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Woolwich

Greenwich Council developer submits plan for 47 new flats in Woolwich

Greenwich Council’s developer off-shoot Meridian Homes have submitted plans for a new block of flats in Woolwich town centre.

The council’s development arm are looking to build 47 affordable flats on Vincent Road beside the new Plumcroft school building.

Woolwich Arsenal station is to right

Given central government restrictions on direct council building, local authority development companies can be a very useful tool rather than selling land and hoping private developers will provide sufficient affordable housing – which is rarely the case.



Council developers can either build entirely affordable homes – at various levels – or sell a number for private sale with all income re-investment back into public funds. That’s a lot better for public funds than selling to a private developer who will only consider providing affordable homes after it becomes “viable” – which means after a minimum profit margin of 20 per cent is gained.

Brick detailing

In addition, Right to Buy also doesn’t apply to homes built by council developers.

There are those opposed to this method as social homes are often lacking – but given the option to build outright is lacking this is the next best option, as all profit can subsequently fund social homes at other sites.

The alternative is land sales to private developers – which will never provide what is needed to alleviate ballooning costs to taxpayers due to a lack of affordable homes.



Rents are set at various levels –

  • 15 one bedroom (80% rent level)
  • 22 two bedroom (65% rent level)
  • 10 three bedroom units (55% rent level)

This is higher than most social rent levels, but is more than would be achieved by selling to a private developer. Given restrictions on councils it makes sense at this moment.

Meridian history

Greenwich’s use of Meridian Home Start has been lacking over the ten years since established – with tens of millions spent dealing with a housing shortage over that time. According to Centre for London research, the authority are at the bottom of any London authority when comparing planned homes using a council developer to dwellings needed under the London Plan – which guides development across the capital.

Turning to design, and unfortunately the design is not as good as could be. The usual fears over height have seen the building reduced and made fatter – and so it now breaks the line and rhythm of the street by jutting out towards the pavement. It was hardly a skyscraper before. A low-rise blob is worse than an elegantly proportioned, slightly taller building.

Building juts out from neighbours

It also presents an almost entirely window-free facade facing an adjacent school which will impact upon light levels. Paranoia has played a part here. Some will probably complain about any homes next to a school. Presumably the same people not struggling with a home to live.

Facing towards school

If we never have homes in the vicinity of schools and parks then we’ll prevent much needed housebuilding and condemn more people to poor living conditions. The sheer scale of housing problems slips under the radar of many but the numbers don’t lie.



More and more people are forced to live with parents as they can’t afford to make a start in life. More people homeless. More having to move ever further from schools, family and social bonds. More pressure on transport and finally ever more personal and taxpayers money spent on private rentals – which is money taken from the wider economy.

Corner treatment

In terms of design, the application states:

“The site is close to the former Woolwich Rope Yard and so the concept for these gable elevations is to take inspiration from rigging and patterns made in rope with an intertwining brick pattern running up the building using projecting bricks to create a texture within the red brick wall.

This pattern changes in intensity across the elevation to add further interest and depth filtering away from the northern corner of each gable.”



Greenwich Council have stated that Meridian will build 250 homes. With other boroughs looking to build in the thousands using their equivalent developers, there’s ample scope to push that number up. Even Bromley Council are now looking at 1,000.

Click here to view plans.

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4 Comments

  1. Ashley

    Greenwich’s use of Meridian Home Start has been lacking for some time and I’m not surprised, it’s about time for the next generation of council housing to commence and its a start. This development looks impressive and yes its at “affordable rents.” NO threat of Right to Buy as all profit can subsequently fund future Social homes at other sites is a win win situation.

    It’s a shame the use and ownership of The Riverside building wasn’t transferred-to Meridian to make valued use for our homeless and those on the ever growing housing waiting list.

  2. Graham

    Totally agree with you Ashely. It is start and being built for affordable rent they cannot be sold under the right to buy scheme.

    Sadly however, Greenwich Council has lost many a opportunity to build social and affordable rent properties on many sites they owned which has been sold off to private developers including Riverside House and the site of the old Peggy Middleton House which used to stand adjacent to Crown Buildings on Woolwich New Road, These are the sites where Tesco and grey/black cladded blocks of flats now stand.

    I am lead to understand that the old Waterfront Leisure Centre site is to be sold to private developers when it closes and the new Leisure Centre finally built on Woolwich New Road over looking General Gordon Square on the site of the old Barclays Bank and where Wilko’s currently stands.

    So this practice of selling their land to private developers have been going on for years and years at Greenwich Council and is nothing new for them. Yet we have seen an major increase on the housing waiting list and a rise in homeless people many of whom suffer from addictions or come to Greenwich from other areas of the UK.

    We are hoping Greenwich Council will work very closely with Wilkinson’s to secure them a new site in the heart of Woolwich Town Centre otherwise we will see yet another retailer leave Woolwich.

  3. CDT

    It is good to see the regeneration in Woolwich taking place as long as those buildings of historical importance remain and are included in future developments similar to what we have seen on the Royal Arsenal development and with the old Woolwich Equitable building which now has flats on the upper floors. It is also good to see more properties built for rent at affordable rents.

    I do believe Woolwich can be a great place again with the right investment and management of the Town Centre. Sadly it is people that can help to bring an area down like we have have seen in Woolwich with the problems of anti social behaviour.

    I have lived in Greenwich all my life and I am proud of our great Borough and the rich history the Borough has and is well known for nationally and internationally.

    • Charles Calthrop

      I agree completely, though if I had my way Greenwich would be a fully pedestrianised historical village, complete with British tars and Admiralty alike welcoming tourists. The old Arsenal too would have looked magnificent, if a portion had been preserved such as the railways and the post office.

      True its not as immediately profitable as land for flats but Greenwich is the home of the world’s time: it was one of the world’s greatest maritime powers and a pioneer in astronavigation. These are things we may be rightly proud of and should be the identity of the Borough, not some crummy ‘international’ foods that are about as tasty and authentic as canned hamburger or powdered wine.

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