1,200 homes by Thames Barrier approved – despite warning of ‘nauseous’ smells

Hyde Herringham Quarter
The development would make use of a jetty on the Thames. The Tarmac plant at Riverside Wharf is on the left

A plan to approve more than 1,200 homes by the Thames Barrier was approved by Greenwich Council last night on the casting vote of its controversial chair of planning, Stephen Brain.

The Labour councillor, who is standing down after the elections in May, goaded objectors by inviting them to send abusive emails as he broke a 4-4 tie by approving the project from the housing association Hyde.

“Start tapping now and I’ll read them in the morning,” he said.

Some of the future residents in the Herringham Quarter development in Charlton will face living in homes where they will not be able to open their windows because of concerns over air quality from an asphalt plant next door at Riverside Wharf.

The development site as it is now, as seen on Google Streetview

A representative of Tarmac, which operates the plant, said that the business would be under threat because the new blocks would tower over the plant’s chimney, and residents would be subjected to nauseating smells.

A string of residents’ lobby groups also complained that the development was too dense. But their complaints were dismissed by Brain, meaning the first major development on the Charlton Riverside – earmarked for up to 8,000 homes in a City Hall blueprint – has been given the go-ahead.

Hyde plans to build 718 homes along with commercial units at Herringham Road and New Lydenburg Street, close to the Thames Barrier, in blocks of up to 10 storeys. The first residents could move in by 2026. Hyde was also given outline permission for a further 494 homes, and will return with more detailed plans in the future.

The land concerned – Plots A and C could be finished by 2026. Plot B is the Tarmac plant. Detailed plans for plots D and E will follow

Of the first phase, 263 homes for London Affordable Rent, about half market rent and available to people on housing waiting lists, comprising 37 per cent of the total number of homes. Another 133 homes (18 per cent) will be for shared ownership, with the remainder going on private sale.

There will be more private homes in the later stage, taking the proportion down to 40 per cent “affordable” housing across the site.

Some of the blocks will be built on the site of Maybanks Wharf, currently a recycling yard for Westminster Waste, but the Tarmac yard will remain.

Tito Arowobusoye, a planning consultant representing Tarmac and other local wharf operators, said a third of London’s construction aggregates were processed in the local area – a local industry that could be put at risk if new neighbours were not protected from air quality and pollution.

An air quality expert, Gordon Allison, said the Tarmac plant would be eventually be hemmed in on two sides, with Hyde’s block just 60 metres from the chimney. “In my 25 years in the industry I’ve never seen a proposal where the building will be hit by a plume from an industrial chimney stack,” he said.

Herringham Road, close to the development site, in 2020: Planning chair Stephen Brain said the area was “not pleasant”

“It’s not a sensible proposal – when the wind blows, it will hit the nearest building. Chimneys should be taller than the buildings nearby.”

Allison warned that odours from the plant could also be an issue. “I find it nauseating, even though I’ve worked in the industry my whole career,” he said.

The solution – to fit affected flats with sealed windows and mechanical ventilation – was “unproven”, he added. “There is a genuine risk of nuisance complaints that hasn’t been recognised.”

Asked by Brain if he thought development by the Tarmac plant was impossible, he said that it was not – but that the buildings should be set further back, or the developer should pay to make the chimney taller.

Herringham Quarter render
A view from the Thames, with the Tarmac plant on the left

Trevor Curson of Buro Happold, an environmental consultant to Hyde, said that the developer had planned for a worst-case scenario of the plant operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – something it does not do.

After hearing of complaints from residents of Greenwich Millennium Village whose homes back onto the Murphy’s Wharf aggregate depot, said that future residents would be better protected from noise than in other nearby developments. One 10-storey block was to shield residents from the noise of the Tarmac plant, the committee heard.

Representatives of several overlapping lobby groups in the Charlton area criticised the scale of the development. Jodie Coughlan, speaking for the Derrick and Atlas Gardens residents’ association – the only group actually based on the riverside – saying it was an “unreasonable and untenable level of deviation” from the local masterplan, which sets maximum heights of three to five storeys for much of the area.

While Hyde said that their blocks, which would step down to six storeys at street level, were at a human scale, the groups disagreed, with the Charlton Central Residents Association’s David Gayther calling it “monolithic in nature”.

Maybank Wharf
Maybank Wharf has been used for waste paper processing since the 1960s – but will soon see new housing

Hyde’s Jaime Buckley said that the housing association had “a limited window” in which to build the scheme because it depended on a £22.5 million grant from City Hall – £60,000 for each affordable-rent home.

Promising the scheme would be a “catalyst” for redeveloping the rest of the riverside, she urged councillors to balance “not just what is desirable, but what is achievable”.

While Hyde will be paying towards new bus services and new roads, Charlton councillor Gary Dillon voiced concerns about the effect of the development on local infrastructure.

Pointing out that the Charlton Riverside masterplan was created with up to 5,000 new residents in mind, but now City Hall was expecting up to 8,000, he said: “Those people who live between Greenwich and Woolwich Dockyard know how fragile the infrastructure is. We’re sometimes waiting for two hours to move five minutes up the road.

”My concern is that developers are looking at this [City Hall] aspiration taking at gospel, but it has no support – there’s no infrastructure development plans or TfL budget to develop new links, and there’s the possibility of extra traffic from the Silvertown Tunnel.”

Hyde’s vision of Herringham Road in the future

Conservative councillor Nigel Fletcher also said he would turn down the scheme, saying that the whole point of the Charlton masterplan was to create somewhere distinct from the towers of Greenwich Peninsula and Woolwich: “It’s really frustrating that when we want to see regeneration here, we’re presented with things we can’t accept because they’re inconsistent with the masterplan.”

Of the three women on the committee on International Women’s Day, none gave their views, while four of the five men did.

Brain said: “I know this area very, very well, how many objectors live near this site? Not many. I see one hand out of all the speakers. It is not residential, it is not pleasant, I’ve had my car serviced there for 30 years.

“The area is horrible, this provides an opportunity to improve the area. If we turn this down, how do any of the applications for the riverside go forward?

“I wouldn’t like to be on the doorsteps saying I’d turned down a great big chunk of social housing. We’d be turning down the futures of many of our residents.”

Brain was joined by fellow Labour councillors Sandra Bauer, Clare Burke-McDonald and Averil Lekau in supporting the scheme, but Labour’s Dillon and Fahy voted to turn it down, along with Fletcher and Geoff Brighty for the Conservatives.

It then fell to Brain to give a casting vote – as he had done in favour of the 36-storey Morden Wharf development last September.

“I’m still receiving abusive emails,” he said. “Start tapping now and I’ll read them in the morning. I’ll be voting in favour. Thank you very much.”


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Air quality worries as 1,200 homes by Thames Barrier recommended for approval

Hyde Herringham Quarter
The development would make use of a jetty on the Thames. The Tarmac plant at Riverside Wharf is on the left

Plans to turn the Charlton riverside into a residential district could take a giant step forward next week if councillors approve over 1,200 new homes on what is currently industrial land.

But some residents face living in homes where they will not be able to open their windows because of concerns over air quality from an asphalt plant next door.

The Port of London Authority and the operators of nearby wharves have submitted objections to the Herringham Quarter project, saying that residents’ complaints about air quality, noise and smell could threaten their businesses.

The land concerned (not the blocks) – Plots A and C could be finished by 2026. Plot B is the Tarmac plant. Detailed plans for plots D and E will follow

Hyde housing association is asking for detailed permission to build 718 homes along with commercial units at Herringham Road and New Lydenburg Street, close to the Thames Barrier, in blocks of up to 10 storeys. It also wants outline permission for a further 494 homes, which could follow in the future.

Councillors are due to make a decision on the scheme next Tuesday, at a meeting of Greenwich’s planning board, the committee that deals with the biggest developments in the borough.

The blocks would be up to 10 storeys high, with some to be built on the site of Maybanks Wharf, currently a recycling yard for Westminster Waste.
The Tarmac asphalt depot next door would remain in place. The first homes could be ready by 2026.

Hyde’s application is the biggest Charlton Riverside scheme to reach councillors since the notorious Rockwell scheme for land off Anchor and Hope Lane, which has now been abandoned after Greenwich Council, City Hall and the government all rejected proposals for 771 homes there. The site is now to be used as a “last mile” logistics depot.

So far just one home – a flat at the derelict Victoria pub, which is to be turned into a pizza takeaway – has been given approval out of a potential 8,000 new homes in the area.

The proposals have changed since the scheme was first unveiled in 2019, with “affordable” housing now making up 55 per cent of the total in the first phase of the scheme.

Hyde’s plans include 263 homes for London Affordable Rent, about half market rent and available to people on housing waiting lists, comprising 37 per cent of the total number of homes. Another 133 homes (18 per cent) will be for shared ownership, with the remainder going on private sale.

The second phase of the scheme will include more private housing, taking the “affordable” total down to 40 per cent across the project.

However, the quality of life for people who move into the homes has been questioned by the operators of Murphy’s, Angerstein and Riverside wharves, who say that complaining residents could put their noisy businesses at risk of closure.

Hyde’s vision of Herringham Road in the future

They also warn that the introduction of residents living so close to the trajectory of the chimney stack emissions will make it unlawful for Tarmac to operate the asphalt plant at Riverside Wharf under its current permit.

The Port of London Authority has also objected, saying that Riverside Wharf needs to be able to operate 24 hours a day because of tidal movements.

In response, the developer is proposing that people living in affected properties will have “sealed units with no openable windows which will be fitted with mechanical ventilation”.

Council planners say that this mitigation is “considered to be acceptable such that undesirable conflict with the uses at the wharves will be avoided”.

Herringham Quarter render
A view from the Thames, with the Tarmac plant on the left

Just 90 car parking spaces will be provided, with Hyde expected to pay for a new bus route to serve the site – expected to be an extension of the 301 service to zone 4 Woolwich station rather than a route to zone 3 Charlton or zone 2 North Greenwich.

Developers in the area will be expected to pay £3,000 per home to Greenwich Council for new roads, and £2,800 to TfL for new bus services.

The council is also looking for a site to place a new primary school, after concluding that a planned school on Anchor & Hope Lane would provide insufficient spaces as it would also be serving the Greenwich Peninsula. Hyde will have to pay £915,000 towards that.

The local NHS is to get £1.1m in extra funding for GP services as the commercial units on the site are too small to include a health centre; the council’s GLLaB job brokerage will collect almost £1.3 million from the scheme.

One factor that will weigh heavily on the developer’s side is that Greenwich only has a three-year supply of new housing on the way – it should, by law, have five. This is enough to get a refusal overturned on appeal – putting pressure on councillors to back the scheme.

Another scheme for nearby Flint Glass Wharf – on the other side of the Tarmac plant – is also due to come to councillors soon, with 500 homes. South of Herringham Quarter, Montreaux is developing plans for the Stone Foundries site.


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Herringham Quarter: Plans for 1,300 Charlton Riverside homes go to council

Is this the future of the Charlton Riverside?

Hyde housing association has formally submitted its plans to build nearly 1,300 new homes on the Charlton riverside, making it the third major scheme to enter the planning process.

It has put in a detailed planning application to Greenwich Council to build 762 homes on two plots either side of Herringham Road, close to the Thames Barrier, with blocks of up to 10 storeys. It is calling the site Herringham Quarter.

One set of blocks would replace Maybank Wharf, the current Westminster Waste recycling yard. Of the 524 flats planned for the riverside site, 21.5% would be for shared ownership, 21% would be for London Affordable Rent, a form of social rent.

Phase 1 is where 762 homes are planned. Phases 2 and 3 are not expected until after 2024

The other set of blocks, to the south, would offer 238 flats, all for London Affordable Rent. It says it plans to take vacant possession of both sites in March. Retail and workshops are also in the plans along with open spaces and a new flood defence wall.

Hyde also plans to build 530 homes on two adjoining sites closer to the Thames Barrier. However, it has only asked for outline permission for these sites; it does not expect to take possession of the land until 2024. One set of blocks would be of 203 flats for private sale, the other would be of 285 flats with 9% London Affordable Rent and 48% shared ownership.

Don’t ask why some people are dressed for summer and others winter…

Access to the new homes, however, could be a challenge for the first residents – with the sole route in and out of the site being via the industrial yards of Eastmoor Street. Hyde says it has agreed with Transport for London for a bus route to serve the site – but oddly, it would be an extension of the 301 route to Woolwich, rather than a route to North Greenwich or Charlton station. While this would be cheap to provide, it would be lumbering residents with the cost of commuting from zone 4 even though they would be living in zone 3.

The riverside development will also have to contend with Riverside Wharf – the Tarmac yard – as a neighbour. As at Greenwich Millennium Village, one block will be built to shield the development from the industrial use.

Much of what is in the planned development has already been trailed at public exhibitions. But the application submitted to Greenwich Council does provide some very useful context as to the wider Charlton Riverside project and its neighbour at Greenwich Peninsula.

Who owns what and what’s planned on the riverside – note the amount of land owned by Greenwich Council

The other four schemes, from west to east, are:

Want to see what the riverside could look like in a decade?

Hyde’s map of future riverside developments (click to expand)

You can find the full planning documents – and send your thoughts to the council – on its planning website (reference 19/3456/F). If you read nothing else, have a look at the first volume of its transport and access statement, which is where we’ve lifted the images from.


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