One of the saddest sights on Greenwich’s Thames Path is Enderby House, left vandalised and wrecked, neglected by developers who don’t seem to have a clue what to do with it.
This is the site of the long-delayed cruise liner terminal, although much of the action on the site has been to build homes, presumably as quickly as possibly before the property bubble bursts.
Of course, this is also where the world’s first telegraph cables were made, with work still taking part in a small corner of the site. Without Enderby House, there may well have been no phones, and no internet. It’s a hugely-overlooked piece of local history.
The house has been in a mess for over three years – now a group of locals are taking action. Here’s Alan Burkitt-Gray…
“Just wanted to let you know that a bunch of locals have started to campaign for a strategy to protect and preserve Enderby House, the original offices of the company that created the communications revolution — between 1850 and the 1970s the factory there made most of the world’s undersea telegraph and telephone cables.
“The house is now surrounded by a building site, where Barratt is putting up houses and flats. Alcatel-Lucent, the direct successor to the other Telcon company that’s been there continuously since 1850, has shrunk to a corner of the site, though still does submarine-cable related work.
“There is no clear plan for Enderby House, a listed building, and the future of the cable-loading gear that sits on the riverside is also unclear. For more than a century cable made here in Greenwich was loaded directly onto the cable-laying ships on that jetty.”
The group has a website, www.enderby.org.uk, and want as many people as possible to attend a consultation meeting to be held at the Forum on Trafalgar Road on Wednesday 25 June at 6pm (the developers’ PR people seem to try for the most inconvenient times).
It’s also produced a leaflet explaining more about the history of Enderby House and why it should be preserved and celebrated.
So the Queen rocked up in Greenwich on Wednesday to reopen the Cutty Sark. The’s terrific pictures from greenwich.co.uk, and more from The Greenwich Phantom. No walkabout from Mrs Queen, though – rather a shame, since as we’re paying to be a royal borough, it’d be nice to be able to press some regal flesh once in a while…
The day before, though, saw a press tour around the ship, whose restoration was helped by £3m from Greenwich Council. At the same time, journalists were taken out on a boat to Enderby Wharf, so they could be chatted up about plans for a cruise liner terminal.
Cruise liner terminal? Remember that? Yup, the one first announced by council leader Chris Roberts taking journalists, er, out on a boat, in June 2010, before most locals knew a thing about it.
The cruise liner terminal received planning permission in January 2011. Planning documents said: “It is the applicant’s intention to deliver the cruise liner terminal and pier in time for 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games bringing a major piece of new infrastructure to London,” adding that an independent study had found this was “realistic and achievable”. No wonder why it got unanimous approval. The following week’s edition of propaganda weekly Greenwich Time said it was “anticipated” the terminal would be open for the Games. Exciting stuff.
By April 2011, though, nothing had happened on site apart from the vandalism of historic Enderby House. In June 2011, Greenwich Time said the terminal would be open “in 2012”, and mega-liner The World would be docking there in 2013.
By April 2012? Er… nothing.
This was Enderby House earlier this month, looking in a right state. Still, Greenwich Council’s website remained optimistic.
Indeed, it’s still remaining optimistic, since those words are still there, on a page two clicks from the council’s homepage.
But as is blindingly obvious to the cruise liner terminal won’t be open for the Olympics. It won’t even be open this year. To the Orpington-based News Shopper!
“Preliminary work on the landmark development, approved last summer [sic] is now due to start at Enderby’s Wharf in November, with the facility’s first phase open 12 to 18 months after that.”
So, all being well, the first visitors be able to dock in Greenwich and watch the Olympics. Yes, the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, on the telly in the nearby Pelton Arms, if the guv’nor can be persuaded. Excellent.
But did anyone on the boat trip ask why the project will be delivered up to two years late? It appears not.
Not the News Shopper, whose reporter seems to be covering both Greenwich and Lewisham boroughs single-handedly at present, not the Docklands & East London Advertiser (which reported it as if it’d just been announced), and certainly not the Evening
Boris Standard, which bizarrely managed to squeeze a plug for the mayor into the story, breathlessly reporting the project had been “given the go-ahead by Boris Johnson”. Indeed, he gave it the nod in February 2011.
Does all this matter? Well, yes. This is a prestige project for the area, one which is meant to create employment and kick-start the regeneration of the west side of the Greenwich Peninsula. It’ll affect the Thames Path, and also one of the area’s historic sites at Enderby House, and even sparked a plan for a “cultural corridor” scheme to link it to east Greenwich proper.
It’s also a project the council’s intimately involved in, even inviting a representative from developer West Properties along to a £10,000 celebration at the Queen’s House in February to mark royal borough status. It also sponsored a cruise industry conference on Wednesday. (Scroll down the page for some staggering porkies about how easy it is to get in and out of Enderby Wharf, incidentally.)
So, yes, it does matter that we get timely and honest information about this. But, predictably, we have a council that’s not up to the job, and an under-resourced local press that’s also failing to do its work. And nearly two years after I first posted on it, I never thought I’d still be posting about a lack of information about a project that’ll completely change the east Greenwich. But that’s what happens when you have a council that’s more interested in dealing with developers, and local press barons that have stopped caring.
Plans for a cable car and cruise liner terminal on the Greenwich peninsula have both been backed by Greenwich Council’s planning board – with the projects’ backers banking on them both being ready by next year’s Olympics.
Both schemes were unanimously approved by a panel of seven councillors – five Labour, two Conservative – at Woolwich town hall on Thursday evening.
Although Transport for London has yet to announce an operator for the proposed cable car, which will run from the current Dome coach park on Edmund Halley Way towards Royal Victoria DLR station, it said the cable car would add “resillience” to the peninsula’s transport connections, which have been blighted in recent years by closures to the Jubilee Line for upgrade works.
The peninsula was a “high priority” for TfL, it added.
But Friends of the Earth said the cable car needed further scrutiny, pointing out its path on the north bank of the Thames passed through a safety zone for London City Airport.
Supporting objector Alan Haughton, FoE’s Jenny Bates said the recent decision to allow the airport’s capacity to expand had meant the safety zone had grown in size. But TfL insisted neither City Airport nor the Civil Aviation Authority had objected to the scheme.
Pressed on fares, Transport for London’s representative would only say they would be “affordable”, and said that while they would accept Oyster cards, any decision to accept Travelcards would need the agreement of the National Rail companies serving London.
Pointing at figures mentioned in the planning document, Kidbrooke with Hornfair Labour councillor Hayley Fletcher criticised the poor service on the Jubilee Line, adding: “I’ve never stood at North Greenwich station waiting for the Jubilee Line thinking, ‘Oh, I must pay £3.50 to go to Royal Victoria instead’.”
There were questions about noise, too, but laughter when it was confirmed the motors power the 34 gondolas will be based on the north side of the Thames, in the borough of Newham.
Greenwich’s decision now means the cable car has been approved by three planning authorities, with Newham Council backing it last week and the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation endorsing it on Wednesday.
But while mayor Boris Johnson has said the cable car could be running by the Olympics in July 2012, his own London Development Agency – which has spent £1.2m on a project which was said to be at no cost to taxpayers – has cast doubt on the timetable.
The bigger scheme to affect Greenwich, however, was the cruise liner terminal, on part of the old Alcatel/STC cable works at Enderby’s Wharf. As well as the terminal – due to be up and running for the Olympics – the development includes 770 homes, a 251 room hotel, gym, skills academy, creche and commercial accommodation, as well as a river bus stop.
Planning board members were clearly excited about the scheme, with the consultation over the project praised. Abbey Wood Labour councillor Denise Hyland calling it a “world class” proposal.
“Coming in on a cruise ship and seeing that would be absolutely brilliant,” she enthused, before adding, “someone asked if I could afford it – well, I’ll be coming in on a Thames Clipper.”
Eltham North Conservative Dermot Poston said it would be “wonderful to see it transformed in this way”.
But questions remained on the level of affordable housing at the development – which could range between 20% and 29%, depending on the grants available. Greenwich Council’s official policy is 35%, although developers may be able to secure affordable housing elsewhere in the area instead.
With the fiasco over the neighbouring stalled Lovell’s Wharf development in their minds, developers were also pressed on access to the Thames Path – which they say will be improved and joined by a public square under their plans – replying that they would be prepared to meet residents to discuss any issues. The path will be closed for the “minimum period possible,” they added.
Greenwich Council leader and planning board member Chris Roberts, who backed the scheme on television before it had been announced locally, was not present at the meeting.
Another high-profile development in the borough was also approved at Thursday’s meeting, with plans to build housing on the site of Eltham Baths getting unanimous backing.
Greenwich councillors have been advised to back plans for a cruise liner terminal at Enderby’s Wharf, as well as plans for a cable car next to the Dome, when they meet to discuss the proposals next week.
The nine-member planning board will decide next Thursday if the two Greenwich riverside projects can go ahead. Planning officers have recommended both schemes go ahead.
As well as a cruise liner terminal, the Enderby’s Wharf development includes 770 homes, a 251 room hotel, gym, skills academy, creche and commercial accommodation, as well as a river bus stop.
If approved, preparation works would begin in October, with the terminal ready by June 2012, in time for the Olympics. The rest of the development is due to be completed in stages between July 2013 and November 2015, according to planning documents.
Earlier this week, Newham Council approved plans to build the cable car, endorsed by Boris Johnson, between its side of the River Thames and the Royal Victoria Dock.
It is evisaged the cable car would operate from 7am-midnight on weekdays, 8am-midnight on Saturdays and 9am-11.30pm on Sundays. The cable car’s route, from the current O2 arena coach park on Edmund Halley Way, would follow the route of a possible road tunnel from the Greenwich Peninsula to Silvertown.
Transport for London is seeking a private company to run the cable car, which is expected to charge Oyster users around £2.50, in time for the Olympics. It is expected to open in June 2012, although the mayor’s own London Development Agency has cast doubt on this timescale.
Before Christmas, it emerged the agency had been told to spend £1.21m on the project, which was originally meant to be at no cost to taxpayers.
There’s a fresh exhibition on Wednesday and Thursday of plans to build a cruise liner terminal at Enderby’s Wharf – those are the ones announced by the leader of Greenwich Council on TV before any meaningful consultation had taken place.
The developers say:
Since the previous exhibition and consultation events, the proposals for the regeneration of the vacant wharf for a mix of uses including an international cruise liner terminal, new river bus service together with hotel, training and residential accommodation, and reuse of Enderby House as a tourist interpretation centre have continued to evolve. These proposals have now been supplemented by the design of a new public square adjacent to Enderby House which is linked to the Thames Path and a series of tidal gardens on the banks of the River Thames. The ambition to release over 50% of the wharf to new open space and public realm has been retained.
Prior to the submission of a planning application, which is to submitted shortly, we would like to invite you to this exhibition being held on Wednesday 6th and Thursday 7th October 2010 where plans and a model of the proposals will be on display. The event will be held between 4pm and 8.30pm on both days in Christ Church next to the Forum in East Greenwich on Trafalgar Road.
Images from the exhibition have also been placed online – although not in a particularly user-friendly format, and there’s a lot of guff to wade through.
Next door, there’s recently been a bit of movement at Lovell’s Wharf and there’s a few more feet of river path open – the footway now leads to a set of steps leading down to Banning Street, as well as the developers’ marketing suite. With 22 months to go until the Olympics, this is the state of the Thames Path at Lovell’s Wharf right now…
For those interested in the Enderby’s Wharf development…
The proposals comprise new public realm covering over 50% of the wharf linked to the Thames Path, residential and hotel accommodation, a skills academy and crèche, studio workspace and the refurbishment of Enderby House as a tourist information point plus cafe together with the provision of a cruise liner terminal and new river bus stop. Enderby Wharf has been identified in a recent study as a cruise terminal destination given the presence of deep water alongside the wharf and the extensive maritime history of Greenwich. This has also provided the opportunity to provide a new river bus stop operated by Thames Clippers for the benefit of both residents and visitors.
Prior to submitting a planning application, we would like to invite you to an information event being held on both Thursday 29th and Friday 30th July 2010 where plans of the proposals will be on display and members of the team will be available to answer questions. The event will be held between 3pm and 8pm in Christ Church next to the Forum on Trafalgar Road.
A bit late with this, but local councillor Mary Mills says on her blog that part of the Thames Path in Greenwich, which has been largely closed for some months,
should may be open again in September. This is only the section through the old Tunnel Refineries/Syral plant, which closed in March, and not the section through Delta Wharf (which closed in April) and the bit through Lovells Wharf (which doesn’t actually exist at the moment). It’s not brilliant – the closure was only meant to last 12 weeks from 15 March, so it should have re-opened by now. But at least we’ve a glimmer of hope on the horizon for that bit, and huge thanks to Mary for keeping us updated (and for being one of the tiny handful of Greenwich councillors who’s actually proactive about talking to residents).
The original Tunnel Refineries post has become a bit of a repository for memories of the place. It’d make an interesting project to gather some of that up in some way, shape or form – it certainly had an impact on the area, and generations of Greenwich (and Isle of Dogs) people have the smell from the place imprinted in their memories for life.
Meanwhile, following on from the sudden televised revelation of a plan for a cruise terminal at Enderby’s Wharf, I’m told a planning application should be submitted by the end of July, which will give local people the first formal chance to find out just what the blazes is going on. Thanks to a couple of correspondents for pointing out that it is likely that a new road will be built between the cruise liner terminal and Blackwall Lane, which should take pressure off Christchurch Way and neighbouring streets. However, a lot of questions still remain unanswered.