A planning inspector has approved two new housing developments on the Charlton Riverside, including 107 homes for people on housing waiting lists, overturning Greenwich Council decision to refuse the schemes last year.
The twin schemes, for land behind the disused Victoria pub on Woolwich Road, are the second and third housing developments to get approval on the riverside after plans for 1,200 homes close to the Thames Barrier were approved in March.
The housing association Optivo has now got the go-ahead to build 67 affordable-rent homes on land between Eastmoor Street and Westmoor Street, while the developer Aitch will build 188 homes on the plot next door, including 40 affordable-rent homes and 10 homes for shared ownership.
A lobby group representing residents’ associations, Charlton Together, had objected to the Aitch scheme, but both were thrown out by Greenwich’s Labour-dominated planning committee last July for not fitting in with the masterplan drawn up for the Charlton Riverside.
In that area, the masterplan suggests building three or four-storey townhouses to fit in with the Victoria and the former Lads of the Village pub – now a vets’ surgery – near by. Optivo is planning blocks of up to seven storeys, while the Aitch scheme goes up to 10 storeys.
But the planning inspector, Patrick Hanna, said that townhouses did not fit in with plans to build up to 7,000 homes on the riverside – or guidance from the Environment Agency that the lower floors could not be occupied in case of flooding.
“The townhouse typology is unlikely to be a realistic or optimal option at the appeal site, which in turn affects the ambitions for an intimate village feel in this location,” he wrote.
“As a consequence of these site constraints, it follows that when the [masterplan] is taken as a whole, and bearing in mind that it represents guidance only, its general thrust can reasonably and sensibly be taken to encourage medium rise developments.”
Having commercial units on the lower floors would be more attractive than townhouses with ground-floor garages, Hanna added.
Hanna also said that the council should have approved the schemes because the borough did not have a big enough supply of new housing coming up.
Despite the clear flaws in the masterplan, Labour councillors Gary Dillon and Jo van den Broek – elected last week for the new Charlton Village & Riverside ward – put it centre stage in a leaflet delivered to residents.
In a passage that may only have made sense to those involved in residents’ groups that have fought for lower-rise buildings on the riverside, they promised to “ensure that the communities’ voices are heard and that the spirit of the masterplan is respected”.
However, the inspector’s decision – and his explicit acknowledgement that aspects of the plan are flawed because they do not take into account flood risks – may now give future developers the confidence to aim higher when they submit their plans.
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