Greenwich Pier

Now. Let me get this right. Greenwich Council have just refused permission for a four-month experiment of a ferris wheel just outside of the Visitor Centre because it wouldn’t look nice.

So how come I read in the Mercury that in the very next week they’ve welcomed with open arms a proposal to tear down the cute little Victorian waiting room at Greenwich Pier just outside the Visitor Centre and replace it with a neo-brutalist monstrosity which will be permanent?

It couldn’t possibly have been approved because it was designed by Conran could it? Honestly – what was Conran going to say? “No – you have a dinky and much-loved little piece of history there – I’d recommend you keep that and add a few loos and a little cafe?” Of course not. He’s seen the pound signs and gone for it – and I don’t blame him. I blame Greenwich Council for not noticing that they’re not wearing any clothes.

Anyone who reads this blog will know that I’m NOT anti-development. I don’t oppose everything – each case needs to be taken on its own merits. But this is a WORLD HERITAGE SITE – where’s the heritage going to be?

From the picture in the paper, (admittedly – I haven’t seen the model, but I don’t hold out much hope for it) this copper and timber structure would just about do in a brand new site – like the old hospital. It’s vulgar but it presumably ticks boxes for ‘design’ and ‘facilities.’ But frankly I’d give the superloo next door more points for looks – and everyone knows what I think of that particular building.

Conran apparently thinks it has a “nautical feel.” Excuse me? Am I missing something? What sort of maritime world does Conran live in? It reminds me of a trendy church from the 1980s – which is hardly surprising since that’s exactly where Conran is stuck. This is 2007 not 1987.

There are going to be restaurants and balconies – which aparently are going to be “top class, yet informal.” So another average eating experience, then.

The only thing that isn’t entirely horrid about this is that at least SOMEONE thinks the Victorian building is worth saving. You’ll still be able to enjoy its delightful panelling and cute roof – if you go to St Kitts in the Caribbean. They, at least, have seen the merit in this little piece of history and will be transporting it lock, stock and cupola to a railway scheme on the island. The poor old thing looks a little sad and battered at the moment but I daresay St Kitts will give it the spruce-up it deserves.

Anyone seeing any parallels with the Old District Hospital here?

I can just see what’s going to happen in a few years time. There will be a climb down from the council who will admit that it’s one of the most hated buildings in Greenwich, pay a fortune to have the building demolished, then pay another fortune to St Kitts to get the old building back.

I shake my head in despair.


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