Thames Path closure: Greenwich Council grovels to developers
Something this blog missed out on while I was away was the furore over the closure of the Thames Path in Greenwich between Ballast Quay and the Millennium Dome. As the hoardings came down on the first stage of the Lovell’s Wharf development, many were horrified to find the old riverside walk had been bricked off and destroyed, with a new path routed into the sales office for the Lovells Wharf development. There were no signs to help walkers find their way around, although these have since been installed.
The row even became a bit of an election issue, with a wannabe councillor making some hay with it (and blogging about it here) and a current councillor having to scurry around to find out what the blazes was going on. Somehow, to me it summed up everything that’d gone wrong with Greenwich Council; its reluctance to engage properly with local people, the perception that it was on the side of developers rather than residents, and plain old-fashioned incompetence – even some temporary signs would have been better than leaving walkers and tourists lost.
The farrago brought some sharp exchanges at a hustings I took part in, and it certainly looked as if Greenwich Council had been found guilty of taking one of Greenwich’s most precious rescources for granted. I’m sure the council must be aware of the strength of feeling over the path, so how is it seeking to make amends in the first issue of propaganda rag Greenwich Time since the election? With little time to wheel a freshly-re-elected councillor upto the riverside, how about a story on how the council is committed to restoring the path as soon as possible? Perhaps something on the plans for the riverside? Perhaps some useful information for residents about what’s going on?
Just a puff piece for the development, informing us that “occupants will have easy access to Greenwich town centre, Canary Wharf and the City” – er, just like everywhere else in SE10, then. It’s the sort of nonsense you’d expect in one of those glossy lifestyle-porn monthlies that pop through selected doors in the area, not from a publication funded out of our taxes.
The other thing is a bit odd – it claims the development “opens up access to a section of the Thames pathway which has been closed to the public for years”. It doesn’t – the old path has bricked off and planted over, and a new path runs straight into the developers’ sales office. Charming.
Watching people walk up the stump of the old path, only to gaze mournfully about what’s been denied to them, is a new pastime. That section of the Thames pathway will be closed until 2012, so what I imagine Greenwich Time perhaps was trying to say is “when the development eventually fully opens, it will restore a section of the Thames pathway which will by then have been closed for five years so the development could be built”. Not quite so impressive. The image shown is a computer-generated one, so the piece has been written without even bothering to visit the site, where the first homes are nearly ready for occupation.
Finally, a patsy quote from a “local planning watchdog” that I don’t think I’ve ever heard of, reassuring us that it’ll be alright in the end. Because Greenwich Time said so, eh?
So, the message from the council on the Thames Path closure? Tough. Take a look at these lovely flats instead, wouldn’t you like to buy one? Paying for a council to promote itself is one thing, paying for a council to brown-nose and promote private developments is another thing entirely, and it certainly has nothing to do with “campaigning for an even greater Greenwich”.
The prospect of four more years of Greenwich Time is a depressing one – another story featured in this week’s soaraway issue is that the council’s street sweeping services are performing better than ever, which any walk around Charlton will confirm is complete cobblers. Of course, the power now lies with the newly-(re-)elected Labour councillors whose reputations are being dragged down by this patronising nonsense. Will they have the guts to change things? We’ll just have to wait and see.