Until around 100 years ago, the main claim to fame of Greenwich Peninsula was its wildlife and fisheries but in 1897, the Blackwall Tunnel was built under the River Thames to link the peninsula with the North bank, and with the tunnel came development.

In 1997, the Greater London Agency (formerly the Homes and Communities Agency) purchased the site and, following an international competition to appoint a private development partner, some of the world’s most forward thinking developers and architects were bought together in a unique collaboration. Greenwich Millennium Village Ltd was appointed; a joint venture between Countryside and Taylor Wimpey to develop the site. The ethos behind the project was to provide a range of high quality and innovative homes that would facilitate a more sustainable lifestyle.

Take a walk through the history of the Greenwich Peninsula and Greenwich Millennium Village.

The 20th Century

The 20th century saw the arrival of new companies to the Peninsula manufacturing bronze, asbestos and specialist animal feeds. However, none of them anticipated the industrial march of progress and, by the 1980s, with the discovery of North Sea Gas, changing production methods and many industries becoming obsolete, most of the Peninsula fell into disuse. As the 1990s rolled by, it was obvious this ex-marshland, no less stinking than it had been 300 years before, was ripe for regeneration.

1997 - a beacon for change

The Greenwich Peninsula became the focus for an optimistic vision of the new millennium in the late 1990s. The project to reclaim this vast brownfield site - formerly home to Europe’s largest gasworks, amongst other heavy industries - for new communities represented both a huge challenge and an unrepeatable opportunity to create a positive vision for communities and construction in the 21st century. In 1997, English Partnerships purchased 300 acres of land on the Peninsula with the aim of enhancing the transport network and developing more homes, parkland, commercial space and community facilities. The Government launched a competition to design a ‘Millennium Community’ - a flagship project for the revitalisation of cities all over the country. The winning formula needed to incorporate design, place-making and community creation, as well as innovation in construction and environmental issues. Construction work started on the Millennium Dome (now The O2), ready for the year 2000 celebrations; new roads, cycle paths and river walks were created, and in 1999 the new underground station opened. The most exciting chapter in Greenwich Peninsula’s history was just beginning…

The birth of Greenwich Millennium Village

The origins of Greenwich Millennium Village lie in three things: a government competition to inspire new ways of building, a spark of inspiration from dynamic, customer-focused developers, and the talents of one of the World’s most visionary architects. Three parties worked together on the winning submission for GMV: Countryside Properties, with their reputation for placemaking, Taylor Woodrow (now Taylor Wimpey), renowned for their engineering skills, and architect Ralph Erskine of Erskine Tovatt. The design and masterplan proved as much a hit with the public as with English Partnerships. People bought into the narrative around GMV - the quality of life, the community spirit and the idea of a village within the city - as well as the project’s design, amenities, focus on sustainability, and lower projected utility bills. The concept of the ‘Millennium Village’ was a resounding success.

2000 to 2005

When the development launched in 2000, few could imagine how popular Greenwich Millennium Village would be. Lots happened in a short 5 years... The first homes released, sell out in two days flat and Greenwich yacht club moved into its new clubhouse. At Christmas 2000, the first residents move into apartments on School Bank Road, posing with Tony Blair! In 2001, Millennium primary school opened as well as the Ecology Park and visitor centre. Parkside, designed by Proctor & Matthews, is launched in 2003 - which was the first time two phases have been sold together, attracting very different buyers but dramatically increasing interest in the site. A series of “dusty shoe events” were held to promote buy-to-let opportunities and GMV developed a new style of split-level apartment - The Überhaus, which exuded style and sophistication. By August 2005, 671 new homes have been built and occupied.

2006 to 2010

With people now living in the first phases, the next tasks were clear: to push ahead with the rest of the development and improve facilities for those already there. In 2006, The Union buildings were launched - designed by Tovatt to marry the architecture of Ralph Erskine to that of Proctor & Matthews. In 2007, a Reserved Matters Application for the future phases (3, 4 and 5) is submitted. The Village Square was completed and opened in 2008, providing residents with a pharmacy, dry cleaner, convenience store, hairdresser and beauty salon. Planning permission for Phases 3, 4 and 5 was approved. However, a successful appeal from the Port of London Authority and Aggregates site saw it quashed. Construction work finished on the last collection of homes in Phases 1 + 2 in 2008, meaning the total number of homes occupied is 1,095. The second design competition for GMV takes place, inviting submissions to re-think phases 3, 4 and 5. A team led by architects Jestico & Whiles are selected from around 35 entries from all over the world.

2011 to 2015

This period marked a turning point for the development. After years of wrangling and redesigning, planning permission was finally granted for Phases 3, 4 and 5 in March 2012, and work could start again to complete the vision. The first phase of new blocks designed by Jestico & Whiles was launched and the new architecture follows Erskine’s original concept of London squares, but with a very different elevational treatment to anything seen at GMV before. Millennium Minis nursery for children aged 3 months to 4 years opened next to the Ecology Park visitor centre and construction continues with a series of 10 storey buildings, designed to reduce the acoustic impact of the development. In 2015, the first completions on Phases 3, 4 and 5 took place and the 3,480 square metre children’s eco play park, complete with a sand pit and insect hotels, was opened within the Southern Park in October.

2016 to 2019

While work continues apace towards GMV’s completion, the community grows, evolves and becomes even more active as new residents move in. New social activities are launched, and existing events become more popular! Iverna Quay and Millennium Terrace is launched in November 2016 and GMV sponsor six sails at the annual London Dinghy Regatta. The first annual Village Fayre, with fun activities, games, crafts, food and drink, is held in southern park in 2017, and the 20th anniversary of the purchase of the site by the public sector is celebrated with senior representatives from Countryside, Taylor Wimpey and the Greater London Authority. 2018 saw a major rebrand of GMV, including a new logo and identity. The Village Life magazine launches, to chronicle all the events and news from around GMV. The latest phase launched, in 2019, is Commodore’s Quarter, also home to new commercial spaces and a series of events across the year brings the community together.


2020 marks a significant milestone in the history of Greenwich Millennium Village. It’s been 20 years since the first residents arrived and few could believe that the development would become the diverse, convenient and much-loved place it is today. As the new housing quarters come together, so will new amenities to go with them. New neighbourhoods will feature squares for cafés, shops and social spaces, and playgrounds will be added to give families places to have fun and relax. New schools have already materialised to cater for the growing number of younger residents, and ideas are being considered for spaces for community groups and the older generation as the population matures. Meanwhile, plans are in development to expand the Ecology Park to offer residents more woodland and waterway areas to explore.

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