Woolwich Elizabeth line station bill finally paid by Greenwich Council

Greenwich Council have finally paid off their £15 million share of building the Elizabeth line station in Woolwich.

In positive news the council obtained £7,358,927 in CIL revenue from new developments in the year to April 2024 helping to reach the target some way behind schedule.

Back when plans were being drawn up the line was due to skip Woolwich entirely. A rather odd decision which was reversed with the proviso that Greenwich Council would need to stump up some of the cost.

Berkeley Homes also contributed in exchange for being allowed towers over the station.

Berkeley towers on left built as part of deal

Council bill

The £15 million share from Greenwich Council was to be paid via developer contributions in the forms of Section 106 income and the Community Infrastructure Levy.

Lumbering the area with such a cost was deeply unfair, though Greenwich havn’t helped themselves since.

While the decision to place a burden on the council, how they then played the cards dealt was a lesson in failure.

World Heritage Area. Prime sites with high land values. Very low developer contributions

Firstly, in 2015 they opted for a low CIL rate on developers in the wealthiest parts of the borough. While Officers are quick to tell councillors in reports – as they do again next week – that it was the Planning Examiner and Viability Report that saw a low rate adopted in the less wealthy east of the borough, they fail to mention that very same Viability Report stated they could have applied a far higher rate in areas of higher land value such as Greenwich town centre and beside the Thames. They didn’t.

And so o a 2015 prediction from the authority for forthcoming CIL revenue was wildly inaccurate. They saw far less income than expected which hampered funds for other key projects as paying off the Woolwich station bill took far, far longer.

Student tower proposed beside o2 and north Greenwich station with very low CIL rate for such a well connected site

Commitment ignored

In 2015 Greenwich Council also committed to a 2018 review of rates levied on new developments which they never undertook. Baffling given by then it was evident they were far behind target. While not a legal obligation it was a huge oversight and residents have paid the price since.

The report before the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting next week follows a pattern seen before and is notable by what’s not said as much as what is.

Though what is said is revealing. They also again compare borough rates to Lewisham and Bexley. A rather silly comparison as land value beside a zone two tube station in Greenwich such as north Greenwich is hardly comparable with Slade Green.

Much of Bexley has lower rates due to poorer transport links.

As for Lewisham, they have bodged their own Community Infrastructure Levy review in 2018 to the detriment of borough infrastructure. They started a review, paused and have never resumed after six years of waiting.

Councillors could ask Greenwich Officers about other far more enlightened boroughs across the capital aside from those in central London, where Greenwich lag far behind to the tune of tens of millions.

Review underway

A review has finally commenced into CIL rates applied to developers but Greenwich look to be repeating prior mistakes by setting low rates on the two areas of development seeing large growth now in student housing and co-living.

Woolwich island site near DLR, rail and Elizabeth line now features hundreds of co-living rooms

Student blocks are popping up everywhere and in Greenwich developers will be allowed to pay less in prime locations beside excellent transport links. Co-living is another major growth area with forthcoming plans in Woolwich and Greenwich including substantial totals.

The reason given has shifted about for not attempting to revise student housing CIL rates while implementing a low co-living rate. Firstly it was no direct examples locally despite other boroughs agreeing rates with the planning examiner based on regional expectations and not direct precedent.

Then it became high interest rates. However Greenwich failed to renew low CIL rates for years when rates were low, and now they’re higher many developers are moving to student housing and co-living because rates have increased making other forms of building more appealing and offering higher returns.

Demolition work underway for new student block near Elizabeth line in Woolwich.

With the station bill finally paid off at lease more funding will be available for the borough – but not as much as should have been seen.

In terms of committed spend from the Strategic element of CIL income (by law at least 15 per cent must go towards local projects), “£800k of BCIL per annum has been allocated for planned resurfacing as part of a capital road renewal programme over the next five years”.


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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.

3 thoughts on “Woolwich Elizabeth line station bill finally paid by Greenwich Council

  • Surely a candidate for redevelopment given those blocks now rising next door?

    Maybe even the adjacent cars home in time too. We’ve seen others sold in recent years.

  • Woolwich Elizabeth Line station needs another entrance/exit already!

  • Maybe Woolwich Elizabeth Line station could be renamed as Woolwich Central station if there wasn’t a Woolwich Central station before. Woolwich Central on the Elizabeth Line would be ideal as you already got Woolwich Dockyard and the former North Woolwich station in the London Borough of Newham, East London.


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