Deputy prime minister John Prescott and London mayor Ken Livingstone have clashed over a masterplan for a Thames Gateway regeneration site

Prescott has called a public inquiry into the latest phase of the mixed-use redevelopment of the Woolwich Arsenal site, known as the Warren, which is the biggest project ever undertaken by Berkeley Homes.

A letter from the Government Office for London says the inquiry will focus on concerns about the scheme’s design quality. It will scrutinise whether the scheme meets planning guidance on heritage, the level of affordable housing Berkeley is proposing, the site’s accessibility and the capacity of local infrastructure to support the development.

The secretary of state has also called in detailed plans for the first phase of the masterplan, including the conversion of the Royal Carriage Factory and 470 residential dwellings. This step follows Livingstone’s decision to give his approval for the scheme.

Berkeley’s masterplan, drawn up by Broadway Malyan and Sergison Bates, proposes 3000 flats and 32,831 m2 of non-residential uses on the site including shops, bars, a museum and a cinema.

The scheme, which Berkeley is promoting with Livingstone’s London Development Agency, includes the refurbishment of a number of historic buildings.

We have yet to see evidence the team can meet this challenge

CABE report on masterplan

The Greater London Authority’s report into the scheme said its strategic benefits outweighed the fact that Berkeley had failed to meet the mayor’s target of 50% social housing. Berkeley has set aside 35% for affordable housing. Greenwich council gave the masterplan its blessing in December last year.

Prescott’s call reflects the growing influence of CABE, which described the masterplan as “extremely depressing” and “low quality”. CABE’s report recommended that the application be refused. It said: “We have yet to see any evidence that this team can meet this challenge and we suspect a fresh start is required.”

John Anderson, Berkeley development director, responded by pointing to the support the masterplan had secured. He said: “The company recognises the pioneering nature of this regeneration project, which is the largest yet in the East Thames corridor, and welcomes the wish of the government to review the plans.”