Oxleas Woods developer submits plans for smaller block at Shepherds Leas

New Shepherds Leas scheme
Meridian says that the revised scheme would be below the tree line

A Greenwich Council-backed developer is submitting plans for a smaller housing block on a controversial site close to Oxleas Woods, eight months after its original proposals were rejected by councillors.

Meridian Home Start had hoped to build a nine-storey block at Shepherds Leas, opposite Falconwood station. But Greenwich councillors threw out the plans last June, after hundreds of objections from people who feared that light pollution would disturb wildlife in the ancient woodland close to the site.

They said the tower would be visible above trees from Oxleas Meadow, which has a protected view out towards Kent. Council officers had recommended the scheme be approved.

Now Meridian has come forward with a seven-storey scheme, reducing the height from 30 metres to 24 metres. The number of flats will come down from 70 to 62. The company is also appealing against the rejection of the original scheme.

Shepherds Leas render of courtyard
The company is still appealing to planning inspectors for its original nine-storey scheme

Meridian says the new scheme “addresses the key complaint of objectors and members of the planning board” and will bring the building below the tree line.

The Shepherds Leas site, next to the wood of the same name, is currently occupied by 17 homes originally owned by the Crown Estates, but which were later sold to Greenwich Council . The council helped fund the Meridian development with £8.1 million and the scheme is a key part of its housing programme with rents set at about 65 per cent of market rates.

Bexley Council street sign opposite Shepherds Leas site
The site is on the borough boundary with Bexley, which objected to the scheme

The decision to reject the scheme, which is on the borough border with Bexley, divided councillors in Greenwich’s ruling Labour group. Many believe that a development opposite a railway station would be an ideal opportunity to make a small dent in the borough’s housing waiting list.

But the cherished woodlands – which would have been obliterated by road building plans in the 1970s and 1980s – have always been a sensitive area for development.

Neighbouring Bexley Council also objected to the proposal, saying that it would place pressure on car parking on its side of the boundary. The Conservative council has also recently objected to plans to charge for parking on the Greenwich side of the border next to the proposed development.

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