Consultation, Consultation, Consultation
I don’t know – you wait ages for a consultation then two come along at once…
I got a rather dull-looking leaflet through my door today from a company called First Base inviting me to a two-day consultation (what is it about two days? Some kind of legal requirement, perhaps?) for what they like to call The Heart of East Greenwich and the rest of us know as The Old District Hospital. You can tell it’s ‘worthy’ because it’s laid out in little boxes and contains artists impressions of boring designs that have clearly been agreed on by committee. Believe me – it makes the leaflet (and the designs) for Greenwich market look funky…
Can one object to a proposal on the grounds of its being boring? There’s no doubt that we desperately need something on the site – Woolwich Road seems to get scruffier by the day and those dead shops are not going to regenerate until there is some kind of plan for the enormous hole left by the wrecking ball. And I can’t really complain about the sort of thing they are proposing – new apartments (it annoys me when developers refer to every new dwelling they create as a new ‘home’ – homes are made from buildings by the people who live in them, not created wholesale by developers) and a selection of ‘public service facilities’ – whatever that means – a dole office, perhaps.
To be fair, they do go on to list two swimming pools (bye, bye, Arches) gyms, a ‘wellness spa’ (blimey) and a library. The doctors’ surgeries, I assume, will replace the Vanbrugh Group Practice’s building. I don’t know about you, but I’m beginning to get a soft spot for the current VGP building though – neo-brutalist it may be, and in need of a spruce-up- but there is something about it that’s growing on me.
The whole thing will be ‘carbon neutral,’ yada, yada, and they plan a square and more shops – (more? Like the ones we have are already are overflowing…) but there’s something so – so anodyne about it all. As if they’ve just remembered East Greenwich exists and feel that they need to tick lots of boxes at once.
I don’t have a huge problem with the contents of this development. But from the leaflet, the design looks dull and uninspired. Glass wavy structures with wood-plank decorations – just like every new build I’ve seen recently. Presumably they’ve put the best bits in the leaflet and none of them (or the photos of things the architects have created in the past) inspire any kind of enthusiasm in me. I like the way the developers describe the proposals as being ‘sympathetic to the surrounding streets.’ Presumably they mean ‘sympathetic’ in the sense of ‘feeling sorry for…’
Of course – you may disagree. You may think that this is the Naughties style and it’s cool. That’s what we actually get to discuss on these consultation days (discuss, mind, – not necessarily be taken any notice of…) and its up to us to go and make our opinions heard. I don’t really care if you disagree with me – it’s taking part in the discussion that’s important. And of course, the leaflet may just not do this proposal justice, so going along is the thing to do.
I’m going to have to go the second day (so don’t be surprised if I don’t joinin any discussions immediately) – but as with the Greenwich Market consultation, I’d love you to go along and let me know what you think – and, of course, let THEM know too…
Saturday 13 Oct, 2pm-5pm
Thursday 18th Oct, 5pm-8pm
Both days are held at The Forum, Trafalgar Road. http://www.firstbase.com/
In the meanwhile, I’ll leave you with a photo I was kindly sent by a friend, one of a series taken in the few seconds that the old hospital’s chimney was blown up. It is, I believe, the only series of its kind taken from that viewpoint (Humber Road.) No cheap gags, now, eh…?