City Hall snubs council to approve 17-storey tower for Abbey Wood

Abbey Wood render
The Abbey Wood site is on the site of the current PDSA pet hospital, which will be replaced. The blocks to the right represent buildings Bexley has given outline approval for

City Hall has overridden Greenwich Council and given the nod to controversial plans for a 17-storey tower in Abbey Wood.

Developers JMH Group proposed the demolition of a car wash and a pet hospital in place of four new housing blocks in Eynsham Drive, on the border with Bexley borough.

Greenwich councillors threw out the scheme in July over fears young families would not be able to afford to live in the development.

Sadiq Khan ‘called-in’ the decision claiming it would provide important affordable housing – meaning City Hall would have final say.

The towers – close to Lidl – would be three, eight, 14, and 17-storeys tall, and bring a combined 272 homes.

Room for a new pet home is included in the plans, as well as space for shops, restaurants and 59 car parking spaces.

Councillors blocked the plans claiming the towers were too high, too expensive, and did not conform to the planning policies.

Resident Frank Lerner said that schools and GPs were already stretched, and an extra 272 homes would be inappropriate.

He said at the original council planning meeting in July: “We need accommodation for all our citizens, not just those who can muster up a deposit. These towers are a commodity, they are built not for people but for profit.”

‘We need family housing in Greenwich’

Speaking on Friday at City Hall, Sarah Merrill, Greenwich’s planning chair, asked for the council’s decision to be backed.

Cllr Merrill said: “We principally reject the height of the 17-storey building. I know precedent isn’t a consideration, but the existence of the building will form a consideration for future developments.

“We think this provides more commuter housing and not family housing which is what really need in Greenwich.

“We need to promote different ways of living, but we feel the amenity in the housing has been squeezed down to the bare minimum.”

The councillor said housing targets were already being met without the block, adding there are already pressures on the infrastructure.

“It needs to be scaled down, we are all for a development there but this is pointing towards a social mistake of the future,” she added.

Overall, 37 per cent of the housing would be “affordable” – more if funding could be secured –  and the majority of homes included in the proposals were two-bed.

The developer said it was bringing much-needed homes and jobs to an area earmarked for major regeneration as it prepares for the arrival of Crossrail.

‘This will help deliver targets’

Richard Quilbs, the project’s planning advisor, said: “The site is located within an opportunity area, an area with potential for redevelopment to produce a good number of homes and jobs.  We believe this is an optimum site to help the council and the Greater London Assembly deliver its targets.”

City Hall approved the scheme despite it being thrown out at local level.

Khan’s deputy mayor for housing, Jules Pipe, said: “We must ensure we are making the best use of our underutilised land to accommodate our growth whilst protecting our green belt.

“This is well placed to contribute to the wider generation of the area.

“This does also have a strong affordable housing offer – at least 37 per cent – and over 80 per cent of the rented homes will be two and three-bed homes that will go to families on the housing register.”


LDRS logoTom Bull is the Local Democracy Reporter for Greenwich. The Local Democracy Reporter Scheme is a BBC-funded initiative to ensure councils are covered properly in local media.
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