UPDATE: 14/9/12 – Firefighters rescue woman from Pimlico flat fire

This dreadful building by MAKE stands between the private residential waterside block (Bramah) and the railway lines into Victoria.  It has mean narrow pinched windows and consists almost entirely of overheated single aspect flats without balconies  (the corner flats have adjacent windows facing at 90°).

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Woods House shows its western face, limited fenestration is the technical term

The development of GW as a whole is nice, there’s no denying that, it’s just that the “affordable” tenants of Woods House don’t benefit from it much.  If you were not in need of affordable housing you probably wouldn’t realise that Woods House exists, placed as it is at the back of the development.

S106 documents are included on this page here:-


To find the planning application, search for 06/07098/FULL at the planning portal which is:-


DOCUMENTS: If you’re researching the building I’ve posted some documents here:- Planning Documents

A2Dominion first came to my attention last year following their purchase of Queen’s Wharf at Hammersmith riverside by the bridge, and adjacent to the Queen Caroline Estate. It transpires that they have quite a track record of building S106 developments and it is a feature of this blog that I have been able to follow and examine some of their projects in detail. See the Developers page for more details and links to floor plans.

I went to see it on 23/6/2010 and took these photographs.  However it was first drawn to my attention as the product of an S106 agreement drawn up between St James and A2Dominion who did the work.  The housing association concerned stipulated that the tenants of Woods House were not to have balconies . . .

None of the affordable housing has private amenity space (balcony, terrace nor garden) including the three bedroom family size units on the ground floor of the eastern block.  SJH (St James Homes) claim that the affordable housing has been designed to meet Acton Housing Association’s design standards and that the housing association do not favour balconies as these can be used for unsightly storage.  Some of the private housing units in the western block have small recessed terrace areas.  Furthermore, there is to be no access for residents on to the landscaped roof area between the two blocks.  Committee’s views are therefore sought on whether, given the lack of private amenity space for individual flats, there should be access in to the landscaped roof garden for residents of the building.

Taken from P.61-2 of the SUB COMMITTEE REPORT from 04/07636/FULL

. . . because they would use them as storage. Hence the result that Bramah has balconies (on its Western face) and Woods House does not. Richard Crossman said much the same thing in the 1960s, that balconies were a luxury public housing could not afford, watch Kate Macintosh referring to this speech being interviewed for the film Utopia London

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Woods House in late afternoon sunlight is shadowed by the Bramah building . . .

On the ground floor by the service road that exists for emergency vehicle access and water board access to the pumping station I was able to look inside an empty flat.  The rooms are small and poorly lit.  They are shadowed by the wall of the raised railway tracks into Victoria station.  This was late afternoon and I am happy to accept that more light would be available on the E side of the building in the mornings, however it must be borne in mind that these are single aspect flats and so from midday onwards that is going to be one gloomy flat (below).

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Woods House – looking SSE towards the former Battersea Power Station

The site itself is a former GLC waste transfer station and was used to transfer residential waste into barges to be taken downstream for disposal elsewhere.  The original basin has been altered to form a small marina and the lock gates restored as a feature.  The pumping station alongside has been preserved as a listed building with its chimney.

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GW from the Grosvenor Road entrance by the inlet

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Looking back towards the entrance the waste barges used from the Thames

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The building beside Woods House benefits from long balconies to take advantage of the afternoon sunlight and larger flats because the structural bay width was retained to ensure that the supporting pillars fall within the dividing walls rather than making an appearance as they do in the smaller “affordable” Woods House flats.

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“Bramah” reflected in the shallow water feature by the old basin

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Follow tenants’ experiences at Woods House here http://londonwoodshouse.blogspot.com/ and here http://www.facebook.com/Woods.House

Irene Rodriguez

Anyone have water coming through wall, for months now, coming from rain lodged between panel and wall, outside building due to change in the structure of building. Great damage to inside of flats, several I hear. Despite the problem being reported months ago, A2 Dominion claim it’s not their responsibility, no progress made whatsoever. Anyone in this situation? Awful, stressful.Thanks.

11 September at 09:06 via

Anonymous Yes, it’s been a year of complaints, missed appointments and no action
Irene Rodriguez You mean regarding water coming through wall? I’m going through stage 2 complaints at the moment. If we just put up with it, that’s it.
UPDATE: I’ve been inside the building now and the situation is worse than I had thought.  Both hotter and noisier than I had realised.  The screeching trains are sufficient to interrupt conversation and the temperature even on cool days is unpleasantly warm, on a hot day it doesn’t bear thinking about and there is no through draught because the flats are single aspect.  If the ventilation I observed is typical it is totally inadequate for the job and worse, feeds warm air into the flat.

Despite cleanliness on the part of the occupant there was a slight smell of stale food which I have not noticed in other flats in more conventional buildings or houses.  Ok the view is nice but that’s all, it is inadequate housing in my view.  Why put the people least able to afford housing in a block of this type or more to the point why build it at all to such a poor standard?  The “razor” at Elephant and Castle may be carbuncle of the year but I think Woods House deserves the title of “Crap Flats of the Decade.”



UPDATE: It is with a sense of utter disbelief that I came across this today (1/11/10):-


“A2Dominion has scooped gold at the prestigious What House? Awards for its stunning Woods House development in central Westminster.”

Perhaps I should no longer be surprised at the Alice in Wonderland developments that are going on in the world of “social housing” (as opposed to council housing) where black is white and bad is good but of all the A2Dominion crappy developments to celebrate this is surely taking the mickey.  The flats are single aspect, poorly ventilated and noisy.  What’s to celebrate?

Best Shared Ownership Development
Sponsored by Smart New Homes

Bronze: Notting Hill Housing Group – Carew Grove, London

Silver: Newlon Housing Trust – Highbury Square, Highbury, London

Gold: A2Dominion Group – Woods House, London


UPDATE: 22/9/11 Now Building Magazine has had a go:-

Behind it sits Woods House, which has 196 affordable units, overlooking the train tracks leading into Victoria station. Whereas Bramah is oriented along the quayside, Woods nestles up against the tracks, meaning that there is a triangle of land between them. On here, St James has built a one-storey health club with a garden on top for residents of Bramah House. In Chelsea, no piece of land can be wasted.


It’s not actually true that the garden is only for the residents of Bramah House.  There is  a door leading onto the garden from Woods House, it’s just that it seems few of the residents of Woods House make use of it.

You just push the button on the right to the right of the green fire alarm and the door opens, you then have access to the podium, it’s just that nobody seems to use it.  The sign on the door is meaningless because there is access to the podium.

More bad news here:-



From the architects website

London, UK / 2004 – 2009
Located at the heart of the restored Grosvenor Dock in West London, this residential project has transformed a derelict former industrial site into a new urban quarter. The apartments (103 private, 196 affordable) are housed within two blocks of accommodation angled to maximise views out towards the River Thames.Each block is scaled to complement its surroundings: the larger of the two addresses the adjacent listed buildings of Churchill Gardens, while the smaller faces onto the dock and features a colonnade containing a restaurant, bar and entrance lobbies. The two blocks are linked at ground level by a single storey of commercial accommodation with a planted roof landscaped to provide an additional green terrace area for the building inhabitants.Generous enclosed balconies incise the facade with a rhythmic arrangement of voids that draw light and fresh air into living areas, while slender vertical and horizontal glazing slots create more intimate and subtle lighting for bedrooms and bathrooms. The cladding system of anodised aluminium panels is etched in a design developed by artist Clare Woods

Client: St James Group Ltd


2010 Finalist/AJ100 Awards – Building of the Year

2009 Winner/Daily Mail UK Residential Property Awards – Best Architecture


What a load of pompous claptrap!  Bramah may be ok but Woods House most certainly is not.  How they have the nerve to mention Churchill Gardens in association with this dreadful project is quite beyond me.  Churchill Gardens is a beautiful example of high quality post war housing by Powell & Moya.  Grosvenor Waterside is not.  Make are not fit to tie the shoelaces of Powell & Moya, not with Woods House as an example anyway. Perhaps their other work is praise-worthy I don’t know. There’s a comment box below.

Now over to our correspondent, I just can’t wait for the next installment.

Woods House correspondent?

“Keeping cool this summer” – A2Dominion

To add insult to injury A2Dominion have insulted the intelligence of their residents by sending out a three page leaflet printed in several different languages suggesting ineffectual ways to keep the flats cool.  The flats are not overheated because the residents are stupid, they are overheated by design and none of the methods suggested in the leaflets will help.  They are sticking plasters on a gaping wound. Documents linked below:-

Pages One / Two / Three

Let’s look at page 1 entitled Windows and fresh air

At night time:-

  • Open windows where safe to do so
  • Turn off all appliances at the socket before going to bed or when not in use

The flat illustrated in the picture is a corner dual aspect flat. The vast majority of flats in Woods House are single aspect and do not have this option. You cannot open the windows on the railway side at night owing to the screeching from trains on a curve on dry rails going into Victoria Station. Fail.

During the day:-

  • Block sunlight from empty rooms
  • Curtains and blinds should be pulled across open windows 

The flats on the railway side of Woods House are facing East along Lupus St and will only have the sun at the coolest time of day i.e. in the morning.  I have it on good authority that the internal ventilation system blows warm air into the flat and so the suggestions above will not help. Fail.

Moving on now to page 2

When doing housework:-

  •  Open windows
  • Make sure cooker hood filters are cleaned

Once again the room illustrated in the picture has windows on adjacent corners unlike the majority of the flats in Woods House. The above suggestions are likely to make no difference whatever to the temperature inside the single aspect flats in Woods House.

House plants can remove pollutants and toxins from the air – making the air fresher.  Good examples of plants known to have air filtering properties are Spider Plants, Peace Lilies, Rubber Plants and Chrsyanthemums.

What are these people on?  With a morning temperature of 25 deg C in the kitchen  / lounge, a few house plants are not going to make any difference to the room temperatures.


  • Turn off lights when you leave a room
  • Use energy efficient light bulbs

While it is true that filament light bulbs give off heat the scale of the problem in Woods House is such that turning off light bulbs is unlikely to reduce the temperature in the flats which is caused by a lack of cross ventilation and over insulation of the building.

Moving on now to page 3


  • Turn off all appliances when not in use
  • Do not leave appliances on standby

While this is good advice to save on electricity bills see above. Irrelevant to the scale of the problem.


  • Try to use the oven in the evening
  • Use microwave ovens to reheat pre-prepared meals
  • Make sure cooker hood filters are cleaned 

Avoid cooking with your oven and hob during the day as these will add heat to the high temperatures encountered in these hours. As an alternative, microwaves produce far less waste heat.

Once again failing to address the cause of the problem A2Dominion are failing the residents and leaving them to endure uncomfortable and unpleasant living conditions owing to the design, construction and management of the building.

Fortunately I now have a more objective and accurate correspondent inside Woods House and they have enlightened me with the following details since moving in:-

First email

I saw your site & thought I would get in touch as you requested.  I have to say that the heat in the flats & the noise from the rail tracks are unbearable. During this summer we have often experienced temperatures in the flats of 32 degrees on a morning which are almost impossible to reduce.

I contacted A2 Dominion some months ago asking if they would give me permission to install a vent for an air conditioning unit that I had to buy in order to try and cool down the apartment.  I received a card from them advising that someone would be in touch with us within 10 working days to discuss the matter & as yet, some months on, we have had no contact from them other than a printed leaflet advising us on tips to cool down the flats, which were sent to all residents I’m assuming.

Measures suggested included, , open windows (this is impossible due to the screeching & extreme noise from the rail tracks), have house plants, which remove pollutants & toxins from rooms making them feel fresher, use low energy bulbs as they give off less heat, turn off all appliances when not in use, avoid cooking on your hob & using oven during the day as this will increase already high temperatures, use microwave ovens to reheat pre-prepared meals as microwaves produce far less waste heat.  All of these suggestions are pointless when dealing with such high temperatures.

Night times are no better as the trains keep running throughout the night & the screeching noise is exacerbated when the tracks are dry during the hot weather, making it impossible to open windows when in bed.

I know for a fact that A2 Dominion are not interested in making any attempt to alleviate the problem which is obvious by their lack of response to the lengthy letter that I wrote to them. I honestly feel that I am wasting my time  as nobody cares.

Second email


I was considering trying to get as  many residents as possible to write to A2 Dominion to see if they would respond to mass complaints, but a lot of the residents in Woods House do not speak English as their first language & so getting them to do something is rather difficult. My flat mate has also contacted the train companies in relation to the “screeching” problem & only one of them got back to her & they stated that they were “looking in to the matter” & that was it.

I had to have a plumber out yesterday as I had a major leak from one of the toilets & he had an absolute nightmare of a job to rectify the problem.  Apparently the problem is common in the block & access to the piping for the toilet system is non existent as everything is totally boxed in. It took all day to fix & another worker had to come to help it was such a big job.  I am now left waiting to have another repair person to return to replace tiles & shelving that were removed in an attempt to gain access.
Whilst I was removing some of the debris from the workmen, I encountered a lady getting in to the same lift as me.  I explained that I had a major leak in the toilet & that it was a total nightmare.  She told me that she had the same thing, but when workmen come out they keep saying to her that it is fine & there is no problem.  I explained that the workman at my flat had told me that it was a common problem in the block, but that my toilet was the first that they had actually removed in order to investigate the leak, due to the fact that the toilets are the suspended type & that because of the problems with access it is a near on impossible task to remove them.  I think the only reason they rectified the leak yesterday was due to the fact that I stood in the bathroom the whole time & watched (as well as assisted) in what they were doing.  To quote the workmen “Woods House is a nightmare!”.

Fire at Woods House on the late evening of 13th September 2012

Fire crews in breathing apparatus rescued a woman from a serious flat fire on Gatliff Road in Pimlico last late night. The woman was thought to be in a serious condition, and was taken to hospital by the London Ambulance Service. The fire, which happened on the third floor of a high rise block, severely damaged the flat and the corridor was damaged by smoke.

Watch Manager Stephen Hockin, who was at the scene, said:

“There was a lot of black smoke in the flat when we arrived. Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus rescued a woman, who was taken to hospital. Crews worked very hard to contain the fire and keep it from spreading.”

Six fire engines and around 30 firefighters from Chelsea, Clapham, Westminster, and Knightsbridge fire stations were at the scene. The Brigade was called at 2303 and the fire was under control at 0051.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.


I am reliably informed that the fire alarm did not sound on the corridor in question (3rd floor). The residents were alerted and led out of the building by the fire service.

Apparently the supposed procedure for the alarms, as advised by A2Dominion & Hallmark (the management company) is that the smoke detectors in the communal corridors trigger an alarm if smoke is detected  and this alerts the concierge/staff in Hepworth Court.  Someone then comes over to investigate the alarm & then ring the fire brigade if deemed necessary.

A lady living on the second floor rang across to Hepworth Court alerting them that she could smell smoke and asked for someone to come across. Apparently she told the tenant that lives next to the flat that was on fire that she then had to ring across again as nobody came. The staff carried out their set procedure of checking the block floor by floor.

They apparently went up from the ground floor eventually came to the third floor and saw how bad the problem was.  They then called the fire brigade. What if the fire had been on the 11th floor, surely the time it takes to check each floor adds to the possibility of a fire increasing and causing death.

Opinion:- This sounds like a very dangerous procedure to me.  Surely the alarm should ring within the building at the time the smoke detector is triggered?  Or even with a one minute delay to allow the occupant to cancel the detector if this is a false alarm.  The fact that no sound was heard in the building suggests that the occupants were not alerted that there was a fire in the building until they were evacuated by the fire brigade.  The system of relying on the staff from an adjacent building sounds dangerous also.  What it the staff are absent or otherwise occupied?  On the night in question the person who alerted Hepworth Court had apparently to ring twice to get somebody to come over to Woods House.  I wonder if the Fire Service have a view on this situation, and whether or not the situation is legal.

6 Responses to “Woods House – A2Dominion – Grosvenor Waterside”

  1. Graham Says:

    The interior shot (from another a2dominion project) is just shocking. When did a foot-tall strip of glass and PVC take over the function of a window?

    What I find most extraordinary about Woods House — and, indeed, the whole Grosvenor Waterside project — is how little respect it pays to the surrounding community. While your sixth photo (of the west facade of Bramah House) shows the considerable effort the architects took to create an attractive if unusual face to the building, neither the architects nor the planners seemed even slightly bothered about the view from the east. The rear of the building presents an almost blank grey wall, which looms over neighbouring Pimlico and is unlikely to age gracefully. Looking west along Lupus St, with Powell & Moya’s (justly) grade II listed Churchill Gardens on your left and the pretty Georgian streets of the Pimlico conservation area on your right, you can’t help but wonder why they took so little care with this elevation, which will be seen by far more people than the one you picture. The answer, of course, is that Berkeley Homes has an interest in enhancing the value of its holdings around the basin but none whatsoever in the already-developed neighbourhood next door. The real shame is that the planners let them get away with it.

  2. Single Aspect Says:

    Woods House is an appalling building. Never mind that it was designed for social renting tenants, formerly known as council tenants to live in, were it to be offered for private rental I’d be surprised if they managed to fill it because the design is so poor I think people would prefer to stay elsewhere.

    It is a disgrace to housing, the windows are fit only for medieval arrow slits and the flats are small with low ceilings. To add insult to injury the occupants are being asked to pay over £2600 per annum service charges for the privilege of living in this dump.

  3. Gill Stephenson Says:

    I am in the process of exchanging my 3 bedroomed semi in a very quiet area for a 3 bedroomed flat in Woods House, as need to be in Central London for work. Now I am very worried & concerned. Is it really terrible?

  4. Single Aspect Says:

    You have mail.

  5. johnny rae Says:

    a2 dominion are a modern version of slum landlords. they operate apartments in croydon and are a bunch of rude heartless landlords who regularly ignore complaints from residents …everything from rude and aggressive car clampers to anti-social behaviour gets ignored and fobbed off. they recently won (after years of pressure) the right to build a huge apartment complex…literally on top of our one. there is no more room…no car parking spaces…we are having to put up with months of huge construction work from 8 am in the morning. and recently they organized a jubilee party on our green (under our bedroom windows)…without permission…the entire local area was leafletted and invited to come along !!!! what a [edit] liberty.

  6. Amedeo Says:

    Hello everyone, my name is Amedeo Scofone,
    I am an architect from Italy, I’m studying at the AA school a master in sustainable environmental design.
    Woods House is actually the subject of a research I’m doing with other classmates about environmental performance of buildings, and we are going for the next months to work on it.
    It will help us a lot to speak with everyone aware of the situation of the building.
    So if you are interested in helping us feel free to contact me,
    My email is amedeo.scofone@gmail.com

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