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Friends of Mais House

The Friends of Mais House are a group of residents who have been campaigning for a more sensitive development on the site of Mais House. Mais House is a former sheltered housing block of three storeys. It is located on top of Sydenham Hill Ridge, one of the highest parts of London and is an area of special character with its ancient woodland, South London clays & gravels, natural landscape and valuable habitat. The site is directly adjacent to Sydenham Hill Woods which forms part of the largest remaining tract of the old Great North Wood, a Site of Metropolitan Importance; Metropolitan Open Land.

The plans involve demolishing Mais House and significantly increasing the footprint, considerably reducing much needed green space and felling nineteen mature trees, within which children from the estate play and which support a precious ecosystem. The height is set to increase to seven storeys with a pitched roof that will break the tree line for the first time and be visible from across London. The new building will also dominate the existing buildings, many of which are listed. 

The Sydenham Hill Estate was founded on good quality social housing that creates community. We believe social housing tenants have a right to this. The development is to be 100% social housing which the Friends of Mais House applaud. The plans, however,  propose a building of an urban scale on a steep hill in a suburban location, with poor transport links and poor access to amenities. This will invariably lead to increased car ownership, for which there is inadequate parking. Furthermore, the height and density of the proposed new build will both severely compromise the environment, and unacceptably compromise the quality of life for existing and future residents on the estate.

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Judicial Review

The City of London Corporation were initially granted planning permission by Lewisham in November 2020 despite over 200 objections from local residents, (a consequence of the huge increase in height and density in a unique area.) 

Having hoped Lewisham would intervene and ask City of London to reduce the scale of the build, it was a with a heavy heart that The Friends raised money to seek legal advice to see if we had a claim. Our Legal team - Harrison Grant Solicitors together with Richard Harwood QC advised we did indeed have grounds for a claim and we raised the funds on Crowd Justice to proceed and file the claim in court.

In May 21, the Highcourt Judge, Mrs Justice Lang, handed down her ruling that the grant of planning permission by Lewisham should be quashed. 

Lewisham Council performed a tickbox exercise and to residents disbelief and dismay,  rushed the application, unchanged, back to a strategic planning comittee meeting. 

Our lawyers advised we had grounds for a second Judicial Review. The hearing was held on 9th June '22. Judgement was handed down on 11th July.

Unfortunately the High Court dismissed our claim. our Lawyers have advised us to appeal. On 18th July we put in a claim to the Court of Appeal. 

Please share our story with your contacts.

If you have useful contacts with a platform that can help with fund raising, please do get in touch.

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Our Vision

Our vision is of a 100% social housing development with a reduced height and density that retains the mature trees on the site and recognises the role this unique site has to play in an unprecedented time of climate crises.  

Furthermore, the Covid 19 pandemic has made it clear to all that good quality housing designed to create community with proper regard to amenity, infrastructure and green space is essential for mental health in people of all ages and backgrounds.

We sincerely hope the court of Appeal will quash this decision that we believe was made without due consideration of the objection from the London Wildlife Trust, a recognised  and respected authority. We would also like transparency regarding the decision concerning viability of the proposed development.

We are calling for a proper co-design process that takes account of local knowledge.

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