Plans in (again) to convert Woolwich Riverside House into 182 flats

A new application has been submitted to convert Riverside House in Woolwich into 182 flats. MDPL are the applicants.

A previous plan in 2018 was submitted to convert the building into 199 flats. It went nowhere and the site is to now now be used as temporary art studios.

Entrance to site

Space for 250 artists are being created by Set Space. That application stated 18 months’ usage.

The building was formerly owned by Greenwich Council who used the site as offices alongside HMRC. The authority sold the building which I covered in 2017.

With homeless numbers rising sharply with resultant costs to the authority, that looks like a very ill-advised, short term move.

Change of use is allowed under Permitted Rights, meaning a developer can avoid paying anything to mitigate the impact of development through Section 106 and the Community Infrastructure Levy nor provide any “affordable” housing.

It’s not the only land Greenwich Council sold in this area. They sold Callis Yard next door, which saw a tower complete in recent years, and o the opposite side of the road sold Waterfront leisure centre car park, again to be the site of six eventual towers:

Just about visible behind Callis Yard tower
Fast track approval

While the new application appears on Greenwich Council’s planning portal, Permitted Development ensures that provided developers meet certain conditions, approval is automatically given.

Given previous plans went nowhere and art studios are now on site any imminent conversion is unlikely. Late 2022 or 2023 is possible, by which time Crossrail should have opened. I know.

Maybe nothing will happen for many years, as seen at Lewisham’s former Citibank tower which has gone through the same process three times with no changes occurring.

Numerous plans came and went

One positive about the new Riverside House plan is that this conversion doesn’t appear to see some of the tiny boxes seen at other Permitted Rights’ locations.

Until recently, even providing windows wasn’t necessary under Permitted Rights, introduced by the coalition government.

Other sites have been criticised as becoming “slums” and dumping grounds, as minimum size standards could be avoided. Authorities lacking council homes (and funding from central Government to build) are often desperate to house people, and in turn paying large sums to owners of these buildings.

In August 2020 I covered plans to turn a warehouse in Blackheath into flats – many without any windows.

This website has long covered the extremely high costs local council’s are having to pay for private, temporary accommodation. Lewisham, for example, have been paying £109 million over the past four years. A major element of Bexley Council budget issues are temporary housing costs. Greenwich regularly needs to find millions to cover rising costs.

Greenwich Council could now could see this block – formerly owned by the council – converted without seeing a penny in Section 106 or Community Infrastructure Levy income.





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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.

    4 thoughts on “Plans in (again) to convert Woolwich Riverside House into 182 flats

    • Unfortunately this would of been a great site for Greenwich Council to convert to flats for the ever growing housing waiting list. But No Greenwich Labour sold it off. Could easily of been part of the Greenwich Builds project or Meridan housing.

    • The company behind is associated to martin skinner – Google the name ! Notorious for playing with this type of asset glass and over leveraging and a bit of a character

    • I’m one of the many artists paying to hire studio space inside the building. Im saddened that they are kicking us out after we’ve invested time and money on creating local business there, during the near-impossible pandemic times. The building is (deliberately?) right on the boundary of the High Street Heritage Zone. There are new housing blocks infront, behind and to the side. Its too much new housing in too short a time. All the new building contradicts the Carbon-Neutral aims of the borough. The swimming pool, the council offices and the Royal arsenal were all of benefit to local people and are being replaced with dwellings that are mainly of benefit to rich investors from outside.


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