14-storey Woolwich student block gets top marks from Greenwich councillors

Catholic Club site render
The development would replace the Catholic Club. The hazed-out buildings are other planned schemes. Beresford Street is on the left

Plans for a 14-storey student housing block in Woolwich got enthusiastic backing from Greenwich councillors last night.

The development, which will replace the long-closed Woolwich Catholic Club, will provide 298 student rooms and 76 square metres of community space.

Hurlington Property, which is behind the scheme, says it aims to address a shortage of dedicated student accommodation in Greenwich borough and allow families to move back into houses which are being used as student digs.

Councillors on the planning board took just 20 minutes to back the proposal, with no objectors turning up to speak.

Last July this website revealed that a “co-living” developer was planning to build on the site, but that plan was quickly amended to become student accommodation.

Catholic Club development render
The developer’s view of the new block from the Royal Arsenal

In 2017, an 11-storey block was approved for the site, but the plans fell through. Hurlington says the new block will be only slightly taller than the previous proposal. It will also feature a roof garden on the ninth floor.

Some 104 rooms – 35 per cent – would be designated “affordable student accommodation”, which would be allocated to students considered to be “most in need of the accommodation” by their university under City Hall planning rules.

Hurlington will have to pay £264,741 towards local health services and £158,000 towards an extension of the A206 cycle route into Woolwich.

The ground-floor community space will be run by Greenwich Inclusion Project, which recently lost its own base at the Island Site, itself due for redevelopment.

Gilles Cabon, its chief executive, said it would work with other groups to fill the space. “It’s something that’s sorely lacking in Woolwich town centre,” he said, adding that it could provide activities for young people who hang around General Gordon Square after school.

Harry De Lotbiniere, from Hurlington, said it would only charge “a nominal fee” for the community space to cover maintenance costs.

“Our proposals will put new life into this long-neglected site and free up homes for the benefit of local families,” he said.

Woolwich Catholic Club
The Woolwich Catholic Club has been closed for over a decade

Asked by Eltham South Conservative councillor Nigel Fletcher if he was confident the development would go ahead, De Lotbiniere said: “Absolutely. It’s been paramount from the outset since the site has been empty for so many years.”

Woolwich Riverside Labour councillor John Fahy, who said he had spent “a good many late nights” in the club, which closed over a decade ago, said it was “an extraordinarily good use for the site”.

“The benefits of student accommodation will be of benefit to Woolwich as a whole,” he said.

Fletcher called it a “refreshing use of the site”, while Glyndon councillor Sandra Bauer said: “I’m old enough to remember when there was a university in Woolwich and the accommodation was poor. This looks like a good one.”

All five councillors present – including planning chair Stephen Brain and Charlton councillor Gary Dillon – voted for the scheme.

Work is due to start this summer and the building is expected to be completed by September 2024.

Last night’s meeting also saw 49 flats on a former vicarage at Sowerby Close, Eltham approved, along with 322 new Greenwich Council homes in Kidbrooke.

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