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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

Locals win Lovells Wharf fight – but council bullying goes on…

with 19 comments


Fantastic news from Woolwich Town Hall last night, as Greenwich Council’s planning board unanimously rejected developer London & Regional Properties’ proposals to pack an extra 246 homes onto the Lovell’s Wharf development, increasing the height of the buildings from 10 to 13 stories.

Council leader Chris Roberts was the first on the panel to reject the scheme, and the others followed suit, with residents heading to the Pelton Arms (playing host to a surprise Glenn Tilbrook show) to celebrate afterwards. Huge credit must go to local residents for a tenacious campaign – see the video above – and it’s notable that Labour parliamentary nominees Matt Pennycook, Len Duvall and David Prescott all swung their weight behind the campaign. A few council candidates will have slept more soundly last night, but questions must be asked about why council planners recommended approval in the first place.

A more telling decision, however, took place a few hours earlier, when an overview and scrutiny call-in committee decided to take no action on Roberts’ personal decision to spend at least £2.5m of money the council had suddenly discovered on various pre-election schemes. This is without having to go through the council’s cabinet, where awkward questions could have been asked of the proposals.

So Greenwich Council complains of being skint when it suits it to not spend a five-figure sum, but when Roberts wants to spend a seven-figure sum without scrutiny, it’s all okay? Something’s very odd there.

And that’s the rub of the bullying culture at Greenwich Council. It’s not just about Roberts swearing and threatening his fellow councillors – it’s also the institutional refusal to engage or explain what is going on. Will the Labour nominees be as frank on this obvious issue as they were on Lovell’s Wharf? We wait and see.

Written by Darryl

22 October, 2013 at 7:30 am

19 Responses

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  1. Brilliant news!

    The East Greenwich Business Association was delighted the help push this petition.. In return, EGBA would be very grateful if activists could sign our petition to get Greenwich Council’s Pavement Tax Scrapped as it’s an unfair charge on indie retail and may result in more local shop closures.

    http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/greenwich-council-remove-the-new-street-trading-licence-charge?utm_campaign=mailto_link&utm_medium=email&utm_source=share_petition

    We are in the Town Hall on 30th October standing up for our rights. Please feel free to come down and support us!

    Lorraine Turton

    22 October, 2013 at 8:14 am

  2. Could be quite a night on the 30th.

    Peter Cordwell

    22 October, 2013 at 9:20 am

  3. Ah, yes, the full council meeting.

    Anyone who fancies asking a question, by the way – and there’s been lots to ask about – email committees(at)royalgreenwich.gov.uk by noon on Wednesday. Don’t expect other people to do if for you…

    Darryl

    22 October, 2013 at 11:12 am

  4. Great news on Lovells, I was one of many Deptford residents who signed your petition against what was essentially unfettered greed.
    Now Deptford needs the help of Greenwich residents to take a stand and object to the proposals before Lewisham planners by the Hong Kong based Hutchison Whampoa for the Deptford Dockyard site (Convoys)
    These proposals include 48, 36×2 storey and many other blocks from 11 to 22 storey. Totalling over 3500 luxury waterfront “units” that will be marketed to investors in Hong Kong and China.
    The towers will dominate Greenwich as well as Deptford and give little in return, even ignoring community based initiatives such as Sayes Court Gardens restoration and Build The Lenox, a project to build a replica of a ship from the restoration period in the dock where the original was built.
    Whilst I do not see corruption in L.B.Lewisham to equal that in the “Royal” borough I think that it’s leaders are selling the borough short. Mainly, this seems to be driven by the boroughs empty coffers and the desperation to trouser the large sums of S 106 monies that the developer is offering.
    As with all councils these monies will be gone in a couple of years whereas we will be stuck with the effects of the development for a lifetime.
    I think it’s time for London – wide resistance to the onset of what are being called “Dark Neighbourhoods”.

    Jules

    22 October, 2013 at 12:27 pm

  5. Developers are developers and something is likely to return. Will they put in a revised scheme to Greenwich or do they appeal to the big boys of the Planning Inspectorate? The PI can over turn council decisions and it does. Remember the housing scheme next to the railway line and the flyover? Greenwich turned it down on air quality and the PI approved it. No right of appeal Agree totally with Jules, but big money screams rather than talks.

    Jim Tyler

    23 October, 2013 at 9:35 am

  6. Jim –

    There’s a third possibility: the developer accepts the very strong case against any change to the approved design, which was thoroughly and carefully negotiated back in 2006, and goes ahead with that. They’ll still make a fortune, albeit a marginally smaller one than if they get permission to dump the hotel.

    But I do agree that the developer’s single priority is to make as much as they can from this site regardless of the impact on local residents, the conservation area or the World Heritage Site.

    The East Greenwich Residents, the Greenwich Society and Greenwich Conservation Group are fully aware of this threat and are absolutely determined to fight any appeal or revised scheme that increases density. We’ve won the battle, but not yet the war.

    Franklin

    23 October, 2013 at 6:17 pm

  7. The war over Convoys wharf is in its 15th year, it can take time and engender some greying of the temples !

    jules

    23 October, 2013 at 7:14 pm

  8. Or, as Bob Dylan put it, “money doesn’t talk, it swears”. Quite apt really.

    Peter Cordwell

    24 October, 2013 at 2:03 pm

  9. What war are people fighting here? The population is increasing. We need more homes to be built. If you dont like developmenet then perhaps living in London isnt for you? I live in a listed building within a conservation area and would quite happily lose both designations so homeowners could expand their properties more easily. We should aspire to more than living in a musuem.

    Richard

    28 October, 2013 at 1:17 pm

  10. Richard’s comment leads me to wonder which developer he works for? I do not think the situation with Lovells or any of the other developers involved in the “waterfront feeding frenzy” has anything to do with providing homes. These things are built purely to satisfy global investors and any rented occupation is purely incidental, not to mention prohibitively expensive. The densities these maggots aspire to in itself renders the concept of a “home” laughable. At least some of them have a shred of something that was once honesty and refer to them as “units”in their applications. I would argue that it is not a museum that many of us aspire to but a civilised environment and a knowledge of where we’ve come from.
    My London is one less damaged by rapacious profiteering and I have no intention of being driven out.

    jules

    28 October, 2013 at 2:32 pm

  11. Jules I am not a developer but I am capable of seeing that increase in population = more homes need to be built. Land is scare therefore more high rise flats would seem to be a logical solution. Sorry if newcomers to the area spoil your civilised existence.

    Richard

    28 October, 2013 at 3:25 pm

  12. It is clear that a lot of these new homes are only being built for overseas speculators and sold for huge amounts of money, so they will do very little to help ease the housing shortage in London. No one local can afford to live in these overpriced units, least of all those who really need a home.

    There is no reason to destroy our heritage (which, remember, brings in a lot of trade and tourism, providing jobs) and the living conditions of those already living in an area, rich or poor, just so a parasitic developer can pocket a lot of cash and scuttle off to his offshore bank account. Off they’ll go, leaving the poorly-designed towers, lack of infrastructure, transport and other problems for those who actually have to live there.

    It wouldn’t be so bad if it were affordable, genuinely-needed, housing but it’s not – it’s going to be sold at high prices to people who don’t really need them – that’s why it’s objectionable. People who object certainly don’t all live in luxury homes, but in fact many of these new homes will be just that and don’t need to be built. How many of the huge number of new units in Greenwich are going to be genuinely affordable? Very few. This is nothing to do with the housing shortage as it’s not about that, but about business deals for a minority to make profits. The developers simply wish to make a lot of money and then disappear, and have no interest in the communities they build on and the people who may have to live there.

    Joe

    28 October, 2013 at 4:23 pm

  13. The main thing is to remain vigilant. To any developer we are seen as mere irritants. The latest on Deptford Royal Dockyard / Convoys is that the developer sees himself as above the democratic process and , not liking the communities aspirations or the planning department’s misgivings has asked Boris to call the decision in. This developer is the richest asian on the planet originating from China. I suspect Boris will be being threatened with the loss of a few recent trade agreements off the record.
    Someone should have told him there’s no such thing as a free lunch.
    But, here in Lewisham, we’ve seen Hunt off today we may yet deal with “Ming the Merciless.”

    jules

    29 October, 2013 at 2:29 pm

  14. The question is asked here: why did the planners recommend approval of this horrible scheme? My guess is that they are tick box people who see this as a way of fulfilling targets and either don’t know or don’t care what impact this would have on the lives of people already here. After all, these planning people don’t have to live with the consequences of their actions as they may well not even live in the borough. The sort of salaries they get for trashing where we live have to be seen to be believed! I feel very sorry for the uphill fight that Deptford people are going to have now that the London Assembly has taken over the planning authority role for Convoys. And just after Boris’ trip to China. Surprise surprise! And Boris isn’t going to have to live with that eysore. He lives miles away.

    Maggy May

    3 November, 2013 at 10:17 am

  15. I know a foreign buy-to-let investor who loves what’s happening in Greenwich. He already owns a property in one of the Deptford Bridge horrors, has made mega-bucks and is now looking for more.

    He told me he wouldn’t live in one of his properties if you paid him. They’re built shoddily and have paper-thin walls. But as he said, “I’m paid not to live in them!”

    Chris

    3 November, 2013 at 2:39 pm

  16. The government is very keen on privatisiing everything. So why not raise mega bucks by putting a For Sale sign up at Dover and letting the overseas investors buy the bloody lot?

    Maggy May

    3 November, 2013 at 3:55 pm

  17. We started doing that 30 years ago. Is there that much left to sell?

    Stewart

    3 November, 2013 at 3:57 pm

  18. South east England and a few concreting companies. England’s grren and pleasant land is disappearing fast.

    Maggy May

    3 November, 2013 at 7:19 pm

  19. The whole dire tale of invasion and asset stripping at Deptford’s cost and Boris’s profit can be found on http://www.deptfordis.org.uk/

    jules

    3 November, 2013 at 9:18 pm


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