I can’t remember the last time it was so hard to go back to normal after a bank holiday. It’s dull, gloomy and dark out there, and, with a pile of tedious stuff to do and an empty brain I’m convinced I’m tireder this morning than I was before Christmas.
So I guess we need to look ahead and think of good stuff that’s coming this year. I’m rather hoping that the slow re-opening of places that have been shut for months or years won’t be too counterbalanced by the grim things like still-uncertain council cuts, ‘interesting’ schemes and the new 20% VAT, but there are things to look forward to.
Perhaps it’s tempting fate to believe the Cutty Sark Trust’s claim that they’ll be re-opening this year, but as the countdown is on to the all-important 2012, if it isn’t done by then, I’m predicting it never will be. It’s now at the point where it’s not worth carping about what may or may not have been done rightly or wrongly; we have to just believe them when they say that the raising of the ship will not harm it and that the glass surround over the Sammy Ofer Gallery won’t look as much like a lean-to greenhouse as it does in the artist’s impressions. I have to say that it does look as though it’s finally beginning to take shape – it’s still hard to see much peering through the holes in the gates where the locks go, but the pictures are encouraging.
It’s going to be a good year for things named after Sammy Ofer. The NMM is due to be finally opening its new Sammy Ofer Wing in the summer – again, that area has been such a building site for so long, I just want to see it open now. We’ll never get back that secret little place, presided over by King William IV and his saucy scroll, which used to mark out in stones and beech hedges the site of St Mary’s church, but at least it will be open.
St Alfege’s Church Tower looks really excellent now. Sadly it’s not the end of the scaffolding, as they’re sprucing up the East end of the church next, but since their particular special year is also 2012, I’m guessing they won’t be hanging about. Just as long as they don’t lose the sad cherubs. Greenwich wouldn’t be the same without them.
It’s been a real joy to see the wraps coming off the buildings in Nelson Road too – I know that there were some nuisance issues for residents during the works, but I have to hand it to Greenwich Hospital Trust (treasure this moment, GHT, my praise won’t last forever) -it does look really good now.
Of course, that does bring me onto the whole market thing. We find out very soon now whether the Hospital’s appeal against the unanimous decision by the council to reject the proposals has been upheld. If it has, then you can look forward to many more years of scaffolding, the loss of historic buildings and me going on and on about it.
I have absolutely no idea what’s going on along Island Gardens. The foot tunnel? No clue, save that I move hell and high water not to have to take my bike north of the river these days – I might never get back. The pier? No clue, though I did see a licence application for a chain restaurant (Zizzi, if memory serves) so I suppose it must be nearing some sort of completion. When it does, we’d like out grass back around Bellot’s obelisk, please. The new landscaping? I have no clue of that either, though of course it can’t begin until everything else is finished. English Heritage, I understand, weren’t happy with it being green and having trees (they wanted an urban dockyard landscape), but were overruled, which I’m quite happy about – it’s bleak enough there without adding more concrete. A few trees, some water and a bit of floweryness might make it a nice place to sit instead of somewhere you hurry through as fast as possible.
Over on the Peninsula, Ravensbourne College is open at last. I absolutely adore the outside; am less impressed with the inside, but what it could bring to Greenwich culturally will be well worth watching. Dunno when they’ll start on the new hotel (or this cruise terminal that’s been sprinting its way through planning) but if they fancy sticking some more bike racks around North Greenwich Tube as a Section 106, I’ll not be complaining.
Come to think of it, I’m sure I heard the other day that the Government’s been tampering with Section 106 laws – in the short time I have to write this before I really have to do some work I can’t find any mention of that, so perhaps I was dreaming – but I still have my eye on the bridge across the Creek that is part of New Captital Quay’s 106 agreement. Everything’s looking a bit dead there at the moment; I vaguely remember it all going very quiet (I even heard the company had abandoned it, dunno if that’s true) I can’t find any construction news about it, just ads for luxury flats.
And then there’s the park…
The Dwarf Orchard looks close to completion to me, which will be lovely. I know there are people out there who still think the Olympics can be stopped. That’s really not going to happen now, guys. The job now is to ensure it’s all done with the least damage possible. Anything else is unrealistic.
Oh God, I’ve just gloomed myself up again. It’s the day, guys, it’s getting to me. I’ll be fine tomorrow. For now I have a mountain of dull stuff to do. I promise something cheerier soon.