Housing association sells ex-council ‘affordable homes’ plot to private developer

Denmark House garages
The old Denmark House garages site has been fenced off for years

A leading housing association has sold land in Charlton to a private developer – despite that land being earmarked for “affordable housing”.

L&Q has sold the plot in Maryon Road to an Abbey Wood-based developer, Brunswick Square Investments, 18 years after its former subsidiary Tower Homes bought the land from Greenwich Council for £361,000.

The land formerly housed garages for the Morris Walk Estate, and a covenant was put in place in December 2002 to ensure the land would be developed into 12 homes.

However, no development took place, and in 2015 a further covenant was issued on the land transferring it to L&Q, and pledging that the site “be used for no other purpose than Affordable Housing”, which it defines as being “social rent, affordable rent and intermediate housing” – the latter usually meaning shared ownership. It also restricted the size of any development to 33 habitable rooms.

Denmark House Garages site
This land was sold by Greenwich Council in 2002

But L&Q has now sold the land to Brunswick Square Investments, which gives its headquarters as a private house in Overton Road, Abbey Wood. The Charlton Champion understands the sale price was £605,000, but has been unable to independently verify this as Land Registry records have not yet been updated.

The site has been fenced off for years and the housing estate around it – including the next-door tower block, Denmark House – has been demolished by the building company Lovell, which is redeveloping the old Morris Walk Estate as Trinity Park.

An L&Q spokesperson told The Charlton Champion: “This land was sold as it was surplus to our requirements. As part of the sale, the covenant restricting the size of the development, and the tenure to affordable housing, remained in place.”

Brunswick Square Investments was formed in 2019 and has not yet filed accounts with Companies House, which classes the company as being involved in “buying and selling real estate”. Its sole named director, Herbert McLaughlin, has not responded to a request for comment.

Greenwich Council’s cabinet member for regeneration, Sarah Merrill, told The Charlton Champion: “We are committed to ensuring that the covenants secured against the land are fully enforced. The new owner will need to ensure that any planning application for development respects the adjacent new and existing developments and this should be a policy compliant scheme delivering the maximum amount of affordable housing.”


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We’ll think again about our consultations, Morris Walk developer Lovell says

Lovell Trinity Park render
Lovell’s proposed view from Maryon Park – where Denmark House stood until recently

The developer behind the redevelopment of Morris Walk Estate says it will reconsider how it presents its consultations after presenting residents last autumn with a series of confusing QR codes.

Lovell, which is knocking down the 1960s estate on the Charlton-Woolwich border and turning it into the Trinity Park development, launched a virtual consultation with residents last year ahead of submitting a planning application to Greenwich Council.

However, it took the form of a series of videos that could only be accessed by using QR codes. The Charlton Champion decoded the consultation to present the videos individually in a story last October.

In a residents’ newsletter released just before Christmas, Lovell said: “Concerns over the inaccessibility and complication of the online QR codes and videos have been carefully considered and will be taken very much in consideration in the next steps in the aim to create a more accessible and easy-to-understand platform.”

The estate, built on cleared slum housing between 1964 and 1966 and named after its most notorious street, originally had 562 council homes. Of the 766 homes promised on the new development, 177 will be for affordable rent (about half market rent) with 76 available for shared ownership.


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Planning application goes in for 766 new homes on site of Morris Walk Estate

Trinity Park
The plans envisage taller blocks to the north of the site

Developer Lovell has submitted its planning application to redevelop the Morris Walk Estate on the Charlton/Woolwich border, with 766 new homes planned.

The application comes less than two weeks after the final consultation into the scheme ended. Locals will be able to have their say in the coming weeks when Greenwich Council’s planning department publishes full details of the scheme and asks for formal submissions. Lovell already has outline permission to build here, this application fills in the details.

Much of the old estate – built as 562 council homes between 1964 and 1966 – has now been demolished, although some tenants are still living in blocks to the north of the estate, off Woolwich Church Street.

Of the 766 homes promised, 177 will be for affordable rent (about half market rent) with 76 available for shared ownership. It promises “a high quality inclusive design which is sympathetic to the surrounding area, strengthening the visual connection across the rail line and providing green links to Maryon Park. The scale and form of the new buildings respond to the existing homes in the immediate context and integrate new green squares for people to meet and play.”

The company plans to build a mixture of one, two, three and four-bedroom houses and apartments, with more “affordable” housing and a cluster of taller blocks – of up to 13 storeys – to the north of the site. It plans 304 homes in the north of the site, of which 87 would be for affordable rent and 42 for shared ownership. There would be 144 car parking spaces.

To the south there would be more private housing, including blocks of up to six storeys high with houses closer to Maryon Park. Some 44 per cent of homes south of the railway line would have three bedrooms or more. There would be 462 homes, including 90 for affordable rent and 34 for shared ownership. There would be 281 car parking spaces, many beneath buildings to “to reduce on street car dominance and create a more pedestrian-friendly environment”.

If planning permission is given, Lovell hopes to start work in autumn 2021.

Lovell Trinity Park render
The view from Maryon Park – where Denmark House stood until recently

The development is part of a 12-year deal with Greenwich Council signed in 2012 which also includes the crumbling Maryon Road and Maryon Grove estates, which will also be rebuilt by Lovell, with a planning application scheduled for 2023. It has already turned Woolwich’s notorious Connaught estate into a new development called Trinity Walk.

However, there have been a series of hitches along the way: demolition of Morris Walk was due to begin two years ago; but when that date was missed it was claimed the development had been delayed for seven years.

Last summer a senior Greenwich councillor complained that Lovell had “let the council down”, but demolition finally got under way this summer. However, neighbours were annoyed after emergency services were allowed to carry out exercises in the fenced-off estate without informing them.

Mick Laws, the development and precommencement director at Lovell London, said: “This is an exciting regeneration programme for the area and if planning is granted, will not only provide new homes but much needed inward investment and jobs. Lovell is dedicated to building the proposed homes and working closely with Royal Borough of Greenwich throughout the process.”

Update: You can now see full details of the plans for Morris North and Morris South.


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