The battle over the Enderby Wharf cruise liner terminal in Greenwich will be debated in Parliament next Wednesday, while local residents have confirmed they are planning to appeal against a decision to throw out a judicial review into Greenwich Council’s decision to approve the scheme.
Poplar MP Jim Fitzpatrick, who has backed Isle of Dogs residents concerned about pollution from the terminal, will lead the half-hour debate in Westminster Hall on Wednesday afternoon.
Residents on both sides of the Thames object to the terminal allowing cruise ships to use their own generators while on extended stays at the terminals, which they say will hugely increase air pollution in the area. They say the emissions are comparable to 688 lorries idling all day, and are demanding a switch to shore-based power supplies instead.
A judicial review into the decision was thrown out last month, with Mr Justice Collins stating that no errors had been made in making the decision. It is believed that council leader Denise Hyland’s meetings with the developer before the decision was made were not raised in court. Hyland is the only council leader in London to regularly sit on her borough’s main planning committee, and voted for the scheme.
Fitzpatrick’s intervention will be embarrassing for his Labour Party colleague Hyland as well as her deputy leader Danny Thorpe, who also voted for the scheme and called criticism of it “scaremongering”.
Greenwich & Woolwich MP Matt Pennycook has also sided with residents, tweeting that the judicial review’s failure was “not the end of the matter”. London mayor Sadiq Khan also offered his backing while campaigning for the position.
Now the East Greenwich Residents Association is supporting a second attempt at the High Court. While Mr Justice Collins refused leave to appeal, lawyers for the anonymous plaintiff bringing the case claim there were errors in his judgment.
EGRA’s Ian Blore said this afternoon: “We half expected an appeal. Residents and others who attended the two-day fullHigh Court hearing were surprised when Mr Justice Collins joked that he would issue his decision before going on an Antarctic cruise. The 9,500 Londoners who die of air pollution each year may not find that funny.
“It is sad that a potentially highly polluting development is still being pursued when air quality is at the top of everyone’s agenda and when a remedy, onshore power supply to the berthed ships, is possible.
“It’s doubly sad that citizens have to pay to crowdfund a legal action to prevent this and to pay council taxes to fund the legal costs of the Royal Borough of Greenwich.”
Update 4.25pm: Ian Blore adds: “Greenwich MP Matt Pennycook applied in the ballot to have this issue discussed but Jim Fitzpatrick won it. Nevertheless our MP will be speaking in the debate. With such a consensus to redesign this scheme can’t we please go back to the drawing board and save a lot of time and legal fees?”
Labour’s mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan has backed campaigners who are taking Greenwich Council to court over the planned Enderby Wharf cruise liner terminal.
Khan has issued a statement of support backing the East Greenwich Residents’ Association, which is crowdfunding a legal action against the council’s decision to allow the terminal to permit ships to use their own generators when berthed for an extended period of time – emitting hundreds of heavy lorries’ worth of pollution each day.
Greenwich Council leader Denise Hyland – the only borough leader in London who regularly sits on their own planning committee – backed the scheme after she said she couldn’t “see” any pollution while visiting Southampton’s liner terminal with an executive from its developer, London City Cruise Port. Air pollution is normally invisible. Greenwich’s decision was later ratified by Boris Johnson’s deputy mayor, Sir Edward Lister.
EGRA wants to see the terminal use power generated on-shore, with many residents suggesting London Underground’s Greenwich power station on Old Woolwich Road could be used.
Khan, the bookies’ favourite to succeed Boris Johnson next month, said in a statement issued on Saturday: “I praise the dogged campaigning of the East Greenwich Residents Association who are right to be fighting for cleaner air. Too many lives in London are blighted by filthy, polluted air and we should be doing more to clean it up, not make it worse as the proposal at Enderby Wharf risks doing.
“I support bringing everyone involved back to the drawing board to discuss how a clean solution to this can be found involving an onshore energy supply, and as Mayor I’ll do all I can to help this.”
EGRA also secured the backing of Conservative contender Zac Goldsmith at a meeting earlier this month, and have also been backed by Green candidate Sian Berry and Liberal Democrat Caroline Pidgeon – increasing the chances that Boris Johnson’s successor will take steps to make sure the terminal uses onshore power.
The crowdfunding campaign – which has so far raised over £11,000 – is to bring a judicial review of Greenwich’s decision to approve the terminal in September 2015. There will be an initial hearing in front of a judge on 19 April.
An earlier version of the scheme, which did not involve ships effectively being used as floating hotels for extended stays at the terminal, was backed by the council in 2011. Hyland was insistent that objectors should have made their case back then, despite the major changes to the scheme.
Khan’s intervention will be deeply embarrassing for a Greenwich Council leadership that has been ambivalent at best about the effects of air pollution on the community, and that has tried to paint criticism of the cruise liner scheme as being a political plot.
Regeneration cabinet member Danny Thorpe has called criticism of the terminal “scaremongering” by the Green Party, even though the Labour MPs for both sides of the Thames, Matt Pennycook and Jim Fitzpatrick, have both made clear their unhappiness about Greenwich’s decision to back the scheme.
Indeed, given the cautiousness of Khan’s campaign for the mayoralty and his reluctance to criticise schemes backed by other Labour boroughs – such as Lambeth’s support of the deeply controversial Garden Bridge – his comments will be seen as all the more damning of Greenwich’s approach.
But they will also give strength to those Labour councillors – and other figures within the party – who want to see the council adopt a different attitude in its dealings with both developers and local residents.
Khan coughs on Silvertown Tunnel
Khan has also appeared to distance himself from the Silvertown Tunnel – another scheme backed by Greenwich’s leadership in the teeth of opposition from its Labour neighbours. He told industry publication Transport Network that while he wanted to see more road river crossings east of Tower Bridge, he was unhappy with the current proposal and wanted all current plans – which would also include plans for crossings at Thamesmead and Belvedere – to be reviewed.
“Plans as they stand for the Silvertown Tunnel do not fully take into consideration the importance of greener transport, and imposing a toll is in many people’s minds a tax on East and South East Londoners,” he said.
“We need a proper joined up review, looking at river crossings and improved public transport connections east of Tower Bridge, but in a strategic fashion, not piecemeal like the current mayor.”
Khan’s comments leave former environmental campaigner Zac Goldsmith as the tunnel’s only outright supporter in the race for City Hall. At the very least, they reflect his need to win second-choice votes from supporters of Liberal Democrat Caroline Pidgeon and the Green Party’s Sian Berry, who are both opposed to the scheme. The No to Silvertown Tunnel campaign is currently asking supporters to send the two leading mayoral candidates postcards telling them to oppose the plans.
Greenwich is the only affected borough to have continued backing the scheme, despite opposition from rank and file party members and many councillors.
You can contribute to the Enderby Wharf crowdfunding campaign at www.crowdjustice.co.uk/case/cruise-liner. Full disclosure: I’m a founder member of the No to Silvertown Tunnel campaign.
Greenwich Council is facing a judicial review over its decision to back a cruise liner terminal at Enderby Wharf in east Greenwich – and local residents are appealling for help in funding the challenge.
The council’s planning board backed the scheme last July, ignoring objections from neighbours on both sides of the river, as well as Tower Hamlets Council and Greenwich & Woolwich MP Matt Pennycook.
Residents fear pollution from ships berthed at the terminal, on the west side of the Greenwich peninsula. As the terminal will have no means of generating its own electricity for ships, the vessels will have to power themselves – burning at least 700 litres of diesel an hour.
A single ship will generate the same emissions as 688 permanently-running HGVs, residents say, using far dirtier fuels. Residents want to see power for the terminal provided on shore, as happens at at ports in New York and Amsterdam, but the developers say this will cost too much.
Now a crowdfunding campaign has been launched to raise £6,000 to challenge the council’s decision in the High Court. If you’d like to chip in, visit www.crowdjustice.co.uk/case/cruise-liner.
The council is already defending the challenge, Dr Paul Stookes of legal firm Richard Buxton says. The High Court will now decide whether to allow the judicial review.
Dan Hayes, chair of the East Greenwich Residents Association, says: “We believe that the planning decision is short-sighted and ruinous to Londoners’ health. Nearly 10,000 people die of air pollution in our capital each year and far more suffer ill-health because of bad air.
“We have been constantly exhorted to use public transport, buy cleaner cars or cycle, only to have dirty developments thrust on our communities. It’s time to call a halt on decision-making that makes air pollution much worse for Londoners, and the cruise terminal proposal, without on-shore power, is a striking example of this.”
Why did council leader vote on issue?
The terminal has been vehemently defended by council leader Denise Hyland – who sat on the planning board that gave the terminal the go-ahead. She is the only council leader in London who regularly sits on their borough’s main planning committee.
Hyland chose to sat in judgement on the cruise liner terminal despite having previously publicly endorsed the scheme. In the months before the planning board meeting, she held four meetings with terminal promoters and their associates without most other board members being present – including one just five days before the planning board meeting, according to information provided in response to a Freedom of Information request submitted by this website.
Advice from the Local Government Association says that “members of a planning committee… need to avoid any appearance of bias or of having predetermined their views before taking a decision on a planning application or on planning policies”.
Regeneration cabinet member Danny Thorpe – regarded as Hyland’s effective deputy on the council – also chose to sit on the planning board, despite being present at three of those meetings.
Thorpe joined Hyland on a trip to inspect a cruise liner terminal in Southampton. Hyland spoke about this during the meeting, saying she could not “see” any air pollution there – despite the fact that it is usually invisible.
Hyland also criticised residents for not bringing up air pollution fears when the proposals first came before the planning committee some years back – even though plans for the terminal have substantially changed since then.
The court challenge has the potential to embarrass both Labour and Conservative candidates in this spring’s mayoral elections, since outgoing Conservative mayor Boris Johnson has joined Labour’s Hyland in defending the terminal, to the discomfort of grassroots members of both parties.
Green mayoral candidate Sian Berry and Lib Dem counterpart Caroline Pidgeon have both supported the legal challenge.
Isolated on cruise liner and Silvertown Tunnel
Indeed, this website understands Hyland’s ambivalent attitude to air pollution – an issue which remains high on the political agenda – is causing unease within her party’s ranks. As well as leading Greenwich to an isolated position on the cruise liner terminal, she has now been left in a similar position on the Silvertown Tunnel.
Greenwich is now the only one of the three boroughs closest to the tunnel to remain offering unconditional support; with Lewisham, Southwark, Hackney and Waltham Forest opposing the scheme on air pollution and congestion grounds, and Newham withdrawing its support over congestion fears.
Asked at a council Q&A in December about Southwark’s opposition, she said she continued to support the tunnel because “it arrives in Greenwich and it helps our residents”.
She also told the Q&A she believed air pollution would not be an issue by the time TfL plans to open the tunnel, in 2023, even though the current Conservative government is showing few signs of wanting to tackle the issue, and plans for a central London ultra-low emissions zone do not cover Greenwich.
If the residents’ judicial review over the cruise liner terminal is accepted by the High Court, it will put her stewardship of the council on this issue under a harsh spotlight.
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.