Campaigners cheered in a packed town hall as a plan for a controversial tower overlooking Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park was thrown out by councillors.
Dozens of concerned environmentalists, councillors and users of the park turk turned out to watch the council’s planning board block developers from building a 13-storey tower off Peartree Way.
Developers Taylor Wimpey and Countryside already have permission to build at the Greenwich Millennium Village site, but a detailed vision for 65 homes towering over the “nationally significant” park still needed to be given the green light.
Campaigners said a building lingering over the park would kill the ecosystem because of the overshadowing.
Tabitha Gibbons, a university student and volunteer at the park, said at last night’s meeting: “As a younger person who grew up in this concrete city, I owe my love of nature to this green oasis.
“The ecology park and the community that help it survive has touched the lives of young people with little access to such areas. The park is important to so many people. The tower block is not.
“It doesn’t benefit the community and will jeopardise an established ecosystem – protect and preserve the asset we already have.”
The ecology park is home to rare creatures such as the Viper’s Bugloss Mason Bee, which can’t be found anywhere else in the country.
A petition against the development had been signed by more than 450 people, and ward councillor Chris Lloyd said the strength of public feeling needed to be considered.
Lloyd said: “Take a look at the amount of people who have come out to object. This application will cause, in the opinion of those who run the park, demonstrable harm.
“I see this as a crucial threat to one of the pristine areas and eco-systems in south-east London. There are animals you can’t find anywhere else in London let alone in the borough.”
Height cut back
Original proposals had the tower as high as 20 storeys, but the developers dropped that following consultations to 13 storeys stepping down from 12, to 10 and eight, forming 65 new homes.
Speaking at the meeting, developers said the impact on the wildlife would be mitigated, and that experts had supported their assessments.
Dr Philip Rogers, an ecologist with Taylor Wimpey and Countryside, said the building was designed so overshadowing would only cause an impact during December, when the majority of animals are hibernating.
Councillors were not convinced. Planning chair Sarah Merrill pointed out that, according to the developers, the room must be packed with 50 experts and campaigners who were “basically all wrong”.
The board noted that the developers had been advertising the eco-park as a perk of living in their homes – and that the reason the tower was so high was for would-be homeowners to benefit from the view of the precious marshland.
Merrill said: “I don’t think the mitigation goes far enough to address the impacts. I would ask you why with such strength of feeling from the local people you would press ahead with this, surely that is not the right thing to do.”
Despite outline permission already existing, the planning board voted unanimously to reject the tower.
Speaking after the meeting, Chris Lloyd said: “All three ward councillors are thrilled that the communities campaigning has paid off and we were able to do our bit to get it over the line. The local community were great, and we were happy to do our part.”
Tom Bull is the Local Democracy Reporter for Greenwich. The Local Democracy Reporter Scheme is a BBC-funded initiative to ensure councils are covered properly in local media.
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