Tagged: greenwich

Roll up, roll up – invest in Greenwich’s crappiest hotel site

The site of the Ibis Styles, Tunnel Avenue, with Blackwall Tunnel traffic jam behind

The site of the Ibis Styles, Tunnel Avenue, with Blackwall Tunnel traffic jam behind

Investors are being sought to put cash into a hotel next to one of London’s most notorious air pollution hotspots – the approach to the Blackwall Tunnel.

The Ibis Styles Greenwich North is currently being built on a small triangle of land between Tunnel Avenue and the A102, a few hundred yards from the tunnel entrance.

The three-star hotel will see guests sleep just metres from the frequent queues of traffic waiting to enter the congested tunnel – with further traffic expected if the additional Silvertown Tunnel is ever built.

Now investors are being asked to put sums from £150,000 into rooms at the hotel, with developers promising income from the guests staying there.

One investment site claims the site, formerly a car wash, is “located at the heart of the Greenwich Peninsula”, adding it is ” less than a 10 minute walk or 1 stop on the bus to the O2 Arena Entertainment District, Ravensbourne University College, North Greenwich underground station and the iconic Emirates Airlift [sic]”.

Drawings of the finished building show the hotel surrounded by near-empty roads.

ibis_styles_greenwich640

Planning permission was refused by Greenwich Council in March 2010, with the council calling it “an overdevelopment of the site that would be out of keeping with the scale, character and appearance of the immediate surrounding area”. But an appeal was allowed seven months later, with planning inspector Leslie Coop saying it “would improve the existing street scene and the character of the area”.

It is this development that is going ahead after a later application to build student flats on the site was refused in 2012 on air quality grounds. “In this location nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentrations are likely to exceed the national air quality objective. The proposals to mitigate the poor quality air are not considered to be sustainable or appropriate in the full time residential context envisaged by the proposal,” it said.

Leafing through the Greenwich Book Festival

The Guardian's Zoe Williams with University of Greenwich senior politics lecturer (and pub quiz king) John McLean

The Guardian’s Zoe Williams with University of Greenwich senior politics lecturer (and pub quiz king) John McLean

It’s easy to overlook the Greenwich Book Festival, which is happening now and across the weekend, because most of the publicity for it seems to have been “wow! here’s a book festival!” rather than “here’s a brilliant thing you can see at the book festival this weekend!” So I just assumed it was a handful of events and was about to let it pass by.

But there’s actually a huge range of events on – I popped by this lunchtime to see Guardian journalist Zoe Williams discuss the themes behind her book Get It Together: Why We Deserve Better Politics – an apt theme after the recent election, and one that reverberates closer to home than you might think.

There’s more on tonight and over the weekend, including a load of kids’ stuff, although if I was free tomorrow night, I’d pop along to see Viv Albertine of The Slits talk about her recent memoir with Everything But The Girl’s Tracey Thorn.

It’s certainly a wise use of £12,000 from Greenwich Council, although it could have helped more by sticking the programme in this week’s vanity rag Greenwich Time rather than giving it just one paragraph – the Royal Greenwich Festivals banner seems to be suffocating its events somewhat. The University of Greenwich has also chipped in, and it’ll hopefully kickstart which should be a regular event – in future years, perhaps we’ll all be wondering why Greenwich never used to have a book festival.

Meantime downed in one – Greenwich’s brewery is sold

A lovely pint of Meantime wheat beer
You’ll have no doubt seen the news already – Greenwich’s Meantime Brewing has been sold to drinks giant SABMiller, home to Foster’s, Grolsch and Peroni.

Funnily enough, I was in Meantime‘s first pub, the Greenwich Union, for the first time in ages yesterday. Meantime’s high prices have increasingly put me off – over a fiver for something brewed down the road? – but I did conclude that if I was going to have a cheeky beer in Greenwich, I might as well make sure the profit stays local. Sadly, that won’t be the case any more.

Over the years, it’s interesting how animated people in this area get when they talk about Meantime – a kind of pride mixed with puzzlement. After all, it was the first of London’s craft breweries – remember when it was just Meantime and Zero Degrees, with both selling their beer remarkably cheaply? I may mist over shortly at golden summers spent drinking wheat beer and raspberry beer in the back garden of the Greenwich Union.

Prices have rocketed since but service – particularly in the otherwise glorious Old Brewery – has been patchy. One thing that struck me about the Greenwich Union yesterday is that they wouldn’t take payment for a round of drinks at the bar – which struck me as a ridiculously fiddly way of doing it.

Still, good luck to the Meantime team. I hope the firm – which now has a fourth outlet, The Tasting Rooms, at its brewery on Blackwall Lane, adding to the Beer Box, which opened last summer – keeps its local roots.

And cherish the local and London breweries that have followed in Meantime’s footsteps: Hop Stuff in Woolwich, Brockley Brewery, Brick in Peckham, Bexley Brewery in Erith, a whole load in Bermondsey, and many more besides. Anyone else now inspired to take up brewing?

Fix the 53: Petition demands bus runs to Whitehall once again

A 53 to Lambeth North
Back in January, this website noted the sudden cut to bus route 53 caused by roadworks by Westminster Bridge. The service stopped running the full length of its route to Whitehall, depriving many local workers, from cleaners to civil servants, of their usual route to central London.

The diggers have moved away from Bridge Street, but initial dates for the restoration of service in March and then April have been missed. Transport for London blames new works at the Elephant & Castle for continuing to stop the service at Lambeth North. However, no other bus through the Elephant is suffering such a severe cut in service.

Local politicians have been strangely silent on the matter – at least in public – although I do know Woolwich Common’s Labour councillor David Gardner has raised the issue with Transport for London, citing the number of low-paid workers who use the bus.

Now the Charlton Society (declaration of interest: I’m on its committee) has launched a petition to get the route back to is full strength once again. To sign it, visit Change.org.

Air pollution threat from new Greenwich cruise liner terminal

The new proposals for a cruise liner terminal at Enderby Wharf

The new proposals for a cruise liner terminal at Enderby Wharf

It’s been four years since Greenwich Council approved plans for a cruise liner terminal at Enderby Wharf in east Greenwich – it got the green light at the same planning meeting as the cable car. In fact, it was given unanimous approval.

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”. This was loyally written up in council weekly Greenwich Time – it was “anticipated” it’d be open by the Olympics.

By April 2011, nothing had happened on site apart from the vandalism of historic Enderby House. In June 2011, Greenwich Time declared the terminal would be open “in 2012″, and mega-liner The World would be docking there in 2013.

It never happened. Last year, Barratt Homes moved in on part of the site and hid Enderby House away.

Now the cruise liner terminal is back – hey, maybe in time to watch the 2020 Olympics on television. And surprise, surprise, the plans have grown.

Here’s the East Greenwich Residents Association:

The developers propose building two towers near the riverside, Blocks Y and Z. Block Y will be 23 storeys high and will have 113 flats. Block Z will be 31 storeys high and will be home to 150 dwellings.

These two blocks will have no affordable housing in them – the idea is that they will generate the income required for the new terminal.

There is a further block planned for the rear of the site, Block A. It’s proposed this will have 9 storeys at one end and 26 at the other, this is where the affordable housing will be.

The developers already had planning permission to build 93 apartments here. Now they are proposing to build a further 121 in this block.

The three blocks combined represent an increase of 384 apartments from the original plans.

Under this proposal the overall affordable housing provision for the site drops to 16% from the 20% promised by Barratt London when it unveiled its plans back in July 2013.

More homes, but a smaller proportion of “affordable” ones – a depressingly familiar story. Plans for a hotel have now gone.

Then there’s the threat of pollution – not just from the traffic accessing the development, but from the ships themselves.

While emissions from motor vehicles are coming under ever-tighter legal restrictions, this isn’t the case with ships. When a ship is docked, it needs power – and there are no plans to supply this from generators on the shore, as used by similar terminals in New York City and Amsterdam.

I don’t recall this being an issue in 2011 – but it’s been forced up the agenda by a determined resident of the Isle of Dogs, who’ll also be affected by the terminal.

European Union directive 2012/33/EU says:

Air pollution caused by ships at berth is a major concern for many harbour cities when it comes to their efforts to meet the Union’s air quality limit values.

Member States should encourage the use of shore-side electricity, as the electricity for present-day ships is usually provided by auxiliary engines.

But instead, the Enderby Wharf plans see the ships’ diesel engines burning day and night, spewing out emissions that will affect residents on both sides of the Thames. The impact of this is barely acknowledged in a health assessment belatedly submitted by the developer last week.

The East Greenwich Residents’ Association is demanding an environmental assessment. It says:

“A ship like The World may burn up to 2 tonnes of fuel an hour. This is the equivalent of 1200 HGVs with their engines idling. A ship will burn this 24 hours a day.

Cruise vessels do not need to comply with strict emission treatment controls as do trucks, and they may well use dirtier fuel. Given that the proposed terminal will operate in the summer months, when pollution is worst, and that it lies at the heart of a dense residential area dramatically raises concerns.

East Greenwich already suffers from high, often illegal, air pollution levels. Yet another huge source of deadly pollution is not what anyone wants on their doorstep.”

EGRA says permission should not be given until the UK government responds submits its plans for complying with EU air pollution laws by the end of the year – or until the developer comes up with an acceptable plan to generate its electricity on shore.

There’s only one day left to comment on the plan yourself – yes, residents have had only three weeks to go through 130+ documents and come up with a response. Visit Greenwich Council’s planning database and enter 15/0973/F for more.

PS. If you’re still in the mood for responding to planning applications that close tomorrow, 15/0457/F is a plan to build housing on the beer garden at the Vanburgh pub in east Greenwich – something that’s definitely worth objecting to.

Goodbye, North Greenwich station ticket office: 1999-2015

North Greenwich station, 22 March 2015

If you’re planning to rock up to North Greenwich station’s ticket office this morning to buy a ticket, you’re too late. The blind came down for the final time yesterday as part of City Hall’s drive to eradicate ticket counters from the Tube network (or to use TfL’s euphemism, “transforming our stations“.)

With new technology replacing old paper tickets, losing ticket offices from the Tube network has been coming for a while. But it’s a surprise to see North Greenwich – the eighth-busiest station outside zone 1 – be one of the first to lose a counter that’s always seemed to be busy.

North Greenwich station, 15 March 2015

Staff will now be in the ticket hall and will be able to access extra functions on ticket machines if needed, but if you have a potentially fiddly transaction (like using a company cheque to pay for a travelcard), it’s not quite clear what you need to do. Annual tickets will soon only be available online, removing the satisfying/depressing (depending on your outlook) yearly ritual of talking to a human being while parting with a four-figure sum.

Or you could, for now, hop one stop west to Canary Wharf, where the ticket office will stay open until nearer the end of the year.

There will now be a month of “improvement works”, whatever that means – more ticket machines; or an Argos outlet, as seen at Cannon Street? We’ll have to wait and see.

North Greenwich station, 22 March 2015

Whatever the rights or wrongs in this case, the money saved on closing North Greenwich’s ticket office will go on vital services like the kiosk upstairs promoting the cable car, still staffed on Sunday despite the aerial folly vital transport connection being closed for its annual service.

Watch a train trip up Greenwich’s Angerstein Wharf freight line

Deceptively rural-looking: The Angerstein Wharf freight line line

You might remember last summer, this website mentioned a special rail trip up the Angerstein Wharf branch line, which links the main network with riverside industries in both Greenwich and Charlton.

853 reader John decided to shell out for the all-day trip which included a trip up the line.

He says: “I live on Bramshot Avenue and have crossed this line by foot many times. I enjoy travelling by train and just simply staring out the window, but I must admit I was a bit apprehensive because of your ‘punishingly-long’ comment. 11 hours is a long time.

“However, it was a great day. I suppose it was made better by taking the ‘dining’ option (old-fashioned first class carriages, a spot-on full English breakfast, four-course dinner and a fair bit of booze), but the journey was interesting and far from boring.

“Yes, my fellow travellers were definitely of a type: ‘peas in a pod’ as one said, who I heard commenting on the madness that a 3365B couldn’t couple with a 3367 :) But these are affable types, and the world needs people like them.”

“The only downside was that there was a broken track at Angerstein and we couldn’t go all the way down.”

And now, courtesy of YouTube train buff snowyrails, you can watch the trip for yourself. Enjoy.