Plans would see the long-empty building replaced by student flats.
The proposed building sits near Premier Inn and will rise from 9 to 14 floors in height. The building comprises 298 bedrooms for students.
That’s quite the boost for local business. There are also proposals to redevelop Beresford Square market over the road alongside conversion of Royal Arsenal gatehouse into a café.
Woolwich doesn’t have a great nightlife – though still far better than 20 years ago – and students will help improve the evening economy.
It’s a car-free development which makes perfect sense given proximity to the Elizabeth Line, DLR, Southeastern rail, Thames Clippers and numerous bus routes. However there are no disabled spaces which TfL raise concern about.
Crossrail will bring numerous education establishments and Universities far closer.
Greenwich Council’s failure to revise Community Infrastructure Levy rates payable by developers to the local authority in 2018 – as promised by Greenwich council in 2015 – will cost income to local residents and services.
In terms of the other funding pot bringing income to the authority – Section 106 – this is notable as it includes some welcome investment such as health:
- Health Infrastructure – £264,741
- Extension of A206 cycle route – £158,400
- Amend traffic order – £3,000
- Adult cycle training – £5960
- Increased Parking enforcement £22,500
While funding for the A206 cycle lane is noted, it appears they’ll be no money for this specific area despite concern from the GLA and TfL.
The Greater London Authority request that “contributions should be provided in respect of Healthy Streets project”. They also state “cycle parking not compliant and would need to be revised.”
It should be noted this is yet another plot that sits on a missing cycle link that if rectified would run from Plumstead to Greenwich. There are segregated or safer lanes for much of that stretch except through central Woolwich.
Many developments have been approved in the area with no funding sought to plug the gap, which contravenes Greenwich’s own policy.
People can take a rather long detour via the river but if we seek to reduce traffic, direct routes are required.
Much of the area was in effect a clean slate, and it’s disheartening that Greenwich lack such ambition to ensure active travel provision as numerous developments rise.
In response to TfL seeking funding for cycling and walking, Greenwich’s report states “on the sought contribution to healthy streets officers noted to TFL that given how accessible the site such a contribution should not be sought and be targeted to other contributions.”
So no cycle lane as there’s public transport. It needn’t be either/or in a city with a rising population and many new developments in the vicinity
TfL also raised an issue I’d spotted when the application first went in; proposed drop-off bays in front will impact on future active travel provision: “concern is raised on the location of the proposed loading bay to the front and construction access via Beresford Street would undermine TFL’s walking and cycling improvement scheme and will undermine active travel improvements.”
Greenwich then appear to state a previous mistake they permitted ensures it’s fine to allow another: “the proposed loading bay is not considered to set a precedent as there are some existing loading bays adjacent to the A206, such as that in front of the A blocks of the Warren Masterplan and Waterfront Leisure centre that would also need to be taken into consideration for any future cycleway extension proposal or any improvements”.
The council permitted bays recently installed outside Berkeley Homes’ new towers to the west.
Greenwich officers may believe narrow, congested roads in the area are ok to cycle on – which could explain why so many developments have come and gone in this immediate area with no attempt to plug the missing cycle lane gap running from Plumstead station to the edge of Woolwich, which then disappears before it is due to again commence from Woolwich Ferry roundabout to central London via Charlton, Greenwich, Deptford and Bermondsey.
Berkeley Homes were approached about cooperating avoiding the need for a lay-by but refused: “The adjoining landowner Berkeley Homes was consulted by the applicant regards to sharing their adjoining car park and construction site access.
However, the CLP submitted notes Berkeley Homes for their own construction and operational reasons access to the site is not possible via their land to the rear.”
Cycleway 4 set to miss town centre
The planned Cycleway 4 project always ended west of this development at a spot beside the ferry, where cyclist provision into the town centre was never clear. How that is to be resolved has never been answered.
Even the section to Woolwich ferry from Charlton is now uncertain with TfL funding issues, and for now cyclists share a bus lane from Charlton until the ferry with no provision at all beyond along Woolwich High Street, Beresford Street and Plumstead Road.
With TfL’s problems Greenwich departments and officers could have requested funding to conduct a study. There’s no calls for one here. Instead such a lack of strategy is used as an excuse not to think ahead and plan for any provision.
In addition, if they had set higher Community Infrastructure Levy rates from developers in 2015 – or revised in 2018 – they would see funding to improve the area.
There’s further notable snippets throughout. One is when Greenwich’s Officer mentions public transport and footways when it comes to developer funding – but not cycling.
TfL respond that there is need for funding for cycling rather than public transport given good existing levels in the area: “However, TFL clarified they are not seeking a contribution towards improving the network only a contribution on walking and cycling.”
There’s little here that shows the local authority grasp issues a short distance from their own HQ compared to organisations based miles away.
The Woolwich town centre manager had nothing to say on any element of the project .
Will we now see various plots built up and only then thought into a lane which could limit bus lane space and cause much disruption while built, rather than ensuring sufficient space at the outset?
35 per cent of rooms will be “affordable”. The ninth floor of the scheme would include the external rooftop shared amenity for the prospective occupiers.
This project replaces one approved in 2017, which would have seen “the demolition and redevelopment of the former Woolwich Catholic Club for a part 7/part 11 storey building providing a mixed use development comprising gym use (Class D2) at basement and ground level and 59 flats above”.
Public gym space isn’t the most pressing given others in the vicinity and recent plans from Puregym to open nearby. This plan includes a small private gym.
The proposal will be decided next week. Will any Greenwich councillor raise why there is no study into plugging the cycle lane gap and why no funding calls from Greenwich Highways?
As stated, we’ve already seen a number of large developments in the area be approved with little thought to active travel such as Berkeley Homes towers above Crossrail, Premier Inn, Woolwich Exchange, Berkeley Homes’ six towers and Callis Yard tower to name just five plots.
This site is the sixth, and then there’s the large Beresford Street plan that will be revised alongside Armourers Court.
All should have ensured income to provide alternatives to driving and linking existing cycle lanes east and west to ensure a continuous safe route.
All could have brought greater income if Greenwich had revised CIL rates and committed S106 income. Little of that has happened – and Greenwich Highways show little desire to push for it now.