Plans for 1,500 homes at Morden Wharf in Greenwich have been opposed by local MP Matt Pennycook.
An application was submitted last summer – covered here – for the site on the western side of Greenwich Peninsula beside already-approved towers in an area designated as suitable for tall buildings. He stated in a letter: “Four towers between 21 and 36 storeys would be inappropriate for this site and would have a detrimental impact on the existing character of the area and local heritage assets.”
There’s not really much else in the near vicinity except industry and the Blackwall Tunnel approach as things stand. The “character of the area” line does seem a little odd. What character aside from the river path?
The objection also comes despite Greenwich Council failing to meet their housing targets under the London Plan. In the latest monitoring report the borough only saw around half the required amount of new homes finished. If Greenwich are to meet targets high rise will be needed, and if not here then where?
While Pennycook acknowledges tall buildings are appropriate in the area and conform to Greenwich planning policy, he still objects to Morden Wharf planned height. If he’s proposing the famous “London haircut” where tall buildings get cut in height down to stumpy blocks – albeit still tall – that will do little for aesthetics. A large number of towers around the same height merely presents a wall effect on the skyline. We can see below what is proposed does present a tapered peak rather than a wall.
Instead of pleasing variation in height, form and material tapering down from one peak a cut will likely result in a homogenous wall of similar height towers and no centrepiece or focal point.
We will end up with this in Woolwich where everything seems to top out at the same 20-23 floors.
He states there would be an “abrupt” rise in height if Morden Wharf is built, though the outline approval for towers at Enderby Place would plug that gap either in the form of already approved outline plans or revised future plans.
In the image above two towers beside the already-built Enderby Wharf (blue blocks on the right) are those proposed towers at Enderby Place. It’s those that “abruptly” rise to a greater extent and not Morden Wharf.
Now I have some real reservations about Morden Wharf’s detailed design, but in terms of massing it would at least see variation rather than a long solid mass with chunky blocks and less open space at ground floor level.
There’s also what I regard as a poor argument about views from Greenwich Park. Is this really still a thing? All manner of towers are visible now from beside the observatory and General Wolfe statue – and the view is spectacular. A 1000 years of architecture and history is visible from one spot – and all the better for it. There’s dozens of tall buildings already visible in the view and many more approved blocks to join them – not least across the Peninsula.
Where there is perhaps valid concern is affordable housing and the location of affordable housing. Just 21 per cent of housing is “affordable”, and it’s positioned nearest the A102 approach. This is not raised in Pennycook’s letter.
There’s also concern over transport provision and services – which requires heavy lobbying for improvements alongside new housing.
The full letter is below: