Peace could break out in a long-running battle over building a tower block next to Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park with the site’s owners supporting a new ecology centre and changes to the park to mitigate the harm caused by the new development.
The two developers behind Greenwich Millennium Village, Countryside Properties and Taylor Wimpey, have long planned to build on a site known as Plot 201, just to the east of the much-loved park, which has become a local institution since opening in 2002. Greenwich Council gave them outline permission in January 2012 for a landmark building of up to 20 storeys high 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.
Since then, the height of the building has come down, but the plans remain fiercely contested, because of fears the building would overshadow the park, which depends on natural daylight. In November 2018, the council’s planning board threw out a detailed application for a 13-storey block on the site, to cheers from park volunteers and supporters. But Countryside Properties and Taylor Wimpey submitted an appeal last September, raising the prospect of a public inquiry and an inspector riding roughshod over local opinion.
The row took a new turn late last year when the developers submitted a new application for a 12-storey, 65-flat block. It has been joined by a separate application to demolish the current ecology centre, next to the Thames, and build a new, larger one to the south of the park. The old centre would be replaced by a shingle beach, while the new centre would be surrounded by a new wetland area. An “ecological swale” is also proposed, expanding the wetland south along the side of Southern Park. This application has been jointly submitted by GMV’s developers along with The Land Trust, which owns the ecology park and Southern Park.
TCV, the volunteering charity which operates the ecology park, was consulted on the proposals and last Wednesday, it held an event to discuss the plans – with TCV hoping that this proposal would allow the park to move forward after years of certainty. A joint information leaflet produced by GMV, The Land Trust and TCV says the new scheme would lead to a “net gain for biodiversity and ecological amenity”.
One element that could put a hitch in the plans is the lack of “affordable” housing – 88% of the homes in the block would be for private sale, with 12% offered for shared ownership. This is set against a masterplan agreed in 2012 which promises just 20% “affordable” housing across the site, giving councillors little room for manoeuvre on this front – particularly with the old application having gone to appeal.
Greenwich councillors are likely to decide on the plans later this year. Plans for the new ecology centre and the 12-storey tower are open to comment on the Greenwich Council website until tomorrow.
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