Plans for nearly 300 new homes in Abbey Wood at the junction of Eynsham Drive and Harrow Manorway have been revised under recently revealed plans.
A proposal was approved some years ago for the site which also housed a PDSA vets. Nothing has since happened despite the Elizabeth line arriving a short walk away.
In the meantime the vets and car wash were forced to close (the vets at least moved nearby).
Now there’s revised proposals for a 110-room hotel and 487 “co-living” rooms. Co-living accommodation is like student housing aimed at those in their 20s who would otherwise be forced into a flat or houseshare, which are often created from converted family homes.
So not all bad if it prevents existing family homes being lost, though still a bit of a sad indictment of how housing is in the UK in 2023.
A lot of people including those who never had years living in flatshares and lucky enough to have a few quid either for themselves at a young age or from their parents will whinge about it, but the reality is housing choices are now so poor that for so many this is an improvement.
And a lot of that is because so many moan and want to block anything being built.
As for the hotel on site, some will cry “why here!”. This happens every time I report a new hotel is on the horizon in much of outer London. Or out of traditionally tourist-friendly spots. See Woolwich, Sidcup etc.
So why? Because Abbey Wood is incredibly well-linked now. Canary Wharf can be reached in nine minutes via the Elizabeth line. The City of London in 15 minutes away.
There’s now direct rains to Heathrow. Direct trains to Luton Airport.
Gatwick and Stansted airports? A quick change at London Bridge or Liverpool Street. St Pancras on the Eurostar? A direct train away.
Not to mention direct 24 hours a day buses to the o2 recently introduced. Yes it’s not the quickest but if coming home after a show at the o2 it’s direct and not that slow.
And you wont be in those horrible tube entrance queues.
There’s plenty of other options too. If you’re coming to, say, visit a potential uni it’s an easy trip to many across London.
To be fair Abbey Wood – and much of Thamesmead – was never was that bad for transport and the myth of remoteness was never really ground in reality for much of the area. North Thamesmead sure, but growing up in Abbey Wood we used to get to the West End on a fast train in 25 minutes.
Leave home at 10am. Be at Trafalgar Square by half 10 to wander about. That was our Saturday’s entertainment when 12 years old in the 1990s. It was never the remote area often made out by some who never lived there.
But while the traditional trains have got slower (that 25 minute trip now takes 40 minutes with a change as Charing Cross trains were axed) there’s also now many more options including Thameslink services which run straight through to St Pancras direct for trains to Europe and cities like Sheffield and Nottingham, to give one example.
And then then DLR. Stratford is 20 mins away via either the DLR and changing at Woolwich Arsenal or the Elizabeth line. The ever growing Stratford has trains running to may areas. Watching West Ham as an away fan? A hotel in Abbey Wood is 30 mins max away.
And of course it’s the Elizabeth line that’s the most visible in the general public consciousness. It’s substantially cut travel times from Abbey Wood to many areas. I could easily go on all day about how many areas are now so easily linked with Abbey Wood.
Given all that is so close, of course they’ll be demand for a hotel. A teen living in France or Germany coming to the UK to watch a gig at the o2 will see how easy it is to reach.
As will someone working in Canary Wharf for a night.
Given all that and how the world has changed, once again it’s time to bring up how Greenwich Council have failed to either realise or capitalise upon it.
A development like this in, say, the Labour London Borough of Brent would bring the local authority millions to benefit the borough and local residents as they set higher rates and reap the rewards to mitigate central government cuts.
In Greenwich borough? A different story. The council will see very little in comparison through their own ineptitude.
OK, so it’s not all the council’s fault as back in 2015 they were told to cap charges on developers in the eats of the borough (though refused to levy more in other areas to compensate despite it being possible). Yet they then never bothered to revise and take another look in 2018 despite promising to in 2015 and continued falling many millions behind their expectations of revenue.
But that was then and this is now. Now they’ve finally begun that process of revision five years late and seven years later than they committed to, they’ve decided to ignore various other types of development types ever more popular. And in areas where the Greenwich CIL rate is very low upon developers.
And yep, that includes co-living and hotels which this plan includes.
After a decade of failure whereby they lagged behind every other London Labour council in utilising new development to benefit residents, they’re doing it all again.
And worst of all this is in Abbey Wood where I grew up and have family and know all too well has been left to rot while being one of the most deprived areas not only in London but the whole country. It’s long-neglected.
Yet here we have the council again not optimising potential revenue to help one of the poorer areas. Whether it be health, education, parks, trees, shopping areas or much else. Baffling for any council let alone one that is Labour. The party that is supposed to care for the less wealthy areas.
But here we are and it looks like developers will win again.
There’s mention of £50k for public realm. This is pitiful by London standards.
It brings up memories of the last application when Greenwich planners didn’t even bother asking for a single penny for local improvements. The developers decided to go for a nominal sum above and beyond RBG planner’s guidance – which was to spend absolutely nothing. I think even the developers were embarrassed that the local authority had completely ignored the area. Which really is saying something.
That’s not to knock this development and jobs and homes it will bring – but Greenwich Council look likely yet again to squander another chance for residents and services to benefit.