Blackwall Lane pocket park: Greenwich Council plans quick sale to developer

Blackwall Lane green, 7 August 2014
Last summer, this website revealed Greenwich Council was planning to sell a small piece of green space on Blackwall Lane in east Greenwich.

In other areas, it’d be called a “pocket park” and cherished – it soaks up some of the terrible pollution in this area of SE10 and provides a valuable bit of green space. It also offsets the grim-looking block of flats going up next door.

Local residents and at least one councillor protested about the council’s plan – but their complaints have fallen on deaf ears.

Greenwich Council’s cabinet is set to approve a quick sale of the land… to the developer of the ugly flats next door. The cabinet is being asked to rush through the sale at a higher price to suit the developer, according to this document:

“The adjoining owner/developer has offered a sum in excess of Officers’ opinion of the market value. The building works on his adjoining site are progressing to completion and, to justify the offer, he is requesting the Royal Borough finalises the deal soon. The concern is that a decision in September 2015 will be too late to enable the Royal Borough to seek to secure the best possible receipt.

“With Member’s [sic] approval to the disposal in principle, the process to secure the best receipt will be established and implemented by the Director of Regeneration Enterprise & Skills. Any development of the site will be subject to the usual planning requirements to ensure the delivery of a sustainable development.”

Meanwhile, contrary to what library staff were telling customers, the old East Greenwich Library is also set for sale to the highest bidder.

At the last full council meeting, regeneration councillor Danny Thorpe confirmed that the building – donated to the community in 1905 by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie – was not protected by a covenant.

17 comments

  1. maryorelse

    The Rose Garden – the pocket park – what was disturbing about it that when I made the first enquiries about it the staff who were selling it thought it was a piece of derelict land and didn’t believe me when I said it was planted and popular. There is nothing wrong with making a fuss about this – on line petition?? mass questions at the next full council?? setting up a friends group??? If people want it they need to put themselves on the line. At the very least if it was sold there should be a convenant on it to prevent building.
    – and by the way – those horrible flats were the result of a Planning Inspectorate decision.
    The Library – same thing really – don’t just sit there! I don’t know about the covenant, which I would have thought was researchable. (You need to look through the Council minute books for the date of the original donation). But there are other, probably more important issues to be sorted out. Get in touch if you want.

  2. Suzanne Miller

    This sounds so fishy. How likely is it that a developer will offer more than the market price? Why would he do that? We need to know how many of these flats will be sold to overseas buyers and how many will be social and “affordable” housing? (And are they planning to filter pollution due to traffic from the air supply of the entire development?) Will anybody benefit besides the developer? A catchphrase comes to mind: follow the money.

  3. Neil C

    “The concern is that a decision in September 2015 will be too late to enable the Royal Borough to seek to secure the best possible receipt.” Is the council calling the top of the London property boom?

  4. Suzanne Miller

    Or is it a developer holding a gun to the council’s head, threatening to withdraw the offer if it isn’t accepted soon? You could imagine that the developer might want to build more flats there, but the time pressure suggests that he may want to market the neighbouring flats as having a private communal garden — in other words, to turn a public good into exclusive private property. Either way, we lose, developer wins, council doesn’t care.

  5. maryorelse

    Look -please read my comment above. You can do something. Ring the Council Committee section, ask how to go about attending the meeting and putting your case. Go along to the meeting – take a LOT of friends. Make a case at the meeting. At the same time investigate the scrutiny and call in processes. I am very unhappy about this issue but no-one can sort stuff out like this on their own.

  6. fromthemurkydepths

    Local group EGRA should be interested? I think this covers their patch.

    How is the block next door looking now exactly? I last past it a good few months ago and much of the facade seemed scuffed before it was completed. Things that couldn’t be fixed with a quick spruce. I presume it is complete now – I wonder if that was rectified.

  7. Paul

    This is shocking news. I contact the council back in August 14 and here is one of the replies.

    “Dear Sir,
    Thank you for your comments with regard to the above piece of land.
    The ward Councillors, (myself Chris and Denise), are aware of the matter and will be calling it in via the appropriate planning route in the next few days.
    n.b. I will shortly be going on annual leave returning 03.09.2014
    Yours sincerely,
    Cllr Stephen Brain (Peninsula ward)
    Council Chief Whip
    From: PAUL XXXXX [mailto:xxxxx.xxxxxxxx@virginmedia.com]
    Sent: 08 August 2014 12:55
    To: Russell Power; Stephen Brain; Chris Lloyd; Denise Scott-McDonald
    Subject: Rose Garden – Tunnel Approach SE10”

    I chased up several times but was generally fobbed off. This was the latest response on 2nd June 15:

    “Email sent on behalf of Councillor Stephen Brain
    Dear Mr XXXXX,
    I have now received the update below from Simon Marsh, Valuations and Estates Group Manager, email simon.marsh@greenwich.gov.uk , Tel. 0208 921 6001, in Planning:-
    ‘Dear Cllr Brain,
    Thank you for your enquiry in respect of the above.
    I regret that I am still unable to confirm to you a date when the potential disposal of the site will be considered by Cabinet but, in the event that a date is confirmed, I shall inform you accordingly.
    I can confirm that a tree on the land was recently removed and by the Council. It was considered that the tree would have been too close to the future residences in the adjoining development which is currently under construction. It was further considered that its removal would have a minimal impact on the wooded amenity of the subject land. The wood chippings were scattered over one of the rose beds as part of the tree removal works. In the circumstances, new trees have been planted in Tunnel Avenue and additional trees will be planted in Davern Close later in the year. The new trees are being paid for by the developer of the former car wash site.
    If you have any further enquiries in this regard, please do not hesitate to contact me.’
    I will endeavour to update you if and when I hear anything further.
    Best wishes,
    Stephen
    Councillor Stephen Brain
    Peninsula ward”

  8. The Hebridean

    Tell me the old old story. The area is “crying out” for development and the developers hold all the cards. Its the economy stupid! Never mind that people already living here have to put up with a diminishing quality of life. That’s a small price to pay? At least that’s the way the argument seems to run. I think differently but no doubt this is a minority view and the big chiefs in the council would flatten anyone opposing wild-fire development. At least they have so far.

  9. GreenwichFan

    I think this is such a shame – a 10m x 10m piece of green oasis next to a road that is full of traffic every morning being sold for development. And the new block next door to that is probably one of the ugliest buildings I’ve ever seen. The whole purpose of a government, local or otherwise, is to make decisions in the interests of the population to prevent market forces ruling everything, but if this is sold then our council really has reached rock bottom.

  10. Paddy

    What is wrong with the block of flats next door? I think they are a considerable improvement when you look at what is around them – it’s a pretty grim stretch of road.

    Which isn’t to say I agree with the selling off of the small piece of green space.

    I just don’t think the flats are that bad, in fact I think they are quite nice. Particularly with the nice new Meantime bar across the road!

  11. The Hebridean

    With the new planning rules out today I wonder if anyone (including the council) are going to have any say in what gets built where. The devil will be in the detail but I am pessimistic. Nice one George!

  12. Omar

    Have to say I agree with paddy that the block is better than the majority of the grim surroundings and if you look at the situation of the rooms they have been fairly clever in having kitchens and corridors facing the road. The Peltons development is also fairly good too, but the loss of this park would be criminal.

    If they do sell it I wonder if there’s any chance the council use the funds to tidy up the road and all the redundant islands and bollards etc. They could easily maintain the lane + bus lane each way with a slightly narrower road, put a proper cycle path on the footpath each way, and generally make the whole street scene a lot more pleasant.

  13. B

    It’s rather odd. I had a look over the weekend and there are large picture windows in the new flats overlooking the little “park”. It would be a really odd thing to do, to build another block there as it would block all natural light into units they are trying to sell?
    I suspect that the developer either wants it as a communal gated garden or for parking, probably the latter but the former would be acceptable I think. I live near it and I’ve never seen it used for anything except irresponsible dog owners who don’t want to have to clean up their own gardens on tunnel avenue.

    Fully expecting to be proven wrong. Weirder things have happened.

  14. corinne

    Please dont forget this small piece of land has 13 trees and a lot of rose bushes on it. this is invaluable to the bird life and to soaking up some of the illegally high pollution on this junction.

  15. Bjoern

    Considering the undesirable location of this quite expensive looking development (close to the flyover and right on Blackwall Lane) it’s very likely that the developer wants to turn the park from a public into a private one. Parking for the residents is underground. If we get lucky they’ll even plant a hedge around the park and there’s even more filter. -When do they plant a few trees along The Peltons? That would be nice.

  16. Carol knox

    Hi I have been saying this for a very long time, something within Greenwich council is very fishy. They are in the process of demolishing three housing estates the first is Caldwell, Connaught and Morris walk. Flats are being built but not for us , in the council propaganda paper Greenwich time , it said the first will be ready for SALE early 2017, now across these estates only 35% are for part rent/part buy. With a very small amount going to social tenants . Now where have all these residents been housed ? Social cleansing by a corrupt council