That ‘Safety’ Issue Again

Ankur asks:

“We are planning to move to Greenwich and have been looking at houses around the east end of Trafalgar Road (Pelton Road, Tyler Street, Calvert Road are some of the streets we’ve looked at). Walking around the area, especially along Trafalgar Road, has given us some mixed feelings about the safety/security aspect of that part of Greenwich. As a family with a young child, I am wondering if that area of Greenwich will be safe and family friendly.

Also, do you know if there are any plans for the ‘Heart of East Greenwich’ site?  A lot of real estate agents have been selling us the regeneration promise that the development will bring.”

The Phantom Replies:

First of all, congratulations on choosing Greenwich – I know very few who regret moving here. It’s a little secret that the rest of London doesn’t know (or, to be honest, care) about but being the underdog can be a powerful experience . While everyone else is knocking themselves out fighting each other for places like Islington and Kensington and Shoreditch the people in Greenwich (and to be fair, most of South East London) get not only lots for their cash, but a real sense of community, quirkiness, history and vibrancy. They’re prepared to actually get off their butts and do some thing to make life more interesting – from toddler clubs to community groups, open artists’ studios to one-off events. It’s no coincidence that this site is just one of what has to be the largest band of local bloggers in the city (hi, guys). South East London gets a terrible press – and, admittedly, some of it is justified,  but that just makes those who actually give a damn try harder, and I’d swap a community that has it all but’s got lazy for one that tries hard any day.

Blimey. Dunno where that little soapbox moment came from. Sorry – back to the question. Well, I have to lay my cards on the table. Traf Road can be a little rough around the edges. You don’t (with a couple of very honorable exceptions) find  in the east the shooshy shops like the ones along Royal Hill.  There are a hell of a lot of dodgy  takeaways and dead shops. But I never feel unsafe walking around there, and especially in the streets just off it. All the ones you mention are popular with families – not least because they’re within the catchment area for Meridian School – a fine example of that ‘people actually giving a damn’ mentality – it has a very active parents’ group and is going up in the world. 

Pelton Road I have written about on many an occasion – a fascinating street, near to the river, with loads of character and history, not to mention a lovely pub in The Pelton Arms – one that used to be a dive and through the sheer will of a dedicated guv’nor is now one of my favourites (the Vanbrugh, the other side, is also good.). It can get a bit noisy around the Royal Standard, a few doors down,  of a weekend evening, and I have heard that the new flats at Lovells Wharf have a few noisy people, but generally it’s a quiet, pretty street. I once got water-bombed as I walked past the block of flats – but kids with high spirits hardly constitute a criminal element. 

Tyler Street is cute, cute, cute. You will have noticed the houses are pretty small, but it remains desirable. My one personal caveat for all the streets along Trafalgar Road though, would be to try to get a place as far from the main road as possible. If there’s going to be any noise (there’s rarely any actual ‘trouble’ that reaches my ears) it will be near the Traf Road end. Not least an almost constant cacophony of police/ambulance sirens of a Saturday night. 

There were a lap-dancing club, amusement arcade and sundry bookies shops along the east end of Traf Road. They were all fought (and lost) by the great and good – but the great and good needn’t have bothered – good old fashioned apathy did for them all. There just doesn’t seem to be the appetite for such places. 

Calvert Road, and the road it nestles inside, Annandale, are both nice streets, with interesting, different sized houses, from really quite large Victorian ones through to little cottages. There is a good park nearby (East Greenwich Pleasaunce, not the sad little Glenister Gardens between the two of them) that has an other example of that community involvement, an active friends group, who are behind an excellent little cafe there. The health centre at the end of Calvert is one of my favourite modern buildings (not much liked by Pevsner, but what does he know?) The one ‘don’t know’ hanging over the road is on the north side, as it backs onto the mythical Heart of East Greenwich.

Which brings me onto the sore topic of the HOEG. Whatever estate agents tell you, don’t count on swimming in the splendid pool, exchanging a cheery smile with a librarian as you change your book or meeting new people who have moved into the glorious world of regeneration any time soon. The Homes and Communities Agency (I earlier said it was the council – which is just wrong, soz, Mary…) were quick enough to demolish the hospital, but the site’s been empty for years and if there are any plans to begin building work any time before the next millennium, they haven’t bothered telling the local people about it. In fact they never bother telling us about it at all, even when directly asked (though I should mention we have the world’s best local councillor in Mary Mills, yet another example of people giving a damn.) 

So – to wrap up – I don’t see East Greenwich as any more unsafe as anywhere else. As long as you take the same sort of precautions as you would do in any part of London, you’ll be fine. Sure there are isolated incidents, but you get them in Chelsea, too. 

So – over to you lot. Am I looking at the world of East Greenwich through specially made rose-tinted Phantom specs? Or are you an East Greenwichophile too?


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21 Comments to “That ‘Safety’ Issue Again”

  1. Mary says:

    Its worth saying that local crime and disorder statistics are available – and presented every month to members of the public at the local Police Panel. Generally they are low compared to other areas – the main problems are in supermarket car parks.

    The New Heart for East Greenwich – is still with the Homes and Communities Agency – who have been in charge of the project from the start and – er – it was them that demolished the old hospital.

  2. annabel says:

    Hi there
    I have lived in East Greenwich and now still East but by the arches which is a bit nicer in my view. East Greenwich is a bit tattier but probably has a better community feel. I think that there are many families, we have a young son and people generally like making friends and seem community spirited. I love Greenwich and cannot imagine moving, the Arches is really handing for soft play and swimming for young kids and there are plenty of parks, Greenwich Park obviously but the Pleasaunce is handy and of course you can take a stroll up the hill to Blackheath. Go for it, Greenwich feels prosperous and with the improvements comign to the village like the Cutty Sark, the pier and the new wing on the museum it will soon look very slic.

  3. Robert Number16 says:

    Dear Phantom.
    Just reading your bit about Greenwich has cheered me up.
    Thank you.

  4. Oops – sorry Mary – I knew that – just forgot. Tut to me.

    And yes – Robert, sometimes we forget that we do actually live in a brilliant place – it’s easy to get off on moaning about stuff, but ultimately, there’s a lot to be happy about here.

  5. Robert Number16 says:

    Dear Phantom
    Talking of moving (as I lie hear full of cold)I`m watching on my cctv new people moving into St Alfege Passage.Hope they are nice!!
    So AnKur, go on take the plunge into Greenwich.You won`t be alone..
    PS Phant Did I tell you I have found some never before seen footage of the Cutty Sark moored in The Carrick Roads off Falmouth during the 1930`s.Taking it to the Cutty Sark Trust next week if I`m still alive!!

  6. Nice one, Robert. If they put it up on their blog (which has finally started to show some interesting stuff) I’ll look forward to seeing it!

  7. Kelly says:

    Hi
    I moved to Pelton Road from West Greenwich last year and I have not regretted the move. Trafalgar road is busy and a bit tatty but I walk along the river into Greenwich instead, which is great. In fact walking through the college everyday has made me remember how privileged I am to live in a place like Greenwich.
    Also, I think East Greenwich is quite family orientated and has a good community spirit. So I would recommend it!
    On another note if anyone can recommend a good down to earth cafe in east Greenwich or even in Greenwich itself it would be much appreciated!
    Good luck!

  8. Ankur says:

    Thanks everyone for such a great and helpful response. I definitely hadn’t expected this when I emailed the Phantom last night! I guess this is exactly the spirit that the Phantom talks about in his write up :)

    This has made me feel better about our choice of area already and I look forward to being an active member of the Phantom community if we end up moving there.

    Thanks again everyone. I might draw upon the Phantom community’s expertise more as our plans firm up.

    Cheers!

  9. will says:

    We move to the area a little over 8 years ago and I can’t see us leaving, ever. We’ve started a family here and we have not for a second felt unsafe at any time of day or night.

    A few years ago, an american frined who was staying asked whether Greenwich park was safe to walk through. The idea that it might not be had genuinely never entered my head before.

    The Pleasaunce is a great example of how the area continues to improve – and the cafe there is superb.

    I’d wholeheartedly recommend moving. Where else can you walk your kids to the local swimming pool, school, museum, market, library and planetarium?

  10. scared of chives says:

    @ Kelly – the Italian deli (next to..er…KFC) is great – can never remember how to spell the name…or Nevada Street deli in West Greenwich (if you don’t mind babies/toddlers…).

    I agree about the walk through the college and always pinch myself how truly beautiful Greenwich is.

    There’s no denying East is tattier than West but I’ve never had a ‘problem’ in over 10 years. As the Phantom says – the shops are bad bar the odd one or two. The Bombay Bicycle Club (upmarket curry) didn’t last – which says something.

    If you live in the East you can take lovely walks along the river, to Blackheath etc…and come back through the park – something the West fold don’t really do in reverse.

  11. Mazer says:

    Thank you Phantom for a spirited summary of Greenwich, despite her shabbiness in places (ie trafalgar road, and to be fair there are also scruffy parts of west too – blackheath road etc).

    Do move here. I have very rarely felt unsafe anywhere in Greenwich except once or twice late at night from drunks who weren’t even local (avoid bar du musee on weekend nights, terrible bar staff and poor service as well as bit too rowdy).

    Trafalgar road is a mixed bag, but you are compensated by The Arches, La Salumeria (deli/cafe), Theatre of Wine, A&C Art Gallery, the often overlooked restaurants such as Mehak (decent Indian), as well as the practicals: Blockbuster video, dry cleaners, post office, Tesco/Co-op/mini-M&S food in the BP.

    This all in addition to the relative value compared to west Greenwich naturally. Also, as Kelly says it is a wonderful choice to either stroll along the riverside/naval college (popping into the painted hall at dusk on the way back when the lights are on-amazing-) or through the park passing by the excellent childrens playground and behind the queens house.

    The pubs have been mentioned, but can I also plug the plume of feathers for its (usually) highly seasoned and tasty food, and also add the benefit of being so close to the riverside Trafalgar and Cutty Sark.

    I think I have sold to myself again too…
    Ps. For kelly’s request, can I recommend Alacosta ? I hadn’t been in for a year or so yet the pleasant man there remembered me and I sat reading their papers for a few hours. In better weather they open their cute outdoor patio at the rear too.

  12. Mazer says:

    PPS. Should have said that Alacosta is on trafalgar road by the bottom of Maze Hill. Incidently I recommend the Arches end of East Greenwich generally but I am shamelessly biased.

  13. Orlando says:

    Do make yourself fully aware of secondary school options if starting a family in Greenwich !!

  14. OldChina says:

    Ankur, after six years of living in “posh” West Greenwich I’m moving to East Greenwich in the next few weeks. Frankly, I’m quite seedy and down market myself so I think I’m more suited to East Greenwich anyway ;)

    Seriously, the streets between Trafalgar Road and the river are lovely. They’re a fine example of Victorian housing, and so full of character. I’m very excited to be moving there for so many reasons.

  15. Belle says:

    We spent two glorious years in a little row house in Colomb Street and loved every moment of it! It’s an amazing place to live, great for young families, and full of history. The walk along the river into Greenwich is beautiful and always interesting. The community is friendly. Plus it’s really close to transport, which was a huge selling point for us. I can’t say enough wonderful things about East Greenwich.

  16. Ankur says:

    Thanks again everyone for the fantastic response and absolutely golden nuggets of information about Greenwich.

    I tip my hat to the wonderful Phantom community.

    Cheers!

  17. Kelly says:

    Glad to help. Thanks also to all the cafe suggestions!

  18. Steve says:

    What a great thread!

    Bizarrely, one of my favourite aspects of Greenwich life is that there are hangar-sized branches of Sainsbury’s, Tesco’s and Asda (plus a couple of smaller M&S Simply Food branches) all within a mile or two of Trafalgar Road.

    And +1 for the riverside walk, a heavenly route between E Greenwich and the centre.

  19. derek says:

    Blowing my own trumpet here, but in Old Woolwich Road too(junct.Hadrian Street,near Christchurch)in one of the lovely arched terraced houses mentioned, is our Travel Agency and Cycle Hire business- The Flightcentre Greenwich and Greenwich Cycle Hire. we’ve survived 25 years this year, a feat I’m told we should be proud of in a part of Greenwich where shops tend to ‘come and go’. Certainly we saw off the invasion of the multiple ‘Flightcentre’which lasted just a few years in West Greenwich by Cutty Sark Gardens DLR. If anybody can help with the history of our shop, prior to our occupancy (No.95)it would be of genuine interest. Over to you local historians then…

  20. Lucy says:

    I do agree with a lot of the comments about good aspects of the area, but I wouldn’t say I have never felt unsafe in EG. It may be just me, but especially getting off the bus and walking back in the dark – I always see quite a few people dodgy enough to make me double check whether they head the same way. The buses often contain people who are behaving, well, badly. I have only once seen them challenged, I guess because everyone is concerned how they’d react. Not trying to discourage you, and there is a lot of good, but don’t want to be too unrealistic.

  21. [...] slightly ironic question today, given the nasty shooting earlier this week, but after our our reassurements that East Greenwich is really safe and a brilliant place to live (which, frankly I still stand by [...]