*Update 11/01/17 - the council meeting on the CPO which was due to take place tonight has now been postponed until February*
Over the weekend I have been contacted by a number of constituents with renewed concerns about Millwall FC and Lewisham Council's proposed compulsory purchase of land surrounding the club. As many of you will be aware, the council meeting to agree the Compulsory Purchase Order is due to take place on Wednesday 11th January.
I have been following developments closely and currently oppose the CPO. I have written several letters to Lewisham Council expressing my concerns and will be making sure I keep updated on any decisions.
Below is the text of my most recent letter to the council, which I wrote jointly with Neil Coyle (MP for Bermondsey & Old Southwark). The letter was sent to the mayor and all council cabinet members.
We are writing to again express our severe concerns regarding the compulsory purchase of land around Millwall Football Club, which is a community hub for many of our constituents.
As you will be aware, when a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) is under consideration, the interests of all parties involved and affected should be taken into consideration. We do not feel this has been the case. Nor do we feel this can be demonstrated to our satisfaction given the continuing level of concern about the issue amongst local businesses, residents and the club. We are very concerned that there does not appear to have been any real attempts to assess the needs or requirements of individuals who own and run local properties or business premises in this instance. We appreciate that there is a report that outlines what the Council has been informed with relation to this proposal but unfortunately there is no meaningful engagement with stakeholders or residents and no attempt to demonstrate any views being taken into account in a headlong rush for a project that appears to disadvantage local people and the taxpayer.
The population in this area is set to rise significantly and house prices are also rising. The supply of affordable lets has decreased significantly over the past 5 years, going down by 40%. There have been no implication as to how much social housing the New Bermondsey Development will provide. There is also no commitments from Renewal to deliver any part of their scheme. This is contrast to other proposals and contradicts the local and London plans.
The Millwall Community Trust is very much a part of the community, they give opportunities to young people in the area, and in times when we are seeing youth violence and knife crime rise dramatically, this is invaluable. They make more of a contribution locally than any comparable club in the UK. Thousands of our constituents have benefitted and yet the Trust is being side-lined and maltreated in our view on this issue.
We believe the plan drafted by Millwall puts the community first, in contrast to the proposals from Renewal which benefits so few people at such considerable expense to so many others. We have serious concerns about the select partner Renewal which, according to information published by Lewisham council, has two parent companies which are both registered offshore and whose ultimate beneficiaries have not been identified. A lack of transparency will affect local residents trust in their Council.
We would be grateful if you could look into these concerns, along with the ones recently outlined by Eversheds LLP, and reconsider this CPO and do more to reassure and engage with residents, local businesses and members of Millwall Club and Community Trust.
Vicky Foxcroft and Neil Coyle