A dilapidated estate in Woolwich will be replaced with 257 new homes after Greenwich councillors backed plans to knock down former army homes at Brookhill Close.
The Hyde housing association plans to build six blocks of between three and seven storeys on the site, with a quarter of homes for rent, a quarter for shared ownership and half for private sale.
The rented homes will be split evenly between traditional social rent and the more expensive London Affordable Rent, but most of the former will be taken by tenants of the existing houses who will return when Brookhill Close is redeveloped.
Council leader Anthony Okereke, who represents the local Woolwich Common ward, endorsed the proposals, saying that the scheme would lose City Hall funding if it was not approved last night.
Brookhill Close was built in 1973 for the Ministry of Defence, but was sold – along with all military housing – to the property company Annington in 1996. Hyde bought the estate in 2002 and began plans to redevelop it seven years ago.
Since then the estate has been allowed to fall into disrepair, with parts of it covered in flytipping and graffiti. Many of the homes are boarded up, their residents having been moved out ahead of the redevelopment.
Those that remained told councillors on the planning board that they were ashamed to have friends visit because of the state of their surroundings.
Baz Kelly, of the Brookhill Close residents’ association, said that he had lived there since 2004 and his home had always had problems with damp.
“We are currently in a bind, living in a dilapidated estate with drug dealing and antisocial behaviour,” he said.
Another resident said the homes, which were built from concrete, were increasingly difficult to heat during winter, while another, Mavis Wright, said: “People are afraid to walk alone here because of the badly-lit walkways. The redevelopment would make everyone proud of living here again.”
But neighbours said they had been left out of the plans, with residents in next-door Lord Roberts Terrace complaining they had not been included in a ballot which led to 86 per cent of those who voted backing the scheme.
One resident of Gunner Lane, an adjacent estate also built as army properties, complained that they would face increased bills because people living in the new blocks would be using their open space and walking through their private estate.
Kate Williams from Hyde Housing said Brookhill Close was “no longer for purpose” and insisted there had been “extensive consultation” that had resulted in significant changes to the scheme over time.
Social housing tenants who lived in overcrowded homes would be able to move into larger properties when they returned to the estate, she told councillors.
But there was sympathy for one neighbour, Elizabeth Munsey, who said her home in the new Trinity Walk development next door – the old Connaught Estate – would be overshadowed by one of the new buildings. She said she lived in a block adapted for people with disabilities who spent a lot of time at home.
“We have not been consulted,” she said, asking councillors to visit the site so they could see the issues for themselves. It emerged she had moved in during the pandemic, after the residents’ ballot in Brookhill Close had been held.
Jonathan Walton, representing Hyde, said it had noted that Lovell, the developer behind Trinity Walk, “was building perhaps too close” to a listed retaining wall between the two developments. “When people were moving in there was a knowledge that there was going to be a development to the south at that time,” he said, adding that some changes had been made to take the Trinity Walk residents into account.
Councillors urged Hyde to find a solution so Munsey and her neighbours felt less enclosed, but all backed the development.
Former council leader Denise Hyland said it was “very impressive that a community comes out like this” in support of the scheme.
Addressing Munsey, she said: “I’m very sorry that you moved in after the engagement was done. That’s why it’s so important to have community groups and community newsletters and voices so that you learn about such developments at an early stage. But I can’t let one case get in the way of my overall judgement of the scheme.”
Charlton Hornfair councillor Clare Burke-McDonald said the timing of the development with Trinity Walk was “really unfortunate”. But she added: “With regeneration it’s really difficult, if not impossible, to do something that works for everyone but you do have to make a decision and find the thing that works for most people. I think that this is a good application. I do think Hyde have listened to what neighbours have said and have come through with a stronger application as a result.
“The only responsible thing to do when residents say where they live is scary and they can’t afford to heat their homes is to vote in favour.”
Work on the development could start as soon as next month.
Plans to add another 163 homes to the Berkeley Homes-Peabody Lombard Square development in west Thamesmead were also approved last night without discussion. The original development of 1,750 homes – on the site of a former home of Arsenal football club – was approved by councillors in December 2020.
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