Charlton Riverside: Developer U+I plans to demolish former Siemens factory building

37 Bowater Road
37 Bowater Road is set for demolition under the developer’s plans (photo: Neil Clasper)

Developer U+I has revealed it wants to demolish one of the remaining Siemens cable factory buildings on the Charlton riverside as part of a plan to build shops, offices and up to 520 homes.

The property giant, which recently completed the Deptford Market Yard development, has asked Greenwich Council if it needs to carry out an environmental assessment into the plans to develop land, which covers two streets in the Westminster Industrial Estate on the Charlton/Woolwich border: Bowater Road and Faraday Way.

Until 1968, this was home to the giant Siemens cable works, and many of the buildings remain in place. Several of them have recently been given local listing status by Greenwich Council, which has created a conservation area. U+I wants to demolish one of them, 37 Bowater Road, and keep the others.

Charlton Riverside Masterplan
The masterplan backs riverside towers near the Thames Barrier

Just as with the recent Flint Glass Wharf proposal, this is in an area where 10-storey blocks have been permitted (see map above).

37 Bowater Road
37 Bowater Road is the building on the right of the new “missing link” cycle route

‘One of London’s largest factories’

A heritage assessment of the area commissioned by Greenwich Council says: “The south side of Bowater Road represents a step change in the scale of the works development from about 1911.

“The first building to be constructed is a much larger L-shaped building of 5 storeys plus basement was built for making rubber coated copper wire cable. It adopts new structural technologies, made possible by new regulations granted in the London Building Act of 1909, and employs a reinforced concrete frame beneath a Fletton brick shell.

“The adoption of new technologies made it possible to include much larger steel framed windows externally and wider spans between support columns internally, creating a lighter and clearer working environment overall.

37 Bowater Road. Photo: Neil Clasper

“The building was designed by Herbert and Helland, Siemens’ in-house architects. This was one of London’s largest factories when built and an early adopter of the new construction methods.

“The building has a matching extension of 1942, built at the height of the wartime production effort, after extensive bomb damage on the adjacent site must have placed extreme pressure on the works’ resources.” (You can read the rest in Chapters 3 and 4 here.)

The striking white building which runs along the north of the site, 18 Bowater Road, is proposed to be kept, although it is currently in poor condition. (See page 14 here for a map of the site.)

This is still a relatively early stage of the planning process, so no designs or details on “affordable” homes have yet been submitted.

37 Bowater Road
37 Bowater Road is on the left of this photo

For more details, and to comment on the proposal, search for 18/3148/EIA at planning.royalgreenwich.gov.uk.

See also From The Murky Depths‘ take on the scheme.

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