LSEC Plumstead Road campus render
The new college will be smaller – but LSEC says it only uses a quarter of its current space

Plans for 294 new homes – half for shared ownership or affordable rent – and a new base for a further education college in Plumstead have been recommended for approval by Greenwich planning officers.

The existing London South East Colleges (LSEC) building on Plumstead Road would be demolished and replaced with five blocks of up to 10 and 13 storeys, while moving the college into smaller premises on the same site.

LSEC, which is teaming up with the L&Q housing association to develop the site, says that it only uses a quarter of its existing space because its 1964 accommodation – previously known as Woolwich College and later Greenwich Community College – is outdated. It says all its 58 jobs will be retained in the new college.

Of the 294 homes, 72 will be for London Affordable Rent – about half market rents and typically available to those on housing waiting lists. Another 76 will be for shared ownership, making a total of 50.4 per cent “affordable” housing.

Plumstead Road college render
Inside the residential part of the development

The two groups have been in discussion with Greenwich Council and City Hall about the development for two years, with early proposals for 17 or 18-storey blocks being revised downwards.

Only two objections to the planning application were received, with one claiming there was “a potential for increase in antisocial behaviour”.

Transport for London, however, objected to the college retaining 12 parking spaces for college staff – down from 87 currently – in what would otherwise be a car-free development between Plumstead, Woolwich and Woolwich Arsenal stations. Council planners defend the inclusion of the spaces as allowing college staff to move between its 13 sites easily without having an impact on local parking.

Plumstead Road college render
The site runs up to the Woolwich to Plumstead railway line

TfL also suggests investigating the possibility of a new cycle route to the Thames Path: this is not addressed by planners in their report.

Section 106 payments – to offset a development’s impact on the community – are dominated by a £294,000 payment to Greenwich Local Labour and Business, the council’s jobs and training arm, and an as-yet-undetermined contribution to the extension of Cycleway 4 towards Woolwich. Current plans show Cycleway 4 terminating at the Woolwich Ferry, some way from the development.

Officers recommend it for approval as “an efficient use of a brownfield site in a sustainable location”.

Plumstead Road college render
The tallest block will be 13 storeys high

Councillors on Greenwich’s planning board are due to decide whether they agree next Tuesday. However, coronavirus restrictions have thrown planning meetings into disarray, as they are currently being held in the poorly-ventilated Woolwich Town Hall chamber and subject to tight time restrictions – meaning councillors may not get around to discussing the development.

Meetings had been held online to get around the public health risks of the pandemic, but communities secretary Robert Jenrick has banned this practice.

The same meeting is likely to decide on whether 188 new homes on the Charlton Riverside will be approved; planning chair Stephen Brain clashed with residents over the proposal when the matter was on last week’s agenda, but restrictions on the meeting meant a decision was postponed.

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