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 density in such a small and London.) 

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 have advised we have grounds for a second Judicial Review. The judge, Sir Duncan Ouseley, wishes to hear, in person, the reasons for seeking a Judicial Review. If he is satisfied the grunds are arguable then he will hear the case on the same day - a 'rolled-up' hearing.' 

Subsequently, we have relaunched our fund raising campaign to save our communal green space and the ancient woodland tht surrounds it. 

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.


Our Vision

We sincerely hope the court will quash this decision that we believe was made without proper consideration of all the information available regarding this unique site. We would like to enter into a cooperative co-design process with City of London where resident local knowledge is taken account in order to create a design that fits the environment.

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.