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Jenrick shoots down appeal for SimpsonHaugh’s Charlton 'Stalingrad'

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Housing secretary Robert Jenrick has torn up an application for 771 homes by SimpsonHaugh in Charlton, south-east London

The One Blackfriars architect first applied for 11 buildings, ranging from two to 10 storeys, for developer Rockwell back in 2016. The development would have contained 292 affordable homes – 40 per cent by habitable room – and featured active fronts with communal and retail space.

The scheme was the first to be assessed by the Royal Borough of Greenwich since it drew up a supplementary planning document for Charlton Riverside with Aecom, which set out a vision for a ‘well-designed’ urban area with housing ‘at a human scale’ that ‘actively contributes to a sense of place’.

But it faced opposition from Greenwich council and the Greater London Authority – both of which rejected planning permission – as well as local MP Matthew Pennycook.

Sarah Merill, then chair of Greenwich’s planning board, described SimpsonHaugh’s designs as ‘reminiscent of Stalingrad’ when she led the board to unanimously reject the application in 2018.

‘This application in absolutely no way resembles the spirit of the Charlton masterplan, in terms of height, massing and design,’ she added.

Jenrick has now sided with Greenwich, on the recommendation of planning inspector Mike Robins, after Rockwell appealed against the original decision.

In a 193-page report, Robins concludes that the application ‘fails to take the opportunity to promote a high quality of design, particularly in relation to scale and massing, that responds to its location’.

Jenrick has also scuppered plans for a 27-storey tower by Formation Architects in nearby Woolwich.

The pink tower and accompanying nine and 16-storey buildings would have provided a total of 704 flats as well as ground-floor retail space.

And, as planning inspector Paul Griffiths noted, the scheme would have helped ‘mask the heinous impact’ of Sheppard Robson’s 2014 Carbuncle Cup-winning Woolwich Tesco.

However, Griffiths concluded the height of the tower would ‘loom somewhat oppressively’ over the centre of Woolwich, adding that the ‘incongruity of its height would continue along the unfortunate path’ set by the Tesco development. Jenrick agreed with the inspector and dismissed the application. 

SimpsonHaugh declined to comment, while Formation Architects has not responded to a request for comment.

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