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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Cllr Gary Parker’s Charlton Ward Report: Summer 2018

What has Charlton ward councillor GARY PARKER been up to? Here’s his latest report.

Cllr Gary ParkerDear Charlton Residents, this is my current ward report, this is a snapshot of my recent activities it does not cover individual case work or a range of other meetings. I try to highlight a few key activities which maybe of general interest. Please contact me direct if you want more information: gary.parker[at]royalgreenwich.gov.uk Twitter: @CllrG2013.

Charlton Society – I attended the Charlton Society meeting on redevelopment and regeneration of the village and surrounding areas, together with my co-councillors and other officers from the Charlton Society, some good ideas came forward, I will be working with the CS and others to develop and support these ideas wherever possible. A meeting is scheduled in the near future with council officers and we gave the Charlton Society some information about current funding opportunities through the council – more below.

New Funding- Charlton-based organisations or those that support Charlton residents can now bid for new funding from the council this includes the ward budget – your ward councillors want to give money to as many local organisations as possible within the £30,000 budget allowable and also from the Community Infrastructure Levy (to be launched on 17 September) – a fund from actual development to support local neighbourhoods. There is over £109k to support projects in four wards including Charlton. This is a one year fund with more money available next year – for more info see www.royalgreenwich.gov.uk.

[Charlton Champion note: read more about previous ward budget funding here]

Planning & Development Issues – I have been working with local groups and individuals regarding a range of planning issues, yet again. I opposed the recent application by Rockwell and spoke at the planning board meeting on this in July as did many local residents. The application was rejected but since then, the Mayor of London has ‘called in’ the decision for review, as he claims that Greenwich has not been achieving its affordable housing targets. In my view this call in is a challenge to local democracy, the planning board, who I have been sharply critical of in the past, did the right thing as did local residents. There is a large group of residents, community organisations, businesses and groups in the area actively opposing this development – I will support them as much as I can. If the application is upheld by the Mayor I will be encouraging the council to seek a judicial review on this issue. I will continue to campaign vigorously on this issue, which is now as much about local democracy as it is about planning issues and defending local communities against big developers.

Pocket Homes – Pocket Living is a property development company supported by the Mayor of London which builds homes for sale to first time buyers at reduced prices. The Council cabinet took a decision on 16 July to go out to consultation with residents on the sale of three plots of land to the company at three sites – in Blackheath Westcombe, Greenwich West, and The Heights in Charlton. I called in this decision with Cllr Fletcher from Blackheath ward, a “call-in” is a council process by which councillors can ask for decisions to be reviewed. I have some specific concerns which I raised about: social value, the impact in Charlton ward, land contamination at the site and the nature of the consultation. Many local residents attended this meeting and they too voiced their concerns. Since then this issue has featured significantly in social media and in the local press.

Events & Engagements – A selection

I attended two Better Together Community Engagement events covering Charlton.

I attended the Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust board meeting on 17th July and raised a number of local issues including parking charges at Charlton House and access to the archives for local residents and historians – I will issue a separate report on the trust soon.

I support the John Roan- anti academisation campaign and attended the picket line to support striking workers in July.

I attended and supported the new Greenwich Housing Forum which held an open public meeting about housing issues in the Borough – I estimate nearly 100 people attended- more info @greenwich_forum

I chaired the Council’s Regeneration Scrutiny Panel on 23 July – it reviews policy and executive actions on regeneration issues in the borough.

I held a meeting with the council’s deputy chief executive about the Woolwich Creative District and other heritage and regeneration issues in the Charlton area on 24 August.

SURGERIES/CASEWORK – Raised a very large amount of housing and planning related casework, community safety and crime related issues which is ongoing. I also dealt with some issues in Charlton Park related to alleged drug dealing and anti -social behaviour and continued graffiti and vandalism around the toilets. I am concerned about the escalation of such behaviour in Charlton Park and am working with my co-councillors to address this issue.

COUNCIL  I also attended the July 2018 full council meeting and the main overview and scrutiny panel meetings of which I am a member. This received reports from senior council officers and cabinet members about major issues in Greenwich.

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Charlton Riverside: ‘Respect our masterplan’, MP Pennycook tells developer

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

Greenwich & Woolwich MP Matt Pennycook has told the developers behind controversial plans to build 771 homes off Anchor & Hope Lane that they should respect the masterplan developed for Charlton Riverside – and build more affordable housing.

Pennycook spoke out days after London mayor Sadiq Khan blocked Greenwich Council’s refusal of the scheme by developer Rockwell to build five 10-storey blocks and other buildings on land surrounding Atlas and Derrick Gardens.

The mayor, who has designated Charlton Riverside an “opportunity area” for development, will now decide whether or not the plan goes ahead.

Khan’s 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.

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 Charlton Riverside website
Rockwell had already started promoting the scheme when Greenwich rejected it

Pennycook said on his Facebook page that Rockwell needed to be making the blocks smaller and providing more “affordable’ homes.

He wrote: “I fully understand the pressure the Mayor is under to build more homes in London as the market falters, I’m deeply disappointed that City Hall have chosen not to back Greenwich Council and stand behind the local community’s very strong objections to the proposed scheme.

“I will of course look carefully at any modifications that the Mayor is able to secure over the coming weeks/months and I trust that there will be extensive consultation with local residents and community groups as well as with the developer.

“However, City Hall must appreciate that there is a very strong feeling locally that we not compromise on the vision set out in the 2017 Charlton Riverside masterplan.

“That is why it’s crucial that development across the entire Charlton Riverside opportunity area, including any modified proposals from Rockwell, respect the vision of an exemplary urban district set out in that masterplan document.

“For Rockwell’s site that means not only a higher level of affordable housing, and a modified dwelling mix, but also reductions in the proposed height of buildings. If that requires reductions in the total number of units then, in my view, that’s what needs to happen.”

Rockwell Charlton Riverside
Rockwell says its new scheme will look like this

While the Charlton Riverside masterplan does not rule out 10-storey blocks, it says they should be an exception, preferring to see buildings of between three and six storeys.

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.

Khan’s letter to Greenwich Council announcing he was taking over the planning process said the Rockwell scheme “has potential to make an important contribution to housing and affordable housing supply”.

Pennycook’s intervention was greeted with scepticism by journalist Paul Wellman, who tracks London’s developers for Estates Gazette. “Want more affordable housing? Generally the compromise is more private and greater heights. The below scenario is hugely unachievable,” he tweeted.

An indication of what might happen emerged on Thursday, when Sadiq Khan approved a development in Brentford after blocking a rejection from Hounslow Council.

Hounslow had refused a scheme with 421 homes, including 40% “affordable”, citing the possible effect on nearby Kew Gardens. But Khan approved a revised scheme with 50% “affordable” housing and 441 homes.

Khan said: “This scheme shows how we can unlock the potential of an underused site to build more of the genuinely affordable homes Londoners so urgently need. I’m clear that to fix the capital’s housing crisis Government must play its part, but we can make a difference now by ensuring developments include more genuinely affordable housing.

“I am committed to using the full strength of my planning powers to get London building more affordable homes.

“This is another important step as we work towards my long-term strategic goal for 50 per cent of housing in all new developments across the city to be social rented and other genuinely affordable homes for Londoners.”

  • Pennycook also spoke out on proposed cuts to the 53 bus route, saying they would “punish my working-class constituents”.
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    Rockwell rises again: Sadiq Khan rejects Greenwich Council’s refusal of Charlton Riverside scheme

    Rockwell render
    Residents said the new blocks would loom over their homes and deny them natural light

    London mayor Sadiq Khan has blocked Greenwich Council’s refusal to allow a developer to build 771 homes at the end of Anchor & Hope Lane, meaning he will now decide whether or not it will go ahead, rather than local councillors.

    Developer Rockwell had planned to build on the VIP industrial estate behind Atlas and Derrick Gardens, with five 10-storey blocks, but its plans were thrown out by Greenwich Council’s planning board last month, with chair Sarah Merrill calling the proposal “reminiscent of Stalingrad”.

    All 11 councillors on Greenwich’s planning board voted to reject the scheme, the first to come forward at Charlton Riverside – designated an “opportunity area” by the mayor.

    But Khan has now opted to take over deciding what happens with the scheme himself – the first time a Greenwich Council planning decision has been called in by City Hall.

    Rockwell Charlton Riverside
    Rockwell says its new scheme will look like this

    In a letter sent to Greenwich Council and seen by this website, Khan says that the proposal will have a “significant impact on the implementation of the London Plan and the draft London Plan” – the mayoral blueprint for planning across the capital.

    City Hall has said that Khan’s draft London Plan aims to “get more affordable homes built, especially in areas served by strong infrastructure”.

    Rockwell’s plans are for 32.4% of the units to be “affordable” housing – an increase inserted 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.

    The news will anger local residents who have battled against the proposals – particularly those who live in Atlas and Derrick Gardens, who say the Rockwell development will loom over their homes and deny them natural light. Local industries have also voiced concerns about whether they will be able to continue in business with a large residential development on their doorstep, and Squeeze singer Glenn Tilbrook has complained that his recording studio would be put in jeopardy by the plans.

    Khan’s call-in follows his backing of plans for the Silvertown Tunnel and expansion of London City Airport, the cancellation of extra trains for the Jubilee Line, the shelving of plans for Cycle Superhighway 4 to run through the area and planned cuts to bus services.

    It will also annoy Greenwich Labour councillors, who will be expected to campaign for Khan in 2020’s election – and who are well aware that the infrastructure in the area is anything but strong.

    But City Hall watchers have not been surprised. The possibility of a call-in was first mooted just days after the planning meeting in an article by Estates Gazette journalist Paul Wellman, followed by another one by former Guardian London writer Dave Hill, who is close to Khan’s team.

    Derrick Gardens
    The development site runs around Atlas and Derrick Gardens, built as workers’ cottages for the Cory boatyard

    The Charlton Champion understands a second scheme rejected by Greenwich councillors – for 272 homes near Abbey Wood station – has also been called in for the mayor to decide himself.

    What is a call-in?

    London mayors have the power to “call in” major developments after councils have made a decision, but it rarely happens. While it has never happened to Greenwich Council, two past developments on its borders have been called in.

    A call-in effectively means the planning process starts again, with the mayor’s officers taking over and a public hearing taking place at City Hall.

    Five years ago, Boris Johnson took over the decision-making for Convoys Wharf in Deptford from Lewisham Council after an appeal from the developer. Johnson approved outline plans for three towers of 26, 32 and 40 storeys but a detailed scheme has only recently emerged.

    More recently, Khan overturned Bromley Council’s approval of a new stadium for London’s oldest football club, Cray Wanderers, who play in the eighth tier of English football, and two four-storey blocks of flats at Flamingo Park, off the Sidcup by-pass.

    The mayor said he blocked it because it was on Green Belt land, even though the site is used for a waste transfer station and car parking. The club withdrew its plans and is hoping a new scheme, also backed by Bromley, will get approval from the mayor.

    Anchor & Hope Lane development site
    Part of the site as it is now, with low-rise Derrick and Atlas Gardens to the left

    Khan’s call-in adds another twist to the tale of the Rockwell proposals, which first emerged in 2016 with proposals for a 28-storey tower and 975 homes at the south end of the site close to Charlton station, with just 13% “affordable”.

    Negotiations with Greenwich Council finally produced a revised plan by the end of 2017, cutting the maximum height down to 10 storeys with 25% “affordable”. In July 2018 this was increased to 35% “affordable” when judged by number of rooms, or 32.4% when assessed by the number of units.

    But pressure from residents – who pointed out that the plans still did not fit the new masterplan for the riverside – led to councillors on the planning board deferring the scheme in April until after the following month’s council election.

    5pm update: Greenwich Council regeneration cabinet member Sizwe James says: “I am disappointed that the Mayor of London has called in the Eynsham Drive and Charlton Riverside planning applications, both of which were rejected by our Planning Board last month. This means that the Mayor of London, and not the local councillors elected by the people of Greenwich, will decide on these applications.

    “At the Planning Board, local residents spoke passionately about the issues they had with the proposed developments. The committee members listened to the residents and shared their concerns about the height of the buildings, the lack of homes for families, and the affordability of those homes.

    “After the planning applications were rejected, we hoped that the developers would come back to us with a new application that provided much needed affordable housing for families, in developments of an appropriate size and scale for Abbey Wood and Charlton.

    “Whilst I respect the rights of the Mayor of London to call in these planning applications, and understand the pressure he is under to get more homes built, we very much hope he will address the concerns of residents in the process.

    “I would urge him not to simply wave the applications through, but include us in discussions with the developers to secure a greater proportion of well designed, affordable family homes.

    “We also need to learn from the mistakes made in the 60s and 70s and create proper neighbourhoods, with walkable streets, places to work and spaces for children to play and socialise.

    “I hope that we can work together with the developers and the Mayor of London to do this.”

     

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