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