Faraday Works: Siemens building stays and ‘affordable’ housing cut in new Charlton Riverside plans

37 Bowater Road
37 Bowater Road was listed by English Heritage last year – U+I wanted to demolish it (photo: Neil Clasper)

The developer behind plans for hundreds of new homes on a riverside factory site has launched a new consultation on its plans after abandoning plans to demolish a key building.

U+I is asking residents to comment on revised plans for Faraday Works – the old Siemens factory on the Charlton/Woolwich border – after 37 Bowater Road, which was due for demolition under its original proposal, was given a Grade II listing.

The former cable factory was given the listing in February 2020, shortly after an application for planning permission went in on the site. It is not known if any local campaign group pushed for English Heritage to take action on plans to demolish the site; no group announced the listing at the time.

Faraday Works
The long-derelict wire factory could become a hub for new businesses

But – as with the case of the covered market in Woolwich – keeping the listed building could come at a cost. Plans for 35 per cent “affordable” housing – which Greenwich Council demands in new developments – have been scaled back to “zero to 8 per cent”, with U+I and the council seeking funding to increase this amount.

Last month Greenwich councillors approved plans for the Woolwich covered market site that offered just under 20 per cent “affordable” homes but kept the market after it was listed: original plans were to demolish it and have 35 per cent “affordable” housing.

The original plans for Faraday Works included building 492 homes on the site, restoring the crumbling former wire workshop on Bowater Road as a centre for new businesses and building 13-storey blocks in other parts of the site.

Faraday Works render

Now its plans are for 380 homes and include building a roof extension on top of 37 Bowater Road to “reflect the engineering legacy of innovation … [this] has been supported by Historic England in early consultation”. New housing will be cut down to 10 storeys, while plans for the wire workshop and a light industrial site remain unchanged.

Galliard Homes, which recently bought the Leegate development at Lee Green, has pulled out of the project.

Faraday Works render

Richard Upton, the chief executive of U+I, said: “Shortly after submitting the application in late 2019, 37 Bowater Road was designated Grade II Listed by Historic England, the only building on site planned for replacement. As a result, U+I are bringing forward revised proposals for the site, that retain much of the ambition and ethos of the previous scheme, and centre the restoration of the historic buildings as a key piece of the Faraday Works story.

“We agree that Charlton Riverside needs to be truly unique and distinctive, with the site’s heritage being a key component of that identity. Our ambition is an exemplar heritage-led scheme, featuring new homes, retail and employment spaces, all wrapped in beautiful public realm. This will deliver space for 800 jobs and around 380 new homes.

“37 Bowater Road will be sensitively restored and adapted along with all of the other existing buildings on site. The building will feature commercial and light industrial uses on the ground floor, and residential above, where unusually high ceilings and large open floorplates will create stunning new heritage apartments.

Faraday Works render

“We also want to reflect some of the legacy of engineering innovation on this site through contemporary additions and extension. We are pleased that the key move of cantilevered roof extensions to 37 Bowater Road has been supported by Historic England and the Design Review Panel in early consultation.

“Over previous public consultations, and through extensive discussions with our neighbours, we’ve listened to and learned from their feedback, and we’re once again asking for input in order to create an exemplar London neighbourhood.”

Faraday Works render

Residents can visit faradayworks.com to find out more, while there will also be a chance to talk to the developers over Zoom on Thursday, with in-person tours of the site on 15 and 17 June.


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Pizza takeaway and flat at Charlton’s Victoria pub get council approval

Victoria pub plans
The plan for the Victoria was submitted last August

Plans to convert the crumbling Victoria pub on Woolwich Road into a pizza takeaway with a flat behind it have been approved by Greenwich Council.

The Gillingham-based Zaan Group, a Domino’s Pizza franchisee, was given permission for the conversion by council officers after only one person complained about he proposal. The pub, known for its sloping floor, is locally listed but has been unused for over 20 years, and has been recently damaged by fires.

Earlier proposals to turn the pub, into a takeaway and build four flats behind it were thrown out in 2019 because the new flats would “appear as an incongruous addition which would fail to preserve the character and appearance of the locally listed host building and Thames Barrier and Bowater Road Conservation Area”. Plans for student flats have also been rejected.

But Zaan’s latest plans, which feature a single three-bedroom flat, were given the nod just before Christmas by council officers. As there was only one objection and no local councillors called it in, the scheme did not have to go before a planning committee – so the approval has only just come to light.

Victoria pub interior
Inside the Victoria after the May 2019 fire.

“Given the poor structural condition retention of the building requires creative thought and use. This is an isolated building that does not relate to any existing use in the area. Therefore, new uses are required,” the submission from architects Cook Associates says. The developer warned that the pub would face demolition if it could not be redeveloped.

Zaan has three years to start work on the site, council officers have said. The sole objection pointed out the takeaway’s proximity to local schools, but a report by a council officer states: “The specific intention is not to cater to pupils of nearby schools. In light of this [the] proposed change of use to a takeaway would be unlikely to significantly undermine efforts to combat childhood obesity.”

The Victoria in 2018

The scheme is also the first Charlton Riverside development to get approval – even if it may end up being the smallest with just one home, with thousands more planned for future years.

Seven schemes are in the pipeline:

Greenwich Council also owns significant portions of land on the riverside, and next week its cabinet is due to approve plans to buy more, The town hall is set to buy land on other side of Penhall Road from Leopard Guernsey Anchor, a company involved in the ill-fated Rockwell scheme rejected last year. The purchase price has not been disclosed. The plot is next to land the council already owns.

Another formal council document, the Site Allocation Plan, will also come up before the cabinet next week. This reiterates the council’s plans for housing and employment on the riverside, and gives guidance for developers looking at various plots of land. This includes the Makro site at Anchor & Hope Lane – where it says any development “should accommodate a mix of small and medium sized commercial, retail, leisure and community uses and flexible SME space”, although there is currently no suggestion the the cash and carry retailer is planning to leave the area.


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Greenwich borough archive to stay as Anchor and Hope Lane land sold for school

Google image of Anchorage Point
Anchorage Point is to be sold to a government property agency (image: Google)

Plans to sell industrial land on Anchor and Hope Lane for a new primary school were approved by Greenwich councillors last night – but the borough’s archives will not be affected by the move, they were told.

The Anchorage Point industrial estate is to be sold to a government agency so it can be used as a school by the Harris academy trust. Councils are not allowed to set up new schools of their own so have to go along with government plans for academies.

Greenwich council’s cabinet last night heard opposition from an Anchorage Point business owner and a local councillor, but voted through the plans after hearing that not selling the land could saddle the council with a £30-40 million bill to build a new school elsewhere.

Plans submitted to the cabinet appeared to show that the borough archive – which moved out of its old base in Woolwich three years ago to make way for the Woolwich Works creative district – would also have to move. But Jeremy Smalley, the council’s assistant director of regeneration and property, said that the trust would be able to stay, although its site may eventually be needed for a new road.

“The Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust are unaffected by this decision,” he said. “They would be affected in the longer term should we find the money to implement the road improvement, and the discussion with the trust is about what and where they need to be not just in terms of the archive, but in exhibition and research space.”

The plans will see existing businesses relocated to new sites, but Richard Cunningham, the owner of Morgan Richards Garage, which is based on the industrial estate, said his business had already been forced to move from Woolwich to Brocklebank Road in Charlton, then to Anchorage Point when Brocklebank Road was sold for use as a retail park.

“Each time, it’s involved great personal expense and great effort to keep a customer base we value,” he said, adding that Anchorage Point offered good facilities and was full of long-term tenants.

Moving the businesses “would result in a definite loss of jobs during the worst trading period due to the Covid-19 pandemic”, he added, suggesting a site further along the riverside would be better for a school.

“The site is essential for a lot of businesses, close to the Blackwall Tunnel, M25 and A2,” he said.

Woolwich Riverside councillor John Fahy said the plan to sell the site was “in direct contradiction” with the council’s aims to keep the Charlton riverside as a location for employment.

“This particular school will be in the middle of a building site with all the health impacts that will bring,” he said, adding that the school would come too early for housing on Charlton Riverside and Morris Walk, with the risk that it would be already full when the new residents moved in.

Local resident Helen Brown said the plans “came as a shock” and that the businesses only found out just before Christmas.

“Economic development and jobs are really important to the council, and that’s one of the reasons that’s a really difficult decision,” Smalley said.

“If the council doesn’t accept the offer, then the council will have to find a site for a school, and will be left with a bill of £30-40 million to find the land and build a new school – and under the law it has to transfer it to an academy.”

Addressing Cunningham, he said: “We’re going to do our damnedest to relocate you close to where you are now, in purpose-built units. We won’t necessarily be able to do that to everybody, but we really want to and we’ve been clear about the need to work with business and find alternative premises.”

“The DfE and [its agency] Located are putting the council under pressure to make this decision, otherwise the money will be withdrawn by March, and the council will then be left with having to find £30 million – £40 million to make the school provision a reality.

Sarah Merrill, the cabinet member for regeneration, said the council was committed to a “holistic regeneration” on the riverside rather than “allowing piecemeal developments ad hoc”, and said she had met residents on site last month.

“We are working with the community and [resisdents’ group] Charlton Together at every single stage,” she said.

The new school could open as early as summer 2022 – before any housing on the riverside is complete, and Matt Morrow, the cabinet member for children’s services Matt Morrow said it was important to get the facility in place early so new residents did not have to send their children long distances to school.


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