Charlton Riverside: First 255 new homes could get council go-ahead next week

Eastmoor Street Optivo render
Optivo’s plans for Eastmoor Street, with the Aitch scheme in white next door to it

The first plans to build housing on the Charlton Riverside could finally get the go-ahead from councillors next week – replacing warehouses and industrial units on Eastmoor Street with 255 flats.

City Hall wants to see thousands of homes built on the riverfront around the Thames Barrier in the coming years, with a number of schemes in the pipeline. Plans for 771 homes off Anchor and Hope from the developer Rockwell were thrown out by a planning inspector a year ago after being rejected by both Greenwich Council and London mayor Sadiq Khan on grounds of both height and density.

A masterplan for the area calls for lower-rise housing – a maximum of 10 storeys – in an attempt to differentiate it from the Greenwich Peninsula and Woolwich’s Royal Arsenal, while Greenwich Council’s housing policy demands that 35 per cent of homes must be “affordable”.

Optivo render
View from Woolwich Road with both schemes

Now two smaller plans have come forward for land behind the old Victoria pub, which could finally start the transformation of the area – but will also provide an insight into the trade-offs and compromises involved in creating what will eventually become a new neighbourhood. In one scheme, objections to taller buildings have been followed by a cut in the amount of “affordable” housing at a time when there are 23,000 people on Greenwich Council’s waiting list.

Planning officers are recommending that the schemes get the green light – but councillors on Greenwich’s planning board will have the final say at a meeting on Monday 28 June.

Aitch render
A view of the Aitch scheme looking east from Penhall Road. The red lines represent storeys lopped off the scheme
Aitch render
A view from the Barrier vets’ clinic. Red lines represent storeys lopped off the scheme

The first – and most controversial – scheme is from the developer Aitch Group, for land behind the current Beaumont Beds warehouse and to the west of Barrier Gardens. Aitch originally planned 230 homes with 10-storey blocks – after objections these have been cut down to 188 homes with blocks of up to nine storeys, with commercial units on the ground floor and play space for children.

Before the objections, the plan had 35 per cent “affordable” housing; now only 29.7 per cent of the homes would be “affordable”, with the developer saying it cannot afford to build more. Of the total, 21.2 per cent would be for London Affordable Rent – half market rents, available to people on the housing waiting list but more expensive than standard council rents – and 8.5 per cent would be for shared ownership.

The scheme has drawn objections from resident groups. The Charlton Society says the blocks are too tall, as the masterplan suggests heights of three to six storeys at this site, adding that it “would be a waste of time commenting on any other features of the design”.

Eastmoor Street
The current view south down Eastmoor Street.

The Charlton Central Residents Association – whose patch is some way from Eastmoor Street – also objects, saying the scheme would “not exactly providing good quality living accommodation” while the Derrick and Atlas Gardens Residents Association, which represents the only residential streets currently on the riverside, calls the height, density and massing “extreme”.

Charlton Together, an umbrella group representing residents’ organisations, says: “We continue to be faced with plans for dormitories that could be anywhere.”

Aitch render
Aitch’s view from Westmoor Street looking south

In their report, planning officers say that the heights in the masterplan are simply guidance, and that traditional houses would not be allowed in a flood risk area.

“The scheme is characterised by a six-storey main parapet and which is considered appropriate to the intended mid-rise character of this part of Charlton Riverside,” they say.

Overall, there were 28 objections, with 34 comments in support.

Optivo render
Optivo’s plans with and without the next-door Aitch scheme, as seen from Westmoor Street

Less controversial are plans for 67 flats on the site of the Beaumont Beds warehouse. These would be from the Optivo housing association – which held a very short-notice consultation in January 2020, meaning it snuck under the radar for many – and would all be for London Affordable Rent.

These would be in blocks of up to seven storeys, with two ground-floor commercial units.

The Beaumont Beds warehouse as it is now. The plans do not include the cash and carry warehouse next door

However, there are still objections on the grounds of height from the Charlton Society and the Greenwich Planning Alliance, with worries expressed about a lack of play space – with Maryon Park across the busy Woolwich Road from the development. Other residents’ groups did not comment.

The major challenge to both developments is a lack of infrastructure. While new healthcare facilities are planned for the riverside, the NHS London Healthy Urban Development Unit calls for money from both developments to be spent on existing GP surgeries in the meantime – a request refused by council planners who say the developments are not big enough. Councillors could revisit the issue if they take enough interest in it.

Optivo render
View down Eastmoor Street including both schemes
Optivo render
View from Woolwich Road with both schemes

Developers will also have to pay a £3,000 council levy on each flat to contribute towards the major infrastructure needed – new roads, including what will effectively be an extension of Bugsby’s Way; improvements to Woolwich Road and Anchor & Hope Lane; a new secondary school; one or two primary schools; ten nurseries; the health centre; Thames Path upgrades; improved public realm and a new park.

Network Rail has raised the issue of pressure on local trains, while Transport for London is charging a £2,812 levy on each flat to pay for new bus services through the riverside area – an extended 301 bus service from Woolwich is expected to be introduced as an interim measure.

If approved, other major schemes are likely to follow soon with developers understood to be impatient to start work on their projects.

They are:

One small scheme has already been approved for the riverside area – the conversion of the crumbling Victoria pub with the addition of a single flat next to it. However, the developer has already applied to split the single flat into two.

Close to the riverside, building works have begun on the Antigallican pub after permission was granted for a 60-room hotel there two years ago. There has been no decision on plans to change this to a 49-room co-living space.


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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 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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