Valley House: So, whatever did happen to the big building site next to Sainsbury’s?

Valley House in March
Valley House in March: There wasn’t a lot happening two months ago…

It’s been the most puzzling development in Charlton since the last puzzling development. What on earth happened with the big building site next to Sainsbury’s?

You know the one. The one that’s had hoardings up for years that have forced cyclists to mix it with the HGVs. Plans for a nine-storey block were turfed out in 2015, a seven-storey block was approved a few months later.

At the time, the development was largely private. Work on 73 flats – 62 private, four for shared ownership and seven for social rent – began more than three years ago. They included 22 studio flats, 3 1-bed flats, 37 2-bed flats and 11 3-bedroom flats. Progress since then has been sluggish. Commuters who use Charlton station have, however, lost the view of Canary Wharf from Delafield Road.

Peabody render
“The queue to Sainsbury’s is only back to the bus stop, shall I get some milk?”

The housing association Peabody has taken over the scheme from developer London Green. Two months ago, just before lockdown – in fact, at the last planning meeting before everything ground to a halt – Greenwich Council gave permission for the scheme to be reconfigured. The biggest change was that the scheme was now becoming 100% “affordable” – in reality, this means there will be 54 flats for shared ownership and 19 flats for social rent. The 22 studio flats would become proper 1-bed flats, although a lift would be removed, the concierge would go, and the Breeam rating (a measure of energy use and sustainability) was downgraded from “excellent” to “very good”.

Valley House, Charlton
Scaffolding has come down in recent weeks

Since then, work has been going on – at a distance, of course. And this weekend, Peabody is launching the scheme to buyers. “So much to see. So much to do. So much to come. That’s what we love about Charlton. An area experiencing regeneration but already well served by shops and transport.” Oh heavens. “In the age of Uber Eats it might be all too tempting to order in to your sleek new pad, but you don’t have to stray far if you’d rather a night out. Within a few minutes walk dependable chains like Frankie & Benny’s and Nando’s rub shoulders with local favourites such as seafood restaurant Winkles, the riverside Chef House Kitchen and tempting Thai joint Cattleya.”

Winkles, the van outside the Anchor and Hope, will no doubt be delighted it’s been upgraded to “restaurant”.

Anyhow, should you fancy somewhere “located in Greenwich” (nope) or “located close by North Greenwich station” (good luck with that), you can check it out on the Peabody website.


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Seven up: Smaller Valley House scheme gets council go-ahead

Valley House render
The previous Valley House scheme was nine floors high, the new one is seven storeys

Greenwich Council’s planning board has backed plans for a seven-storey block of flats on Woolwich Road, six months after it threw out a request to build a nine-storey development.

Developers want to knock down Valley House – a former office block on the corner of Gallions Road – and replace it with 73 flats.

The approval, which came at a meeting on Tuesday evening, comes after months of wrangling over the development. Last June, councillors deferred a decision after objecting to a separate entrance for residents living in “affordable” housing in the scheme. Then in September, a revised proposal was rejected on the chair’s casting vote.

This time around, 10 objections were received, with the Charlton Society and Central Charlton Residents Association – which covers an area south of the railway line – commenting that the building was still too bulky. There were 80 letters of support, many of which used a generic text praising developer London Green’s scheme.

11 of the 73 flats are due to be “affordable”, including seven for social rent. Councillors placed a condition on the development that it be advertised domestically before it is promoted to foreign buyers.

Valley House: Greenwich councillors throw out nine-storey Charlton block

Valley House render

Greenwich Council’s planning board has thrown out plans for a nine-storey block of 74 flats on Woolwich Road – even after the developer agreed to remove the “poor doors” so residents of social and private housing shared the same entrance and facilities.

Councillors had demanded the scheme be deferred in July because of concerns about the “poor doors”, but at also because of the size and density of the development, which faces two-storey homes.

Concerns had been dismissed by council officers, who said in a report: “In an evolving area such as this, it is not practical or even reasonable to expect a developer to mirror the low density of the two-storey terraces on the southern side of Woolwich Road, as the opportunity to provide both market and affordable housing would be missed.”

But in a surprising decision, the nine-strong board dismissed the scheme. Four councillors – Ray Walker, Peter Brooks, Harry Singh and Mehboob Khan – backed the proposal. But four voted against and one, Angela Cornforth, abstained. As planning chair Mark James was one of those opposing the scheme.

Council leader Denise Hyland – the only London borough leader who sits on their council’s main planning committee – was absent due to an engagement elsewhere, as was regeneration cabinet member Danny Thorpe.

A CGI from architects Chassay & Last.
A CGI from architects Chassay & Last.

28 objections had been received for the scheme, which objector David Gayther called “the most important development here for years”. Residents’ groups had feared approval would set a precedent for the forthcoming new Charlton Riverside masterplan, which observers say is likely to feature demands for more tall buildings by the Thames.

Objectors were led by the Charlton Central Residents Association – whose area, which is south of the railway line, does not cover Valley House. Representative Anne Waite lambasted the lack of measures to deal with poor air quality in the area, saying “we’ve got rid of poor doors and replaced them with poor floors”.

Fellow resident Linda Waite picked holes in the planning document, highlighting a “sloppy use of cut and paste” which appeared to recommend councillors approve a completely separate application. She branded it a “pick and mix” of what recommendations from the masterplan were accepted and which were ignored.

Greenwich Conservation Group’s Philip Binns said there was no indication the developer had even considered reducing the height of the building.

But a representative of the developer denied the scheme “disrespected” loals, and said losing the top two floors would have a disproportionate impact on the number of “affordable” homes that could be provided – which was only 18.9%.

Eltham West councillor Ray Walker said he “couldn’t see the impact on existing residential amenity”, but chair Cllr James said he did not think the scheme conformed with the current Charlton Riverside masterplan. He joined Geoff Brighty, Christine Grice and Nuala Geary in voting down the proposal.

Two other controversial planning applications – one to replace the rear of Charlton Conservative Club with housing, the other the expansion of a care home on Victoria Way, go before a separate planning committee on Tuesday.