The Battle of Lovell's Wharf

The home page reports the Borough’s decision to refuse consent for big changes to the scheme already approved at Lovells Wharf.

The developers argued that changes in the planning climate supported their case for dropping or reducing key elements in the mixed scheme. They pointed to the Enderby Wharf consent as a reason for increasing the heights of the Lovells blocks by as much as five stories. They argued that the market for hotels, offices and workshops had changed and that this justified abandoning the hotel element and reducing the office and workshop space as well as giving less space for health and fitness facilities.

The Public Transport Accessibility Level (PTAL) applied to a site is a key factor in determining the permitted density and they pointed to the plan for a Clipper Jetty at Enderby and claimed that this justified lifting the site's rating from 3 to 4 and thus supported the case for the higher density which 248 more flats would create.

Opponents successfully argued that the Enderby consent was not a convincing precedent. The Enderby site is further away from the Conservation Area and would not have the same impact as much taller blocks in Banning Street would have on the low rise housing in the neighbouring streets.

The PTAL rating of 4 was disputed too. As one Councillor, who spoke from the floor on behalf of his ward constituents said, it took considerable mental gymnastics to accept that a clipper service which was by no means assured could justify lifting the rating especially when the existing pressures on local transport was so obvious.

When Planning Board members discussed the application it was clear that they were unconvinced by the evidence, or lack of it, put forward in support of dropping the non-residential elements. The loss of employment opportunities was a concern for them as well as the impact on views from the river and from the World Heritage Site where the previous uniform blocks would have been replaced by a more jagged outline.

It is not often that Greenwich has seen a decision to refuse a major application but the Planning Board on this occasion considered the arguments fully and carefully before reaching a unanimous decision to refuse consent. Their printed decision and the nine reasons for refusal are set out below.

Whether the developer decides to appeal to the Planning

Richard Baglin


Here follows an abridged version of the nine reasons given by the Borough Planning Board for refusing the planning application. The full list will be posted shortly.

Decision: Resolved That planning permission be refused for the revised application for part of Phase 1 and all of phase 2 (namely Blocks 3, 4, 5, 6a, 9, 10 and 11) for a mixed use development comprising 528 Residential units (increasing from 282 units) (Class C3), and changes to the non- residential floor space quantum to provide Office Use (Class B1), Restaurant/Cafe/Bar (Class A3/A4), Eco Centre (Class D1), Medical Health Centre (Class D1) and Health Centre (Class D2) creation of new areas of open space, tidal garden, play areas, service and plant and parking facilities together with associated works including vehicular access, cycle and pedestrian routes, landscaping and works to river wall and foreshore.

Reason for Refusal

1. The proposed development by reason of its height, scale, bulk and massing is considered to have an unbalanced and dominant relationship with the established urban fabric of the area resulting in a visually obtrusive form of development which would have a detrimental impact on the character and appearance of the surrounding area generally.

2. The proposed increased height, scale, bulk and massing of the pavilion blocks fronting on to Banning Street together with the height of the linear blocks would have an overbearing impact on the street scene resulting in an increased sense of enclosure...

3. The proposed development by reason of the increased height, scale, bulk and massing of the pavilion blocks together with their close proximity to the linear blocks would result in a sense of enclosure, poor outlook and lack of privacy to the proposed residential units, detrimental to the residential amenities of potential occupiers...

4. The proposed development, by reason of its inadequate uplift in open space and its location in an area of local park deficiency would fail to achieve a good quality environment for future residents and further exacerbate the open space deficiency for existing residents in the area

5. The applicant has failed to provide any evidence to suggest that the site is no longer viable to accommodate the level of approved employment uses ....

6. The proposed development by reason of its lack of sufficient on-site parking would have a potential impact on the free flow of traffic and may result in additional congestion and obstruction on the local highway and increased pressure on-street parking to the detriment of pedestrian and highway safety,....

7. The proposed development by reason of its height, scale, bulk and massing would result in an incongruous addition which would be visually unsympathetic and fail to preserve and enhance the direct river views from the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site ....

8. The proposed increase in height, scale, bulk and massing of Block 5 would result in an ungainly form when viewed from Banning Street towards the river which would be detrimental to the visual amenity of the surrounding area. The proposed development fails to take into account the heights of the nearest blocks proposed at Enderby Wharf and result in an unacceptable level of overshadowing on to the Enderby Wharf site ....

9. The proposed development by reason of its excessive high residential density in a location with a moderate Public Transport Accessibility Level rating of 3 would constitute an overdevelopment of the site