You know when you go away for a few days, and when you return something has changed about your neighbourhood? Suddenly, that building site starts to look like a building, or next door’s given a lick of paint to their porch?
With me, it was the disappearance of a sign opposite my house, telling people about the flats behind. On Monday, Charlton Triangle Housing – which took control of a chunk of SE7’s council housing a decade ago – put up its replacement. I can see it from the seat I’m sat in now. (Well, during the day.) And I can see its slogan too, in big letters…
Catchy, eh? And to be fair, Charlton Triangle’s done a decent job with what was a collection of dismal, crumbling estates, that had been badly run down for at least a decade and a half. It also looks after the land around its flats, which makes Greenwich Council’s lack of care for the streets surrounding them even more apparent. But “a community where people want to live because of the quality of life it offers”?
That community also includes Charlton Triangle’s neighbours, and we don’t hear anything from them – I remember when the new housing on Victoria Way went through the planning process, and CTH claimed it’d gone through an extensive consultation with residents about their plans. Except they’d done nothing of the sort – outside the Charlton Triangle estates, those who lived opposite the planned properties were shut out the process. So while I understand what they mean by “community where people want to live because…” – they probably should ponder the definition of “community” a little bit.
It’s a reflection of the same old problem with life in Charlton (and Greenwich borough as a whole), though – it pays to belong to some kind of interest group, and if you’re not, you’re shut out. I’ve Charlton Triangle opposite me, with various groups and access to neighbourhood policing information, but I’m not a tenant. I’ve the Charlton Central Residents Association a few yards away, but I live in the wrong street.
(Incidentally, the CCRA’s got its annual general meeting at St Richard’s church hall, Swallowfield Road, on Wednesday, should you want to see what they’re about – which, in a disaster for local busybodies, coincides with a meeting about the Olympics in Blackheath. What to do? Who’ll have me that night?)
Anyhow, my trivial grumpiness about having to look at this slogan pales into rightful insignificance compared with a sign erected a few minutes’ walk away, at the end of Bramshot Avenue, which can be seen from many a bedroom window in Westcombe Hill, Blackheath.
Uh-oh. I mean, seriously, would you really want to have this as the last thing you looked at before you went to bed? Or the first thing you saw after pulling the curtains in the morning?
And that’s just for those sleeping alone…
Maybe I’m getting old and crotchety, but… seriously, putting that kind of stuff where people live and have no choice but to look at it? I’m not sure that’s the best of ideas. I wonder if the doughty guardians of Blackheath and Westcombe Park’s morals have been roused to complain about the poster. It’s too late now, but part of me hopes they have been…