Morden Wharf: Home for royal barge could feature in Greenwich Peninsula development

Morden Wharf render
The development would include 1,500 homes

A possible home for a royal barge features in proposals to build 1,500 new homes on the west side of Greenwich Peninsula, which have been submitted to planners.

The £770m scheme for Morden Wharf includes a landscaped park by the River Thames as well as commercial, retail and community space.

U+I, which is behind the plan, says the development, will create 1,100 new jobs, with light industrial units and “maker spaces” included on the site. Full details will be available in the coming days, once Greenwich Council has validated the plans and put them out to consultation.

Morden Wharf render
Industrial and commercial uses will feature in the scheme
Morden Wharf render
U+I plans to call part of the development Sea Witch Lane

Of the 1,500 homes, 316 (21 per cent) will be for London Affordable Rent – about half market rent – with 96 being three-bedroom homes aimed at families. A further 153 (10.2 per cent) will be for shared ownership. Because of the large proportion of three-bedroom homes, U+I says its scheme will provide 35 percent “affordable” housing by habitable room. Some of the figures may change when more detailed applications are put in for future phases of the site, but the overall levels of housing should not change.

Morden Wharf render
A riverside park is part of the plan

Plans for 12 buildings including towers of 25, 30 and 37 storeys were shown to residents at an exhibition last year. U+I has previously said it hopes to build around two existing companies who are based on the site. It also plans a new pub close to the site of the Sea Witch, a riverside pub destroyed in the Second World War; a nursery could also be built.

The architecture practice behind the scheme, OMA, says has taken inspiration “from Greenwich Peninsula’s industrial heritage – from the warehouses and silos that once sat on the site, to the iron lattice structure of the gasholders”.

One eye-catching element of the plan is a proposal to provide a boat house which could host the rowbarge Gloriana, which was built to mark the Queen’s diamond jubilee eight years ago.

Morden Wharf
This design takes inspiration from a grain silo

The proposal will raise an eyebrow among watchers of local politics: the trust that owns Gloriana is chaired by the former P&O boss Lord Sterling, the former chair of Royal Museums Greenwich who was instrumental in Greenwich being declared a royal borough in 2012. Former Greenwich Council leader Chris Roberts enjoyed a trip on Gloriana on his last day in charge in 2014; one of the guests was Peter Brooks, a current member of the council’s main planning committee.

With plans for Tunnel Avenue to become two-way after the opening of the Silvertown Tunnel, U+I is also suggesting a bus route could link the site with North Greenwich station.

U+I’s chief development officer, Richard Upton, said: “Morden Wharf will bring together new homes, retail, leisure, employment and an extensive riverfront park, to create a diverse community rooted in the site’s heritage. Centred on a beautiful park and world-class public realm this scheme is set to transform the area into a distinctive, green, mixed-use development, while driving growth and employment and delivering 1,500 much-needed new homes.”

Morden Wharf render
The view from a two-way Tunnel Avenue

Morden Wharf, just to the south of the Blackwall Tunnel entrance, is the last standalone site on the peninsula awaiting redevelopment. To the south is the Enderby Wharf development, which is already partially built and is due to be finished by new owner Criterion Capital with rented homes in place of the notorious cruise liner terminal. Industrial sites remain to the north, including the protected Victoria Deep Water Terminal, while beyond that is land owned by Knight Dragon – the main developer on the north of the peninsula – currently housing a golf centre and Magazine, an events venue, before being redeveloped for housing at the end of the next decade.

In 2013, the site was linked with a new stadium for Charlton Athletic as part of a property deal that emerged in a court case some years later. A 40,000 capacity arena still features in a Greenwich Council masterplan drawn up in 2012, although that idea has been quietly forgotten about.

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