Hundreds set to lose their homes after council orders two south London tower blocks to be demolished in planning row

28 September 2023, 08:04

The approved design, left and how the block looks in real life
The approved design, left and how the block looks in real life. Picture: Greenwich Council

By Asher McShane

Hundreds of tenants at two tower blocks in south London are set to be kicked out of their homes after a council ordered them to be demolished.

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Labour run Greenwich council has ordered the Mast Quay II rental development to be knocked down and the land restored to its former condition.

The council has accused developer Comer Homes Group of flouting planning rules.

All 204 apartments would have to be emptied, potentially leaving hundreds of people with nowhere to live.

The council says the blocks have been ‘built without planning permission and is therefore unlawful because it is so substantially different to the scheme that was originally permitted’.

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The developer could be forced to bulldoze the entire block
The developer could be forced to bulldoze the entire block. Picture: Greenwich Council

One resident told the Guardian: “It seemed too good to be true and now obviously it is. Moving in I thought there were a lot of things that didn't make sense – the layout.

'There had to be a catch and this is the catch. Hopefully, the residents are going to be put before everyone else. No one wants to lose their home.”

Another said: “It was shocking news to me. It’s going to destabilise us trying to get a [new] place. Trying to get a place here has not been easy.”

Council leader Anthony Okereke said: “I believe it is reasonable and proportionate to the scale and seriousness of the situation.

“Mast Quay Phase II represents two prominent high-rise buildings on Woolwich’s riverside that are just not good enough, and the reason they are not good enough is because the development that was given planning permission is not the one that we can all see before us today.”

The council claims Comer has breached 26 different planning conditions and continued to let flats despite being advised not to do so.

The council cites a lack of play space for children, no step free access for disabled residents to their balconies, and a lack of promised green space.

It also cited a reduction in the amount of space for commercial offices, shops and cafes at ground level, no roof gardens for residents and the public, lack of disabled parking bays, not enough underground parking and a gym that is not accessible for wheelchair users.

Comer Homes Group said it would appeal and has accused the council of misleading the public.

“The Comer Homes Group is surprised and extremely disappointed by the decision of the Royal Borough of Greenwich to issue an enforcement notice in respect of our Most Quay Phase II development,” said a spokesperson.

“We are particularly surprised to see the accompanying public statements which are Inaccurate and misrepresent the position and our actions

“We will be appealing against the enforcement notice and look forward to robustly correcting the inaccuracies and addressing the Council’s concerns.

“We have over many months sought to engage constructively with the Council, and notwithstanding these disproportionate actions, remain willing to do so.”

If the developer does not win any appeal it will have to bulldoze the buildings or face an unlimited fine.

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