Greenwich Millennium Village was the flagship housing project launched in the first 100 days of Tony Blair’s premiership and flaunted as a “showpiece of 21st century living”.
Former deputy prime minister John Prescott pledged that the first residents would be moving in by 1999 and the project would be completed by 2013.
But today, thanks to the recession plus building and planning, well under half its 2,800 homes are finished and the bulk of the site has been grassed over. But - in a signal of green shoots in London’s house building market - the scheme being built on the site of a former gas works is finally off the back burner.
Greenwich council has just granted planning permission for just shy of 1,800 new homes on a 24 hectare site close to the 02 Arena, in a joint enterprise between developers Countryside Properties and Taylor Wimpey, with a reported budget of £745 million.
Work on the first 459 of those homes is due to start in 2013, and should be completed from 2015, although the scale of the scheme means Mayor Boris Johnson will need to approve it first.
The plans include a crèche, a community building, shops, restaurants, cafés, bars and offices. There will only be one tall building on the site, standing 20-storeys.
A spokesperson for the project said the concept would create an “exemplar of urban design” in London, with a mixture of townhouses and apartments laid out in traditional street patterns and linked by open squares.
Heinz Richardson, director of the scheme’s architects, Jestico + Whiles, added: “The creation of sustainable neighbourhoods is at the heart of our approach - creating places in which people want to live through the different stages of our lives.”
The final phases of the millennium village were delayed partly by the recession and partly because original plans for a higher-density scheme had to be redrawn. However Ed Lewis, director of residential development at Savills, believes that across London the house building hiatus of 2008 and 2009 is now “firmly behind us”.
“Finance is still difficult but now they feel that if they build they will be able to sell,” he said. “There is not much that is being finished now though, because there were no starts two and a half years ago. There is a void that will be acute for the next couple of years."