Will Murphy’s law blight new Greenwich Millennium Village homes?

Peartree Way, Greenwich

There’s something stirring down near Greenwich Yacht Club – the sound of home-building. After the project stalled for a few years, the next stages of Greenwich Millennium Village are under construction at the far eastern end of the peninsula, just before you get into Charlton. Eventually, there’ll be housing on both sides of Peartree Way, all the way up to the ecology park (of which more in another post) and the rest of GMV.

Peartree Way

Some serious work’s already been carried out – Peartree Way has been closed, the yacht club’s car park moved and a new access road’s been slapped down around the building site. And the Thames Path signs have been moved, and placed in the wrong direction so tourists can go their own little urban safari. (I did my bit and told the council a few weeks ago, but they still point in the wrong direction.)

Peartree Way

But this isn’t the most obvious of sites for new homes. Because right next to them are Angerstein and Peartree Wharves, where heavy industry still takes place. Aggregates dredged at sea get loaded into wagons, which are dispatched by train up the Angerstein Wharf branch line, which once served the old gas works which dominated the peninsula. If you’ve ever been sprayed by sand while walking along the Thames Path, that’s where it’s from. These industrial uses are protected by law.

Jestico & Whiles rendering of new GMV phase

The new blocks will back onto the wharves, screened to protect them from noise. But a residential block and major industrial plant are going to make awkward neighbours, whatever measures you take.

Horn Link Way

Between the new block and the wharves is what’s left of Horn Lane, the old road down to the Thames. This is where things start to get even more unusual for the new blocks. New neighbours will include traveller families, who have camped out here for many years. They’ll also include Murphy’s Waste, a “fully licensed waste transfer station”, which has also been here for decades.

Peartree Way

Once again, this is dirty but important work – each morning, great queues of lorries come to dispatch skips full of waste to be sorted and recycled or otherwise dealt with. It’s occasionally smelly work, too – I pass this daily and have sometimes found myself gagging on the whiffs coming from what’s being delivered. It’s a far cry from the peaceful residential oasis depicted in the developers’ artwork.

This all got planning permission from Greenwich Council in February 2012. Of all the most duff developments in the Greenwich area over the past few years, this phase of GMV is looking like a runaway winner. I can only imagine that this is mostly going to be aimed at faraway buy-to-letters, purchasing off-plan, who’ll never visit the site and won’t be too bothered as long as the rent keeps coming in. Anyone who does come to visit probably won’t be asked to come at 11am on a weekday, when the Murphy’s lorries queue up.

Some may see it as inevitable that heavy industry will be forced out of London’s riverside – but these firms create jobs, which are in desperately short supply in all the plans for the riverside in Greenwich and Charlton – and are an important part of the fabric of this part of the capital. It’s going to be an interesting few years up Peartree Way. Let the buyer beware…

9 comments

  1. charltonlanedave

    Once the properties are up and occupied, the value of the land that Murphy’s and the Aggregate works sit on will increase sufficiently for them to cash in and relocate.

  2. peterluck2013

    It is, as Darryl has pointed out, much more complex than that. The aggregate wharves are not just protected in London-wide planning policy but are the only ones in London to have a rail connection which removes very many undesirable lorry movements from the roads. Their closure would be, in strategic terms, rather a disaster. The really incomprehensible thing here is the decision to allow residential development closely adjoining the aggregate works. Too late now, but a better policy would have been to use quiet industry as a barrier to noisy. The need for employment and services of a non-office kind in inner London remains critical to the working of the capital but apparently unrecognised by planners and politicians. It is, of course, of no interest to developers, which is why they should not be allowed to lead. But they do, don’t they?

  3. Mary

    The original plan was for workshops down Peartree Way and that all had planning consent. The aggregate works challenged the planning consent and it was quashed. The (then) HCA who were the landowners ran a competition for a soundproofing scheme instead. It really isn’t that straight forward – as Peter says.

  4. Paul

    The Aggregate works seems to be a hot location for for any development because it could have its own direct rail connection to Crossrail, or it could be use as point for the a DLR connection with the DLR on the other side of the river.

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  8. john

    has anyone thought about the Traveller Families living on land partly owned by a Royal Borough for the last 15 years in what are grim conditions especially for the 23 Children whose health, Education & Social Welfare seemed to have been forgotten by Greenwich Council.

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