Greenwich approved revamp for vulnerable families block – but it won’t be for those with ties to borough

By Joe Coughlan, Local Democracy Reporter

A former hostel in Greenwich that underwent a redevelopment to accommodate vulnerable families on the borough’s housing waiting list is reportedly being used by Luton council instead.

Greenwich council gave retrospective planning permission in September 2023 for the Grosvenor Hill Social Impact Group to convert the building in Ashburnham Grove, just a 10-minute walk from Greenwich Park.

Council documents showed that an agreement had been made between the developer and the authority for vulnerable individuals in the borough to be housed in the development.

However, this arrangement reportedly broke down after the charity assigned to manage the property, Noble Tree Foundation, was put under investigation by the Charity Commission regarding potential unauthorised benefits for trustees and unmanaged conflicts of interest.

The knock-on effect was that the building’s owner sought another deal to fill it, and Luton council has now agreed to house people there instead.

Ben Howlett, 37, moved to the road in 2018 when the site was still a hostel for those with learning difficulties. He said Grosvenor Hill began to convert the building into a home for 26 adults about a year-and-a-half ago and, after enduring the building works, he was surprised to learn it was no longer benefitting people from within the borough.

He has also raised issues with CCTV cameras which he and other residents claim overlook their homes, and described the building as resembling a public toilet in the middle of the Ashburnham Triangle Conservation Area.

He said: “All of us have got issues in terms of overlooking which we were told wouldn’t be the case. I only found out that they had a CCTV camera pointing into our front rooms and bedrooms at the front of our properties by the time I arrived and had a tour of the site.”

“I also heard that they’ve been in touch with Luton council and are now providing the facilities through Noble Tree for very vulnerable people, asylum seekers I believe.”

A Greenwich council spokesman said: “At one stage, we undertook early discussions to explore how we could work with Grosvenor Hill and their proposed partners Noble Tree Foundation Limited, but these conversations did not progress as the Charity Commission was investigating the charity involved in the project, and subsequent proposals were not viable for us to use this property.”

Liliana Osorio, 38, who has lived on Ashburnham Grove for six years, is another resident with a complaint – this time about floodlighting on site.

A Grosvenor Hill spokesman insisted that lights for the building had been confirmed to be fit for purpose and emit a low level of light by Greenwich council officers.

The group also said claims that CCTV cameras from the building pointed directly into locals’ homes were incorrect and unfounded.

A Grosvenor Hill spokesman said that several meetings had been held with neighbours and the local residents association on the project. They said the building had been completed to a high standard and included communal areas, laundry facilities, security and fire systems as well as a large garden and patio area.

They said: “The property has been granted planning permission precisely because the council acknowledges its role in mitigating the challenges faced by vulnerable populations.”

A Greenwich council spokesman said the authority did not own and was not responsible for the building on Ashburnham Grove and it was privately owned by Grosvenor Hill Social Impact Group.

They said the tenants and commercial terms of the property are matters for the owner and the authority’s role was to ensure the running of the project was in line with the planning permission that was permitted at the public meeting in September 2023.

They added: “If there is evidence of a breach of the planning permission, the council will take appropriate enforcement action.”

Noble Tree Foundation was approached for comment. Luton council declined to comment.

Pictured top: Grosvenor Hill Social Impact Group was given retrospective permission by Greenwich council to convert the former hostel into a home for vulnerable individuals (Picture: Joe Coughlan)

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Everyone at the South London Press thanks you for your continued support.

Former Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing:


If you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can make a donation which will allow us to continue to bring stories to you, both in print and online. Or please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.