Market Appeal

There’s much to be positive about this month – not least the re-opening of the Visitor Centre, now rather poncily renamed Discover Greenwich , a name I wouldn’t have chosen, but it’s what’s inside that counts, and it’s looking exciting indeed – and the long-anticipated opening of the brewery at the Old Royal Naval College.

But we can’t afford to take our eye off the ball. Most people now know that Greenwich Hospital Trust are appealing the same proposal for redevelopment of the market that was UNANIMOUSLY thrown out by Greenwich Council last year.

It was thrown out because it was wrong for Greenwich – too big, too tall, too brash, too uncaring of what Greenwich is about – a World Heritage Site (at least for the moment, until we finally get rid of all our heritage and we join Dresden in the ex-World Heritage Sites of Shame Club…) loved around the world for its history and mellow beauty.

The proposal deliberately smashed up old buildings to make room for wheelie bins (after first being carefully ‘preserved by record’ – some PR guy’s very proud of that phrase…) and ripped up cobblestones to be replaced with Bluewater plus a few craft stalls. The proposed hotel, not a bad idea in itself, was far too tall for the site, another example of cash over care.

That Greenwich Hospital Trust is appealing the decision shows exactly the kind of bullies we’re dealing with here. Caring not a jot for the opinions of locals, historic integrity or the longtime viability of a World Heritage Site without-any-heritage in favour of making the fastest buck for the charity (short-termism or what?) they will keep on appealing until they get what they want.

We can’t let that happen. Can we?

It certainly doesn’t help that we will have to fight our own MP, who is on record as supporting the development that his own party on the council rejected as being bad for the area. An MP who only ever seems to speak in parliament about his declared interests in the construction industry, and who doesn’t need care about what his constituents might think because he’s sitting in a safe seat.

What is to be done here? Paul, who was very active on the original protest, tells me

“They do accept submissions from the public, by the way. I think the appeal can take different forms, one of which is like a public enquiry. WE as residents will have to get our act together, and also pressurise some of the amenity groups to resubmit objections.”

I understand from another ‘source’ that it “goes to the inspectorate which is supposed to adjudicate on the basis of planning law – which means the entire thing is a long argument between barristers. People really need to write in to the inspectorate with their views – and they need to stick to ‘planning’ and legal arguments – the inspector won’t listen to anything else.”

Trouble is, I’ve spent time this morning trying to work out how to send in those submissions, and I can’t quite work out how. I can’t even find the inspectorate in question. I’ve looked in all the obvious places and can’t see anything, but I’m not the most technically savvy Phantom in the world. Is it too early, perhaps? I need some help here, folks…


6 Comments to “Market Appeal”

  1. Paul says:

    there's a summary of the appeal process here:

    http://www.elmbridge.gov.uk/planning/control/appealprocess.htm

    One good thing is that whether a proposal detracts from the adjacent listed buildings and conservation area is a subjective decision; the inspector has to take account of people's opinions, including the councillors, who are elected, and the locals. So many of the reasons why people objected are directly relevant.

    More later; even something like a petition is powerful, although it's important that residents submit their names separately from those of visitors.

    The Hospital committee are an objectionable bunch; remember, they're reallt MOD placemen and women rather than a proper charity. I presume one reason for the appeal is that it costs them not a penny; they have reputedly spent between £2m and £m on the application (!) so it's worth one last throw of the dice for them.

    THanks for your ghostly vigilance, one again!

  2. the Last Stand of the 150 says:

    The very smug Nick Raynsford has suggested in the past that planning appeals are always successful. The reason behind this is that the decision is taken away from the public and put into the hands of the professionals and technocrats.
    The Phantom has summed up the development very well,it's just too big, too greedy and too similar to every other retail scheme. Rather than just lower a modern building onto the island site they should gut and refurbish the already huge amount of square footage in existence. This would be morally correct but would probably not deliver the returns needed to make the project viable.
    I once had a chat with an insider who told me that the Hospital is driven to find funds for its charity school in Suffolk and nothing else really matters -simplistic, yes, unfair, maybe. It does indicate however that there is a bigger agenda out there than us local folks realise.

  3. noel says:

    "Greenwich Hospital is currently funding a multi-million pound building project to refurbish the School’s boarding houses and build a new music school. The new music school was opened December 2008."

  4. Dennis says:

    Well, given that they're not going to start any construction until 2013, are they going to redraft the plans, or just attempt to push the existing proposal through?

    My beef with the proposal was, more than anything else, the complete lack of imagination it showed. Glass cubes, concrete cubes, a tent, and a shopping mall? C'mon…

  5. a local voter says:

    I have many reasons why I will not be voting Labour this year (which upsets me: I'm a natural Labour supporter). Not least, because I resent that I only see the Rt Hon Raynsford when he's lurking at the station / school gates asking for my vote. When I do get canvassed, I'm going to mention the market plans. I suggest all of us who oppose the current position do the same – and also lobby Council candidates the same!