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.
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.
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.
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 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?
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.