At last a positive Covid story, or at least a potential one: it now appears that the previously approved plans for 13 houses in ‘The Gilkes’, the former S G Smith workshop site, are not going to happen. The sums do not add up and the developer is proposing to come back with an application for a larger number of units, predominantly apartments. Assuming that any concerns over bulk and design can be resolved, this a great opportunity to solve two endemic Dulwich problems, how to provide decent sized apartments in the centre of the Village for downsizers and how to provide up-to-date accommodation for the Dulwich Estate Almshouse Charity. Common sense would say that the smaller ‘affordable accommodation’ units which Council policies require (35% of the total) would be ideal for almshouse accommodation and, hopefully, the Almshouse Charity will seize the opportunity.
The outline of the new scheme was confirmed at a meeting on 22 October between the local residents’ monitoring group and the CEO from McCulloch’s (chaired by local MP Helen Hayes). It appears that, as suspected, the developer tried unsuccessfully to sell the site on and has now decided on a new scheme which is currently going through pre-application discussion with Council planners. The underground car park has been abandoned for technical reasons and expense, but there will need to be some parking places if the development is to attract downsizers - Southwark will need to be flexible over their current parking policies. McCulloch’s have agreed that they will carry out a public consultation and, if everything went to plan, there could be a start on site by October 2021.
Various other points were raised at the meeting including the impact of the Low Traffic Neighbourhood on site access for builders’ vehicles and it was agreed that the construction management plan need to be recast. There was also discussion on the dangerous pedestrian route on Gilkes Place - Helen Hayes agreed to set up a site meeting to look urgently at potential solutions that would allow buggies and wheelchairs through safely and deter motorcyclists. The site is currently being tidied up and the pile of rubble spread more evenly over the site. McCulloch’s are waiting on the Dulwich Estate to complete their work on the units along Dulwich Village before they move the hoarding on the service road.