Campaigners in Woolwich are breathing a sigh of relief after London mayor Sadiq Khan ratified Greenwich Council’s refusal of plans for a 27-storey tower block on land outside Woolwich’s Tesco store for the time being.
Last month councillors unanimously blocked the Meyer Homes scheme for a tower – of entirely private homes – along with three other blocks of between nine and 16 storeys behind the store, providing 804 flats in total.
Planning officers said the proposal was “unacceptably dominating and overbearing to General Gordon Square and the surrounding townscape”. They also said Meyer’s proposals would affect the setting of Woolwich’s listed barracks, fail to provide enough “affordable” housing, show “clear and demonstrable signs of overdevelopment”, block out daylight while the lack of any legal agreement with the council means it would fail to mitigate its impact on the local area..
Now the mayor has said he will not intervene in the matter as there were “no sound planning reasons” to do so. Camapigners had feared Khan might call the project in after he intervened in two past planning decisions this year. City Hall overturned the refusal of a scheme in Abbey Wood, with a similar result likely in the new year after a clash over a project on the Charlton riverside.
However, the City Hall planning report notes that “the proposed mix of uses is appropriate for this highly accessible town centre location” and that “the proposals would result in less than substantial harm to the Grade II Listed Royal Artillery Barracks and significantly alter the perception of the Barracks’ roofline and form”.
Khan’s objection focuses on the lack of “affordable” homes, which he found “wholly unacceptable”. “This proposition was based on viability material that the council’s independent advisors and GLA viability officers found lacking in a number of areas,” the report says.
“The applicant did not therefore demonstrate that the application would deliver the maximum level of affordable housing it could reasonably sustain. This matter should be fully addressed in any appeal or revised application.”
Meyer had claimed the GLA “fully supported” its plans.
Locals will now be waiting for a new application from Meyer, or an appeal to planning inspectors.
Separately, Lewisham councillors will decide tonight whether or not to approve a similar application from Meyer, to build a 34-storey tower on land also sold by Tesco close to the Greenwich borough border.
Earlier this year, the council’s strategic development committee there rejected plans including a 34-storey block in a similar scheme. Meyer has submitted a new proposal – not increasing the amount of “affordable” housing, but allowing more public access to a top-floor viewing deck – while simultaneously appealing to planning inspectors against the refusal of the original scheme.
Unlike in the Woolwich case, Lewisham officers have recommended councillors there approve the revised scheme.
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