Our story so far...
DEPTFORD IS... REPRESENTING
This is where it all started, a spontaneous meeting of local people with one idea: to seize the long-awaited opportunity of redevelopment at Convoys Wharf, to bring something of real value to everyone. We all believed that together we could achieve something special, a positive contribution to our city - we just weren't sure yet what it was going to be...
We knew it had to spring from the strong identity of the area itself - and this wasn't hard to find as the site of Convoys Wharf has an incredibly rich history: not only the ancient heart of Deptford as the Royal Dockyard, but also holding international significance as a site of horticultural innovation. If the proposed development could imbibe the essence of this living culture, Convoys Wharf would be a truly exciting place.
We set about sharing the story of Sayes Court, working with nearby schools and community groups to re-connect the local significance of these half-remembered truths. What we found was striking: the amount of pride expressed in being part of a place where incredible things have always happened.
"THIS IS A PART OF OUR HERITAGE TOO IMPORTANT TO MISS"
DAME JOAN RUDDOCK , MP FOR DEPTFORD 1987 to 2015
GROWING INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT
Many meetings, exhibitions and a study day followed, and the idea of what a future Sayes Court could be started to take shape - the excitement grew as support rolled in from the National Trust, Eden Project, Gardens Trust, World Monuments Fund and many more. We were invited to meet Farrell's, the team masterplanning Convoys Wharf, to explain the importance of Sayes Court and how we envisaged it could help shape the development. But with the value of London building land being what it is, we needed a clear proposal to put forward if we were going to persuade the developer to preserve a substantial chunk of it as open space...
"SAYES COURT IS A CHANCE TO DO SOMETHING UNIQUE, EXCITING AND URGENTLY NEEDED"
TIM SMIT, CO-FOUNDER EDEN PROJECT
THE BIG IDEA
Firstly, Sayes Court had to bring real opportunities for local people, as well as spreading its benefits further afield. With the support of Harvard University and the National Trust, we devised an outline of a future Sayes Court which would seize the spirit of its remarkable history and apply it to the very 21st Century issues affecting our cities - climate change, health, access to nature.
Encompassing education and training as well as a cultural centre and flagship for innovation in urban horticulture and landscape, it was clear we needed a building as well! With the support of Lewisham Council we commissioned David Kohn Architects to draw up a report.
SAYES COURT SET TO RISE AGAIN
The day of the planning decision for Convoys Wharf finally came, and we went up to City Hall to make our representations and answer the Mayor of London's questions about the project, supported by Dame Joan Ruddock MP, National Trust and London Borough of Lewisham.
After a tense 15 minutes the Mayor returned, and granted his consent for the scheme to go ahead - with the major condition that Sayes Court must be given the space it needs to thrive!
""WE BELIEVE THAT A NEW GARDEN AND BUILDING HAS GREAT POTENTIAL TO BECOME A CONTINUATION OF THE ASPIRATIONS AND MOTIVATIONS OF [THE NATIONAL TRUST'S] FOUNDERS... A RESOURCE FOR LONDON WITH FACILITIES FOR LEARNING, INNOVATION AND JOINT WORKING.""
NIC DURSTON, NATIONAL TRUST