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Delayed Cutty Sark stretching councillors’ patience

with 9 comments

Greenwich Council might have approved the Olympic test events in Greenwich Park last week – the News Shopper’s Mark Chandler has done a great job in summing a fiddly issue up – but another decision taken at Thursday’s planning meeting shows how perilous planning around London 2012 can be.

Also on the agenda was a tower which will provide access to the Cutty Sark when it reopens. To quote one of the councillors on the panel, the design presented to the board was “hideous” – looking like it had come from an industrial site. It’s actually meant to evoke what a dockyard looks like. Unfortunately, it will also be sited on the narrower King William Walk/naval college side of the ship, where it will blight views from a street full of Georgian houses.

Papers presented to the planning board said the ship was due to reopen later this year. After all, that’s what the hoardings surrounding the Cutty Sark are still saying. This information was wrong – the Cutty Sark Trust website now says the the ship will reopen in spring 2012. Local councillor David Grant pointed this out to the meeting, slipping in a dig that the new viewing structure beneath the ship will look “like a B&Q greenhouse”.

Asked why the access point had to be the King William Walk side of Cutty Sark Gardens, rather than the wider foot tunnel side, councillors were told it was because of “plant” – essentially, the need to have a disabled toilet. But the Cutty Sark Trust could have worked with the council to find a solution to this, rather than presenting the planning board with a fait accompli After all, Greenwich is paying £3m of our money towards their scheme – where’s our say in what’s going on there?

Any delay to the plans, the board was told by the trust’s representatives, could delay the Cutty Sark’s re-opening by up to a year – missing the all-important July 2012 deadline.

The councillors weren’t happy. Labour’s Hayley Fletcher: “This is hideous and out of proportion. We’ve got to live with this for years to come.” Conservative Dermot Poston: “I can’t believe it’s got this far.” Labour’s Denise Hyland: “It’s too big, I don’t know why we have to have toilets there…it goes against my better judgement in terms of aesthetics.”

So with a 2012-shaped gun to their heads, the planning board approved the tower by five votes to two on the proviso that the design presented to them was not the final one.

But this episode – and the latest delay to the scheme – is just a small example of what a shambles the Cutty Sark redevelopment is turning out to be. The Heritage Lottery Fund has stumped up £23m, the government’s chipped in £3m, and the GLA’s paid £1m towards a project that’s lurched around since the fire of 2007, and whose adminstrators don’t seem interested in involving the local community.

With so much public money at stake, hopefully when the job is done there’ll be a full investigation into just why it’s taken so long, and why Greenwich Council is being bounced into risky decisions like this.

Written by Darryl

18 April, 2011 at 1:22 pm

9 Responses

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  1. this is outrageous. £40m spent on this, and the scheme is a total mess, a mostly repro boat marooned on a cheap conservatory, now with an oversize portaloo blocking the view. They should have called their bluff and rejected the design – the Olympics will be over in a year, but this cheap fudge will be with us for decades.

    Paul

    18 April, 2011 at 1:58 pm

  2. Have to agree with everything Paul says.

    If you look at some more of the pictures here:

    http://onlineplanning.greenwich.gov.uk/acolnet/documents/37421_1.pdf

    it looks even worse – the view with your back to the river (which is what will greet most tourists) is particularly poor. Surely there are already toilets c30 yards away in the new Discover Greenwich?

    Some serious questions have to be asked about whether Cutty Sark Trust is a fit organisation – but it’s too late now. Shameful

    Will

    18 April, 2011 at 4:41 pm

  3. Awful tower.

    Lara

    18 April, 2011 at 7:16 pm

  4. [...] group” when it gave LOCOG planning permission last year. But as I mentioned last month while talking about the Cutty Sark, councillors now face a 2012-shaped gun to their heads – kick up a fuss, and they risk being [...]

  5. [...] and the godawful pair of old containers lift shaft on the ‘wrong’ side of the ship – Darryl at 853 explains better than I could how that one came about, but if you think his picture of the projected [...]

  6. [...] as with the chaotic restoration of the Cutty Sark, the decision to have a big programme of arts events in the area in the run-up to 2012 (with [...]

  7. [...] things are looking good ahead of its official reopening by the Queen on 25 April. Considering the problems at the Cutty Sark Trust (whose website has now vanished), I’m wondering if there’s [...]

  8. [...] were able to skip the queues for the oversubscribed open day); the pier (again); and the ugly access tower on the Naval College side of the [...]

  9. [...] Such thoughts are not meant to enter councillors’ minds – but the Olympics proved deadlines can put shotguns to their heads, and the very real consequences of failing to get the station built are inescapable. Unless a [...]


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