Charlton’s Metro Bank has had its chips as McDonald’s looks to super-size

McDonald's Charlton
Sinking feeling: McDonald’s says its current drive-through suffers from subsidence

Metro Bank has dropped plans to open a drive-through branch in Charlton, with McDonald’s looking to rebuild and expand its restaurant on Bugsby’s Way instead.

Plans for a bank on the busy site were approved by council officers 16 months ago as Metro, which has high street branches in Bexleyheath, Bromley and the City of London, looked to expand its presence across the country.

But just four months later the bank was forced to rein in its plans after recording a thumping £131m loss. Now McDonald’s is looking to stay put – and Metro Bank has confirmed to The Charlton Champion it has withdrawn from Charlton.

“We are no longer looking at the Charlton site. We will be opening two new stores in 2021, in Bradford and Leicester,” a spokesperson said.

McDonald’s is now looking to knock down its existing site, which it says suffers from subsidence, and start again with a two-storey building. “Whilst the proposed building is bigger, this is to improve the overall operation, rather than the scale of the restaurant,” it says. “The proposed second floor will be used for back of house only. The dining area would only increase minimally and the number of covers would increase from 90 to 95.”

It also wants to introduce a “side-by-side” operation in the drive-through, increasing the capacity for cars from 11 to 15.

On litter, it says: “It is company policy to conduct a minimum of three daily litter patrols, whereby employees pick up not only McDonald’s packaging, but also any other litter that may have been discarded in a 150m vicinity of a restaurant. This may be expanded to suit local needs.”

McDonald's drawings
McDonald’s plans for a new drive-through

The site is earmarked long-term for residential development as part of the Charlton Riverside masterplan. A council report following the Metro Bank application said: “Whilst the proposals would not incorporate residential uses …it is noted that the redevelopment of the wider area known as Woolwich Road West is not envisaged to come forward till at least the next plan period; with the current plan period running until 2028. It is therefore reasonable to assume that redevelopment of the area is likely to be realised in the medium-term, rather than short-term.”

More details and comments can be left on the Greenwich Council planning website (or search for reference 21/0919/F).

Close by, Asda has also applied for permission to build an extension into its car park to accommodate home shopping and drive-in click-and-collect services. The application, which was submitted in February, seeks the go-ahead to build out into the area currently used for minibuses.


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Build ’em up: Developer wants to build taller on Victoria Way

Fair Apartments, Victoria Way
The developer wants to add two storeys to the three-storey block

Two extra floors could be built on top of a development in Victoria Way under a recent law change that enables developers to add storeys to existing buildings without having to apply for planning permission.

Developer Imtiaz Mukhtar has notified Greenwich Council of plans to add the extra storeys – and eight new flats – to the Fair Apartments block at the northern end of Victoria Way that was built in the mid-2000s.

Legislation introduced by the Conservative government last year allows developers to build up to two extra storeys on housing blocks built after 1948 or before 2018.

Fair Apartments
The current development is roughly level with existing homes

The original development – built in the site of a small print works – was contentious when it was first proposed 18 years ago, with Greenwich Council refusing initial plans for 18 flats and four three-bedroom houses. A planning inspector subsequently approved the scheme. The current development – for 14 flats and four houses – was given approval in 2004.

While the current scheme is roughly level with the Victorian terrace next to it, this scheme would see it grow higher, from three storeys to five.

Fair Apartments
The developer hopes to skip the usual planning permission process

Three years ago, Greenwich councillors controversially approved 330 homes from Fairview on the other side of the terrace – although while the inclusion of 10-storey blocks upset neighbours, the buildings closest to the terrace were kept down to three storeys. That development is now partly occupied, with a footpath linking Victoria Way and Dupree Road now open.

Greenwich planning officers now have to decide whether this development meets the new law. Residents can submit comments on the Greenwich Council website (or search for reference 21/1109/PN4).


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Housing association sells ex-council ‘affordable homes’ plot to private developer

Denmark House garages
The old Denmark House garages site has been fenced off for years

A leading housing association has sold land in Charlton to a private developer – despite that land being earmarked for “affordable housing”.

L&Q has sold the plot in Maryon Road to an Abbey Wood-based developer, Brunswick Square Investments, 18 years after its former subsidiary Tower Homes bought the land from Greenwich Council for £361,000.

The land formerly housed garages for the Morris Walk Estate, and a covenant was put in place in December 2002 to ensure the land would be developed into 12 homes.

However, no development took place, and in 2015 a further covenant was issued on the land transferring it to L&Q, and pledging that the site “be used for no other purpose than Affordable Housing”, which it defines as being “social rent, affordable rent and intermediate housing” – the latter usually meaning shared ownership. It also restricted the size of any development to 33 habitable rooms.

Denmark House Garages site
This land was sold by Greenwich Council in 2002

But L&Q has now sold the land to Brunswick Square Investments, which gives its headquarters as a private house in Overton Road, Abbey Wood. The Charlton Champion understands the sale price was £605,000, but has been unable to independently verify this as Land Registry records have not yet been updated.

The site has been fenced off for years and the housing estate around it – including the next-door tower block, Denmark House – has been demolished by the building company Lovell, which is redeveloping the old Morris Walk Estate as Trinity Park.

An L&Q spokesperson told The Charlton Champion: “This land was sold as it was surplus to our requirements. As part of the sale, the covenant restricting the size of the development, and the tenure to affordable housing, remained in place.”

Brunswick Square Investments was formed in 2019 and has not yet filed accounts with Companies House, which classes the company as being involved in “buying and selling real estate”. Its sole named director, Herbert McLaughlin, has not responded to a request for comment.

Greenwich Council’s cabinet member for regeneration, Sarah Merrill, told The Charlton Champion: “We are committed to ensuring that the covenants secured against the land are fully enforced. The new owner will need to ensure that any planning application for development respects the adjacent new and existing developments and this should be a policy compliant scheme delivering the maximum amount of affordable housing.”


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