Royal Arsenal scheme

Woolwich’s Royal Arsenal development is set to get 21-storey tower blocks after Greenwich Council’s planning board backed an application from Berkeley Homes tonight. (Thanks to Eltham North councillor Nigel Fletcher for the tweet from the town hall.)

The board voted 3-2 for the plans, which will dramatically change the shape of Woolwich, and the riverside, introducing a series of tower blocks between 14 and 21 stories high, blocking Woolwich town centre off from the river.

The existing Royal Arsenal Gardens park will be to a narrow strip between the towers.

Berkeley’s proposals have been heavily criticised by Arsenal residents and one of the three local councillors, John Fahy, who branded it “wholly inappropriate”.

He added in a video posted to his blog earlier this week: “The whole of Woolwich, and the whole of Greenwich, see the river as important to them. It shouldn’t be overshadowed by high residential blocks that will be there not necessarily for local residents, but those who want to invest from other parts of the world.”

Planning chair Ray Walker (Labour, Eltham West), vice-chair Steve Offord (Labour, Abbey Wood) and cabinet member Sajid Jawaid (Labour, Plumstead) voted for the proposal. Voting against were Hayley Fletcher (Labour, Kidbrooke with Hornfair) and Geoff Brighty (Conservative, Blackheath Westcombe), while Clive Mardner (Labour, Abbey Wood) abstained.

Woolwich Crossrail station

Now Berkeley Homes – the council’s development partner at the former Ferrier Estate, now Kidbrooke Village – have had their way, it will be interesting to see whether the company which is set to gain a handsome profit from tonight’s decision finally comes up with the cash to fit out the Crossrail station at Woolwich, an issue featured here last month.

Woolwich Crossrail station

After paying £25m for the station site to be excavated, so far Berkeley has refused to come up with the £100m for the rest of the station – expecting Transport for London, the Government and Greenwich Council to cough up.

Interestingly, Berkeley chairman Tony Pidgeley joined London mayor (and TfL chair) Boris Johnson on a trip to the Middle East earlier this month, while last month, regeneration councillor Denise Hyland said she was “chipper” about the prospects of the council not having to fund the station.

Intriguingly, an image of the proposed station appeared in the council’s weekly newspaper Greenwich Time in February, bearing the name “ROYAL ARSENAL WOOLWICH” – the name of Berkeley’s development. Previous images have seen the legend “WOOLWICH STATION” above the entrance.

Footnote: If Woolwich finally does get a Crossrail station, it’ll have done better out of Berkeley Homes for transport than Kidbrooke. Greenwich Council has handed over control of the roads through the old Ferrier Estate to Berkeley, which is duly planning, with council approval, to close the roads, forcing the 178 and B16 buses away from the new Kidbrooke Village development.

Residents in the adjoining Brooklands Park estate have been left high and dry by this – but Berkeley Homes is refusing to reverse its decision, instead pressing Transport for London – with Greenwich Council backing – to pay for a turning circle so buses can run up to Brooklands Park and back. (See the second petition document here, and the TfL consultation for more.) So far, though, TfL appears to be trying to call Berkeley’s bluff, and says it is happy to reroute the B16 service “if a suitable turning circle can be provided”.

10 replies on “Woolwich gets 21-storey towers – but will Crossrail follow?”

  1. Not sure how this huge expansion could be supported without additional transport links i.e Crossrail. I would hope Greenwich Council would have made the agreement to expand RA conditional on Berkeley agreeing to continue to fund the new station.

  2. I’m a newcomer to Woolwich – in the process of trying to buy a flat (to live in myself) here, and so am very interested in your blog. In fact, I was initially attracted to look at Woolwich by the Crossrail plans. I’ve grown up in north-west London and work in central London – where I live is now so expensive I couldn’t hope to buy there, and so started looking elsewhere and ended up looking in Woolwich because I saw the plan of Crossrail when I was looking in East London. [I do realise Crossrail might not happen down here].

    I know that parts of Woolwich are run down – but I liked it a lot more than other places in London I looked at where house/flat prices are far higher. The town needs regeneration, but so many basic things are in place that looking at the long term, it can only happen.

    The thing I’d say about these blocks of flats is – ok, they’re not going to be pretty, but they will bring a lot more people into the area – and this usually translates into more facilities – shops, restaurants, cafes, bars, hopefully a cinema or live music venue. Where I grew up (Ruislip in north west London), it’s a totally different area and there are lots of large 1920s houses with big plots of land. The area was a boring backwater in London about 15/20 years ago, but then developers started to realise they could buy 2 big houses and put up (low rise) blocks of flats at great profit. There was a huge outcry from residents, because of the question of over development/more traffic etc, but one real positive is that all of those extra people living here has resulted in lots of new restaurants, plus bars – also there hasn’t been a problem like in many high streets with shops closing down. So, that would hopefully be the plus side for Woolwich of this development.

    One thing I do hope though is that Woolwich keeps its character – I really like that so many of the Victorian terraces are still houses – in so many places they’ve all been converted to flats and it’s a real shame.

  3. This made me think of the recent campaign about the changing London skyline, with some 236 tall buildings are on the way across London

    There’s a link to the data in

    It looks as if they’re missing at lot of these developments across Woolwich & Kidbrooke?

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