Greenwich Council has ordered the Mast Quay Phase II rental development, two high-rise tower blocks near the Thames in Woolwich, to be knocked down and the land to be restored to its former condition, accusing developer Comer Homes Group of flouting planning rules.
The towers are occupied and are home to 204 apartments - meaning tenants could now have to find alternative accommodation.
Hitting back at the council’s enforcement notice - described by officials as unprecedented - Comer Homes Group said it would appeal and accused the council of misleading the public.
“The Comer Homes Group is surprised and extremely disappointed by the decision of the Royal Borough of Greenwich to issue an enforcement notice in respect of our Most Quay Phase II development,” said a spokesperson.
“We are particularly surprised to see the accompanying public statements which are Inaccurate and misrepresent the position and our actions
“We will be appealing against the enforcement notice and look forward to robustly correcting the inaccuracies and addressing the Council’s concerns.
“We have over many months sought to engage constructively with the Council, and notwithstanding these disproportionate actions, remain willing to do so.”
The spokesperson said it wanted to work with officials to gain retrospective planning permission, to avoid “wasting significant sums of taxpayers’ money on litigation”.
If the developer does not win any appeal, it will have to bulldoze the buildings or face the prospect of an unlimited fine.
The council claims Comer breached 26 planning conditions and continued to let flats in the scheme despite being advised not to do so while an investigation was ongoing.
Among the breached conditions were a lack of play space for children, no step free access for disabled residents to their own balconies, and a lack of promised green space in outside areas, it said.
Greenwich Council leader Cllr Anthony Okereke said: “This decision is not one that the Royal Borough of Greenwich has taken lightly, but I believe it is reasonable and proportionate to the scale and seriousness of the situation.
“Mast Quay Phase II represents two prominent high-rise buildings on Woolwich’s riverside that just are not good enough, and the reason that they are not good enough is because the development that was given planning permission is not the one that we can all see before us today.”
Councillor Aidan Smith, the council’s cabinet member for regeneration, described the blocks as a “mutant development”.
“We cannot let what has been delivered at Mast Quay Phase II go unchallenged,” he said.