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Poor Design Proves Fatal for 771 Home Appeal Proposal in Charlton Riverside Opportunity Area

Melissa Murphy
Isabella Tafur
Caroline Daly

The Secretary of State has refused permission for 771 houses and flats (including 40% affordable) in an Opportunity Area in Greenwich because of the scheme’s design failures and associated conflict with the aims and vision of the Royal Borough’s Charlton Riverside Supplementary Planning Document.

The applicant’s scheme, designed by SimpsonHaugh, proposed the erection of 11 buildings over two plots, ranging from 2 to 10 storeys as part of a residential-led mixed use scheme at Charlton Riverside. The application was called in by the Mayor following a resolution by the Royal Borough of Greenwich to refuse planning permission. Officers at Greenwich and the GLA recommended approval of the scheme, but it was refused by the Mayor for reasons principally relating to design.

Following a nine-day inquiry, the Inspector recommended the appeal should be dismissed. In a decision letter issued on 3 June 2020, the Secretary of State accepted that recommendation and dismissed the appeal. He found that the proposed development on Plot B, at an unrelieved level of 10-storeys, would fail to create an appropriate gateway and transition into the more intimate Charlton Park character area beyond. The 10-storey buildings on Plot A would conflict with the guidance in the SPD and would be perceived as monotonous and monolithic.  The proposed density of development over both plots was indicative of the excessive scale of development. The open spaces would be overwhelmed by the scale of development surrounding them. Both the Inspector and Secretary of State found that development would harm the existing and emerging character of the Opportunity Area and the extensive use of high-rise development would be unlikely to foster the community led, mixed use character envisaged in the SPD.

The development did not reflect the aims and vision set out in the Charlton Riverside SPD, which was a well-considered and robust document and was contrary to those policies in the London Plan, Local Plan and NPPF because it failed to take the opportunity to promote high quality design. While the Secretary of State found that Greenwich could demonstrate a five year supply of housing, even if that had not been the case, he was satisfied that as a result of the scheme’s design failings, its adverse impacts would significantly and demonstrably outweigh its benefits. 

Melissa Murphy and Caroline Daly acted for the Royal Borough of Greenwich and Isabella Tafur acted for the GLA.