Two long-running and controversial developments proposed for the borough of Greenwich have been sensationally dumped on the same day.

Plans for a 27-storey tower including 804 homes at Woolwich, as well as a scheme for 771 homes in 11 blocks of flats at Charlton, were both thrown out by local government secretary Robert Jenrick on Wednesday.

Both projects faced long-term opposition from community groups, residents as well as Greenwich Council’s planning board – whose members voted against both proposals in recent years.

In the Woolwich plan, developers Meyer Homes had put forward a scheme including a 27-storey tower, 804 homes, a cafe, and shops.

The tower and associated work comprised the latter stages of a four-phase project, the initial stages of which included the building of the Woolwich Tesco – which has roundly been slammed by architectural and government bodies for its appearance.

Greenwich councillors rejected the plans early last year – citing concerns over the amount of affordable housing and fears it would loom over Woolwich town centre.

Councillors likewise rejected Rockwell’s proposal to bulldoze buildings to build 11 blocks of flats, up to 10 storeys tall, and featuring 771 homes, in the Charlton Riverside scheme near Hope and Anchor Lane.

Both developers appealed the council’s decisions, with public inquiries held in November last year for the Woolwich plans and October for Charlton.

Following that, the planning inspector recommended the council’s original decisions be upheld.

It was supported by Jenrick’s office, with the outcomes published on Wednesday.

In a report on the Woolwich proposal, the inspector conceded the 27-storey tower would provide much-needed affordable homes, as well as voicing support for business space at the site and proposed landscaping contributions.

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The Charlton Riverside Opportunity Area where Rockwell's proposal was based.

However, the inspector found “the public benefits of the scheme, taken at their highest, are far outweighed by the harm it would cause”.

“It would dominate General Gordon Square and and its overbearing presence would cause harm to its setting and significance,” the report stated, adding it would also “undermine” the grade-II listed Equitable House by looming over it.

In summary, he wrote the original planning permission for the four-stage Woolwich project, including the Tesco, “was without doubt a terrible mistake”, adding that approving the tower would “serve to compound that error”.

For the Charlton proposal, the planning inspector acknowledged the differing character of the area to neighbouring sites at Greenwich peninsula, where a plethora of high-rise applications have been waved through and subsequently developed within eyesight.

And while he accepted riverside areas of the Charlton Riverside Opportunity Area may accept taller buildings, promoting high-rise development across the area would compromise planning aims for the area.

“Such development would, in my view, be likely to divide Charlton

rather than achieve the integration sought,” the inspector wrote of the proposal, adding that “extensive use of high-rise development would be unlikely to foster the community led, mixed-use character” goal the council was aiming for.


Political figures praised the decisions. Greenwich council leader Dan Thorpe said afterwards the outcomes were “fantastic news for the whole community who worked alongside the council in this process”.

“The Woolwich proposals were always out of character, and frankly not what’s needed in the town centre,” he added.

Greenwich and Lewisham London Assembly member Len Duvall voiced “relief” over the rejection of the Charlton scheme.

“This decision comes a huge relief for local people and is a testament to the campaigning efforts of community groups, such as Charlton Together, who have vigorously opposed the scheme,” he said.

“The council and the Mayor have been right to reject these plans. Urban development needs to work for the whole community and should not come at any cost”.