Woolwich tower development ordered to be demolished

The developer of Mast Quay in Woolwich has been ordered to demolish two blocks including a Thames-side tower after changing designs without permission.

This site has been covering the development for years and watching it rise noted it looked nothing like approved plans, nor had any revisions been submitted.

Eventually Comer Homes submitted revisions very, very late in the day.

Comer Homes had built a design on the prominent site without any approved application, and then only did so when work was all but complete.

Final design

Greenwich Council have now served an enforcement notice. In a statement they said:

“The Royal Borough of Greenwich has taken the decision, as the local planning authority, to progress with enforcement action against the Comer Homes Group’s Mast Quay Phase II development of two residential towers, one of which is stepped, with 23, 11, nine and and six storeys, located on Woolwich Church Street, London SE18. 

“The Council’s extensive investigation over the last year has concluded that the completed Mast Quay Phase II built-to rent-development has been built without planning permission and is therefore unlawful because it is so substantially different to the scheme that was originally permitted by the planning permission given in 2012.”  

They list 26 breaches of approved conditions.

During construction in 2021

While many developments see alterations submitted during the building process, it’s rare for a developer to completely ignore an approved design and then only seek approval when building work is as good as finished. Even more so at such a prominent site.

Then it’s a game of dare. Brinkmanship. Like it or lump it. Comer Homes’ site still shows approved images not what was built.

Approving such a move by Comer Homes runs the risk of any developer flagrantly ignoring what was approved while building and only submitting alterations at the very end.

Those residents who have already moved in (Comer Homes continued with the process of letting flats despite not having approval for the design) will now be assisted by Greenwich council.

Final design also contravened plans on car parking, a pedestrian bridge and outside space

That won’t be easy as Greenwich Council have enormous pressure with homeless households. The total has doubled to 1,700 in just four years.

Not just the facade

Aside from the glaring difference in exterior design some other alterations are incredible, including “non accessible ‘accessible’ apartments that have steps to the balconies so that wheelchair users cannot use their outdoor space”.

In addition, “not providing the roof gardens for residents and the public, children’s play areas, green roofs or landscaped gardens”. It goes on and on.

Approved towers little like what has been built

An enforcement notice was served yesterday (Monday 25th September) with Comer Homes having 28 days to respond.

Thames Path

A key issue around this site and its fate is the Thames Path. The plot lay empty for many years until the river wall collapsed in 2020.

During all that time the Thames path was closed.

Repairs and constructing the tower required a further long closure. What happens next remains to be seen so shortly after it reopened in February 2023.

Mast Quay’s first phase is not affected as that followed approved designs. However it does have flammable cladding so requires replacement.


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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.

    18 thoughts on “Woolwich tower development ordered to be demolished

    • The Comer brothers did something similat in Barnet and agreed to pay £4m in compensation to the council.

    • Luke Comer has just been suspended from training horses for three years after 12 of his horses tested positive for steroids

    • Talk about an abysmal job. To compound it it’s next to the woolwich ferry waiting area so couldn’t even be hid by some half decent being built beside.

      If the carbuncle cup is still going this has no competitors.

    • Well done to the council for taking a firm stance.

    • Good, they should also pull down the new eyesore block near Abbey Wood train station, looks like a belmarsh extension with its ugly green balconies. This wouldn’t be allowed in Mayfair, so why Abbey Wood? Who is approving these applications? The man with the brown paper envelope.

    • I do however find it strange that there’s not much being said about the horrendous blue and grey concrete block around the corner from it. Or perhaps there’s already plans for there

    • So council waiting until they finished building this building which took years, and then council tells them they don’t have permission and to break it down. Ridiculous!

      Imagine creating something big and expensive, and someone waited for you to finish and then tells you to destroy it without seeing it in action.

      Worst yet, people are already moving in. Imagine all their plannings and schedules! Now ruined.

    • If they dont or didnt have permission then it should go,,its an eyesore anyway,and they changed designs and didnt say anything bout that theyve left it to the near end thinking once its up it can stay they will buy their way out like before, a few changes wont hurt,,damn right it should come down,,how many problems could their be,,whos to say they aint cut corners elsewhere,,shit windows for kids or pets to fall out cos they thought its ok we change that it be ok,,until few years down the line god forbid some 1 falls out because they changed the locks design that was put in,whos to say it aint full of that flammable cladding,but thatx ok it only cladding till we have another tower fire,cos they didnt use what they said they would,etc etc,,yea they been sly so who knows what they have fucked about with,,,pull the lot down they can pay the tenants back their money and then they can put in proper plans doing what they say,say honestly what they are doing,,at end day its about money for them ,,,what about the lives of people that could be pertentually in danger,,,GOOD JOB GREENWICH,,,

    • ‘Imagine creating something big and expensive’ and not seeking the required consents. Comer Homes erected a building that differed from the submitted plans and then went on to make further unauthorised amendments. I am surprised that Greenwich council found the backbone to order its demolition and I applaud it.

    • Well done to the council officers and the Legal Team who pursued the developer.
      A lesson for other developers.
      Now will go to Appeal which will doubtless take a long time.

    • I like you somehow managed to blame the council and not the developer for building something that wasn’t approved in the first place

    • Well done Greenwich Council! What’s the point of having rules if developers think they only need to comply up to a point? Hopefully this will also deter other developers from treating the limits of their permissions with casual disregard.

    • Excellent news – thank you for reporting so well on this. The building is hideous, I couldn’t believe me eyes when I saw it as I don’t drive past there often; I thought it really ruins that part of the riverside redevelopment. There are shiny, modern, glass-facade towers over on the Arsenal station side and then this ugly, prison-looking, odd-shaped monstrosity near the Ferry — it just didn’t make sense! Absolutely tear it down and start again, hopefully with another developer.

    • Comer homes have form on this. Awful developer and I’m very proud of the council for taking a stand

    • ‘Now will go to Appeal which will doubtless take a long time.’ Let’s hope the Planning Inspectorate doesn’t take Comer’s side and decide that the violations are minor.😂 By the way, the story has actually made the BBC website.

    • Bold move by the council.

      This is a huge construction that was probably (should have been) monitored by the planning department. The question is did a quiet party simply went ahead with the significant changes and budget a few million to pay off any challenges foreseen later?

      Its worth questioning the Lewisham Gateway site The visuals show spectacular gold reflective facades and now its cheap matt mustard colours. As for the tall tower the colour of the cladding is nothing like the visual that features a sky colour blend.

      The site is dreadful how did Emma Talbot ever allow this lego like creation to be styled in this way. She has left a legacy of poor quality regeneration in the centre of Lewisham. How did she and the developer get away with it?

    • Darren, your last sentence is libellous. Best he doesn’t have it drawn to his attention.

    • greenwich council demolished 16 small business units.at brocklebank industrial estate to house one aldi store.i met two of the former business owners whos lives took a turn for the worse.one suffering severe depression the other turned to alcohol dependency because of loss of there business premises.dont be fooled by greenwich council they care for no one but themselves.shame they dont stick to the strict planning policies they inpose upon others


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