There goes the neighbourhood? Thorn site development backed

Controversial plans to build over 200 flats on the disused Thorn Lighting site in Charlton have been given the go-ahead by a planning inspector, overturning Greenwich Council’s decision to refuse permission for the scheme.

Councillors had thrown out the Constellation scheme in November 2009, largely because of pollution and noise levels around the land, adjacent to the A102 Blackwall Tunnel approach road and known as “40 Victoria Way”.

However, the planning inspector ruled that measures could be put in place to mitigate those concerns. The report acknowledged a “considerable number of objections”, which were “unsurprising” considering the “contrasting scale” of the buildings, which would be next to terraced housing in Fairthorn Road, Gurdon Road and Dupree Road.

But he said “the planning system works… in the public interest, not to protect private interests”, adding he was confident that Fairthorn Road, presently a cul-de-sac, would be able to cope with the traffic using the development once it is built.

The full adjudication can be downloaded here.

Not good news if you live in the Gurdon Road/ Fairthorn Road area. As I wrote last year, a scheme involving the whole warehouse site, stretching out to Victoria Way, would have been preferable and could have taken the pressure off Fairthorn Road.

But instead, people moving into this site – and some have already paid a deposit to Galliard – will be hemmed in between two railway lines, people’s back gardens, a storage warehouse and one of London’s busiest main roads. I see, however, that the developer will be expecting residents to rent a car parking space or use a Streetcar-style scheme and that they won’t be allowed to use the existing residents’ parking scheme.

I see pollution doesn’t seem to be much of a planning concern these days – last weekend I was travelling up the East Cross Route, the A102’s similarly-congested north-of-the-Thames counterpart, and was struck by the amount of development around Old Ford Road, Bow, where a view of the Olympic Stadium is prized over the noise and muck from the main road below.

Get set for the swish logos and wanky hoardings depicting some kind of Greenwich [sic] lifestyle (past publicity has already claimed the site is on the Greenwich Peninsula) over the next few months…


  1. Two key observations.

    One is that the Inspector acknowledged air quality will probably be poor at this site. His main point was essentially that the development will not make it worse. I hope that people buying their swish new flats will be aware of that.

    Secondly, the council look to have been pretty, if not totally, incompetent in handling this application. They’ve had some costs awarded against them, they were lucky there weren’t more.

    Overall, the inference from the appeal was that it’s OK to have nasty, exploitative developments – the fact they’re ugly and ruin an established area is not a criterion. The fact they are being built in an area that suffers from poor air quality is not a criterion, too. So, essentially, we’re so desperate for housing we will build any kind of crap.

  2. “So, essentially, we’re so desperate for housing we will build any kind of crap.”

    Well we *are* desperate for housing and they have to go somewhere. If not brownfield sites like this then where?

    Obviously the air pollution is a problem but it’s a problem across the whole of London and doesn’t change the fact that London needs more housing. There are very few if any ideal sites left.

  3. Do you have any idea what is happening to the land, that has been derelict for years, beside the Fire Station and on the way up to Asda?
    I have seen that there has been a lot of clearance going on in recent weeks….for what?????????????
    I have asked MM but she doesn’t know!

  4. Behind the fire station? Being used as a yard by Morrisons the roadmenders, I think.

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