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28 September 2023
Source:&nbsp Royal borough of Greenwich
Greenwich Council has ordered the complete demolition of what one councillor describes as a ‘mutant development’ in the south London borough
The council said Mast Quay Phase II, a Comer Homes development completed last year, was ‘poor quality’ with ‘at least 26 main deviations to the original planning permission’. 
Corner Homes said it would be appealing the council’s enforcement notice, issued on 25 September.
The development, on the south bank of the River Thames in Woolwich, consists of two residential tower blocks, one of which is stepped with 23, 11, 9 and 6 storeys. Many of its 204 apartments are already occupied by tenants, according to the Guardian. 
Original designs for the scheme were drawn up by Upchurch Associates, according to documents submitted in a 2010 planning application. The firm was dissolved in September last year, according to Companies House.
The council says the scheme visibly strays from the approved designs with deviations including ‘more solid and bulky’ final towers, changes to the materiality and cladding with much less glazing, and ‘lower quality’ flats, including steps up to the balconies in supposedly ‘accessible’ apartments. 
Unless Comer Homes successfully appeals the demolition order it will have 12 months to knock down Mast Quay Phase II and restore the land to its former condition.
Greenwich Council says an ‘extensive investigation’ of the built-to-rent housing over the last year, including numerous complaints from locals, concluded the development was ‘unlawful’.
It said the completed towers were built without planning permission because they are ‘so substantially different to the scheme that was originally permitted by the planning permission given in 2012’. 

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Source:Google

Mast Quay Phase II under construction in August 2021

Source:Google
Mast Quay Phase II under construction in August 2021
Council leader Anthony Okereke said the council had not taken the decision ‘lightly’ but added it was ‘reasonable and proportionate to the scale and seriousness of the situation’, given the buildings were ‘just not good enough’. 
Meanwhile, cabinet member for regeneration Aidan Smith blasted Mast Quay Phase II as ‘a mutant development that is a blight on the landscape’ in place of what could have been ‘hundreds of beautiful riverside apartments in an exciting area of London with a rich maritime past’. 
Cabinet member for community safety and enforcement Ann-Marie Cousins added that the ‘unprecedented’ enforcement action was necessary for the integrity of the planning system. 
She said that since starting on site in 2015 the developer had had ‘plenty of opportunities’ to engage with the council or apply to vary their planning permission with design amendments before undertaking construction work, ‘yet there was no contact or application made’ until after the enforcement investigation. 

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Source:Royal borough of Greenwich

Mast Quay Phase II as approved

Source:Royal borough of Greenwich
Mast Quay Phase II as approved
Comer Homes said it was ‘surprised and extremely disappointed’ by the council’s decision, and the accompanying public statements, which it says ‘are inaccurate and misrepresent the position and our actions’. 
It added that it would be ‘robustly correcting the inaccuracies and addressing the council’s concerns’ in its appeal. 
And it insisted the council’s concerns over Mast Quay II ‘can be addressed through following normal process and engaging with us on a retrospective planning application’, and said in the meantime it was ‘prioritising the interests of residents’ in the buildings.
The developer added: ‘We have over many months sought to engage constructively with the council, and notwithstanding these disproportionate actions, remain willing to do so.’

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Source:Royal borough of Greenwich

Mast Quay Phase II as built

Source:Royal borough of Greenwich
Mast Quay Phase II as built
It said its focus now was to urgently discuss the matter with the council, confirming it would not be commenting further until this has taken place. 
Mast Quay received planning permission in 2012. The original application was made by Mast Quay Developments Ltd but the developer went into administration upon completion. The Phase II site was later bought by Comer Homes Group, with planning permission passed to the developer. 
The council’s decision has sparked mixed responses from the industry. Many have welcomed the enforcement of building control, while others fear the carbon cost of demolition and loss of ‘structurally sound’ housing far outweigh the need for enforcement.
Responding to the news on LinkedIn, Chris Wise, senior director at Expedition Engineering, said: ‘Whatever the planning compliance issues (and they may be grave), did anyone stop for a second to consider the waste of embodied energy implied by this retrospective decision.
‘It is a sorry tale of too much rope for the developer, too little control exercised far too late, with disastrous unintended consequences for both the planet and for those whose homes are now under threat.’
And former architect turned architectural photographer Chris Hopkinson responded to the Greenwich Council announcement on Twitter [X], writing: ‘I agree with protesting their crap job. I don’t agree with trying to get it demolished.’
Calling for Comer Homes to instead be issued with ‘a ginormous fine’ and an obligation to ‘pay a good architect and contractor to make the scheme right’, he added: ‘In an age of retrofit first, we can’t tear down an entire, brand new tower that’s structurally sound.’
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