Faraday Works: Four per cent ‘affordable’ housing planned for Siemens factory site

37 Bowater Road
The listed block at 37 Bowater Road will have an extension placed on its roof

Revised plans for 374 homes on the site of the old Siemens factory on the Charlton-Woolwich border have been submitted – with only 15 flats available as “affordable” housing.

Developer U+I is behind the Faraday Works project to redevelop the former telecommunication works, which closed in 1968 and became an industrial estate three years later. It had originally planned to include 35 per cent “affordable” housing on the site – a catch-all term ranging from social rent to shared ownership.

But one of the buildings that was due to be demolished – 37 Bowater Road, a large block facing Barrier Gardens – has been listed by Historic England, a decision that has come at a heavy cost for the 23,000 households on Greenwich Council’s waiting list.

Now U+I says just 11 homes will be for social rent – this is more likely to be London Affordable Rent, about half of market rents and available to those on waiting lists – with only four for shared ownership; making a total of just four per cent “affordable” housing. If counted by rooms, the total rises to five per cent, as the rented and shared-ownership flats are two and three-bedroom homes.

Faraday Works render
U+I wants to turn Bowater Road into a walking and cycling area
Faraday Works
The site was a telecoms factory until 1968

The plans feature blocks of eight and ten storeys, retaining historic buildings like the currently-derelict wire factory to the north of the site, and turning Bowater Road into a pedestrian and cycle-friendly space. The saved 37 Bowater Road building will gain a roof extension and be turned into flats.

There will also be office, light industrial and community space. U+I has pointed to its Caxton Works development across the river in Canning Town, as well as the Old Vinyl Factory – the old EMI complex in Hayes, west London – as examples of what it wants to achieve.

U+I has built a similar development in Canning Town, Caxton Works

The extremely low levels of “affordable” housing are likely to make the scheme politically toxic unless funding can be found to include more subsidised housing in the development – with councillors forced to decide whether a showpiece development that will bring in employment and revitalise dilapidated historic buildings compensates for the lack of help in whittling down the waiting list.

Greenwich’s own planning policies call for 24.5 per cent of homes at London Affordable Rent, with a further 10.5 per cent of homes for shared ownership – making a total of 35 per cent “affordable” housing. In May, councillors backed the 801-home Woolwich Exchange scheme with just 19.7 per cent “affordable” housing – a proportion cut from 35 per cent to pay for the retention of Woolwich Public Market, which had also been due for demolition until Historic England stepped in to list it.

The resubmission of plans for Faraday Works is the latest step in the troubled plans to redevelop the Charlton Riverside – currently largely industrial land – into a thriving new neighbourhood with thousands of new homes. Greenwich Council’s own masterplan for the area calls for lower-rise, lower-density buildings compared with neighbouring sites on Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Arsenal.

37 Bowater Road
The 37 Bowater Road block would become flats

All three major redevelopment plans for the Charlton Riverside have been refused so far – proposals for 771 homes off Anchor and Hope Lane, with 10-storey blocks, were thrown out in 2019 and later rejected by both London mayor Sadiq Khan and a planning inspector.

But more recently two schemes closer to Faraday Works have also been rejected on height and density grounds: a nine-storey block on Eastmoor Street with 188 homes and a seven storey scheme for 67 affordable-rent flats on a plot next door.

The full, complex Faraday Works planning application can be seen on the Greenwich Council planning website, along with the separate application for listed building consent for 37 Bowater Road.

This story also appears on 853.


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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 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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Faraday Works: Developer to host updated exhibition on Charlton Riverside development

The Faraday Building, soon to be demolished, if U+I gets permission (photo: Neil Clasper)

Developer U+I is hosting a new exhibition for its Faraday Works development, next to the Thames Barrier, on 11 and 13 July. The exhibition intends to update local residents on U+I’s revised plans following a similar exhibition in February.

The developer intends to build 500 homes ranging from 6 to 13 stories, with at least 35% of the homes to be “affordable”, with a priority for housing at social rent (usually half of market rents). The scheme is reusing buildings from the giant Siemens cable works, which closed in the late 1960s.

The Wire Workshop element of the scheme would create 460 jobs as a co-working hub for local businesses, and the scheme also plans to keep light industry on site, with the Telegraph Works building being extended to accommodate industry downstairs and homes above.

The Faraday Building at 37 Bowater Road will be demolished as part of the development, with U+I stating that it has “reviewed ways to achieve full retention… but it is not possible to achieve the same levels of benefits without the removal of the Faraday Building. The replacement will replicate the materials and façade as faithfully as possible.”

Artist’s impression of the restored Bowater Road (photo: U+I)

Feedback from the first exhibition, in February, included requests for retail and community space, and U+I now plans to include a shop on Bowater Road and discounted use of the Wire Workshops facilities for residents. It also proposes a new museum focusing on the history of the site.

If you would like to review the exhibition boards from February, they can be found on the Faraday Works website.

The dates and times for the exhibition, to be held at 25 Bowater Road, on the Westminster Industrial Estate, are as follows:

  • Thursday 11 July 2019, 8am to 10am
  • Thursday 11 July 2019, 4pm to 8pm
  • Saturday 13 July 2019, 12pm to 4pm


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