BY CALUM FRASER
Town hall chiefs have expressed their disappointment after The Mayor of London took control of a housing development in their borough.
Sadiq Khan called in the VIP Rockwell development in Charlton last week after Greenwich councillors had unanimously voted against the 771 unit scheme at a planning board meeting in July.
If Mayor Khan decides to push this through, he will be doing this in the teeth of fierce opposition from residents and politicians.
Councillor Sizwe James, Greenwich cabinet member for growth and strategic development, said: “I am disappointed that the Mayor of London has called in the Eynsham Drive and Charlton Riverside planning applications, both of which were rejected by our planning board last month.
“This means that the Mayor of London, and not the local councillors elected by the people of Greenwich, will decide on these applications.
“I would urge him not to simply wave the applications through, but include us in discussions with the developers to secure a greater proportion of well designed, affordable family homes.”
Residents from the nearby Derrick and Atlas Gardens have fought against the development.
They are concerned by the scale of the development with five 10-storey blocks and the small number family units with 13 per cent three-bedroom.
Cllr James said: “After the planning applications were rejected, we hoped that the developers would come back to us with a new application that provided much needed affordable housing for families, in developments of an appropriate size and scale for Abbey Wood and Charlton.
“While I respect the rights of the Mayor of London to call in these planning applications, we hope he will address the concerns of residents.
“We also need to learn from the mistakes made in the 1960s and 1970s and create proper neighbourhoods, with walkable streets, places to work and spaces for children to play.”
Rockwell initially offered 13 per cent affordable housing came back with further proposals chopping down the 28-storey block to 10-storeys and offered 35 per cent affordable housing.
In a letter to the head of regeneration at Greenwich, the Mayor said: “In my view the proposed development has potential to make an important contribution to housing and affordable housing supply.”
The mayor went on to note that the proportion of affordable housing secured in developments approved by Greenwich council over the past three years “is significantly below the Greenwich Local Plan 35% target and represents a significant undersupply of affordable housing in the pipeline.”
A date is yet to be set by the GLA for when they will pass their judgement on the scheme.
Cllr Nigel Fletcher, deputy leader of Greenwich Conservatives and a member of the council’s planning board, said :
“It seems outrageous that after consulting local people and spending so much money on the masterplan, the council faces being overruled by the Mayor of London.
“We need more homes locally, but the scheme has to be right, and this one simply isn’t. We were unanimous in rejecting it, and with good reason.
A spokesman for Rockwell said: “Our proposals will deliver 771 new homes, of which 35 per cent would be affordable, alongside workspace and over 16,000 sq m of new green space. “