The skyline in Bell Green, Sydenham, Lewisham is dominated by two disused gas holders. The development of the area came with the arrival of two companies in 1852 and 1853. These became the Crystal Palace Gas Company in 1854. They occupied a 46 acre site and played a huge role in supplying fuel to the local area.
Production at Bell Green ceased in 1969, leaving the site vacant. Redevelopment plans began being submitted in 1989 and ultimately one of three original gas holders was demolished in 1995. A large section of the site became a retail development and warehousing even though there was huge local opposition to the plans.
The two remaining gas holders have been under threat ever since the first redevelopment plans were granted planning permission. Recently Aldi was involved in the submission of new ideas for a commercial development on the site. Again there was opposition to the plans from locals, citing that the project would result in the loss of the landmark structures and have a negative impact on heavy goods traffic in the area.
Incredibly the Sydenham Society, a civic organisation for the local area, applied to get the gas holders listed. Although the structures are a landmark of the 19th century Historic England failed to accept the application. More recently, Lewisham Council granted local listed status for them though. This will provide additional protection against redevelopment.
It will be interesting to see what impact the Council’s decision has on plans for the site in the future. It is definitely good news for local residents who want to see the gas holders retained though.
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