Greenwich Council's Planning Board gave the the go-ahead to the University of Greenwich's Stockwell Street redevelopment last night - despite a withering assessment of the project by council leader, Chris Roberts.
The £76 million project will see the construction of a new dedicated School of Architecture and Construction in Greenwich town centre at the site of the old Village Market. A new university library will be also be included, as well as public areas such as a gallery and coffee shop.
Professor Neil Garrod, Deputy Vice-Chancellor from the University of Greenwich, told councillors that this was a "once in a generation opportunity."
He described how the building has been designed to be as "porous as possible," with the "whole ground floor open to the public." A new public walkway will be created adjacent to the railway cutting, connecting Stockwell Street and King William Walk, subject to an agreement with Network Rail.
27 objections were raised with the council and residents from King William Walk attended the meeting to voice their concerns that servicing for the building would take place in areas bordering residential properties.
Before the project can begin, the 1960s office building, John Humphreys House, will be demolished. Local industrial historian, and councillor, Mary Mills told the Planning Board that she wanted to see more recognition of the building's role as a pioneering council computer centre and that "we should be a bit more proud" of it.
The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) described the the Heneghan Peng-designed proposal as "exciting", adding that it was "well designed with an intelligent internal organisation."
Cllr Steve Offord said it would be a "tremendous asset" to Greenwich. Cllr Denise Hyland, said she was "impressed" by the scheme.
Following the expressions of support from his colleagues, Leader of the Council, Cllr Chris Roberts spoke strongly against the proposals.
"I can't like this building," he told them, adding that they would "repent at leisure" if the scheme was passed. If he walked past it, he said, he would look over the road and "prefer the architecture of the Ibis [hotel]," prompting laughter in the public gallery.
The project received the backing of the Board with a 6-2 vote. The decision is subject to approval by the Mayor of London.
Commenting afterwards, Professor Neil Garrod said: "We are very pleased to have won the support of the local authority and we will continue to work closely with all our neighbours in Greenwich as the project takes shape."