Greenwich planners backed Woolwich Tesco tower being 15 storeys high

Meyer’s tower plans have now shrunk to 15 storeys

Greenwich Council planning staff called for a controversial new development in Woolwich town centre to be cut to 15 storeys, planning documents have revealed.

Meyer Homes’ plans to build a 27-storey tower outside the Tesco on General Gordon Square were thrown out by a planning inspector last summer, upholding a decision made by councillors on the borough’s planning board in 2018.

Plans for a 15-storey block – as part of a wider development including land behind the Tesco store – first emerged last May, and have now been submitted to the council for approval.

The original 27-storey scheme would have been “unacceptably dominating and overbearing to General Gordon Square and the surrounding townscape”, the inspector ruled.

But he also condemned the original Tesco development as a “terrible mistake”, adding that something should be built to hide the nine-year-old superstore.

Meyer Homes render
Further blocks will face the South Circular Road

Now Meyer has returned with plans for a 15-storey block on General Gordon Square containing 134 flats and co-working office space on the first two floors.

The plans also include seven blocks of between nine and 16 storeys between the store and John Wilson Street, which would contain 590 flats.

Planning documents released at the end of October show that Meyer had originally proposed a 21-storey block for its revised plans, but was told by the council in December 2020 that “15 storeys [was] an appropriate height for the site”.

The tower will also now include shared ownership homes after councillors condemned its first incarnation for being entirely for private sale – although just 14 of the 134 homes in the tower will be available this way.

Across the whole development, 112 homes (15.4 per cent) will be for London Affordable Rent – about half market rent and the same tenure that new Greenwich Council homes are being made available at. All of these would be in blocks closest to the South Circular Road.

Woolwich tower plan
Meyer’s original tower was rejected by a planning inspector

In total, there would be 51 homes for shared ownership – including those in the General Gordon Square tower – making seven per cent of the 724 homes across the scheme.

In total, 22.4 per cent of the homes would meet the planning definition of “affordable” – below the 35 per cent “affordable” housing target set by both Greenwich Council and City Hall.

Tesco’s development arm Spenhill built the initial phases of the development, which won the Carbuncle Cup for bad architecture in 2014.

The supermarket giant sold the Woolwich site as well as others in Lewisham and Dartford in 2015. Meyer is now building a 34-storey tower next to the Lewisham store, while the Dartford site is being built by Bellway as Copperhouse Green.

Woolwich Tesco
A planning inspector said Woolwich’s Tesco was so ugly it should be hidden

Close to the Tesco site, a 22-storey tower is set to feature in the Woolwich leisure centre development. On the other side of Woolwich Arsenal station, buildings of 15, 17 and 18 storeys, with two 23-storey blocks, will feature in the Woolwich Exchange development.

Meyer’s full plans for Woolwich can be found on the Greenwich Council website.

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