The developers of Greenwich Millennium Village have appealed against Greenwich councillors’ refusal to allow them to build a 13-storey block overlooking the Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park.
Volunteers at the ecology park fear the block would overshadow the green space, killing off wildlife in a cherished feature of the peninsula. Councillors agreed with them at a meeting last November, rejecting the proposal to cheers from the public gallery, despite council officers recommending they approve the scheme.
Now the developers, Countryside Properties and Taylor Wimpey, have taken their case to the Planning Inspectorate. The two developers were given outline permission in January 2012 for a landmark building of up to 20 storeys high on the site, known as Plot 201, when plans for the later phases of Greenwich Millennium Village – some of which has now been built – first went through the council’s planning system. The height of the proposed tower shrank over the years but opposition to it has not gone away.
It is the second major planning refusal by Greenwich Council’s new-look planning board to have gone to appeal since leader Danny Thorpe threw cabinet members off the council’s main planning committee after he was elected by fellow councillors in May 2018. Before then, former leaders Denise Hyland and Chris Roberts both installed themselves on the committee, contrary to practice in every other London borough. Since then, the new committee, chaired by Shooters Hill councillor Sarah Merrill, has taken a noticeably tougher line with developers.
Both the refusals concern applications which date back to Chris Roberts’ time as leader. The other scheme, the controversial 27-storey “Tesco tower” in Woolwich, had outline approval in 2007 but was rejected when it came to a detailed application nearly 12 years later. Council planning officers say the outline approval has expired, the matter will now be decided at a public inquiry in November, with residents crowdfunding for legal representation.
The row over Plot 201 now sets up another possible public inquiry. At the original planning meeting last year, councillors heard that the ecology park is home to rare creatures such as the Viper’s Bugloss mason bee, which cannot be found anywhere else in the country, while 450 people had signed a petition against the scheme.
Dr Philip Rogers, an ecologist acting for Taylor Wimpey and Countryside, told councillors the building was designed so overshadowing would only cause an impact during December, when the majority of animals are hibernating.
But 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”.
To make a submission to the Planning Inspectorate about the appeal, visit its website and enter reference 3228947.
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