Signs of despair for Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park

Peartree Way, 12 September 2013

Back in July, this website featured the baffling new phase of Greenwich Millennium Village, taking shape in front of Greenwich Yacht Club, but which will have an aggregates yard, a recycling depot and a travellers’ camp as neighbours.

Its construction also led to the closure of part of the road to the yacht club, Peartree Way, and some signs being shifted around (as well as some signs being mis-spelled). The direction signs on the Thames Path were moved in June, presumably by Greenwich Millennium Village’s contractors, and left pointing in the wrong direction.

It’s now September, and both signposts still point in the wrong direction – including the one for Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park, itself under threat from Greenwich Millennium Village’s long-term plans for a 20-storey tower which would overshadow it, blocking out vital sunlight. Visitors are sent heading off towards Charlton – when they only need to walk a couple of hundred yards west instead.

The ecology park depends on support and visitors to survive – so a sign pointing in entirely the wrong direction isn’t useful, to say the least. It’s not as if Greenwich Council hasn’t been told. I know myself – I first told a local councillor 12 weeks ago, and followed it up with an email nine weeks ago. Seven weeks ago, I had a reply saying arrangements were in place for the signs to be fixed.

Nothing has happened since. So since Greenwich Council clearly isn’t bothered, the Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park team have taken matters into their own hands…

Peartree Way, 12 September 2013

We’ll return at Christmas to see if the council’s done anything.

Incidentally, a public notice appeared in its weekly propaganda paper, Greenwich Time, about a month ago giving permission for the “temporary closure” of the end Peartree Way from 13 August (the same day the paper was dated) – even though the road had been fenced off since 24 June and later dug up.

Nothing’s appeared on the street itself. That basically means Greenwich Millennium Village’s developers had closed the road illegally – but no action appears to have been taken. A small issue in the big scheme of things, but it says volumes about how closely Greenwich Council keeps an eye on developers in its borough.

10 comments

  1. ClearBell

    Whatever happened to green corridors,respect for wildlife habitat and the support of the natural environment? Another “sign” of the times that makes me so angry with planning regulations and those that govern us.

  2. Joan

    If there is anything green in Greenwich and someone big enough wants to build on it then the council will agree with it.Green poicies around here are whitewash.

  3. Porterhouse

    The council seems in love with big business. Tesco, Durkan and Berkeley to start with. Watch the progress of planning applications. Some big shot will apply and get the rubber stamp with conditions put on to shut up the people who have objected. Wait a while and then the applications to vary (get rid of) the conditions the developer doesn’t like. And either some back room official will say yes or maybe the planning committee will have to do it. At the final whistle: Big Business I – Environment LOST.
    And if anyone expects an enforcement team to act they will more likely be disappointed than pleased.

  4. Harvey

    Let me get this straight. I think Darryl and other people are saying the council seems to be doing all it can to undermine the ecology park. That huge tower blocks are planned that will kill off most of the things in it? There will be no ecology park if we aren’t careful?

    Is this the same ecology park being praised to the sky by Joe Swift on Gardeners’ World as a great example of green living in the city?
    The same one that the developers mention in their ads as a good reason to buy their properties?
    The same one that won a prestigious green flag award?

    If I have got this right, who has gone mad here?

  5. Joe

    Hi Harvey, as I understand it, you have summed it up pretty well. The developers are quite happy to promote the proposed tower buildings as being beside a lovely park and peaceful lakes and so on, yet they may well end up destroying the very asset they are using to sell these units to unwitting customers. People come from around the world to view the Ecology Park as a widely-recognised and excellent working example of an inspired piece of urban planning. It creates a pocket of wildlife habitat and green space in a built-up area, enhancing the area for the surrounding community. This will become even more important as the Peninsula becomes more densely built upon.

    It is a model of sustainable parkland development, intelligently integrated into the attached site and it makes no sense to undo all that because some developer wants to make an easy bit of extra cash before disappearing off to ogle the balance of their offshore bank account. The Council either isn’t thinking things through, doesn’t seem to care or is overly friendly with such developers, I don’t know which, otherwise it wouldn’t even be considering such a damaging proposal. Developers usually get their way in Greenwich, but if this tower gets approved I think this is going to be one hell of a fight. Let’s hope the powers that be see sense before it goes that far!

  6. marymills

    Oh Darryl – the despair’s all mine. I just hadn’t noticed the sign was the wrong way round or I would have told Council staff. I also have neglected to go down and talk to the Ecology Centre staff about the signage and, of course, the developers tower block
    Can I however say that a couple of weeks ago there were lots of tweets about starting a Friends of the Riverside Walk group. Very useful with this sort of issue. Happy to help with an inaugural meeting – you only have to ask

  7. Maggy May

    All things bright and beautiful
    All creatures great and small.
    Then came Greenwich Planning Board
    Who went and killed them all

  8. Nick

    I took a ladder and a screwdriver to that finger post today but the screw is well rusted in and will never move. The cement around the post is new so it has clearly been set in the ground the wrong way round. Next step is to take a drill to it and drill out the screw, turn the finger and put a bolt through it and the post. Really it needs more than the titchy ladder I brought today. Any volunteers?

  9. maryorelse

    Couple of things – there seems to be a consensus that the sign was moved and concreted in by the builders – just another of the things they have done.
    With reference to the tower block – the Ecology Centre themselves have a lot of information on it and its effect and I would urge people to go in and talk to staff. It is very unclear how long it will be before a final decision is made, some people seem to think it might be years away. So if people are concerned they need to keep an eye on it over a long period. I won’t be around that much longer

  10. Harvey

    Joe’s post is a model of clarity and nail on the head. I don’t think it matters what is going on in the collective council head – the result is the same. The little people get worked over and big business gets its bloated profits.
    I skyped the parents last night (veteran campaigners who know a bit). For what it’s worth this is their advice.
    Yes you will have a battle on your hands. The council is obsessed with big vanity projects (the Woolwich Centre for example) and a big developer can talk them into just about anything.
    You will need a fighting committee. Joe, Derek Small and Mary Mills sound like the basis of a good one!
    This council LOVES good publicity and praise. Try to get someone on side who can give them lots of bad karma. Andrew Gilligan is local but probably taken up with the bikes and the lack of communication with said council. Joe Swift DID rave over GMV as an example of sustainable urban living and Chris Packham did front a wildlife summer for the Beeb. Surely someone in the local ecology world knows how to get in touch with a big hitter like them and can get them on side.
    The MP is standing down and has little to gain or lose by what he does. The candidates for the vacancy might well see differently.
    And finally a word of warning. Getting up a petition makes you feel you are doing something. BUT central government has a nasty habit of counting the names individually for petitions in favour of what it wants, and a petition against is just one vote! Councils could well do the same. A safer bet is to run off x number of objection letters with x number of different wording and get people to sign and address them individually. That way they have to count them as individual objections.
    They say best of luck.