Folks, the number of ‘final deadlines’ for comments about Greenwich Hospital Trust’s appeal against the UNANIMOUS decision by Greenwich councillors of ALL parties to reject their proposals to develop the covered market seem to be as confused as the process that you’re supposed to follow to have your say. Below is the The Phantom’s Easy Guide to having your say. If you get bored with my preamble, cut to the bit in red below.
I read only last week that the deadline was 22nd April, but I’m reliably informed the deadline has NOT passed. Instead, if you haven’t commented yet then there is still a teeny tiny amount of time to do so.
Certainly, if you’re one of the people who agree with me that this is a disgraceful presumption on the part of Greenwich Hospital, to assume that absolutely everyone on the council is wrong, don’t rely on our local MP to represent you.
Nick Raynsford thinks it’s a great idea – in fact it was him who apparently told GH to appeal – against a council led BY HIS OWN PARTY. Of course he would love to see more giant developments going up – his links with the building industry are far stronger than any impulse to actually represent his own constituents – or, indeed, his own party.
No – if you object, you need to say so – you’ll get no joy from Nick. Actually, I guess, if you don’t object, have your say so too – I’m sure GH will appreciate your support.
A few notes on what the Planning Inspectors are looking for. They have to consider objections on points of law. Inappropriate massing, traffic implications and other hotel capacity in the area will all rack up and they WILL take into account the fact that absolutely everyone on the council unanimously rejected the plans. Purely aesthetc ‘quality’ issues, are more difficult to argue, as it’s subjective.
However this IS a World Heritage Site, and I personally think that they would be irresponsible to Britain’s reputation as a tourist destination to create something so wholly inappropriate to a place people flock to from all over the world to see for its history – and, of course, at the same time, spend cash.
A requirement both of National Planning, under PPG 15, and the Borough SPD – Supplementary Planning Document, is that the development MUST ‘preserve or enhance” the conservation area, and protect the setting of the Listed Buildings (which is all of the Joseph Kay, stucco-fronted buildings. A hotel that dwarfs its historic neighbours hardly does that.
The Durnford Street buildings may not be listed, but they ARE part of the conservation area. I can’t see how demolishing them to build a trash compacter will enhance the listed buildings’ setting. And what the hell point is there in getting rid of real cobbles if they’re only going to replace them with fake cobbles – though of course GH refer to as ‘granite sets’? None of this was mentioned in the Hospital’s ‘consultation.’
I’m the first to agree that the 1950s inner buildings and the roof are pretty hideous, but this isn’t the development the market needs. A simple glass roof (without those hideous pillars that close the place rather than open it up,) and discreet replacements for the 1950s monstrosities would be just fine. Greed has ensured that the proposed Hotel Building will tower over the adjacent Joseph Kay buildings, and dominate them from key viewpoints on a World Heritage Site, and with so many businesses reliant on tourists coming to Greenwich, it is our duty to ensure that they still have a reason to visit.
And it CAN be done – you only have to look at the fantastic development at the Old Brewery (by the Greenwich Foundation who sometimes accidentally get confused with Greenwich Hospital Trust, poor things) to see that history and contemporary styling can work.
So – how to object (or support if you happen to think it’s a great idea…)
This is the link to the case. You have until the 4th May to submit comments. Click the very bottom button, which will take you to the planning portal. From there it’s pretty easy to fill in the form, and just put a couple of paragraphs of what you think of the project – you don’t have to send a letter or supporting dcuments if you don’t want to. It can be as long or as short as you like.
If you’re still after ideas, Paul has sent me a list of his “Eight Ridiculous Claims” which you might enjoy:
1 “The scheme enhances the character and appearance of the conservation area. Elements such as the adjacent storage yards adjacent to Durnford Street are of poor quality. Their appearance clearly detracts from the area.” (2.7)
(A major plank of their appeal is that, by knocking down the stables and banana warehouse, they will improve Durnford Street. You have to give them points for sheer cheek!)
2 “The scheme is not visible from viewpoints outside the area.” (2.9)
( There are no drawings supplied to prove this, but Elevation C clearly shows the scheme is visible from the immediate area, and will be visible from many buildings around the market, as well as the park.)
3 “The scheme will not be detrimental to the setting of the adjacent Grade II listed buildings.” (2.10)
4 “The council has not taken into account the economic benefit of the new hotel in enlivening the area as a visitor destination, this protecting a number of buildings around the conservation area in the long term.”(2.14)
(Will the loss of informal, quirky stalls and the introduction of shops that can afford higher rents really benefit the area, if we lose the distinctive, informal feel of the market?)
5 “Unattractive outbuildings [ie the Durnford Street buildings] create a wholly unattractive entrance to the market and do not contribute positively to the Conservation Area. (2.31)
6 “The removal of the [Durnford Street] buildings… and new market roof all enhance the character of the conservation area.” (2.33)
(This is an assertion which even the Appellants don’t believe – otherwise they would have mentioned the demolition of the buildings in their display. Remember they are being replaced by a trash compactor!)
7 “The existing market roof is locally listed [but]… is not of particular importance being late Victorian/early Edwardian in date. The current covering comprises corrugated plastic… which does not contribute to the character and appearance of the Conservation Area.” (2.36)
(Would a thin plastic roof really be better than a glass structure, which the Appellants have allowed to fall into disrepair?)
8 “The net increase in traffic… is insignificant and would not adversely impact traffic flow.” (2.53)
(No extra traffic from a 105 room hotel? Remember the main entrance and exit would be on College Approach, which is always busy.)
I leave it with you, guys. Yours to object, support or ignore, but you only have until 4th May to have your say.