Greenwich Council

Agenda item.

VIP Trading Estate and The VIP Industrial Estate, Anchor and Hope Lane, Charlton, SE7 - 16/4008/F

The Board is requested to grant planning permission for the demolition of existing buildings and erection of 11 buildings ranging from 2 to 10 storeys in height as set out in the report; alterations to existing vehicular access and creation of new pedestrian access from Anchor and Hope Lane and the riverside, creation of new areas of open space and landscaping together with the provision of associated car parking, cycle spaces, refuse and recycling storage, plant and all other associated works'.






Resolved to refuse grant of planning permission for the demolition of existing buildings and erection of 11 buildings ranging from 2 to 10 storeys in height for Class C3 residential use (771 units), with flexible uses comprising Class B1 (Business), Class A1- A3 Retail / Restaurant), Class D1 (Community) and Class D2 (Leisure) at ground floor and first floor level, alterations to existing vehicular access and creation of new pedestrian access from Anchor and Hope Lane and the riverside, creation of new areas of open space and landscaping together with the provision of associated car parking, cycle spaces, refuse and recycling storage, plant and all other associated works.




The Planning Officer gave an illustrated presentation, drawing Members’ attention to the addendum report before them which detailed additional representations received and a revised affordable housing offer. The Planning Officer also gave a further verbal update explaining the following:


    No comments had been received from SGN and therefore point (vi) of the recommendation should be deleted;

    One further representation should be noted but this raised no new issues;

    A revised daylight and sunlight assessment had been received however the results of this showed no significant change;

    The list of drawings and documents at Appendix 1 should be updated to reflect the additional documents received.


In response to Members’ questions the Planning Officer confirmed that there would be a reduction in employment floor space, overall but there would be a total of 3,236sqm of new commercial floorspace all but 150sqm of which would be restricted   to Class B1only.  The applicant estimated that the current number of jobs on site is 90 and the proposal would increase this to between 209 and 212 jobs, based on a mixed of uses including Class B1 and Class A.


In respect of the development’s over density, the Planning Officer advised that the site was located in an Opportunity Area where higher densities were encouraged.  The development as a whole is considered, including design, provision of amenity space, quality of accommodation as well as density and whilst elements of the development exceed the London Plan and SPD the development, as a whole, was considered acceptable.


The Planning Officer responded to Members that the proportion of family units in the scheme was lower than envisaged at 17% but was considered acceptable as should the number of 3 or 4 bedrooms be increased the viability and return on the scheme would be reduced. The Planning Officer added that larger units would take up more space on site and thus reduce the overall number of units.


Members questioned if the developer discussed with the Council the housing requirements within the Borough and if this had an impact on the design.  The Planning Officer responded that the policy in relation to property size and mix was set out in the Council’s Local Plan and further guidance was provided by the Charlton Riverside Supplementary Planning Document (SPD).  Whilst there was a requirement for larger 3 and 4 bed units there were no targets for each site.  Further, the percentage of family homes was to be delivered across the entirety of Charlton Riverside Masterplan development.


In respect of Members’ concern at the height of the blocks within the development the Planning Officer confirmed that  Plot A was recommended in the SPD at 3 to 5 storeys and was proposed at 2 to10 storeys,  (10 storeys at the rear element).   Plot B was recommended at 4 to 5 storeys at the northern end and was proposed at 7 to 10 storeys.  In the southern end of the plot, near Charlton Station, the proposal was in compliance with the recommendation of 10 storeys.  Further, the height of the block, directly to the rear of Atlas Gardens would be 3 to 4 storeys.


The Planning Board accepted a number of addresses in objection to the applications, as follows;


The Charlton Central Residents Association (CCRA) noted that the Charlton Riverside Masterplan had been developed in consultation with the local community at a cost in excess of £850,000.  As this was the first development proposed under the Masterplan it would set the precedent for future developments and the CCRA were shocked that the Council’s Planning Officers were recommending approval.  If developments that veered from the Masterplan, were going to be approved there had to be a recognition of the sense of anger and betrayal that existing residents would feel.  The Councillors should ensure that the Council and residents were winners and do not lose out from developments.


The owner of Quixotic Records recording studio advised that despite numerous approaches to engage with to the developer, he still had concerns that the access rights to the studio were not guaranteed.  That 40 foot tour buses and 34 foot buses with trailers came to and from the studio at least once a week, often late at night, and there was no sufficient turning circle provided in the plan to allow these vehicles enter than exit without reversing in or out. He also raised concern at noise insulation, and sound penetrating and leaving the studio.  That the developer had advised him that he should be able to continue to use the studio most of the time but noise and vibrations carry through building and adequate soundproofing did not appear to be proposed. He further advised that the studio windows faced away from the residents of Derrick and Atlas Gardens, mitigating disturbance by noise from the studio but the 10 storey block would be built close to the studio, again, without adequate soundproofing provision being included.  He commented that the developer, Rockwell, was trying to drive a horse and carriage through his rights to maintain the studio and the Masterplan.


A representative for the A Day Group – (construction co.) business group advised that the aggregate companies based in the adjacent Wharves provided the access for 1/3rd of the 10m tonnes of aggregates coming into London each year for construction, maintenance and repairs.  The Greenwich wharves were strategically critical, as recognised in the Council’s Strategic Plan.  There was great concern that sufficient noise protection was not being provided for the protection of the new residents or the business using the wharves which were experiencing restrictions imposed through residents’ complaints, exampling a recent complaint regarding the noised caused by the unloading of a dredger.  These types of complaints and subsequent operational restrictions, would result in an increase in the use of HGV traffic over the river usage and increase the pollution levels and health risks.  Currently, around 24 tonnes of aggregate is brought in each day by ships and trains and, if curtailed, up to 7.5 million additional HGV road miles would be needed, creating increased C02 emissions and an extra 1000 lorry movements, every working day and the demand for aggregates is not decreasing.


A representative for the First Plan (planning co.) business group consultant for the Wharves business operators advised that they had worked closely with the Council’s Planning Officer and the developers, Rockwell to agree noise conditions to ensure the amenity of the further residents and the Wharves were protected and that this mainly related to noise levels on balconies.  Provided that the proposed conditions, as set out in Appendix 2 of the report, were applied in full, First Plan (planning co.) business group would be able to withdraw their objection.  However, if there was any suggestion made by the applicant that the proposed conditions should not be imposed in full the objections would stand.


The Planning Board accepted addresses from seven residents, speaking in objection to the application and who raised the following;


The proposed viability study was not accurate.  Whilst it was accepted that developers should make a profit, which in turn generated future investment, this proposal created excessive profit.    The viability assessment originally indicated that only 5% affordable could be offered, increased to 25% and now suddenly 35% affordable homes is predicated, on an unrealistic assumption of the profit of the sales of the other units.  The current estimate of properties in London Zone 3-4 was £200k and it appeared that these would be marketed at £550K, minimum.  The land was purchased at £1.9m per hectare compared to £3.5m per hectare paid by another, nearby, development and the applicant recognised that the profits were high, quoting the developer’s viability study that a high profit was required to reflect the risks going forward.   However, the four schemes that the developer used to justify the ‘risk’ were all successful schemes and the risk was being exaggerated to warrant the excessive profits.


That the height of the majority of the development contradicts the recommendations and guidance of the Charlton Masterplan, Greenwich’s Core Strategy and the London Plan. The Masterplan states new developments should be between 3 and 6 storeys in this area with a total of only five 10 storey buildings permitted between this site and the Thames Barrier.   The blocks, directly behind the  Derrick and Atlas Gardens, within the conservation area, were proposed at  8-10 storeys high, greatly exceeding the 3- 6 storeys of the plan and the Council’s Masterplan statement that  ‘the new development will respect the historical context with buildings at a similar scale’.  The proposal is flawed and greedy, in terms of height.  


That the development is of excessive density in respect of the number of habitable rooms and units per hectare.  The development proposed 10% of the habitable units, as set out in the Masterplan, on a site that would be 4% of the overall development.  There was no strategic rationale given for recommending this level of density the application should be rejected on this aspect alone. 


That the developer’s own plans showed that 20% of the new units would not meet daylight standards with a number of the units having their kitchens, dining and living rooms affected for large parts of the day.  Further, 2/3rds of the existing properties in Atlas Gardens would suffer severe losses of light amenity to gardens with one, as per the Developer’s documents, losing light to the entirety of their garden in the afternoons, losing all direct sunlight.  A number of properties in Derrick Gardens and Anchor and Hope Lane would be similarly, adversely, affected.  The developers appeared to feel that this was an acceptable position in order to maximise their profits.   Further, the minimum distance guideline between buildings did not, necessarily have 10 storey tower blocks being built over Edwardian properties in mind.  The Masterplan requires a development suitable to the area with affordable family housing that complements the existing Derrick & Atlas Gardens, which this does not.


That the proposed design violated the principles of human scale and the recommendation of a maximum of 4 – 6 floors in tandem with family first accommodation.  However, this development completely ignored this crucial Masterplan recommendation.  In order to cram as many units into the small space as possible the development would be unattractive and monolithic.  The GLA had raised concerns as the lack of 3d modelling and the design and lack of engagement with its surroundings.  Other waterfront developments were of 3-4 storeys, constructed of brick and respected the environment and landscape they sat in and adjacent to, which, unacceptably, was not the situation with the development.


That the Council’s Core Strategy vision statement states a requirement for the delivery of  high level, sustainable developments, that are a positive and enhanced contribution to the environment and the community.  High level, not high rise.  The developer, Rockwell, were not offering improved facilities for the existing community or more support for health clinics, additional schools places, increased capacity at the train stations or additional buses for this community of 3000 people. 


The area has the biggest shopping centre in South East London sitting alongside a varied industrial area, which would see around a 3rd of the traffic to the industrial element displaced as part of the scheme.  The industrial element were made up of local businesses, building firms and printing industries whose relocation would result in more traffic in an area that was going to be heavily residential.  That a system to serve and support the business, such as the aggregate Wharves and Sainsbury’s warehouse as well as the numerous shoppers who frequent the area, often resulting in congested roads as it was, was essential but no acknowledgement or measures for improvement of traffic appeared in the report or the plans.


The Planning Board accepted addresses from the Ward Councillor, Councillor John Fahy (speaking on behalf of himself and two fellow Ward Councillors), who noted that the local residents were widely engaged in and supported  the final Masterplan Document and if the application were agreed it would seriously undermine the Plan. He submitted a petition from residents in support of retaining the principle of the Masterplan. He believed that Members should act in the best interest of the community.  He commented that the Developer’s own documents show the proposal did not meet sunlight and daylight requirements and questioned if residents were supposed to spend most of the time outside of the properties.  That there was a lack of residential amenities proposed, for both the existing and new residents.  That 18% profit was excessive, particularly as this was not being fed back into the community. He did not agree that the Masterplan’s recommendation on density should be overridden and asked that the Planning Board reject the application.


The Planning Board accepted addresses from Councillor David Gardner who noted that the proposal fell short of the Council’s Core Strategy family unit requirement.   This was the first application for the Charlton Masterplan redevelopment area and would set a dangerous precedent, which was difficult to justify.  The potential of 220 jobs depended on the affordability of the industrial and business element. 


The Planning Board accepted an address from Councillor Ann-Marie Cousins who expressed concern that consent of this application could not only set a precedent for the Charlton Masterplan, but other Masterplan areas within the Borough.


The Planning Board accepted addresses from the applicant’s architect who commented that the Charlton Riverside presented a great potential for development as a residential area and the Councils’ Strategic Planning Document (SPD) provided the framework to the Masterplan.  The proposed development would fit within these plans, offering mixed use tenure and an integrated community with existing residents.


That this was a brownfield site used for light industrial purposes and 5 minutes from Charlton Train Station and redevelopment would offer the opportunity to kick-start the regeneration of this area, with new homes, work space, community hubs, public open spaces and access to the riverfront. 


That Plot A would be mainly residential with a nursery provision, with family houses at ground level.  It has been designed at a modest scale with the lower elements nearest to Derek and Atlas Gardens.  The provision of workspaces would double the job opportunity on this site; a large number of open spaces would offer access to natural light and would form part of an active and growing neighbourhood centre. 


That the elevations of the blocks, with a mainly brick construction that would highlight entrances, create a sense of balance, create a vibrant street front and play with light and shade.   


That the proposal would deliver a living, working neighbourhood in line with delivery of the Masterplan with 35% affordable housing, equating to 250 units which were being provided tenure blind.


The Planning Board accepted an address from the operator of the proposed onsite nursery who stated that the development would provide a space for a much needed nursery, as well as provision of new homes and a sense of community.  She confirmed to Members that she would be happy to work with the Council in terms of developing the nursery.


In response to questions from the Planning Board, the applicant’s agent commented that in terms of scale the area had been identified as a growth area with a predicted population increase and whilst there was a need to respect the existing community there also had to be an element of forward thinking and a balanced approach, which he felt had been achieved.   That guidance on levels of density was indicative not hard and fast rules and the GLA had recommended that the density matrix was removed from the next London Plan, currently in draft.   He noted that there would be a substantial portion of the site given over to public open and play space. 


He responded that whilst the developer had not been consulted on the Masterplan they were aware of the  Masterplan and the development potential when they purchased the site and had consulted with the Council’s regeneration team to work within the Masterplan.  He accepted that there were some differences between the Masterplan proposal on height and the development, in some areas, but the site was balanced.


The applicant’s agent noted the Member’s comment that 17% of the units were 3 or 4 bed, cautioning that the Council’s Core Strategy proposal of 50% was very challenging for any developer.  That the units were developed with families in mind with a larger proportion of the  affordable rent element being family units and most of the units, in the development, would either have a balcony or access to large open spaces or winter gardens. He stated that if larger units were built, this would take up more space which was costly. 


In response to the question of noise, the applicant’s agent advised that an environmental impact assessment had been submitted and noise issues were discussed with the Council.  That all the residential units would be sound proofed and the condition, at Appendix 2, was agreed.


In determining this application, Members considered that the Charlton Masterplan set out a clear vision of what the Council wanted to see developed in this area and that the application before them did not respect this. 


It was considered that the application failed in terms of excessive height, massing and overshadowing as well as design.  That the housing mix did not meet that sought. There were access rights and noise issues that were unaddressed and still of concern. 


That there were concerns regarding the employment offer and as the first development an unacceptable precedent would be set. 


It was considered that there would be an unacceptable adverse impact on the existing local businesses and residents.


It was accepted that all Members wished to see the Masterplan delivered but that it had to be adhered to, which this did not in spirit or practically.  Concern was raised, given how much the proposal deviated from the Masterplan in terms of height and density, that it had been recommended by Planning Officers.


The Chair put the proposal to grant planning permission for the proposal to the vote with 0 Members for; 11 Members against and 0 abstentions.


Resolved unanimously -


That planning permission for the demolition of existing buildings and erection of 11 buildings ranging be refused on the following basis;


That it was considered that the application did not adhere to the spirit or letter of the Charlton Masterplan; would be an overdevelopment of the site; excessive massing and density; excessive height and created an overlooking; damaging impact on the amenity of existing residents, particularly in relation to noise disturbance, access rights; viability and housing mix and impact on existing business.


Supporting documents: