Greenwich Council

Agenda item

Land Bounded by Old Stable Row, Woolwich New Road and Thomas Street, SE18 (17/0681/F)

The Planning Board is requested to grant full planning permission for the erection of a 2.4 metre high temporary perimeter hoarding (as amended), subject to Conditions set out in Appendix 2.


Refused full planning permission for the erection of a 2.4 metre high temporary perimeter hoarding.



Councillor M. James declared a personal interest as an employee of Transport for London (TfL) in relation to this item. 


The Panel noted the officers’ further addendum report circulated on the supplementary agenda.


The Senior Principal Planner gave a detailed illustrated presentation on the application and in response to Members questions advised that the proposal of hoarding, opposed to fencing, was at the recommendation of Planning Officers.  Further, Planning Officers had suggested that the hoarding be erected for no more than 6-months, however, the applicant did not feel that this was long enough to carry out the ground water exploration work required.


The Planning Board accepted an address from Councillor David Gardner, Ward Member, who advised that a lot of people were not aware this area was not a permanent public green area.  He noted that, whilst an application for development of the site was anticipated, no application or proposals had yet been submitted.  He noted that the area was used by residents and it would be a great loss of a public facility and felt that as much of the space should be retained as open public space as possible, in line with the London Plan.   He was not convinced that there was a necessity to fence of the entire area for more than 12 months and area by area investigation was possible.  Further that the proposed hording panels were not the most appropriate fencing type to use.


The Senior Principal Planner responded to Members that the Environmental Agency had noted a potential risk to the underground Water Table and aquifer and Thames Water were requesting connection infrastructure details and the possibility of connecting to infrastructures off site.  As the applicant has not been furnished with details of the underground services locations or that of a sealed well they were seeking to undertake investigative work.


The applicants’ agent addressed the Planning Board advising that;

As an application had not been submitted for a development on the site a General Permitted Development Order (GDPO), permitting structures around construction sites, was not applicable and a separate application, as set out before the Board, had to be submitted.   As the previous land owner had not supplied the current owner with details of the services locations there was a requirement for intrusive works to establish the location of the backfilled well and the quality of capping; the path of the water and electrical services and address the Environmental Agency’s concerns over water pathways and the water table on site.  Also, there was a desire to take the opportunity to also establish if there was any land contamination as the site had not been remediated.  


That the intention was always to erect hording, not fencing, as an acceptable manner of maintaining a safe site and address any health & safety issues, particularly given the intrusive nature of the excavations. 

That in respect of timescale, re-development proposals were in preparation, which it was anticipated would be shortly submitted and with anticipated approval within 12 months and given the cost of soil removal from site it was anticipated to store the soil on site, prior to ultimate removal rather than excavate, reinstate and then remove again.  It was not felt that the timescale proposed was prohibitive.


In response to questions from Members of the Board applicants’ agent stated that there was no proposal for a site hut or on site security, the site was well lit and overlooked by residential properties. 


Member asked if the investigation to ensure that the land was suitable for and could sustain the development being prepared for proposal on the site, to which the applicants agent confirmed that this was correct as the investigations would also give guidance as to the sites ability to accept pilling and which building design and construction method should be proposed.

He confirmed to Members that the applicant was intending to submit an application in the next 6 to 8 weeks.  It was understood that the area was of public use and two consultation events had been undertaken and the vast majority understood it was a development site but of those who were not aware of this thought it was a public amenity.  The developer is trying to ensure that people are aware that this was always to be a development site and the current green area was always going to be a temporary amenity. 


The Senior Principal Planner clarified that the diagram, at page 2 of the report, showing the boundary of the fencing was out of line and confirmed that this would not be obstructing any pathways outside of the boundary of the site.


In determining the proposal before them Members felt that there needed to be a strong justification in removing a highly regarded and well used public space for such an extended period of time.  Further, that the application appeared to be for preparation of the ground for a potential development.


Councillor Thorpe raised that there was no detailed approval for the area and the nature of the Town Centre have changed greatly and he felt that there were a number of reasons why the Board should consider refusing the application, which were;  there was no guarantee that an application for development of the site was imminent and there were no existing detailed permissions granted; the hoarding would have a negative impact on the Town Centre due to its visibility in a central location and the height of the hoarding would be intrusive and change the way people used general Gordon Square; the hoarding would dissuade pedestrians from using Love Lane to allow peoples to easily move to the train station or riverfront as intended within the Core Strategy. Further, that it would be premature for Members to determine the long term future of the site without any detailed application before them and doing so may send out the wrong message.  He understood that there may have been failures in the information provided to the applicant as part of the handover of land ownership and believed that the ground would have been subject to testing at the time outline planning permission was granted for the area.


In light of his comments, Councillor Thorpe proposed that the application before the Planning Board be refused.  The proposal was seconded by Councillor Offord.


Members sought clarification as to whether they were making a judgement on a planning application for hoardings or the applicants right to develop the site which may be outside of the Boards authority to take a view.


The Assistant Director, Planning & Building Control, advised that it was acceptable to look at the application in terms of its visual impact as well as the requirement for it, at any particular moment in time.


Members sought clarification as to the applicants’ options to carry out the work if the Board refused permission. 


The Assistant Director, Planning & Building Control, advised that if the Planning Board members were minded to agree refusal the applicant had the right to appeal the decision and Planning Inspectorate would be asked to make judgement on the Planning Boards decision tonight.


The Principle Lawyer for the Council, advised that Members needed to be clear as to the reasons for the application and ensure that there was no issue of prematurity of the application That the permitted developer had the right to make an application for planning permission on the site and, if that were granted, the developer would have the right to erect hoardings, in connection with that development.  However, there is no permission in place at this time, which is why the application has been submitted, which they had a right to do. 


Councillor Thorpe confirmed that he was happy to remove any concerns in relation to future applications from the proposed reasons for refusals of the application.


A Member added that it was not clear why the entire site had to be given over to trace the course of an aquifer which was likely to only transcend a small proportion of the site. Further that there was an understanding that the application was submitted, in its current form, to allow the applicant to take advantage of the excavations and retain the lifted soil on site, to save money.  It was recognised that whilst this was not a planning consideration it was relevant in respect of granting consent as what was being proposed appeared to be in excess of what was reasonable to trace the line of an aquifer.


It was noted by the seconder of the Motion to refuse that there appeared to be to major issue, in that the proposed hoarding would be incredibly intrusive and that it would entirely prohibit access to a grassed area in the middle of a town square, which was heavily used by the public.


The Chair sought clarification as to whether the grounds and concerns stated by Members for potential refusal were legitimate and it was in the power of the Board to continue with refusal, should they wish to do so.


The Assistant Director, Planning & Building Control confirmed the basis for refusal, as guided by Members; the negative impact on the Town Centre; that the hoarding would be highly visible; the intrusive nature of the hoarding, the change of use in character of the area; the negative impact on the intended us of Love Lane and the excessive nature of the works to trace the course of the aquafer.


Both the Principle Lawyer Officer and Assistant Director, Planning & Building Control confirmed to the Chair that the Board was in possession of significant facts to make a decision on the matter.


The vote on the procedural motion to refuse the application was taken with 10 members for refusal, 0 against and 2 abstaining.



Resolved -


That full planning permission for the erection of a 2.4-metre-high temporary perimeter hoarding be refused on the basis of:

·       The adverse visual impact on the character of Woolwich Town Centre and particularly General Gordon Square (London Plan 7.4, RBG DH1, Woolwich Town Centre SPD)

·       Sense of enclosure that would be created with negative impact on Love Lane as an important link towards the River Thames and main transport hubs within the area (London Plan 7.5 and 6.10; RBG DH1, DH(k), TC2 and IM4, Woolwich Town Centre SPD)

·       The intrusive size, both in terms of height, and by the area to be enclosed by the hoarding, which would relate negatively with the surrounding context. (London Plan 7.4, RBG DH1)

·       The excessive time requested for the hoarding, in absence of detailed proposals for a replacement development, would fail to enhance General Gordon Square and the vitality of Woolwich Town Centre (London Plan 7.4, RBG DH1, TC2 and Woolwich Town Centre SPD).


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