Plans to construct a block of flats in east Greenwich on the site of Speedy Hire will be decided by Greenwich Council’s Planning Board next week.
It’s a bumper meeting after a recent break during local elections, and the Planning Board now has a new Chair and members.
This Speedy Hire site had previously covered plans back in December 2021 to build 58 flats on site, which was always one that seemed very likely to see redevelopment.
The Woolwich Road site sits among much housing and current use doesn’t make best use of the plot. Officers are recommending approval for the scheme.
A report before the Planning Board states: “The provision of residential accommodation on the site is considered appropriate in this location due to the good public transport access and availability of local services provided along Woolwich Road.”
A number of bus routes pass the site and Westcombe Park station is less than a five minute walk away.
However reaching nearby retail parks, the o2 and North Greenwich tube station on foot does entail some pretty grim walks – as covered many times on this site.
Despite that, Greenwich Planners state “The site is located in a highly sustainable area with good quality pedestrian infrastructure leading to a range of everyday services and facilities within a 10-minute walk“.
A two minute walk east shows it’s dark, dingy, dirty and not at all appealing for pedestrians to walk under or around the Blackwall flyover or on all approaches.
Should Greenwich Officers be stating something so clearly inaccurate and it’d be interesting if the new Planning Board members question them about these claims?
Could this lack of knowledge – or refusing to accept how poor the area is when on foot – be one reason they’ve never sought to improve it? Time and again Greenwich Planners refuse to use income from developments to improve the area when striking Section 106 deals at many, many local developments, and we know the mess that’s been made of Community Infrastructure Levy income to the detriment of areas like this and encouraging walking and cycling.
Another way to reach the tube on foot is walking along Tunnel Avenue to a footbridge over the A102.
It’s not good. The authority now has a new leader; will it see changed behaviour from a Planning Department that fails to acknowledge how bad many streets are?
There is some mention of public realm work:
“The building would be set within a hard and soft landscaping scheme including two pocket parks on Woolwich Road, the proposal also includes public realm improvement works on Dandridge Close to the rear of the site which would include resurfacing, provision of planting and soft landscaping, lighting and disabled car parking.”
This sounds fine but isn’t really the most pressing issue. Planners will no doubt state – and they often do to councillors – that S106 income must be spent in the immediate area. They fail to mention it can be pooled and spent nearby.
The council’s job agency GLLaB will see £80,250 from Section 106. Public realm £53,500. £15,000 for children’s play space off-site. Carbon offsetting is £111,125.
Transport spend is broken down thus:
- £17,400 towards car club spaces and payment of membership for residents of the development for the first five years;
- Financial contribution of £1,120 towards cycle training.
- Financial contribution £25,000 towards cycle facility improvements.
Zero Community Infrastructure Levy income will be spent locally. Greenwich have collected so little CIL revenue since 2015 – when they set extremely low rates across the borough – that they havn’t yet paid off their Crossrail bill. They failed to revise rates upwards in 2018 when it became clear they were far below their own 2015 estimates – and that’s despite committing to do so in 2015.
The 2015 Planning Inspector’s report stated: “The Council makes a commitment in its supporting information document (CE9) to a review within three years of implementation”.
They never did, and the impact is still being felt with many submitted and approved planning applications as income is lost.
A 2018 review and increase would have seen the Crossrail bill now paid off, with income available to be spent on various services. Perhaps improved pedestrians links? Improved town centres and estates? More money for parks? Health services? There’s many things CIL can be spent on – but isn’t in the borough due to those previous mistakes.
Out of 58 flats, just 21% are London Affordable Rent. To meet the “affordable” quota, shared ownership is included. This meets the legal requirement.
The development will also include 890 sqm of flexible commercial floor space.
The report also states that the areas former councillors did not respond to the consultation.
Stephen Brain was chair of planning and no longer a sitting councillor, while Chris Lloyd switched seats and stood in Thamesmead West and Denise Scott-McDonald in Greenwich Peninsula in May’s election. Both won.
Both Lloyd and Scott-McDonald now appear to be aiming to become candidates for by-elections well outside London weeks after winning their seats. Lloyd in Swindon and Scott-McDonald in Derby.
The agenda for next week’s meeting can be viewed here.