Major Greenwich retail park redevelopment: 1,290 home plan submitted

Plans for 1,290 homes in Greenwich on the site of a car park serving Ikea and Odeon plus the land B&Q sits upon have been submitted.

This major development – now branded Peninsula Gardens – has been followed closely on this site throughout consultation.

The plan would see housing built on stilts above much of the existing car park, with spaces remaining for shoppers.

Parking retained under and behind housing

One difficult factor with the site is adjacent approach roads for the Blackwall tunnel, and in future Silvertown tunnel.

Because Greenwich Council never revised rates in 2018 that developers pay the authority to fund services as previously committed in 2015, a large sum of income will now not be available for local services from this development.

2018 review commitment made in 2015 report. Hasn’t happened despite council commitment so income lost

London Square are behind the development. They must be happy having to pay relatively little in funds for local services due to Greenwich council’s action (or lack of).

Setting such a low levy on developers in 2015 – then failing to revise in 2018 – is a huge loss for improved services and infrastructure. Greenwich levy one of the very lowest rates in all of London, and had the chance to potentially go much higher in zones 2 and 3. For whatever reason they’ve refused to state, they never did.

If they had, dire street layouts in much of the area could have been radically improved in areas such as Bugsby’s Way. What the plan does present is far more limited that what could have been achieved. While some parts on the site look good, it’s connections beyond that is a key test.

Throughout consultation one thing I was keeping a close eye on when looking at documents and online sessions is connections to existing shops, amenities, services and communities in east Greenwich and Charlton.

Consultations were not particularly enlightening. The developer didn’t appear too aware that many shops and services were a short – though not pleasant – walk away.

And yes, you’ve guessed it, neither the developer nor apparently Greenwich Highways paid any interest in ensuring quick, direct walking links to numerous nearby shops to the east and upgrading crossings on the most direct route for pedestrians.

Roundabout needs traversing to reach nearby supermarkets. Little thought gone into it

There’s little sign either have a clue about the area as it exists, nor what future residents are likely to do. They keep referring to an aspirational crossing north of the site to Greenwich Millennium Village.

A little tip guys (and it’s normally men responsible for these basic mistakes and rarely women), many residents won’t or don’t want to walk north to an area with few amenities, but east to an area with many, many shops on Bugsby’s Way. Supermarkets. Cafes. Many of them.

This crossing badly needs an upgrade. Ignored in this application – like other applications in the area

This should be bread and butter stuff but almost every application in the borough fails the most simple test when it comes to improved resident links to public transport, shops and amenities.

That’s not to say a crossing to the north of the site isn’t welcome, but it’s far less relevant and important than one heading east.

This is not good street design in an area of thousands of new homes. Crossings are poorly located and unsafe

As things stand they want residents moving to the north of the site near the tallest buildings to use an unsafe “crossing” if taking the most direct route or take a detour. This fails every test and claim in their recent reports on encouraging healthy living and encouraging walking and cycling for short journeys.

Old news

Documents in the application don’t get off to a great start when by page 11 of the very first Design and Access statement document (it’s divided into 10 sections) I’m seeing errors already appear. Predicted housing totals at nearby Greenwich Peninsula and Charlton Riverside masterplans are too low. Both were revised up in recent years.

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Planning documents

In terms of “affordable” housing, the plan will bring “35% by unit (37% by habitable room) will be affordable comprising a tenure split of 71.5% London Affordable Rent and 28.5% Shared Ownership”.

Design and Access statements always give a good overview of a development, but so often contain errors.

Current site

The applicant has talked with Ikea throughout and extensive car parking for their shoppers will remain – though with reductions.

It always seemed a bizarrely regressive move to permit Ikea in its current form, with a large retail barn permitted and built in zone 2 when approved in the mid 2010s. Already we see effects of that with high density housing now planned around the shop.

The reason given – as so often – for the retail shed was jobs. Yet mixed-use development comprising retail and housing creates many jobs – if not more with commercial space – with the added bonus of aiding with housing shortages.

Poor public realm

Who knows, maybe Ikea will eventually leave as they’ve just announced closure of a major store in Tottenham. In turn Greenwich Ikea will become mixed-use – as it always should have been under what should have been a long-reaching masterplan in the 2010s.

For now though a car-centric Ikea hampers design with much housing and communal space on stilts.

Public realm is desperately poor in places

The plan does state “The V-shaped columns provide large structural spans, making the car park suitable for a wide variety of uses. The podium deck has also been assessed and allows for the potential for light wells to be created, bringing natural light into the car park.”

Any future changes will not be cheap should Ikea leave, and it’s hard to picture any long term use for the underground parking space if they did.

Existing car park

Resident parking is possible perhaps, which would lock in congestion. There’s mention of light wells and underground markets being possible one day, but it screams of scrambling for possible future usage due to constraints after allowing a giant retail shed in the mid 2010s; a concept that belonged to the 1980s.

It was one thing many picked up at the time, but Greenwich kept stating “jobs” ignoring short term and long term impacts on wider growth.

It’s far from the first time they’ve adopted short term thinking under the guise of jobs which in turn impacts areas for many years, which in time cost more than they gain. See Woolwich changes in the previous decades.

Design

Buildings at the proposed development will top out at 20 floors, with the tallest centred around a square roughly where B&Q now sits beside the bus-only road outside.

Many buildings have the dreaded tin shack shed stuck on top. Of course, they’re in dreary old grey metal cladding. This almost never looks good. Why do some architects persist with it? If you want pitched roofs there are other ways and materials to do it.

In renders it’s often half-decent. Upon completion on a grey day they’re often nasty.

The development’s main square leads to a through-route for Greenwich Millennium Village and Bugsby’s Way. As I’ve recently covered though, GMV’s latest design revision turns its back on Bugsby’s Way with a big mound of earth lining the road (already existing) and behind that car parking and building alterations.

All quite odd.

As stated earlier, what would be a great benefit is an upgraded pedestrian crossing leading to shops in Charlton at the roundabout between the site and Bugsby’s Way.

Much of Greenwich Peninsula is far from pedestrian or cyclist friendly when heading to Charlton or east Greenwich

There is a signalised crossing halfway down Peartree Way but for those living closer to Bugsby’s Way under this proposal, the far more obvious and direct route to shops is via this shoddy and unsafe crossing across lanes of traffic:

Crossing on direct route from some planned homes to Charlton shops

No matter how many thousands of homes are built in the area, Greenwich have never come up with a strategy for connecting various parts. Whether it’s Greenwich Millennium Village, this site, Morden Wharf, retail parks in Charlton or the huge Knight Dragon Greenwich masterplan, it’s atomised with each operating in a silo.

Not so bad within the confines of a site, but so often lacking as soon as leaving to head anywhere else on foot.

Tunnels

While housing, shops and communal space is a far, far better use of land in zone 2 some homes will be rather close to the Blackwall Tunnel approach – and in future Silvertown Tunnel’s approach.

Beside A102

The design has altered throughout pre-application discussions due to this issue. The plan states: “The buildings of the southern edge of the scheme were designed as a continuous physical barrier in response to the high levels of noise and pollution from the A102, with the minimum height set by air quality and acoustic consultants.”

Barrier

That then changed:

At the pre-application meeting with the Royal Borough of Greenwich, officers commented on the scale, proportions of public spaces, ground floor and parking arrangements of the proposed scheme and questioned the necessity of the barrier massing along the southern edge.”

There’s some decent detailing on some buildings and the site is a decent use of land instead of car park, though it faces an uphill battle given the wider site context. Approving Ikea over the last decades set in stone major issues now coming home to roost and there’s may questions over pedestrian connections into the wider area.

Sitting beside a major road in the A102 that will see further traffic from the forthcoming Silvertown Tunnel is another factor that doesn’t make this site easy.

The big shame is that if Greenwich Council had set a higher level of levy on development,  income would be available to combat – though not remove – many of these issues. Unfortunately many improvements will now not be possible.

Click here to view the full application.

 

As a private renter with a young family, the cost of living is extremely high.

Support me and the site via Paypal here which allows me to focus time on researching and writing posts alongside taking photographs to document changes. Adverts are far from enough to cover living costs.

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Thank you

John 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.

9 thoughts on “Major Greenwich retail park redevelopment: 1,290 home plan submitted

  • April 8, 2022 at 7:10 pm
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    Hi John, 2 points on your excellent article. Firstly be interesting to see whether cycling routes and locking/security facilities are made to a decent standard contractually throughout the site. Secondly (and applies to all developments yet to pass planning but where RBG has failed to maximise income), surely RBG still has the upper hand until plans passed to adjust conditions so that developer/s fund decent local infrastructure/public spaces? A bit of ‘blackmail’ if they want the plans to progress could be utilised since as you say the developers currently think they are on a real winner, which no doubt they are, and RBG residents deserve a share of that extra income( the failure of RBG to levy a market rate of levy in the first place is simply now adjusted.) If it’s currently a real money spinner for the developer-thanks to RBG’s failings, they are not going to want to lose the contract. Where does the power lie here, with the corporate or the borough residents? If developers refuse, they can be exposed for not providing a decent quality of public domain, with a few placards which would be aimed at the corporate investors. Whatever happened to power of the people? Disappear with Robert Lindsay in ‘Citizen Smith’? We seem to give up too easily, which makes one think there’s more to this than meets the eye? Surely no corruption involved, it would be unheard of from Governments and Councils.

    Reply
  • April 8, 2022 at 7:39 pm
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    The pollution should be a massive issue, building there is near unethical w.r.t. the inhabitants. can’t believe they “questioned the necessity of the barrier massing along the southern edge.”

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  • April 9, 2022 at 12:51 am
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    Part of me wonders whether they are deliberately leaving the roads so hostile due to Silvertown tunnel and plans for busy junctions and access roads on and off to the Peninsula, which seems completely at odds with a developing residential area.

    Then again even if no tunnel this is Greenwich council, and as covered on here they do the exact same thing in Plumstead and Woolwich. Maybe a bit of both, and they need no encouragement to put traffic and large dual carriageways above residents in importance.

    Reply
  • April 9, 2022 at 1:28 am
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    Why is Greenwich Council still allowed to approve development plans? This responsibility should be removed from them, and be given to a government body with more foresight, and forethought. RBG has continued to screw the taxpayers of this Burrough out of vast sums of money for too long! I, for one, will be voting for someone other than the incumbent in my Ward! We deserve better, and we’re not going to get it by continuing to keep the same dumb doofusses running things. Come on! If you read this, please consider the alternative to the same old tired excuses, and the same old gang, making the same mistakes all over again!

    Reply
  • April 9, 2022 at 10:20 am
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    I totally agree, things need to change. But who do we vote for? Are there any candidates even talking about the issues raised here, loss of potential income from CIL, lack of investment in (or even care for) public realm?

    Reply
  • April 10, 2022 at 8:44 am
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    Thank you for your. Excellent article John which is very informative. I totally agree with all the comments raised here. They all make very important and valid points The time has come for change on Greenwich Council Leadership Team at the local elections in May.

    Reply
  • April 11, 2022 at 9:31 am
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    Looking at the pretty drawing, I see IKEA but not B&Q. I have been following this story in which I don’t recall you reporting that B&Q is to go. Is this, in fact, the case? Further you say ‘… It always seemed a bizarrely regressive move to permit Ikea in its current form, with a large retail barn permitted and built in zone 2 …’. If you are talking about the Greenwich IKEA, it is in zone 3. No part of Greenwich is zone 2. Lastly, I don’t think there should be any residential parking. The site is bounded on one side by Bugsby’s Way with a host of buses facilitating travel out of the area.

    Reply
  • April 12, 2022 at 11:06 am
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    Just an interesting side note – the architects for this development are apparently Assael Architecture – perhaps better known for Union Wharf on Deptford Creek which has so entertained us with its falling cladding panels and now has an unsightly scaffolding skirt to stop passers-by being beheaded by disintegrating fascia panels. Do we hope they’ve learnt something from this experience? Personally I think the public space being offered along the bus route is pathetic – and if it’s bad at the opening stage of a development, it will probably have vanished by the time the project is built. The only thing one can really say about it is that it is better than a car park.

    Reply
  • April 25, 2022 at 12:09 am
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    I didn’t know Architects now install cladding panels?? Why are we so quick to blame them? They just come up with the design and submit it to the client. If anything, you should be directing your query to the developers and contractors who cut corners and aim to maximize profit.

    Reply

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