHH + L&Q: Higgins Construction PLC advises that no paperwork has been lost. Lewisham require further documentation to discharge the planning condition and all current work is being very carefully monitored and all soil is being tested. Final analysis and a Conclusion Report will be submitted to the Lewisham Planning Department to clear the final condition to the planning consent after the works are completed.

Keep an eye on the Spectacle Blog for updates on this issue.

Click Silwood Video Group for more blogs
See our Silwood Video Group project pages for more information and videos.
Or visit PlanA our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.

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The Pocket Park: SafePlay’s Response

P5050416.JPG

Due to the issues surrounding the closed Pocket Park, Silwood Video Group contacted SafePlay, the company named by London & Quadrant representative, Melanie Banton, as being responsible for its maintenance. The reason given by L & Q for the park having remained closed all summer, when residents were promised back in May that it would be open, was said to be loose screws and other minor tweeks waiting to be done.

According to SafePlay, however:

“I am afraid we have had no instruction to carry out any works at this play area. Almost two years ago we quoted to install some new equipment but we did not win the tender, that was the extent of our involvement.”

Silwood Video Group have emailed L & Q with this information and await a reply. We also asked them why, when they are reporting more than 50,000 per year profit from the Lewington Centre, they cannot pay for someone to open and shut the pocket park, rather than relying a volunteer to do it. L+Q’s failure to “attract” a volunteer is widely held by residents to be the true reason the pocket park has remained shut all summer. We have invited them to confirm or deny these rumours.

Click Silwood Video Group for more blogs
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See our Silwood Video Group project pages for more information and videos.

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Digging Down Deeper at Silwood

Yet another twist in the Silwood tale as around 50 residents are having their back gardens dug up because of ‘contaminated’ topsoil.

All residents in Phase 3a of the estate plans will have to endure this disruption, as diggers roll in to pull up plants, trees, and even patios.

And the reason behind these noisy – and presumably expensive – works? Topsoil that is apparently contaminated with ‘light traces of oil’, said a spokesman from Higgins Construction, the building firm working on the estate.

The gardens affected were previously filled with topsoil bought in from elsewhere. And it’s unclear whether the soil has been contaminated right from the start. Some residents suspect as much, saying that plants seeded in the soil haven’t grown easily. One pointed out a rose bush planted five years ago – still barely more than a few shoots.

But the Higgins Construction spokesman we met suggested that oil could have made it into the soil through people ‘redecorating’ their sheds and fences. It would have to have been fairly large-scale redecoration to have contaminated the soil in so many different gardens.

There’s also the mysterious matter of some missing paperwork regarding the topsoil bought in several years ago. It was lost, apparently, somewhere between Higgins Construction, Lewisham council, and the contractor. It seems that the relevant paperwork was not in place when the original bought-in topsoil was laid down.

Residents are certainly confused about what’s been going on. The first they heard of the new digging works was a note through their letterboxes saying their soil was contaminated.

They weren’t allowed to opt-out of the works, and many feel that they  weren’t given sufficient explanation as to why their gardens have to be destroyed in this way.

Several residents also expressed great sadness at the loss of their gardens – and some who had been eating food grown in their plots were worried about the effect the contamination could have had on their fruit and vegetables, and therefore on their own health.

The Silwood  Video Group plans to write to Higgins Construction, London and Quadrant, and Lewisham council asking for a formal explanation of what the contamination is,  how it occurred and the health implications. We also want to find out how long the works will take – as some tenants say the disruption has already gone on for longer than was promised.

Keep an eye on the Spectacle Blog for updates on their responses.

Click Silwood Video Group for more blogs
See our Silwood Video Group project pages for more information and videos.
Or visit PlanA our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.

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Waiting for Godot: The Silwood Diaries

P5050414.JPG

At this month’s Residents Meeting (5th May), the rolling issue of the Pocket Park was raised. The park (sans grass) has been opened, and then closed, on and off for the last 6 to 12 months, and as it is the only source of outside space provided for young people on the Silwood as part of one of London & Quadrant’s Section 106 contracts, there is rising concern by parents.

‘Health and Safety’ issues were cited as the primary reason by L & Q officials at the meeting, however the nature of these health and safety issues were unable to be clarified when enquiries were made. Silwood Video Group members were told simply that there are ‘more repairs that need to be done to the park. This has been passed back to the contractor. As soon as these repairs are done, the park will be opened.’ It is unlikely that L &Q would be unaware of specific problems (if there were any), and seeing as children climbing over the gates in order to access the park (as they habitually do) presents greater health and safety risks, such an answer has not assuaged the residents’ questions, or annoyance.

Let’s hope that Godot, in the form of the golden key to the Pocket Park, decides to turn up soon…

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Silwood Community Forum – Wednesday 5th May – NEW SPEAKER

P4040153.JPG

John Lumley, the Development Manager for the Silwood project, has agreed to attend next week’s Residents’ Community Forum and will be available to answer any questions. The meeting will take place at 6:30pm at the Lewington Centre.

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The Good. The Bad. And Section 106.

Sil Workshop 28-07-05

Spectacle, having established the Silwood Video Group, have been an active presence on the Silwood Estate since 2001, and in nearly 10 years of voluntary film-workshops and attendance at Residents’ Meetings, we have seen the landscape of this slice of South-East London change, and change as a result of regeneration.

Since 2005 at the Residents’ Forum Meetings, which are now held quarterly, the residents have asked to see the business plans for development and to have access to details of Section 106, which was declared a ‘non-public document’ by the London & Quadrant NIT Manager on the Silwood. The statement was later retracted, but the Section 106 document, to date, has not been made available to residents.

Tower Homes, the commercial wing of London & Quadrant, won the planning permission rights to the land in the Silwood area, on which they intended to build luxury apartments. By law, this makes them accountable to Section 106 Agreement of the Town and Country Planning Act (1990), which states that if development is agreed upon, for example, Lewisham Council awarding planning permission to Tower Homes, then the new landowners must provide resources that are of benefit to the community that will be affected by the development. In the case of the Silwood, London & Quadrant was entrusted with the responsibility of overseeing the re-provision of community facilities, play areas/ parks, and youth centres on the Estate, which were demolished as a result of the regeneration process. The Lewington Centre was then built as a replacement for the former community centre and the Cyber Centre under Section 106.

Residents are currently being asked to pay relatively steep rates in order to use their new Centre, but the bone of contention lies in the fact that, according to the ‘Regeneration Project Initiation Document’, freely available from Lewisham Council, London & Quadrant allocated a fund of £2 million in order to meet their Section 106 obligations. On top of this, despite the claim of London & Quadrant representatives at Residents’ Meetings on the Silwood that these rates are essential to their business plan and the long-term running of the Lewington Centre, their business plan for 2009 shows that they have made a profit in the region of £120, 000. So why do they seem so unwilling to invest in fully rebuilding the local infrastructure?

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Silwood Land for Silwood Residents?

Sil 180707

As part of the continued regeneration of the Silwood Estate, an application has been submitted by London & Quadrant Housing Association for planning permission on vacant land that residents wanted to be used to provide play areas for their children. After a series of quarterly meetings in which residents were unable to obtain information from L & Q representatives as to status of the Lewisham Council-owned land, it has become apparent that the housing trust themselves have made a bid for it. According to Planning Application DC/09/73169/X , L & Q are seeking permission to build tower blocks ‘ranging from 2 storeys… to 6 storeys’ in the area north of Silwood Street. Residents have requested that this issue be raised at the next Silwood Community Meeting.

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Silwood Community Forum – Wednesday 5th May

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There will be a comunity meeting at the Lewington Centre on the Silwood Estate next Wednesday, 5th May, at 6.30pm. On the agenda is: 1) Introductions & Apologies; 2) Minutes of Last Meeting; 3) Lewington Centre – Steering Group; 4) Project Updates on: Housing, Police, Catch 22, Community Development, Funding Opportunities; and 5) Any Other Business.

For more information on the Silwood and our on-going involvement, check out our Silwood blog

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