House at back of White Swan pub all set for council approval

Mendoza render of new White Swan home
How Mendoza says the new home would look: it would largely be hidden from view by a wall

Plans to build a house at the back of the White Swan pub are to go before a planning committee next Tuesday – with officers recommending councillors approve the scheme.

Mendoza Ltd, the property company that owns the pub, wants to build a three-bedroom bungalow on land behind the beer garden – taking a strip off the beer garden to build an access path so council bin lorries can take away its rubbish from the front of the pub.

White Swan beer garden
The proposed house would sit behind the pub’s beer garden

It is the company’s fourth attempt to build on the land since it bought the freehold from Punch Taverns in March 2015. The pub itself has been closed since March, but the company has said it will look for a new tenant.

There were nine objections, including from the Charlton Society. Planning officers are recommending an acoustic fence is put up to shield the house from the pub’s noise, while a tree in the beer garden should be replaced.

The officers say that “the area of pub garden retained would continue to provide usable outdoor space for patrons and would be proportional in size to the pub gardens of surrounding pubs”. They add: “The existing area of pub garden space is not integral to the overall viability of the White Swan because the significant and high quality internal facilities and the nature of the food and drink offering are also key selling points of the pub.”

“The development of part of the pub garden of The White Swan would maintain the viability of the pub and would provide a high quality residential development which would preserve the amenity of neighbour properties as well as the character and appearance of the Charlton Village Conservation Area,” officers conclude.

A first attempt at development, to build two homes, in October 2015, was thrown out by Greenwich Council planners. That decision was upheld by a planning inspector. A second attempt was rejected earlier in 2017. The third attempt, for one three-bedroom house, was rejected by council planners in December 2017 and again by a planning inspector in January. This scheme was submitted a year ago; the closed pub was made an asset of community value in July.

The Woolwich and Thamesmead planning committee meeting begins at 6.30pm on Tuesday 22 September and can be watched on YouTube.

Council wants to see public transport for Charlton Riverside arrive soon

Flint Glass Wharf
One of the planned development schemes: Flint Glass Wharf, next to the Thames Barrier

Greenwich Council says it is working with City Hall to bring new public transport to the Charlton Riverside sooner rather than later so new homes are not delayed.

A report to senior councillors says that developers are keen to start building in the area – but getting infrastructure in place is an issue.

Some 7,500 new homes are planned – although City Hall wants this bumped up to 8,000 as part of its new London plan. For comparison, there are currently 8,900 households in the SE7 postal area. However, nothing has been built so far, and a planning inspector threw out the first scheme – Rockwell’s controversial development off Anchor & Hope Lane – earlier this year.

In recent weeks, developers have applied for permission for two new housing schemes on Eastmoor Street, to add to the five major schemes that are already in the planning pipeline.

“In the medium term, [the council] is working closely with the Greater London Authority and TfL to bring forward public transport improvements in the early phases of delivery at Charlton Riverside,” the housing delivery action plan report says. The report has been prepared for a meeting of the council’s cabinet next week.

“There is significant developer/landowner interest in securing early permissions, and early public sector intervention/investment will ensure that the implementation of these permissions is not slowed down by infrastructure requirements.

“The issue in Charlton Riverside is mainly one of infrastructure coordination and timing of delivery, with development values across the area sufficient in the longer term to support delivery of necessary physical and social infrastructure.”

Burnt-out car on Eastmoor Street
The Charlton Riverside as it currently is

Those expecting dramatic improvements to the area’s public transport are likely to be disappointed, however – one of the major development schemes, Hyde Housing’s proposals for 1,350 homes by the Thames Barrier, suggests funding an extension of the 301 bus to Woolwich Crossrail station; nudging residents who live in zone 3 to take a train to work from zone 4. A new east-west road – essentially extending Bugsby’s Way – is planned, with councillors hoping in the long-term to see the Greenwich Waterfront Transit, a souped-up bus to North Greenwich, to run along the road.

The two recently-submitted plans are for plots, behind the old Victoria pub – itself the subject of plans for redevelopment.

Evelyn House
Evelyn House: Kite not included, presumably

Firstly, the housing association Optivo plans 67 flats – all for affordable rent (usually about half market rent) – on the site of the old Beaumont Beds warehouse, in a block of up to seven storeys tall, with seven parking spaces for wheelchair users. It is calling the development Evelyn House. Its red brick and rounded corners, the planning blurb says, are a nod to the Victoria up the road. It looks like the small cash and carry warehouse between the old pub and the new development is due to remain. (See the application and comment / read the design statement / search 20/2186/F on the council website< if these links don't work)

Aitch Group scheme
The Aitch Group development and Penhall Gardens

Secondly, on the next-door site – closer to the Barrier – developer Aitch Group wants to build 202 flats in blocks of up to ten storeys on land bounded by Eastmoor Street, Westmoor Street and Mirfield Street, currently in industrial use. 65 per cent of the homes will be private, 10 per cent for shared ownership, 25 per cent for affordable rent (as above). A public courtyard will be provided in the middle. Again, blue badge parking is provided only, although Greenwich Council told the developer “a car-free scheme cannot be supported until local infrastructure is improved” – a reflection of the issues described above. (See the application and comment / read the design statement / search 20/1924/F on the council website if these links don’t work)

The five other schemes planned are:


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Demolition begins at Morris Walk Estate as developers target autumn 2021 for new homes

Morris Walk estate - Lovell image
Morris Walk Estate is finally coming down

Demolition crews have moved in to the Morris Walk Estate on the Charlton/Woolwich border, starting a year of work to dismantle the 1960s blocks before work can start on 900 new homes.

The estate is being redeveloped in conjunction with the Connaught Estate in Woolwich, which has largely been rebuilt by developer Lovell as Trinity Walk. The company hopes to start work on the new homes at Morris Walk in autumn 2021.

Built in the mid-1960s as part of a long-delayed slum clearance programme – Morris Walk was one of the streets destroyed – the estate was constructed using prefabricated parts built at a factory in Norwich and taken by train to Charlton, where lorries would take the parts to the estate. Two flats were put together each day. The first tenants were housed in December 1964, and the estate was finished by the autumn of 1966.

The distinctive blocks were seen as a success at the time, but within a year of the estate being completed severe condensation started to blight its 562 homes along with rodents and poor soundproofing. A gas explosion at Ronan Point – built using similar methods – across the river in Canning Town in 1968 led to more worries about the blocks, and they were refurbished in the mid-1980s. Plans to demolish the blocks were announced in 2006. Delays have reset the project since then, with discord between the council and Lovell. Demolition was due to begin two years ago.

In 2014, outline planning permission was given for up to 766 homes – a quarter for social rent and 10 per cent for shared ownership. Those plans envisaged tall blocks to the north with houses and maisonettes to the south. However, a new masterplan is being prepared and detailed plans will have to be approved by Greenwich Council before work can begin. A consultation is due later this year.

Chris Wallace, the construction director at Lovell said: “The demolition work is a very complex procedure which has to be carefully planned due to the height and layout of the estate, the vicinity of the rail lines and proximity of the local community. As usual, health and safety is our key priority and we will communicate to the local residents on a regular basis.”

The start of demolition comes after the Ministry of Defence and police apologised to neighbours for setting off explosions in the derelict estate in June.

Both Greenwich Council and Lovell said they were not responsible for allowing emergency services to carry out exercises on the estate, with conflicting accounts over what happened. Lovell has now blamed a “miscommunication” between it, the MoD, police and council.

The MoD said: “We regret that the conduct of this exercise caused disruption, particularly as the activity took place late in the day. The Ministry of Defence continues to be extremely grateful for the support from the local community for critical exercises such as this, and we apologise for the inconvenience it has caused.”

The Metropolitan Police said: “The Metropolitan Police Service were advised of a military exercise due to be held on the 23rd June at the Morris Walk Estate. The MPS regrettably did not foresee the impact that this would have on the community. We apologise for any upset or distress caused to the community by the Military activity during their training exercise.”


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