That ‘Safety’ Issue Again
“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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