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news, views and issues around Greenwich, Charlton, Blackheath and Woolwich, south-east London – what you won't read in Greenwich Time

Towering contempt: Greenwich’s River Gardens riles locals

with 15 comments

Lovell's Wharf, 12 October 2013
Of all the developers who have come into Greenwich in recent years to make a few quid, possibly the most overtly cynical has been London & Regional Properties, which has been smashing up the riverside at Lovell’s Wharf for a good few years now.

It doesn’t have to be this way – there are other developers in the area that actually listen to their neighbours. Not so with London & Regional, which destroyed a chunk of the Thames Path and didn’t bother reopening it for three years, while remaining content to leave much of Lovell’s as a hole in the ground for much of that time.

Now the development has been given yet another rebranding, as “The River Gardens – Royal Greenwich“, which will probably go down well with overseas speculators most of London’s newbuilds seem to be going to, yet goes down like a cup of cold sick in in SE10.

Lovell's Wharf, 12 October 2013

Of course, London & Regional’s plans are anything but green and pleasant. As reported here earlier this year, it’s trying to increase the height of the development’s towers from 10 to 13 stories. The developer wants to increase the number of flats in the development from 667 to 913 – with the extra 246 flats all for private sale. Non-residential uses have been scaled back as the developer tries to pack homes into the site.

Even the current buildings loom horribly over Banning Street – heaven knows what 13-storey towers will feel like. But despite this, Greenwich Council planning officers are recommending approval. And worryingly, there are precedents – approved proposals for Enderby’s Wharf include 16-storey towers, while Woolwich will get 21-storey towers on the park at Royal Arsenal Gardens.

Lovell's Wharf protest, 12 October 2012

Thankfully, though, neighbours are fighting back against a scheme which will overwhelm the streets of old east Greenwich. They include current residents of the blocks which have already gone up, who complain developers have reneged on past pledges not to build higher, and say their children have nowhere to play.

Thanks to Laura Eyres for the picture of a protest against the plans which took place on Saturday morning. A petition against the scheme has already got over 630 signatures – and the residents will be out in force for the planning meeting next Monday, 21 October. They’d appreciate your support.

Written by Darryl

14 October, 2013 at 7:30 am

15 Responses

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  1. Hi Darryl,
    How can this be said….an increase in 10 to 13 stories…hmmmm people in Deptford would be dancing in circles to hear such a proposal …….where we are faced with one tower of 48 stories, one of 42 and one of 38 stories. You’ll be able to see the Convoys Wharf towers when you look upstream from Greenwich before the river turns towards the city.

    shellback

    14 October, 2013 at 8:42 am

  2. AFAIK, there are no precedents when it come to planning applications. So the fact that other, similar schemes have been approved should have no bearing on an individual case. Still needs fighting though.

    Stuart

    14 October, 2013 at 9:17 am

  3. Indeed, Shellback – I’ve written about Convoys before. I will do again when time permits. And maybe someone will post a comment about an even worse development beneath it.

    Stuart – true, but planning in Greenwich is in its own world, where the chair of the planning board is the chief whip of the ruling party, and the council leader also gets a seat on the board.

    Darryl

    14 October, 2013 at 9:54 am

  4. London and Regional are also reneging on an agreement to resite Paul Deverall’s boatyard to Bay Wharf.. What has that got to do with anyone else?

    First, it says a great deal about the value, or lack thereof, of, agreements made with London and Regional. If Greenwich allow them to forego the first phase of the development agreement, it also speaks of the Council’s relationship with developers and that is of considerable concern.

    The second point is that this would remove local servicing for Thames pleasure craft and that would ultimately impact on all River services.

    Downstream, at Charlton, one of the Greenwich Masterplans is attempting more housing development, at the cost of industrial land. Nearby, another developer, LXB, is seeking planning permission for conversion of a small industrial estate to yet more retail sheds. Industry is dirty and should be located ‘Somewhere Else'; the problem being that it is also local employment that is lost and we can’t all work in retail. I wonder if the developers point out to potential property purchasers that they will be moving into an area where employment growth is in finance (Canary Wharf) retail and burglary? The latter opportunity serving those youngsters who do not fit into the two former ones.

    Remember, too, that as the employment goes, so does the considerable but largely invisible, net of goods and services that the Charlton Riverside provides.

    Greenwich also plan the demolition and redevelopment of some more of their remaining social housing, again in Charlton. The ‘affordable’ housing that will be built is around half of the homes that will be destroyed. So it appears to be less about a two tier society than a single tier one where the less affluent are rendered unemployed and then removed. Don’t forget, also, the plans for redeveloping the old Grand cinema in Woolwich – with the loss of newly developed community arts. The arts are supposed to be hidden away on the Charlton Riverside.

    I remember when the Tower Hamlets Labour Party was convinced that it could walk on water and, largely, ignore its residents. In the early 1990s, along came the Liberals – in name, at least -, and Labour fell. Any chance of this message getting across in Greenwich?

    Roy Tindle

    14 October, 2013 at 11:19 am

  5. One can only hope so Roy, and that an alternative party will be more sympathetic to it’s current residents and workforce than this one.
    The mess and blockage to the Lovell’s riverside path over the last few years has also terribly affected our cycle rental business in East Greenwich, which in having to fight taxpayer subsidised ‘Boris’ bikes too has suffered enough and is all but hanging on by a thread now.
    Why oh why do we have to constantly face such one sided council planners, who appear to have little concern for the majority of developments’ effect on nearby residents, or on the overall environment of historic Greenwich. I guess most of them have no intention of ever living here.

    derek small

    14 October, 2013 at 3:46 pm

  6. We need to remember that the planners only look to see if the application complies with all the policies put in place by the council. Just because the planners have recommended it for approval doesn’t really mean much. It’s up to the planning committee to decide if it goes ahead or not.

    scperi

    14 October, 2013 at 6:30 pm

  7. Roy, thanks for bringing up the Charlton stuff – it’s a real indication of the mess planning is in.

    Derek – “an alternative party will be more sympathetic to it’s current residents and workforce than this one” – why wait for another party to come along?

    scperi – This is true, although Greenwich seems terrified of applications going to the planning inspector (which, for example, allowed the now-canned Greenwich Market hotel and the development next to the A102 that’s going up now).

    Darryl

    14 October, 2013 at 9:19 pm

  8. I was reading the planning apps a couple of days ago. The height increase is inappropriate there, though I disagree somewhat about the towers in Woolwich by the Thames. The problem in Woolwich seems to be the sheer number of towers and density rather than the height. Tall can be good but only in certain areas, generally when in clusters, with decent spaces at street level, and close to major transport interchanges.

    As for this proposal – not only is height an issue but the quality of materials and design leaves a lot to be desired. Thankfully, London developments have generally improved from the nadir of 10 years ago. Still too few great designs, but many are decent and improving in terms of materials and the proportions. This looks cheap. Those tacky plastic-ky panels are awful. The unpainted railings, balconies, and metals on stage 1 look awful and budget. No development should look so bad, but for it to be allowed in Greenwich on the riverside is very poor by the planning department.

    fromthemurkydepths

    14 October, 2013 at 11:28 pm

  9. scperi –

    Were you but right! I’m afraid that the Greenwich Planning Board (PB) is altogether too often led by – and rarely has an independent, critical view of – the recommendation of their officers.

    All too often decisions are clearly taken in advance and, despite the overwhelming arguments against a given planning application, the PB approves it.

    As Darryl says, part of the problem is the extreme risk-aversion of officers, and therefore the PB.

    The role of the Leader and Deputy Leader (and Chair of the PB) also needs to be considered…

    Franklin

    15 October, 2013 at 12:09 am

  10. I particularly enjoyed the cynical re-painting of just the ground level rendering on the existing building on the path to the marketing suite. I guess they are hoping no-one looks up, or at the prison grade metalwork… The new block does look a bit better built but totally out of keeping with surroundings even at current height. And when are they going to sort out the pavement being lower than the road?!

    Omar

    15 October, 2013 at 7:48 am

  11. Derek, could I suggest that People Before Profit could be that alternative party you’re hankering after?

    richard proctor

    16 October, 2013 at 9:33 am

  12. Darryl – thanks for highlighting this story – we better get used to this.

    This Monday 21st Oct 18:30 is the planning meeting

    We need everyone to turn out in force

    We have delivered the petition an now are up to nearly 1,200 supporters.

    You may also like to see a short video we made which graphically shows whats happening.

    Thanks

    Tim Eyres

    19 October, 2013 at 4:58 pm

  13. Huge problems coming and Council’s planners choose to be blinded by ££ signs – the infrastructure for 1000s of extra residents in Greenwich. Health is the most scary, as QEH (eg A&E) is already a disaster.

    Kate

    21 October, 2013 at 9:33 am

  14. Just to echo Tim – if you are opposed to this massive expansion at Lovell’s Wharf, come along to the Planning Board meeting at Woolwich Town Hall tonight.

    No need to speak – the number of protesters speaks for itself.

    Directions and more info can be found at http://bit.ly/1bOFwyT

    Franklin

    21 October, 2013 at 12:56 pm

  15. There was a brilliantly assembled turnout and set of arguments by the opposition at the Planning Board tonight. The revisions were rejected unanimously. First battle to the people – next battle an appeal?
    Ian

    Ian

    21 October, 2013 at 9:40 pm


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