Legal threat delays decision on Woolwich’s 27-storey Tesco tower

Woolwich development plans
Greenwich planners’ strongest criticisms were saved for the blocks behind Tesco

A planning decision on whether or not to reject a proposed 27-storey tower in front of Tesco in Woolwich has been delayed following a threat of legal action by the developer.

Meyer Homes wants to build the tower along with three other blocks of between nine and 16 storeys behind the store, providing 804 flats in total. There would be no homes planned for social rent and just 20.02% at “affordable” rent levels.

But councillors were set to reject the plan at a meeting on Tuesday after planning officers recommended refusal, calling the tower “unacceptably dominating and overbearing to General Gordon Square and the surrounding townscape and Woolwich Town Centre”.

One of the other criticisms related to a lack of detail in Meyer’s environmental statement. After the planning officers’ report was published, Meyer released more information, then threatened legal action if the planning meeting went ahead as planned.

Now the meeting has been cancelled for more consideration of Meyer’s environmental statement, with the decision now postponed until after May’s council election.

Woolwich tower plan
The tower appears to take some inspiration from New York City’s Flatiron Building

A council statement sent to objectors said: “Following the threat of a legal challenge from the Applicant in respect of planning application 17/2812/F the Council has been asked by the applicant to consider further information in relation to the Environmental Statement.

“As part of the requirements of the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations 2011/1824 the Council is required to undertake further consultation on the new information.

“In the light of this, Planning Board scheduled for 20th March 2018 is cancelled. The application will be presented to a future Planning Board meeting and you be informed of this new date when it is agreed.

“All representations that have already been received remain valid and will be taken into account when considering this application.”

Greenwich council deputy leader and regeneration cabinet member Danny Thorpe said the environmental information “could and should have been provided by the applicant well before now and the fact that the applicant is seeking to delay the process at the 11th hour is in my view appalling”.

Thorpe also sits on the planning committee that is due to take the decision, although his comments on the issue would indicate he is unlikely to take part in that meeting.

John Edwards, of campaign group Speak Out Woolwich said: “It is disappointing, but no surprise, that the developer is doing all it can to find ways of pushing this application through against the wishes of local people and to the benefit of shareholders and speculators.”

Greenwich planners’ strongest criticisms were reserved for the blocks which Meyer wanted to build behind Tesco, which “exhibit clear and demonstrable signs of overdevelopment”

Speak Out Woolwich will be lobbying Wednesday’s Greenwich Council meeting on the issue.

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