853

news, views and issues around Greenwich, Charlton, Blackheath and Woolwich, south-east London – what you won't read in Greenwich Time

Return of the high-rises: Kidbrooke Village’s 31-storey tower

with 17 comments

Kidbrooke Village phase 3

Thought demolishing the Ferrier Estate would rid Kidbrooke of tower blocks? Think again – these are the first images of the 31-storey tower planned as a new centrepiece for the Kidbrooke Village development, currently being built by Berkeley Homes.

Kidbrooke Village tower proposalThe plans for the third phase of the Kidbrooke Village development were revealed at an exhibition earlier this month, and the information boards have now been published online.

The centrepiece is a 31-storey “landmark residential tower”, surrounded by “pocket towers” of 8 to 15 storeys high. There would be restaurant/cafe and retail space at the foot of the tower, which would provide 143 homes.

Berkeley’s plan would supersede the existing scheme which limits the towers to 15 storeys, which itself replaced a plan keeping them at nine storeys.

The tower replaces plans for a hotel and “is designed to create a vertical community, able to live and enjoy recreation through the provision of well-orientated common areas and amenity spaces”.

It would also be the tallest building for miles around – beaten locally only by Deptford’s Convoys Wharf, which would boast a 40-storey tower.

The Kidbrooke tower would equal the highest tower planned for Greenwich Peninsula, which would have 31 storeys. Berkeley has permission for 21-storey towers in Woolwich, Lewisham’s completed Renaissance Tower is 24 storeys high while Deptford’s Distillery Tower weighs in at 27 storeys.

The presentation also details plans for blocks of eight to 18 storeys on land close to Blackheath’s Cator Estate, a conservation area.

The scheme would add would add a further 877 new homes to Kidbrooke Village, taking the total to over 5,000, making it denser than the original Ferrier Estate. There’s no word on how many of these homes will be “affordable” or for social rent – the scheme was due, overall, to deliver 38% “affordable” housing.

But transport infrastructure changes are minimal – with a new Kidbrooke rail station (but the same old service) and a partial reversal of the bus cuts which took place last summer – with TfL already planning to re-route the B16 bus back into the eastern side of the development. But there’s no sign of any serious upgrades to local transport.

Land Registry entriesEltham-based community magazine SE Nine, which revealed the plans a couple of weeks ago, reports the proposals “could only have been put forward with the tacit approval of senior councillors and officers” at Greenwich Council – although with the final planning board ahead of May’s election due to meet on 9 April, it looks too late to squeeze it through before the poll, Ikea-style, as no planning application has yet been submitted.

But the close links between council leader Chris Roberts and Berkeley Homes can’t be denied – the leader likes its Royal Arsenal development so much, he bought one of the flats in 2009 (see Land Registry record above). Last year, Berkeley helped Roberts’ campaign for a Silvertown Tunnel. And in January this year, the council’s weekly newspaper Greenwich Time published this odd letter about Berkeley’s charitable arm…

Greenwich Time, 7 January 2014

Pleasant and approachable, eh? Clearly this was an attempt to deflect some of the bullying accusations against the leader. Yet Chris Roberts’ exercise in vanity begins to look foolish when you remember how closely his council’s ambitions for Kidbrooke Village depend on Berkeley’s financial position.

According to a confidential report passed to this website, in December 2012, a year before Roberts’ bash, both Greenwich Council and London mayor Boris Johnson agreed to waive their rights to a share of some sales profits from the scheme after Berkeley complained of an £83 million shortfall. In return, the housebuilder would start work on the “village centre” which it said would make the scheme viable.

Cabinet member Denise Hyland – widely thought to be Roberts’ preferred successor if he stands down after May’s poll – backed the move, and a few months, one Sainsbury’s Local and a housing boom later, the place was in rude health once again. If this is the kind of tough decision about a developer your council has to make, it’s not wise to be buddying up with them in public.

As a private firm, Berkeley is only doing its job, getting the best possible return for its shareholders. But is Greenwich Council up to the challenge of doing the same for its residents? We’ll see in the weeks and months to come in the way it deals with the giant tower of Kidbrooke.

Written by Darryl

17 March, 2014 at 7:30 am

17 Responses

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  1. I spent a long time talking to the architects and the Berkeley executives at the exhibition and made it quite clear that, personally, I thought that these buildings were far too high. I got the very strong impression that they knew this and were going for a ridiculous height initially, expecting to deal at a lower height when the full consultation is completed. My guess is 12 stories for all buildings apart from the ex hotel.

    To be fair the ex hotel could be a very interesting building – sky gardens, restaurant, play terrace etc. Whilst the spectre of the Ferrier-fail comes immediately to mind this is not a one tenure development. Surrounding infrastructure is an issue – they are upsizing facilities but can do nothing about transport – problems ahead on that.

    This is a long term project and I can see that, despite the profit motive (that’s capitalism folks), the political will for more housing has opened the door for these new proposals. As long as the design, density and height are acceptable, with the right mix of tenure including affordable housing, then this might well make sense. If one accepts that we need more housing, a knee jerk reaction against is not that helpful.

    With regard to Labour and Berkeley – I don’t know what has happened, but a long term party in power over decades is not a helpful background, in terms of democracy, for decisions like this. Any change likely? This blogs’ attacks on the local Liberal Democrats, suggesting candidates stand down and not bother, is of course very helpful.

    Chris Smith

    17 March, 2014 at 8:26 am

  2. Blimey. A bit touchy aren’t we Chris? This blog is constantly attacking Labour, do you think because Labour is the nasty party locally your party should be exempt from criticism/comment?

    Re high rise, as someone whose kids spent their formative years on the 23rd and 19th floors of blocks a lot higher than 21 stories, I’ve nothing against upward building per se (what do you have against it BTW?), but the majority of these ‘units’ will be bought by people who want motor transport unless public facilities are dramatically upgraded (which they won’t be).

    Chris

    17 March, 2014 at 10:24 am

  3. Interesting information here on what has been happening between Greenwich Council and Berkeley Homes and it will take a while to digest.

    Should I be reading anything into the fact that Michael Stanworth, one of the stalwarts of the local Labour parties, is now working for Curtin & Co?

    http://www.curtinandco.com/our-people/community-politics/

    Curtin appear to be responsible for marketing the consultation on this new scheme going by the email addresses used on http://www.kidbrookeregeneration.info/dsp_contactus.cfm

    Stewart

    17 March, 2014 at 10:43 am

  4. I thought the article against us (on hospitals) was fair comment, albeit harsh on us locally – it was the comment about local candidates that has caused problems. But I believe in a free press and this blog does a vital job (unpaid) and I would be very upset if we didn’t get it in the neck when we deserve it.

    I also have nothing against high rises per se but they need to be in keeping with the site – that is not the case, in my opinion, in these new proposals. For what it is worth talk of the DLR extension to Eltham came up a lot at the exhibition.

    Chris Smith

    17 March, 2014 at 10:44 am

  5. To avert any risk of this becoming a Mark Adams-style thread, can we move Lib Dem discussion to the Lib Dem/Lewisham hospital post?

    http://853blog.com/2014/03/12/lib-dems-endanger-lewisham-hospital-and-themselves/

    As for this website kicking Labour – well, it’s far from clear that Labour is actually in charge of the council it purports to run.

    Chris – what was the opinion on the DLR on stilts? Surely something more dramatic will be needed than a DLR connection to an already-overloaded North Greenwich?

    Darryl

    17 March, 2014 at 10:49 am

  6. I was in discussion with a Berkeley executive and he was clearly very frustrated by the transport situation and the wish for more trains from Kidbrooke, the DLR on stilts and more big roads (eek) came up. I am not sure that they have looked into the DLR idea that closely at this stage – I pointed out the many problems with it, notably the pinch point at N Greenwich tube as you say.TfL must join the discussions over the implications for this.

    Chris Smith

    17 March, 2014 at 11:03 am

  7. If the DLR on stilts idea wasn’t already dead in the water due to capacity at North Greenwich, a conflict of space with the Silvertown Tunnel and increased A102/A2 traffic plans, it is now. The zombie Greenwich Waterfront Transit scheme has been resurrected, certainly between North Greenwich and Abbey Wood via Thamesmead, which will probably send overcrowding at the Jubilee Line soaring once complete.

    Kight Dragon are pushing for this and it looks like it will be discussed at cabinet this week. It’s in item 2.3 on http://committees.greenwich.gov.uk/documents/s33246/10%20-%20Woolwich%20Town%20Centre%20-%20open%20report.pdf but expect some of the discussion to take place in closed session. Moving the leisure centre to Wilkinson’s site and a new cinema complex for Woolwich is also in the same document.

    Stewart

    17 March, 2014 at 11:05 am

  8. The idea of a zombie transit scheme is frankly terrifying.

    clogsilk

    17 March, 2014 at 12:30 pm

  9. Well, someone has to use the cable car.

    Darryl

    17 March, 2014 at 12:37 pm

  10. The cable car is for containment – Waterfront Transit just gets them there.

    Stewart

    17 March, 2014 at 12:49 pm

  11. Shame Berkeley is using its heft to lobby for new roads, and Greenwich Council is meekly following them – this is where Greenwich joining in with Lewisham’s demands for a Bakerloo Line extension could have been very useful.

    Darryl

    17 March, 2014 at 1:08 pm

  12. Indeed. Lewisham->Blackheath->Charlton->Woolwich->Plumstead->Thamesmead would be possible with minimal disruption, greater benefits and far lower cost than the river crossings.

    Stewart

    17 March, 2014 at 1:15 pm

  13. Nasty.
    I suggest that this venture will get the go ahead if (going on current form) the number of parking spaces is the square root of the total number of dwellings.

    Steve

    17 March, 2014 at 2:27 pm

  14. Interestingly Phase 1 of the development which backs onto Sutcliffe Park, is mixed tenure and has cheaper (and by cheaper I mean £300-450K instead of the £1m townhouses in Phase 2) private properties, but is looking to be the nicest area within the development in the long term if these high rise plans go ahead. All of the others either face Kidbrooke Park Road or will be overlooked by the towers.

    I’m not sure how useful “number of homes” is when looking at this, given how many of the properties in the current/new phases are small flats that will only take single professionals, sharers, or very small families. Phase 3 has a large number of studio flats for example.

    Annie

    18 March, 2014 at 5:47 pm

  15. I personally think the whole lot of it is disgusting, I grew up in Eltham green road and my parents still live there.
    The view from the back windows used to be bad enough when the Ferrier was there, Now its worst with no consideration for the privacy of the long term tenants…Obstructing the view over the park for the original residents of the area by building homes that have stolen that privilege and again lack of consideration for the original residents.

    I just hope that all these people are catered for as far as amenities, Healthcare and social attractions.

    All i see is a greedy council..There was no thought to anyone else when they turned the local historical public house into a Macdonalds and knocked down a listed ballroom by mistake for the car park…Yeah right..Greedy land grabbing tw@ts…

    This so called Kidbrooke village was supposed to be affordable homes..What a load of bullshit…All i can say is i hope it all sinks into what used to be marshland….

    MrZ

    18 March, 2014 at 6:24 pm

  16. I’d like to know on what grounds the need for secrecy outweighs public interest. The justification in the document itself is that it will become public knowledge anyway. ???

    Dimps

    22 March, 2014 at 12:56 pm

  17. I went along to the B16 rerouting consultation this evening over at the Information Centre. There was a bloke from TFL there (Stephen O’ Connor) and a bloke from Greenwich Council (David Dodd).
    The whole thing was frankly depressing. There is no new transport infrastructure coming.

    I personally don’t use the B16 much these days but was curious about transport as a whole in the area given the number of people that are being dumped in the area on this development.

    Apparently there is nothing TFL or the council can do about the frequency of train services from Kidbrooke station. There is no scheme for the road network – basically they are hoping to limit traffic growth by not having many parking facilities on the development and there are no new bus services which wouldn’t help anyway as the buses would be stuck in traffic.

    Also I was told that the current Sainsbury’s over there is temporary and that it will move to a bigger site in an as yet unconstructed building (no idea what that will do for traffic, depends on its size). I asked about a token cycling pathway possibly using the old tudway road tunnel under the kidbrooke park road following the railway from Eltham to Blackheath and was told that could be a possibilty and to bring it up when the revised planning application is submitted…

    Gavin Murdock (@curium)

    26 March, 2014 at 9:31 pm


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