Woolwich Mast Quay tower: Substantial design changes made without permission

A major new riverside tower in Woolwich is only now seeing a developer submit an application for huge external changes – once it’s nearly complete.

The block at Mast Quay is from Comer Homes. Their own website shows the originally agreed plan and not what’s been built.

After approval little happened for some years.

It eventually begun rising in 2021 and has been covered on this site a number of times. All while this was happening it soon became clear it looked nothing like what was approved. Cutbacks were clear to see.

September 2021. Prominent in the area

I looked and looked again at Greenwich’s planning portal and could never find any application, let alone permission, for such changes to a prominent building both in Woolwich, from the river and across the Thames from the north bank.

What was approved. Notice extensive glazing and balconies.

And this is why, as there never was an application for such large alterations. And now its pretty much complete, the developer is placing the authority in a very tricky position.

New submission. Small balconies. Odd stripes in place of glazing

The application claims Grenfell changes have led to this. Firstly, it needn’t result in such a stark example of “value engineering”.

Second, if substantial changes are required you don’t do it when the building is complete.

It’s also notable that adverts for the site still include images from approval and not what has been built.

What’s been built. Small balconies, small windows and no glazed facade

What was approved was dated, as plans have been around for 24 years now. It was far from great, but to go ahead and build something so different  and in the process exclude various elements of what should have been built raises serious questions.

What we have now is a very simplistic version of what should have been built, but this goes way beyond aesthetics and into the planning system itself. Without action, what’s to stop any developer doing this?

Mast Quay in Woolwich

It’s far from unusual to see a developer submit changes post-approval, and sometimes for the worse, but never this late in the process in my experience. They’ve all but finished.

How Greenwich Council handle this will be interesting. If they block, it could sit empty. If they approve, its a green light to anyone not to build what was agreed.




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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.

    11 thoughts on “Woolwich Mast Quay tower: Substantial design changes made without permission

    • Thank you for highlighting this disgraceful behaviour. I hope RBG find some principles and stop this nonsense.

    • Hope the council stand up to this. Can’t let developers get away with this scale of abuse. Well done FTMD

    • RBG needs to be strong and reject the building. The approved plan wasn’t really eye pleasing but what has been built is hideous! As you rightly point out they need to set an example!
      I have no idea how a developper would take such a risk… Resubmit plans and build accordingly (not the other way around) or demolish!!! I’m really keen to hear how this develops!

    • Not the first time I’ve heard something of this nature from comer homes. They’ve been behaving appallingly at the north London business park – destroyed natural environment and species of animals that they were specifically supposed to protect in the planning permission.

    • Grenfell? They remove glass and replace it with full-facade cladding and cite Grenfell as a cause?
      Glass isn’t flammable,
      That’s both disgraceful and disrespectul.

    • Outrageous John, well researched. Has the developer been paid in full? who holds the cards here? I agree with K here too, glass being connected to Grenfell? Are they taking the ****?

    • Having seen the planning committee video feeds, i am frankly not surprised by the quality of planning decisions. It’s never about quality architecture when housing is involved. I just pray and hope there is never another Grenfell and that the materials used to clad these high towers are properly specified and installed ?

    • Disgraceful behaviour and disgraceful standard of design. It looks like a stack of prefab portacabins.

    • The design of these towers from day 1 has always been suspect and poor.

      This will probably end up in the Council refusing the changes (hopefully), it giong to appeal and the Planning Inspector approving (unless they really take the new design mantra on board).

    • Great probing. I’m about to finalise a rental in Mast Quay (Mizzen Mast bldg), Woolwich over the Thames. There hv been some bad press about some blocks there. Does anyone know of problems (cladding mainly) in Mizzen Mast building? Appreciate it. Many thanks.

    • I’m about to finalise a rental in Mast Quay (Mizzen Mast bldg). Please post any advice of problems/cladding in Mizzen Mast. Is the issue resolving in any way? Are tenants getting documents to show the current risk levels? Many thanks.


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