Developer Berkeley Group has been criticised for its plans to knock down a grade II-listed building in Woolwich to make way for a taxi rank and cycle parking for a new Crossrail station.
The developer has submitted an application to demolish an 18th Century former officers’ block that was part of Woolwich Arsenal for redevelopment work to service the new rail link, which is due to open to the public in 2018.
The Royal Arsenal Square scheme, drawn up by Gillespies, would provide more open access to Weston Williamson + Partners’ Crossrail station, which won planning permission in September along with a cluster of five other buildings for the area designed by TP Bennett.
However the proposals have been described as an ‘act of vandalism’ by councillor John Fahy, who is deputy leader of local planning authority Greenwich Council.
Berkeley argues in documents submitted to the council that the proposals are necessary for the ‘efficient functioning’ of the new station and ‘represent excellent urban and landscape design, providing new flexible public realm which will benefit the appearance and character of the conservation area and retained listed buildings’.
Nevertheless, the reports concede that the demolition is not essential for the construction and operation of Crossrail and a heritage report submitted with its application said that refurbishment and fascia retention of the structure were valid options for the future of the building. However the document concluded that demolition was ‘the most economical option’.
John Anderson, chairman of Berkeley Homes’ East Thames division, said the company needed to balance the conservation of the Royal Arsenal site’s best buildings with meeting the access needs of the new station.
‘Our proposals will provide sufficient space and interchange facilities to accommodate the projected 15 million passenger movements transferring through the forthcoming Woolwich Crossrail Station,’ he said.
‘The scheme will deliver a fully accessible, new public square, providing flexible space for the local community and ensuring the protection of Dial Arch Square and Plumstead Road, whilst supporting the future restoration of the listed Building 10, the Royal Carriage Factory.
‘Berkeley Homes’ commitment to heritage and historic regeneration is evident throughout Royal Arsenal, where we have already restored 20 heritage buildings on site, creating one of London’s most exciting regeneration stories.’
The consultation on its application is open until 23 December.