"Heart of East Greenwich" consultation

Anonymous suggested we talk about this now we’ve had our slender chance at seeing First Base’s plans for the old District Hospital site.

I say ‘look’ at their plans as I really believe that whatever anyone says on their little piece of paper in the way of comments will be looked at – then utterly ignored. But hey. They let us look at them for one afternoon and one evening and I guess we should be grateful…

What really jumped out to me was that nothing jumped out. Someone on the last thread mentioned that it was all done using a computer kit, which is why it all looks the same. And they must be right. There is no genuinely original thought here – a wavy roof on one bit and a few scribbled-in lollipop trees and bushes doesn’t hide the rest of it.

Why are they creating all those shop spaces when we can’t fill the ones we have along Woolwich Road? Wouldn’t it be best to landscape that area for now (I know, I know – architects are allergic to the colour green unless it’s in lollipop form…) and wait for the shops in Trafalgar and Woolwich roads to fill up, and, when we have a head of retail steam in East Greenwich, then build some more shops and cafes to suit what the area has turned into? As it is I can see acres of boarded up NEW shops as well as the old ones. The first thing that people will see on entering the area is a load of un-taken shops with just the odd bit of tumbleweed drifting between the new dole office and the rest of the council buildings, the scruffy Starbucks, inhabited by truant teenagers its only open shop.

They very cunningly put so many images of happy people ‘using’ the facilities that it was quite difficult to concentrate on the actual buildings; that may have been because the images of people were more interesting than the buildings. There were a selection of what I at first took to be kiddies building blocks but turned out to be samples of the materials they’ll be using. Cheap and nasty, dyed bright colours to try to conceal the fact.

And maybe that’s it. We have got this design because it’s cheap. East Greenwich is far enough away from the posh historic end for it not to be visited much by tourists, therefore somehow it doesn’t matter. Who cares if all that new traffic pours out onto Woolwich Road making it even more congested than it is now? (When I asked about this I was told that everything would be alright because they were “only allowing left turns” – no thought given either to how that would be enforced – or what even the left-hand turns would do to traffic that gets banked up to the A102M every morning.)

Would you believe that the argument I was given for allowing all the extra parking was that the hospital would have had cars? I guess there would have been a small car park – but any hospital traffic would have been coming and going throughout the day, not all trying to leave for work at 7.30am. Besides, in the years the hospital has been dead, the traffic has increased to fill the gap it left. It’s no longer a viable argument IMHO.

I went with my mum. She doesn’t live in the area, but she always loves to visit Greenwich because it’s lovely – even the East bit. I think she summed it up. She walked round, studying the boards in silence. As we left, she just said “Greenwich deserves better, really, doesn’t it…”


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