Greenwich Council’s planning board has thrown out plans for a nine-storey block of 74 flats on Woolwich Road – even after the developer agreed to remove the “poor doors” so residents of social and private housing shared the same entrance and facilities.
Councillors had demanded the scheme be deferred in July because of concerns about the “poor doors”, but at also because of the size and density of the development, which faces two-storey homes.
Concerns had been dismissed by council officers, who said in a report: “In an evolving area such as this, it is not practical or even reasonable to expect a developer to mirror the low density of the two-storey terraces on the southern side of Woolwich Road, as the opportunity to provide both market and affordable housing would be missed.”
But in a surprising decision, the nine-strong board dismissed the scheme. Four councillors – Ray Walker, Peter Brooks, Harry Singh and Mehboob Khan – backed the proposal. But four voted against and one, Angela Cornforth, abstained. As planning chair Mark James was one of those opposing the scheme.
Council leader Denise Hyland – the only London borough leader who sits on their council’s main planning committee – was absent due to an engagement elsewhere, as was regeneration cabinet member Danny Thorpe.
28 objections had been received for the scheme, which objector David Gayther called “the most important development here for years”. Residents’ groups had feared approval would set a precedent for the forthcoming new Charlton Riverside masterplan, which observers say is likely to feature demands for more tall buildings by the Thames.
Objectors were led by the Charlton Central Residents Association – whose area, which is south of the railway line, does not cover Valley House. Representative Anne Waite lambasted the lack of measures to deal with poor air quality in the area, saying “we’ve got rid of poor doors and replaced them with poor floors”.
Fellow resident Linda Waite picked holes in the planning document, highlighting a “sloppy use of cut and paste” which appeared to recommend councillors approve a completely separate application. She branded it a “pick and mix” of what recommendations from the masterplan were accepted and which were ignored.
Greenwich Conservation Group’s Philip Binns said there was no indication the developer had even considered reducing the height of the building.
But a representative of the developer denied the scheme “disrespected” loals, and said losing the top two floors would have a disproportionate impact on the number of “affordable” homes that could be provided – which was only 18.9%.
Eltham West councillor Ray Walker said he “couldn’t see the impact on existing residential amenity”, but chair Cllr James said he did not think the scheme conformed with the current Charlton Riverside masterplan. He joined Geoff Brighty, Christine Grice and Nuala Geary in voting down the proposal.
Two other controversial planning applications – one to replace the rear of Charlton Conservative Club with housing, the other the expansion of a care home on Victoria Way, go before a separate planning committee on Tuesday.