London council rejects viability assessment and refuses 800-home tower scheme

A south-east London council has rejected an application for a scheme including a 27-storey residential tower after an independent assessor rejected the conclusions of the developer's affordable housing viability assessment.

A visualisation of the proposed scheme
A visualisation of the proposed scheme

The Royal Borough of Greenwich's planning board last week voted to refuse the scheme by developer Meyer Homes on six grounds, including failure to maximise delivery of affordable housing.

The application provided for 804 homes and 1,805 square metres of commercial floorspace on a 1.8-hectare site in Woolwich town centre, identified as a strategic development location in the council’s local plan.

The developer proposed two scenarios for the affordable housing contribution, both of which were below the 35 per cent threshold above which, under rules introduced by the London mayor, the scheme would not have had to undergo a viability assessment.

A report by planning officers said that the viability assessment submitted by the developer was reviewed by the council's own independent assessor. It said the appraisal was "lacking in sufficient detail to the extent that a conclusion on the findings could not be reached".

Further evidence was supplied by Meyer, but the council’s assessor still did not agree with the conclusions, the report said. 

Among the council's other reasons for refusal, the planning report advised that the proposed height of the building would be "unacceptably dominating" on the surrounding area.

It also cited overdevelopment, with criticisms of internal layouts, levels of daylight and sunlight and areas of non-compliance with policy on wheelchair access.

The scheme could still be subject to call-in from London mayor Sadiq Khan. In August Khan intervened when the authority resolved to refuse permission for two other schemes with the combined potential to provide more than 1,000 homes.

Last week, the London Borough of Islington unveiled toughened viability proposals as part of its new draft local plan. 


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