Pennycook criticises Rockwell Charlton Riverside as City Hall deadline looms

Rockwell revised scheme
Rockwell’s revised scheme will be examined by City Hall, not Greenwich Council

Greenwich & Woolwich MP Matt Pennycook has told City Hall planners that major changes need to be made to developer Rockwell’s plans to build 771 new homes off Anchor & Hope Lane before they are approved.

London mayor Sadiq Khan took control of the planning application in August, weeks after Greenwich Council’s main planning committee threw out the proposed development, and a public hearing at City Hall is due to take place on 29 January.

Neighbours in Atlas and Derrick Gardens had complained that the development – likely to be the first development on the Charlton Riverside to get planning approval, albeit from Khan rather than the council – would loom over their homes, while Greenwich’s planning chair Sarah Merrill called it “reminiscent of Stalingrad”.

While the plans have been altered to reduce the impact on the two cul-de-sacs, Pennycook says in a letter to Khan’s planning team that more needs to be done to make the scheme acceptable.

Rockwell is holding two brief exhibitions this weekend about the proposals from 9am to 11am today and tomorrow at the Anchor & Hope pub, while comments about the scheme need to be sent to VIPtradingestate[at]london.gov.uk by Monday to be considered by the mayor’s team.

Pennycook says the scheme remains too dense and should be cut from a maximum of 10 storeys to six storeys, while it also needs more family-sized homes. He also calls the design “sterile and monotonous”, and says there needs to be a cut in car parking.

“If approved, this application would constitute the first major development within the Charlton Riverside masterplan area and would set a clear precedent for all other developments that would follow,” he said. “That is why I have always argued that it is critical that we get this development right.”

“The masterplan stresses that the development of Charlton Riverside requires a very different approach to that taken in other parts of the borough, such as Greenwich Peninsula. Yet in too many respects, this revised application is at odds with the spirit of that masterplan.

“I continue to support development on Charlton Riverside but I urge the mayor to refrain from approving the application until the applicant is persuaded to bring forward further amendments along the lines I have suggested.”

Charlton ward councillor Gary Parker has also submitted an objection.


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Developer Rockwell to hold last-minute, four-hour Charlton Riverside exhibition

Rockwell revised scheme
Rockwell’s revised scheme will be examined by City Hall, not Greenwich Council

The developer behind controversial plans to build 771 new homes off Anchor & Hope Lane is to hold two short consultation sessions this weekend to explain their proposals to residents.

London mayor Sadiq Khan took control of the planning application in August, weeks after Greenwich Council’s main planning committee threw out the proposed development, and a public hearing at City Hall is likely to come in a few weeks. (Update: The Charlton Champion understands this is likely to be on Tuesday 29 January.)

Neighbours in Atlas and Derrick Gardens had complained that the development – likely to be the first development on the Charlton Riverside to get planning approval, albeit from Khan rather than the council – would loom over their homes, while Greenwich’s planning chair Sarah Merrill called it “reminiscent of Stalingrad”.

The amended scheme, created after discussions with Khan’s officers at City Hall, sees two storeys lopped off a block that overlooked homes in Derrick Gardens, meaning the historic cottages of Atlas and Derrick Gardens will now have a four-storey block behind them.

Rockwell is now holding a last-minute public exhibition about the proposals – however, it will only run from 9am to 11am on Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 January, at the Anchor & Hope pub.

The City Hall consultation on the scheme has been extended until the following Monday to take account of the brief opportunity for neighbours to talk to Rockwell about the proposals.

See more on the revised plans here.


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Charlton Riverside: Revised Rockwell plans released – tell City Hall what you think

Rockwell revised scheme
Rockwell’s new plan includes an “active frontage” along the new east-west road

London mayor Sadiq Khan has launched a new public consultation into the developer Rockwell’s controversial plans to build 771 new homes off Anchor & Hope Lane.

Khan took control of the planning application in August, weeks after Greenwich Council’s main planning committee threw out the proposed development.

The amended scheme, created after discussions with Khan’s officers at City Hall, sees two storeys lopped off a block that overlooked homes in Derrick Gardens, meaning the historic cottages of Atlas and Derrick Gardens will now have a four-storey block behind them.

Another block, to the south of Atlas Gardens, has also had two storeys removed, cutting it down to five. Other blocks around the site have been increased in height to compensate.

Rockwell plan

The number of homes – 771 – remains the same, but with the possibility of 165 homes (21.4%) for “affordable rent” and 127 (16.4%) for shared ownership with a City Hall grant. (See more details in the design and access statement.)

Rockwell scheme
Rockwell’s revised scheme, with Atlas Gardens at the centre

Rockwell’s new scheme is unlikely to satisfy critics, who say the developer’s plans go against the recently-adopted Charlton Riverside masterplan, which sets out a vision for lower-rise developments aimed at families in Charlton to sit in between the towers of Greenwich Peninsula and Woolwich.

All 11 councillors on Greenwich’s planning board rejected the scheme, with chair Sarah Merrill declaring: “This application in no way resembles the spirit of the Charlton Riverside masterplan, in terms of height, massing and design. It’s reminiscent of Stalingrad.”

But Rockwell – which has retained former Greenwich Council leader Chris Roberts’ company Cratus Communications as lobbyists – insisted it was “fantastic opportunity to kick-start the regeneration of this area”.

The public now has until 11 January to comment on the scheme, before a public hearing is held at City Hall. Revised documents can be seen on the GLA website (the design and access statement is probably the best place to start) together with a summary of the scheme and the mayor’s reasons for calling it in.

Comments and requests for information can be sent to VIPtradingestate[at]london.gov.uk.


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Housing campaigners plan public meeting on Rockwell Charlton Riverside development

The planned development would be built here, behind Atlas and Derrick Gardens

Housing campaigners are to hold a public meeting on Monday 8 October about developer Rockwell’s plans to build 771 homes off Anchor and Hope Lane.

London mayor Sadiq Khan overturned Greenwich Council’s refusal of the scheme during the summer, meaning City Hall will now decide on the application.

The Charlton Champion understands a new proposal has been submitted to the mayor’s office, however it has not yet been made public.

Khan’s decision to “call in” the decision came with criticism of Greenwich Council for not allowing enough “affordable” housing in recent years – Rockwell’s scheme would have 32.4% “affordable” housing.

Residents in nearby Atlas and Derrick Gardens – built in the early 20th century for workers at the nearby Cory bargeworks – say the Rockwell development will loom over their homes and deny them natural light.

Atlas Gardens
Residents in Atlas and Derrick Gardens say the new development would loom over their homes

Local businesses have also voiced fears that they will have to move or close, saying the new development’s residents will not want them as neighbours.

Rockwell’s plans for 32.4% of the units to be “affordable” housing were inserted into the scheme at the last minute. Of those, 162 would be for London Affordable Rent – roughly £150/week for a one-bedroom flat – and aimed at those on low incomes, with the remaining available for shared ownership.

Greenwich Housing Forum recently held a meeting to discuss Greenwich Council’s plans to sell land at The Heights as well as on estates off Lewisham Road and Kidbrooke Park Road to developer Pocket Living. Video of that meeting can be seen here.

The meeting on the Rockwell scheme will be held at 7.30pm on Monday 8 October at Charlton House.

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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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Flint Glass Wharf: 500 Charlton Riverside homes planned next to Thames Barrier

Flint Glass Wharf render
How Komoto says the development will look at night

Hot on the heels of the Rockwell saga, the second major development proposal for the Charlton Riverside has come forward, with plans for up to 500 homes at Flint Glass Wharf, next to the Thames Barrier.

Developer Komoto Group had originally suggested a 25-storey tower for the site at Herringham Road, which is currently home to the Raceway go-kart track, Bunker 51 laser-tag centre, a church, and other firms.

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The land was formerly home to the Johnsen & Jorgensen glass works, which closed in 1981.

Now the scheme – the first on the riverfront itself – has been reduced in size to blocks of between seven and 10 storeys. It has been designed by Farrells, the architecture practice working on Deptford’s Convoys Wharf development.

Flint Glass Wharf
The two blocks closest to the Thames Barrier are Phase One, the rest is Phase Two

Phase one – two blocks close to the Barrier

Firstly, Komoto is applying for detailed planning permission for two blocks of seven and nine storeys containing eight studio flats (all private), 82 one-bedroom flats (ten at social rent, six at “intermediate”), 34 two-bedroom flats (two at social rent) and 22 three-bedroom homes nine at social rent, nine “intermediate”), as well as 482 square metres of flexible commercial and employment floorspace and 35 car parking spaces.

This is just 24.6% “affordable” housing – although if you count by rooms, which Komoto does, this rises to 31% “affordable” accommodation. Either way, this falls short of the 35% target for “affordable” housing – expect moves from Greenwich Council and City Hall to increase this.

Flint Glass Wharf
A view from Herringham Road

Phase two – further away from the Barrier

It is also applying for outline permission for up to another 354 homes – with a similar mix of private and “affordable” – and up to 1,300 square metres of flexible commercial and employment floorspace, along with up to 153 parking spaces. The blocks here will be between seven and 10 storeys high.

If this phase gets approval, Komoto will return to Greenwich Council at a later date to complete the details.

Flint Glass Wharf transport map
Transport connections emphasise the short cycle ride to North Greenwich

The low-ish number of car parking spaces is pretty standard for new London developments – but is striking for an area that is currently isolated, separated from the rest of Charlton by dirty industries on streets battered by heavy lorries. And while residents may be able to wake up and see the Docklands Light Railway purring through the Royal Docks across the Thames, they will have no way of reaching it.

Komoto says a new bus service will be provided along Herringham Road – and also emphasises the relatively short cycle distance to North Greenwich tube, a more palatable option on two wheels – or even two feet – than trying to get to Charlton station.

A barrier in front of the Barrier

Flint Glass Mill
From the Thames – the two blocks on the left are Phase One, with the Thames Barrier screened off from building A
Thames Barrier view
The view from the Thames Barrier site, showing the gabion wall

Another notable feature is that the development will be walled off on one side from the Thames Barrier compound because of security concerns – residents won’t be able to peer into the operations centre at the end of Westmoor Street.

The developer says: “The barrier is considered to be at a high risk of attack from terrorism, therefore it is of particular importance that the proposed scheme does not overlook its operations in any way.

“To respond to this we are proposing a full height gabion art wall which provides a visual narrative of the geological development of this part of the river Thames. The art wall also doubles up as a visual screen that prevents overlooking of the compound and control centre from the development.”

Flint Glass Wharf
A view from the Thames Path

Unlike the Rockwell scheme for 771 homes off Anchor & Hope Lane, the Flint Glass Wharf development has no immediate residential neighbours to annoy. And while Greenwich Council’s Charlton Riverside Masterplan envisages buildings of between three and six storeys, this particular site is deemed suitable for 10-storey blocks.

Charlton Riverside Masterplan
The Charlton Riverside Masterplan backs blocks of up to 10 storeys by the river

London mayor Sadiq Khan quashed Greenwich Council’s decision to refuse the Rockwell scheme, which featured nine and 10-storey blocks, last month, and will now rule on the development himself. (City Hall is now accepting public comments on the Rockwell scheme.)

Flint Glass Wharf
A view across the Thames (the Royal Wharf development in Silvertown now sits on the north bank)

Khan’s decision may well weaken Greenwich councillors’ appetite for a fight over Flint Glass Wharf – particularly if Komoto includes more “affordable” housing. Whatever their decision, what happens here will be just as important for the future of the riverside.

For full details, go to planning.royalgreenwich.gov.uk and look for application 18/0732/F (the design and access statements are most useful). Thanks to Toby for the invaluable tip-off.

(Updated 13 September to clarify the number of storeys in the Charlton Riverside masterplan.)

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Battered Charlton Riverside streets costing Greenwich Council big, report reveals

Flytipping on Charlton Riverside
Flytipping is a big problem in the streets near the Thames Barrier (pic: Neil Clasper)

Greenwich Council has spent £17,000 in the past two years on patching up the battered roads near the Thames Barrier, a report to councillors has revealed.

The poor state of the industrial area at Charlton Riverside has been highlighted by a petition to council leader Danny Thorpe, which complains of fly-tipping, dirt, pavement parking, potholed roads and speeding lorries.

But while the council proposes taking action on bad parking, fly-tipping, abandoned vehicles and road repairs, it is pinning its hopes on the redevelopment of the area to secure long-term improvements.

The report will be discussed at a meeting of the council’s highways committee on Wednesday 5 September.

25 people signed the petition, which was handed to the council in July by Woolwich Riverside councillor John Fahy.

Dumped van, Charlton Riverside
Dumped vehicles are another issue in Charlton Riverside (Photo: Neil Clasper)

“[We are] disgusted with the poor conditions of the roads and pavements on Westmoor Street leading to New Lyndenburg Street and surrounding roads,” it says.

It complains of the pavement on Westmoor Street being blocked by parked and damaged cars, making them “totally unusable”, forcing pedestrians to walk in the road. “Can you imagine if somebody were to get killed because of this and Greenwich Council would be held responsible?”

“Multiple skip and rubble lorries carrying hazardous materials” create a “scary and dangerous environment” and “leave an enormous amount of dirt, rubble and mud”, it continues.

It also complains of poor driving and “multiple potholes”, demanding “sensible speed restrictions with penalties and fines issues for those who break the law”.

25 people signed the petition to the council (Photo: Neil Clasper)

The council report notes “the roads in question are often subject to fly-tipping and other illegal activity and there is a history of complex associated issues in the area. It also adds the streets are inspected every three months and that 79 repairs have been carried out in the past two years, costing £17,000.

It also concedes that parking enforcement “has not been regular in the recent past”, with the situation compounded by some markings having been worn away, making them unenforceable.

But the council will not cut the speed limit to 20mph in the area as it “is industrial, not residential”, adding that enforcement is a matter for the police.

The council says fly-tipping is removed within 48 hours (Photo: Neil Clasper)

The report the council will send a letter to businesses, review parking controls in the area before starting to enforce them, and have a one-off dedicated clean-up of the area as soon as pavement parking is cleared. The council will also target abandoned vehicles for removal, warning businesses they cannot use the pavements, and clear illegal advertisements.

In the long term, there will also be a planning review to ensure the businesses are doing what they say they are doing and have the right licences.

But the report adds: “In the longer term as part of the Charlton Masterplan parcels of land in this area are identified for residential development. Whilst this is a long term plan, gradual improvement as a result of development will be secured.”

Charlton riverside
Much of the area is due to see residential redevelopment in coming years (Photo: Neil Clasper)

Photos in this story taken by Neil Clasper on Sunday morning. See the agenda papers for more details of the petition and review.

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