Build ’em up: Developer wants to build taller on Victoria Way

Fair Apartments, Victoria Way
The developer wants to add two storeys to the three-storey block

Two extra floors could be built on top of a development in Victoria Way under a recent law change that enables developers to add storeys to existing buildings without having to apply for planning permission.

Developer Imtiaz Mukhtar has notified Greenwich Council of plans to add the extra storeys – and eight new flats – to the Fair Apartments block at the northern end of Victoria Way that was built in the mid-2000s.

Legislation introduced by the Conservative government last year allows developers to build up to two extra storeys on housing blocks built after 1948 or before 2018.

Fair Apartments
The current development is roughly level with existing homes

The original development – built in the site of a small print works – was contentious when it was first proposed 18 years ago, with Greenwich Council refusing initial plans for 18 flats and four three-bedroom houses. A planning inspector subsequently approved the scheme. The current development – for 14 flats and four houses – was given approval in 2004.

While the current scheme is roughly level with the Victorian terrace next to it, this scheme would see it grow higher, from three storeys to five.

Fair Apartments
The developer hopes to skip the usual planning permission process

Three years ago, Greenwich councillors controversially approved 330 homes from Fairview on the other side of the terrace – although while the inclusion of 10-storey blocks upset neighbours, the buildings closest to the terrace were kept down to three storeys. That development is now partly occupied, with a footpath linking Victoria Way and Dupree Road now open.

Greenwich planning officers now have to decide whether this development meets the new law. Residents can submit comments on the Greenwich Council website (or search for reference 21/1109/PN4).


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Work on 20mph scheme for Charlton Village gets back under way

Victoria Way ramp works
Taking work home with you: The unusual sign on the Victoria Way road works

Work has resumed on creating a 20mph zone through Charlton Village, several weeks after activity stopped in the early stages of the coronavirus crisis.

Most of the work is relatively minor, but as reported on this website in March, involves building speed tables in Charlton Road, The Village and Charlton Church Lane, while there will be news parking restrictions at the junctions of Victoria Way and Eastcombe Avenue with Charlton Road.

“Continuous footways” will be introduced along Charlton Road in an attempt to nudge people into driving more considerately in and out of Invicta Road, Sherington Road, Wyndcliff Road, Couthurst Road, Hassendean Road, Bramhope Lane, Mascalls Road, Cherry Orchard and Victoria Way.

Work began on Victoria Way at the end of March but was abandoned after a few days. Now road crews are back, with a sign telling passers-by that the workers all live in the same household – and asking for people to email with concerns rather than approach the crews.

Victoria Way ramp
Work had been abandoned for several weeks

Greenwich Council says: “The government is encouraging highway work sites to return to business as usual with amended working practices, revised risk assessments and guidance.

“Staff working on these sites will strictly comply with the government and health guidance, with safe systems of work in place, while providing an essential service. Please be kind and considerate and assured that work is being carried out safely and for everyone’s benefit.”

When work is finished, there will be a 20mph restriction on Charlton Road and The Village between the Springfield Estate and the junction with Fairfield Grove. However, speed limits on the stretches of road towards Woolwich and Blackheath will remain unchanged – including the stretch of Hillreach where three teenagers died in a collision with an out-of-service bus in 2008.


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MP criticises ‘bad practice’ at Fairview New Homes’ Synergy development on Victoria Way

Fairview Synergy development
The Synergy development is now poking into the sky above Charlton

Local MP Matt Pennycook has reacted angrily after the developer behind 330 new homes being built on Victoria Way shrugged off complaints about the impact of construction work on the site’s neighbours.

Fairview New Homes dismissed a series of issues raised by Pennycook on behalf of residents about dirt, idling construction vehicles and work taking place outside permitted hours.

Its senior site manager, Matthew Hook, said “we can only assume that the points raised are generally historical” and said that Greenwich Council was happy with the cracked state of the road outside the development site, which is being branded Synergy.

After effectively being told residents’ complaints were groundless, Pennycook has now said he will name the company in Parliament as an example of bad practice in the construction sector. He is also asking for residents with complaints to get in touch with him and the company.

Greenwich had threatened Fairview with an unlimited fine in December 2018 after complaints that contractors were working outside permitted hours. Hook claimed that the work was actually being carried out by a utility firm.

Fairview Synergy
Residents have had to put up with dust and construction lorries

Hook also said that the points had been addressed in a meeting with the council on 25 February, and that no further complaints had been made since.

“So to summarise, all of the concerns raised in your letter have already been discussed, reviewed and mitigated following a meeting between [Fairview] and [Greenwich Council] on the 25/02/19 and to date, since the meeting we have had no further complaints or correspondence from local residents or [Greenwich Council] or any other industry bodies such as the Considerate Constructors Scheme regarding the development on Victoria Way,” Hook wrote.

However, the residents’ complaints were made to Pennycook at a roving advice surgery on 30 March, more than a month after the meeting with the council, with the letter written on 14 May.

Pennycook has responded: “It is patently the case that local residents do have outstanding complaints about construction management on the site. Rather than seeking to dismiss these complaints as you did in your letter, a responsible developer would have engaged with the substance of each of them and given due consideration as to what more could be done to alleviate them.

“I intend to name [Fairview] on the floor of the House of Commons and use your letter as an example of bad practice in the sector as well as making additional direct representations to ministers at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.”

The source of residents’ gripes was clear on Thursday afternoon, with surfaces on the lower stretch of Victoria Way covered in dust from construction. While a site worker hosed down the entrance to the development, nothing was being done about dust and grime outside people’s homes. The wheels of a passing construction truck did not appear to have been washed.

Fairview Synergy site
Fairview has hosed down the road and pavement outside the site, but not outside people’s homes

An eight-strong committee of councillors approved the scheme, which includes two 10-storey blocks and 144 car parking spaces, by six votes to one in January 2018. Among the complaints from residents was a lack of consultation with neighbours about the scheme, and accusations of bullying tactics.

Fairview has not responded to a request for comment.

Cratus Communications, whose deputy chairman is former Greenwich Council leader Chris Roberts, handled the consultation for the Victoria Way scheme. Last month, the company published a blog post on its website claiming it was “quietly revolutionising and abolishing the traditional view of ‘faceless’ developers sweeping into town and ‘doing what they like’”. “Communication with existing residents has to be managed carefully and with tact,” it added.

If you live close to the Victoria Way development and are affected by the dirt and grime from Fairview New Homes’ Synergy development, please email matthew.pennycook.mp[at]parliament.uk, and copy in matthew.hook[at]fairview.co.uk. Comments are also open below.


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