Controversy ahead as design revealed for 800 homes around Tesco in Woolwich

Here’s the first look at plans by Meyer Homes to build a 27-storey tower in front of Tesco’s Woolwich superstore alongside 600 homes behind the superstore in three very large, slab-like blocks.

The tower looks better than Tesco’s previous effort, as seen below:

Original tower proposal

It would be fine at say, Greenwich Peninsula, and the design is much better than the dross proposed in Abbey Wood. But this raises all sorts of questions. Is this the right spot for 27-storeys?

Despite Greenwich Council approving a tower back in 2007, that approval has now elapsed and a masterplan consultation in 2016 suggested no more than 15-storeys at this spot to protect local heritage buildings such as the Town Hall.

Here’s an image from the Thomas Street masterplan consultation in 2015, which was maintained in subsequent drafts in 2016, showing proposed building heights:

Here’s those heights shown in an example with 3d modelling:

Still tall but capped at 15-storeys, though this is bulkier than the new Woolwich proposal but is just an example. One reason given for a cap was to protect the Town Hall and listed buildings.

Here’s indicative heights seen in the 2016 consultation for the rear of the site:

This came after previous plans were refused in 2015. This is how they looked:

Those 2015 plans weren’t great, but the new massive slabs from Meyer Homes look worse. Peggy Middleton House lives again?

Political battles

The above render shows the scale of these plans after a little zooming in, and reveals how it’ll loom over many homes as well as council offices. Those living in homes above Tesco will fight this as will others in listed mews to the south who campaigned against the last plans.

With Greenwich Council also facing very unhappy residents at the Arsenal site due to revised Berkeley Homes’ plan for a slab-like bloc overlooking existing homes (now approved) do Councillors want fights on so many fronts? The Arsenal block was not on previous masterplans and came about after plans to demolish a Grade II listed building.

A local blog writer who stumbled upon a cosy meet-up between a senior Greenwich Council planner, Berkeley Homes’ Regional Chairman and the chief Greater London Authority planner has added fuel to the fire.

With Labour doing terribly in national opinion polls, trailing the Tories by up to 20 points and seeing poor results in many local by-elections, the local party will not want more controversy. They’ve seen votes drain away to the Lib Dems in huge swings in some local elections.

The Woolwich Riverside ward may have been solid Labour for years, but expensive new flats and the arrival of Crossrail is changing the make-up of the place. Couple that to pretty dire national picture and losing those local elections in places and a cocktail of trouble could be coming. Labour Councillors will be nervous about the next council elections, due in just over a year. Pissing off a few hundred more people won’t help.

There’s already a build-up of frustration at such poor long term maintenance and neglect in the borough, long pre-dating local authority cuts, and Greenwich are more insulated than most due to the large amount of developer income to mitigate issues, not that much at all has gone into improving areas.

Labour MPs locally are generally good. Teresa Pearce is excellent, but many councillors are poor. Too complacent? many are living in the past and do not engage on facebook, Twitter use websites and blogs to get the word out. not all, but many.

And some have again gone quiet about the state of Plumstead. Is this wise with a little over a year until an election? When figures come out showing council’s like Ealing (also Labour) issued 4,000 fines for flytipping since last April whilst Greenwich Council only issued 115, something’s wrong. Here’s a screengrab from a recent Greenwich council report:

Ealing Council is the west London mirror of Greenwich – Labour controlled and covering zones 2-4. But Ealing are pro-active. Greenwich are seemingly unwilling or unable to act on flytipping and it’s the same in many other areas. Take parking as another. The council is £10 million down on income due to a floundering department that councillors havn’t pulled up.

Over in Greenwich the council’s support of Silvertown Tunnel could cause a backlash, again an area seeing a large influx of new residents.

So this is an interesting litmus test. There’s a party that has ruled for a very long time and now seems stagnant and holding back improvements. One that is struggling nationally and in local elections elsewhere in the country.

Local issues are now creeping up on them. And with previous approval for a tall tower now elapsed and this scheme contradicting a masterplan from 2016 what will they do?

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J Smith

I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

    16 thoughts on “Controversy ahead as design revealed for 800 homes around Tesco in Woolwich

    • 27 floors!!!!! 😳😳😳😳This is awful. As the writer of the blog you referenced in relation to similarly appalling planning taking place within the royal arsenal (on listed heritage buildings within a conservation), I must admit I’m not surprised by the lack of disregard for the community and both local and national planning policy. All I can say is that it’s time for change and for the community to come together to demand accountability from the council. We can not let this become normal. If anyone is interested in coordinating campaigns do reach out! Joining forces rather than only opposing planning applications when they directly affect us might be more effective 👊🏽

      • Yes, Robyn. Please let me know if you can pull together a campaign group to hold the Council more accountable and make them more transparent.

    • Bang on about the state of the council leadership. I moved to Woolwich 6 months ago. Wow. I lived in majority Labour councils (Hackney, Lewisham) but they are actually half decent. I cannot vote Labour again here given what I see and experience. Hopefully someone steps up. Maybe Lib Dems. I wont vote Tory.

      Why do Royal Greenwich let people get away with so much? Just amazing compared to what I saw in those other areas, which weren’t wealthy by any means. What do those street wardens actually do?

      The filth is something else. Dumping is off the scale. Management of public space non-existent. Local councillors do not respond or take their time then do little. I wont vote for them for sure – and that’s the first time it wont be Labour in 12 years.

    • We all need to join forces as one huge group, not little ones. As one we have more of a voice , and we have one , woolwich is being destroyed , do not bank on your MP to help, he does nothing. Soon there will be no social housing in woolwich , and after nearly forty years in power the council thinks it is untouchable . We can make a difference

      • Council house looks worse than this building though.

    • I agree 100%, I hate the fact that as a safe seat they take us for mugs, it is the same with the mayoral elections how none of them were willing to commit to a lower Thames crossing. I maintain we need a south east London voice who we can vote a detract votes away from the empty suits that have been in charge. I agree the fact we have 2 Carbuncle Cup victories in the borough shows how useless they are. I have been trying for a long time to sing the virtues of this corner of the capital to friends but my god they make it difficult, they would sell Eltham palace to be flattened for a Westfield as long as the money was right.

      I agree we need to stand up and vote the rot out.

      Also I really appreciate this website, thank you.

    • Say I am crazy but I like the huge tower… I think it will be awesome to have more people in Woolwich Central. I hope it gets approved. I think some people are unfair with the council. They have done a great job regenerating Woolwich so far in my opinion… There is still plenty of room for improvement but there are not many places which have seen such progress over the last few years. We can all agree to disagree.

    • Have to disagree with Lovemycarbuncle. Was great to see some community action on the Berkeley plans and agree with the sentiment that people in Woolwich need to find a way of getting under the council’s skin on this. This isn’t complicated, as the previous commenter said they’re taking us for mugs. I’m confident that opposition will grow naturally out of the efforts that have already been made from other applications – it’s important the organisers of those existing campaigns keep the momentum (there’s also a lot in common with groups set up in Plumstead that focus on a better high street etc.). I think it’s great that a lot also stems from this amazing blog which shines a light on so much of this stuff.

    • Agree with Lovemycarbuncle. Woolwich needs the investment. It had been neglected for many years. There is so much potential in this beautiful town. The plans so far are not as bad as some put. I do agree that it’s probably too tall and that there are plenty of other buildings it could have replaced, rather than green space. But this was an area for development. And overall, its changing Woolwich for the better.
      No matter what happens. I think the past week has been a huge boost for Woolwich.

    • The 27 floors for this development are far too many and should be opposed. I am all for development in Woolwich as it most certainly needs it, as does Plumstead, but this is beyond silly, given how much of the buildings in the area are low-rise.

      As said by some here, the council appear to be sitting on their hands (or developer-received money) in maintaining neglected areas of the borough, and appear to be ‘in with the developers’ rather than considering its resident’s concerns.

      I hope that voters at next year’s local elections remember the continuous inaction by the councillors of neglected areas (don’t get me started on street cleaning – although we’ll probably see a lot of that before the London Marathon as grubby streets show up nicely on HD TV broadcasts…), as well as their decisions in favour of developers at the Royal Arsenal and Greenwich Peninsular when at the polling station.

    • The Tesco tower looks completely out of place – higher than anything around it by far. Who’s mad idea was this?? Why rip up the grass area? Build on brownfield sites where some regeneration is needed.

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