Grim News For the Heart of East Greenwich

I know several of you have been busily emailing all sorts of people who should know about such things, asking what the hell is going on with the amazing new development we’re supposed to be getting where the old Greenwich District Hospital used to be, and where the only things flourishing there these days are weeds and regular changes of billboard telling us that yet another government quango’s taken over the sorry mess.

I’m pretty sure that not one of you have enjoyed the decency of a reply.

Well, Jemma has sent me a couple of links that may go part way to explaining why everything’s gone deathly quiet there.

Firstly, a couple of weeks ago, Property News announced that the Homes and Communities Agency is scrapping the capital’s public-private partnership aiming to build new housing in the key worker and affordable sector. Major changes in contracts with sundry developers is pretty much across the board, but First Base, who was promising such marvels for East Greenwich, is having its contract terminated entirely. Apparently First Base are said to be “very disappointed” – though of course they won’t be out of pocket as the HCA has underwritten the developers’ pre-development costs. Great. So it’s just us getting zero out of that particular fiasco.

It’s interesting to note that there’s a comment below the feature that seems quietly pleased as it points out that the ‘affordable’ housing market’s rotten anyway.

The second feature, in Regeneration and Renewal is subscriber-protected and I can’t reproduce in full what it says. If you’re really interested, you could take advantage of the free 30-day trial (I mean – when else are you likely to want to use it – and who knows – you might actually love it and end up a loyal reader…) but what it says in a nutshell is that the site, along with six others across London, will be ‘re-tendered,’ thanks to ”market conditions,” giving “selected developers fast-track access to housing-led public development projects” (whatever that means.)

I don’t know if this is a sensible decision or not for the long-term – it’s possible that re-tendering is the best idea given what’s going on, but for anyone who was hoping to see a) regeneration in East Greenwich b) a new swimming pool c) a new library, d) new affordable homes, get whistling now.

I think what annoys me most is that NO ONE has kept any of us in the loop about this. Jemma found this by accident, and kindly sent it to me. It’s clear the council – and the government – had no intentions of telling anyone.

One good thing. If you go past there at the moment someone (I’m assuming guerrilla gardeners, huzzah!) has tilled the soil in the giant tubs just outside, where the trees are, and is now planting it up with what looks like cuttings from their garden. At least someone gives a damn…


14 Comments to “Grim News For the Heart of East Greenwich”

  1. Mary says:

    Hopefully I can get back with something more concrete soon on this.
    However – re. the planting. a number of groups have expressed an interest in this and I have given several of them details of the site owners and how to contact them. No-one has got back to me saying what the reply has been though.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Absolutely disgusting action by Chris Roberts/Greenwich Council. We get a letter from him stating that simply the project had been delayed, and now the land will simply be sold off and yet more identikit high rise flats will be built on it.

    Greenwich council – I hope change comes soon. You are inactive, idle and rotten to the core.

    Chris Roberts – how convenient you've moved on to a safer seat so we cant vote you out.

  3. will says:

    A very tenuous link but don't forget that TOMORROW the 22nd is the last day to have your say at the Planning Inspectorate on the future of Greenwich Market

    http://www.thegreenwichphantom.co.uk/2010/03/latest-market-proposals.html

    Follow the link in this Phantom post – it takes just 10 minutes to have your say

  4. Anonymous says:

    Does anyone have a feel on how to vote to get this Labour lot out? (remember they are the 'lets demolish Greenwich market brigade')

    It would be a shame if a split Conservative / Liberal vote left Labour in place in Greenwich.

    I'm guessing the best bet is Liberal?

  5. Lucy says:

    What is also annoying about this is that presumably the fact that there was a hypothetical new library, pool etc in existence has meant that any plans to smarten up the existing ones have been put off the agenda…and maybe still will be, just in case the plot gets used for something like that!

  6. will says:

    Anonymous in post 4

    While there are many criticisms that can be levelled at the council, supporting demolition of the Market is surely not one. The councillors of all stripes unanimously voted against it.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Will, you're right to point that out, but it's worth remembering that the Council Officers (rather than elected officials) DID recommend the market scheme. That's why the Hospital has appealed – without the recommendation they would have a much smaller chance of success. Greenwich is apparently becoming a laughing stock amongst councils for its lacklustre planning controls. Schemes often receive only cursory examination and we seem to get persistently poor and cheap buildings, and worse protection of Conservation Areas, than in comparable councils like Tower Hamlets.

    On the subject of the Greenwich Market, it's important that people get their objections to the Appeal in soon, I do hope the Phantom can continue the sterling work of keeping us all up to date.

  8. Mary says:

    Right – this is what I have been told the situation is:

    The HCA own the site and are responsible for the overall development. The Council and the PCT are partners in the development of the Greenwich Centre.
    The current position is that design layouts, based on the brief agreed by the Council, have been prepared following consultation with elected Members and other key stakeholders. An application for detailed planning permission for the entire site was made by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and approved by the Planning Board in August 2008.
    The Greenwich Centre is an integral part of the development, and includes the following:
    library,
    leisure centre, including two pools, gym and studios
    crèche,
    youth advisory service,
    health centre,
    service centre.

    The overall project also includes over 600 new homes (50% of which will be affordable), 3,000m2 of new shops and restaurants, 500m2 of affordable space for business use, green open space and a public square.
    The Council in the form of a letter from the Leader wrote to all local residents in November 2009 providing an update.
    Originally the HCA appointed First Base as its developer. In response to the economic climate and the need to ensure this scheme remained economically viable the HCA are in the process of asking for expressions of interest from their new development partner approved list. The aim of this is to achieve greater value for money and ensure as early a start on site as possible.
    The HCA are bidding for gap funding of £6m from the PSLI for residential and the energy centre, which will supply the energy centre. They are confident that their bid will be successful and will know the outcome in May 2010. The HCA have received a letter of comfort from the Council stating general commitment to the scheme and stating that the Council has placed in the forward plan a provisional scheme and estimate report after the resumption of Council business in May.
    The Council have met regularly with the PCT and HCA to ensure continued engagement and commitment of all the partners. It is clear that the HCA remain committed to delivering the scheme, and are of the view that the re-tendering will invigorate development, and is likely to result in a new developer with keener prices, better VFM and a quicker site start

  9. Mary says:

    Right – I said I would get back when I had more information and here is a statement below about the GDH site.
    I hope I haven't put this on twice – if so it is not a plot by the council, it is because my home computor did not seem to be picking up Phantasmagorical comments very successfully just now. Hope this is ok – the new info is towards the end.

    "The HCA own the site and are responsible for the overall development. The Council and the PCT are partners in the development of the Greenwich Centre.
    The current position is that design layouts, based on the brief agreed by the Council, have been prepared following consultation with elected Members and other key stakeholders. An application for detailed planning permission for the entire site was made by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and approved by the Planning Board in August 2008.
    The Greenwich Centre is an integral part of the development, and includes the following:
    library,leisure centre, including two pools, gym and studios
    crèche, youth advisory service,
    health centre,service centre.
    The overall project also includes over 600 new homes (50% of which will be affordable), 3,000m2 of new shops and restaurants, 500m2 of affordable space for business use, green open space and a public square.
    The Council in the form of a letter from the Leader wrote to all local residents in November 2009 providing an update.
    Originally the HCA appointed First Base as its developer. In response to the economic climate and the need to ensure this scheme remained economically viable the HCA are in the process of asking for expressions of interest from their new development partner approved list. The aim of this is to achieve greater value for money and ensure as early a start on site as possible.
    The HCA are bidding for gap funding of £6m from the PSLI for residential and the energy centre. They are confident that their bid will be successful and will know the outcome in May 2010. The HCA have received a letter of comfort from the Council stating general commitment to the scheme and stating that the Council has placed in the forward plan a provisional scheme and estimate report after the resumption of Council business in May.
    The Council have met regularly with the PCT and HCA to ensure continued engagement and commitment of all the partners. It is clear that the HCA remain committed to delivering the scheme, and are of the view that the re-tendering will invigorate development, and is likely to result in a new developer with keener prices, better VFM and a quicker site start. "

  10. Anonymous says:

    Living in East Greenwich, I think its the wrong place to build yet more homes (other than for key workers). I object to it being called the 'heart'.
    I do support much needed council services that will be used by all.
    I dont think I am wrong when I see no space on trains in the morning at both North Greenwich and Maze Hill, the roads chocker with local traffic at the weekend that the area is at capacity.
    And to think that 10,000 homes will be built on North Greenwich Peninsula. Hmmm. That will be sustainable.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Sorry Mary, you didn't say, if you can, what happened with First Base? Or did I miss something, coming to this late?

  12. Mary says:

    I don't know any more than is there. Sorry its on twice – Phantom and Mr/Ms Webmaster, can you delete one of them, they must be annoying people.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Planning in Greenwich is just one great big bad joke. It seems that no-one looks at the infrastructure of the town or tries to think through new and exciting options other than flats with nice bits of wood stuck on the front. I think calling this site a new heart for Greenwich sums everything up – rip down the old, sell off the land and make a few quid selling it all on for building. How about building something in line with community needs for a change?

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