Ambitious £5bn plans for Greenwich Peninsula will not be derailed by the recession according to the council. MARK CHANDLER takes a tour of the development.

AS the second commercial building in the 190-acre peninsula’s regeneration programme nears completion, efforts are being ramped up to bring more businesses to the area.

The 13-storey building at Mitre Passage offers an almost unrivalled view of the city and river beyond - a unique selling point developers hope capitalise on.

Greenwich Council is leasing the top two floors of the building and, when they move in, council workers can watch the rest of this huge development take shape from their windows.

Under the plans, to be completed over the next 15 to 20 years, the peninsula will feature a 3.5 million sq ft business district alongside 10,000 new homes, 350,000 sq ft of retail, food and drink outlets, 48 acres of open green space and 1.6 miles of riverside.

The council offices will form the headquarters of Destination Greenwich - a programme to promote the borough in the run up to London hosting the 2012 Olympics.

News Shopper: GREENWICH: Recession 'won't hurt Peninsula development'

Leader of Greenwich Council Councillor Chris Roberts explains: “Hosting the Olympics challenges host cities to take advantage of the potential economic boost, and brings a number of opportunities which can only be realised by taking the initiative.

“It is important that we seize the momentum to provide jobs and opportunities for our communities.”

The Mitre Passage building follows the opening of 14 Pier Walk, now occupied by Transport for London.

More than £180m of construction work is currently being undertaken on the site, which is being developed by Lend Lease and Quintain in partnership with the Homes and Communities Agency.

In the coming years, the council expects to see an expansion of the O2 complex, a hotel conference centre and a cruise liner terminal at Enderby Wharf.

Greenwich Council director of regeneration John Comber admits that the recession has made things more difficult but the aim is to eventually turn the area into a hub for media, design and entertainment companies.

He said: “Without the recession we’d have more buildings coming off the ground and more businesses to be prepared to invest.

“The market is hard right now but nevertheless it’s not an impossible one.”

Mr Comber says the development should bring around 24,000 jobs to the area.

News Shopper: GREENWICH: Recession 'won't hurt Peninsula development'

But, with the council chasing media and design companies, will these vacancies really be taken by residents?

Cllr Roberts says: “We’re still dealing, as some of the northern towns are, with the collapse of the arsenal where we had that history of industry.

“We’re trying to create an industrial cluster here that’s not about being a lawyer or a banker. We want something that will switch on that generation of youngsters that might think that’s not for them.”

An injection of youth will come when Ravensbourne College relocates from Chislehurst to its new building opposite the O2 next August.

Jill Hogan from the 1,400 student college says its youngsters are already trying to do deals with venues like matter (cor) and the IndigO2 to host club nights and events.

She says: “We work with students in Greenwich at the moment so there’s already a connection there.

“It’s going to be a very inspiring place for them to be.”

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