Further problems revealed at Greenwich’s Planning Department

A report before Greenwich Council’s Regeneration, Transport & Culture Scrutiny Panel next week reveals problems with the monitoring of housing numbers in the borough.

The authority have not been able to produce a monitoring report for three years due to outdated IT and a lack of staff.

The report states the problem is “particularly acute” in Greenwich borough.

Failing to demonstrate a 5-year housing supply can mean that applications see a greater likelihood of approval regardless of design merit.

Planning Departments across the country have fallen victim to government cuts, but there’s a key source of income to mitigate the impact which Greenwich have failed to utilise.

Yes, it’s out old friend the Community Infrastructure Levy. Up to five per cent of total income can be allocated for planning administration. Greenwich went for four per cent while many boroughs chose five per cent.

One per cent may not appear much – but it does when income can be tens of millions per year.

Sadly Greenwich are also bottom in all of London for collecting income.

TfL report

Combine the two and we have problems.

This isn’t the only issue with Greenwich’s Planning Department. Time and again when it comes to allocating income from development via another fund – Section 106 – they ignore the council’s own reports on carbon reduction and encouraging healthy living.

They did it again just this week when over 700 homes were approved in Woolwich.

They also ignore TfL regularly too – as they again did last night by allocating just a fraction of what was suggested – and then try to blame the developer as GLLaB again walks away with vastly more funding (£750,000).

Extract from report

They previously ignored TfL guidance to improve links between new homes and a nearby station and shops. Here’s an extract from a recent development in Thamesmead:

TfL state measures needed to improve links to station. Greenwich response completely ignored that route and mentions measures in opposite direction AWAY from bus routes, High Street and nearest station

Thus no improvement here even though their own Plumstead Framework listed it as an area to improve:

The litany of problems at the department is extensive and long-running.

Failing to revise Community Infrastructure Levy income levels in 2018 despite promising to do so in 2015 ensures the borough fails to capture benefits from many new builds? Check.

Trying to deny that with all manner of distractions last year? Check.

Claiming Section 106 income can’t be pooled and spent in certain areas? Check.

Then spending S106 in a way they said couldn’t be done for pet projects? Check.

And so it all comes homes to roost – though so many Greenwich councillors continue to defend systemic mistakes why would they reform and improve.

There’s many other things to highlight too such as a crucial document for the future of Abbey Wood and Thamesmead which for some reason excluded half of Abbey Wood and couldn’t tell the different between areas in each town. It was amateur hour stuff.

Extract from report claiming obvious areas of Thamesmead are in Abbey Wood. Basic errors abounded

Then came a key strategy on the future of plots of land borough-wide. Unlike some other London authorities they ignored advocating changes to large car parks and retail sheds, and made a hash of who owned certain land in the borough such as a major telephone exchange in Abbey Wood.

Greenwich stated Crossrail owned it (nope) and it was vacant (also nope). That was one of a number of basic mistakes that passed through consultation rounds into the final report – which was three years late.


The new Greenwich leader is now pushing through reform for CIL rates – but the department continues to ignore stated priorities when it comes to developer income in other areas. Much to improve.


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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.

One thought on “Further problems revealed at Greenwich’s Planning Department

  • This explain a few things about some planning applications that have been approved in Greenwich that are not appropriate (overdeveloped, not of sympathetic design of the neighbouring area etc).
    I can’t believe planning didn’t refuse or request amendments to so of the home extensions .


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