Heartless

Look at this and tell me this isn’t the grimmest junction in Greenwich. Every corner – whether North South East or West, is run down, closed and depressed.

Let’s start South West – the posh bit:

Anyone remember ever eating in that Chinese restaurant upstairs? The Plaza wasn’t converted terribly – though of course I’d have rather had a cinema – the flats look pretty good (I’d love to know what’s in the centre) but the business end’s dire. I remember when they first started doing the ground floor up – ooh – goodie, I thought. Surely anything will be better than a dead shop. It hadn’t occurred to me that we just didn’t have enough bookies on Traf Road already. Apathy, rather than residents’ objections did for the lap dancing club, and, well, no one at all seems to want that upstairs resturant.

Moving North-West.

Here lies the mysterious demolition – so far only the ad hoardings are gone – but there are notices all over to say the sundry buildings are for the chop, and they must mean business since the loss of advertising can’t be cheap to the owners. What’s to go there? No one knows. There are no applications as yet.

Next round the clock, North-East.

Now, I always rather liked the Ship & Billet, even if some of the karoake that came wafting out was some of the worst I ever heard. It was kept neat and tidy (until recently), certainly an improvement on the ghastly Frog and Radiator that was there before and if I didn’t actually want to go in there, it was always something not bad to look at on a junction that offered little. But now that’s dead, too. Did it sell on 2nd March at auction? I don’t know. Will it ever open again as a boozer? Ditto.

This end of Greenwich is dying on its arse. There are little pockets of regeneration (some sprucing up of shops, and the farmers market down the other end, but with a big hole like this in the middle, much of the effort is going for nothing. And what do I blame for all this? South-East:

The Heart of East Greenwich, which seems to have been in cardiac arrest for the past – what – six years? Probably more. So long, I’m losing track.

I’ve been reading a loooong series of emails that I (and probably several other blogs/papers/etc) been copied into for the past couple of years, where Andrew has been trying to get to the bottom of who the hell is responsible for actually turning the key on the diggers’ motors, and when the hell they’ll actually turn it. Often his emails go unanswered for months, sometimes he’s told that a new department or development company have been appointed. He offered (last year) to eat a hat of the Homes and Communities Agency’s choice if the diggers moved in by 31st March this year.

Last week he was told by the HCA that they are due to announce  a new developer “very soon” so Andrew has generously offered to shift his hat-eating deadline to, if memory serves, June.

I thought about offering my own tifter for consumption, since it’s highly unlikely I’ll have to purchase a replacement first-quality beaver tricorn, but I think we should up the stakes for Andrew…


the attachments to this post:

diddyman
diddyman

heart of east greenwich low
heart of east greenwich low

plaza low
plaza low

ship and billet junction 2 low
ship and billet junction 2 low

ship and billet junction low
ship and billet junction low


32 Comments to “Heartless”

  1. Alain de Valois says:

    Here’s what we’re missing: http://www.firstbase.com/pj_greenwich.html

  2. Lara says:

    Ooh! Pretty pictures? When?!

    I live two minutes from that junction and it is shit. I completely agree. Looked at a shit flat above the HSS Hire shop too. Glad I didn’t move in there!

    Unless I am walking to the Farmers Market I tend not to go further than the Co-op. Says a lot eh? Plenty of buses take me away from that delightful junction so I only have to look at it briefly as it whizzes past.

  3. Darryl says:

    The last I heard as that the H&CA had confirmed a developer… then hadn’t. It’s 10 years this month since Greenwich District Hospital closed, about 5 years since it was knocked down.

    The whole fiasco, the criminal complacency, the “couldn’t give a shit” attitude, was what made me angry enough to run for election a year ago. I hope others read this and are similarly inspired.

    Still, in other news, the local Labour party have got around to sticking a photograph of their new councillor in their window, nearly a year after the election.

  4. Indigo says:

    And a woman cyclist was knocked down and killed at that junction. Not Arianna, another woman whose name eludes me at the moment.

  5. Nick says:

    We who live in the Plaza can’t agree with you enough. It’s one of our long standing and many grievances we have with the freeholder that the commercial elements of the building are kept in such awful condition and it undoubtably has a terrible impact on property prices in the immediate area. Maybe with a bit of local pressure Purelake homes Ltd. can be persuaded to keep the building in a decent condition… It’s such a shame because the residential parts of the building are really wonderful. As for what is in the middle, that’s our little secret ;-)

    Ps really enjoy reading this blog, keep up the good work.

  6. Steve says:

    It really is such a wasted opportunity. Trafalgar Road is in desperate, DESPERATE need of a spruce up of which this is the grimmest spot.

    Do they have anything planned for next summer or are they going to keep the thousands of visitors as far away from this area as possible?

    In light of the road scheme being dropped, maybe some money and effort could be made to improve here instead? Some decent street furniture, greenery etc. to make something like this: http://tinyurl.com/3j4lyg2

    Also, how about decent lighting and murals at the truly soul-destroying A102-A206 junction?

  7. Andy says:

    Many thanks Phantom for highlighting my regular complaints about the “Dying Heart of East Greenwich”. I am sure the project is on an NHS waiting list.

    I have written to our local MP, as well as the Mayor of London, plus numerous other stakeholders, and have received limited information / replies.

    What annoys me most is that the area is huge. If the council lack the funds to build on the space, they should sell part of the land off to developers, and then rigorously supervise the planning / construction to ensure we don’t end up with a monstrosity, similar to other eyesore new builds in the area.

    During these tough times, when public funds are lacking, this should be an ideal opportunity for the local council to raise funds by selling off the land to suitable proposals.

    Perhaps part of the funds raised could be used to build a new gym / swimming pool complex ? That would be a nice addition to ease the pressure on the overused Greenwich Arches.

    What annoys me even more, is that Greenwich Council / Home & Communities Agency seem to be focussed on “appointing a new partner”, rather than the much more important question which is when is the building actually likely to begin, and what the new plans actually are.

    Our local MP, Nick Raynsford, really does not care about the Dying Heart of East Greenwich. I strongly suggest that anyone reading this should write him a quick letter / email, asking him what is going on with the site. I hope this would help focus his mind on the project.

  8. Darryl says:

    It’s good to hear the inside of the Plaza is sound, despite the taty frontage – I remember the conversion works seemed to drag on forever.

    The HoEG site is owned by the Homes and Communities Agency, rather than Greenwich Council – although the council’s plans for the site (new library/swimming pool/council service centre) are much more well known than the HCA’s.

  9. Mary says:

    This is only to say that I do continue to nag on about all this and I do pass on what information I have.
    So what I do know – the shops which people call the old mini town hall – are due to be rebuilt soon (I hope). We also seem to have kept the magnolia and the quince on the north west corner.

    However – inside the Plaza – if you have never seen inside -is Amazing. It has floor to ceiling palm trees made out of tin cans.

    If people who live in the area want to email me or ring me, or generally nag – feel free!

  10. Wow – I’ve always wondered – I can see the glass roof, and it looks incredible. What an exciting thing. If the owners of the building can’t lease out that upstairs restaurant, if they’d just clean it out ready for a new tenant it would be something.

    I can get that the HCA don’t really give a stuff – I doubt anyone from there actually lives round here and has to see it on a day to day basis.

  11. Jen says:

    I remember reading a green party newsletter saying the area would be great for allotment space, considering the current waiting lists, not to mention the massive increase of allotment costs in Greenwich.
    If nothing is to be done with this area, this should definitely be considered. I moved to Greenwich for the diverse beauty of the whole area, I even enjoy a walk down Trafalgar/Old Woolwich Road, looking up at the architecture and intriguing ‘ghost signs’ on sides of buildings, yet when ever I walk down Vanbrugh Hill, my heart sinks at this dystopian appearance, it really looks like the world has ended and this dead land is all that remains. It’s such a shame!

  12. Lara says:

    The Plaza – the white building on the corner with a Ladbrokes in it?

  13. scared of chives says:

    Someone once told me it (the PLaza) looks like Prisoner Cellblock H in the middle…with tin trees…

    It also had the nipple/bingo wings/whatever-reduction place on the ground floor in one of those units – but I think it’s since moved. At least the tenants don’t have to go far for treatment.

    Allotments for the Death of East Greenwich land sounds sensible – if only for a year or so.

  14. JJ77 says:

    I think that some temporary allotments sound like a great idea to humanise that corner of Greenwich. I also wonder if it might be possible to inject a bit of life into the area by utilising some of the empty retail units as pop up shops, restaurants and galleries. Would it work? I’m not sure but the continued survival (sucess?) of Ginza as a reasonably good restaurant at the ‘wrong’ end of Greenwich gives me some hope. I suspect the main barrier would be getting landlords to offer short leases and the council to offer some concessions on rates.

  15. Jonathan says:

    I’m a bit surprised that Meantime haven’t taken on somewhere like the Ship and Billet. Given they have places in the West (Union) and Centre (Old Brewery) it would seem to make sense to have an outpost in East Greenwich to consolidate their Greenwichian presence, particularly as the brewery is now just up the road.

    Beyond the Pelton Arms there’s nowhere decent to get a beer until The Pilot Inn and from there a considerable further distance!

  16. Indigo says:

    @Andy

    “the council … should … then rigorously supervise the planning / construction ”

    Ha – the Council doesn’t do rigour – all those years of PFI contracts ….

  17. PiratesPatch says:

    Nick Raynsford cares about his stature, his building mates and his bank account and thats about it!

    Looking forward to getting rid of the horrible little man first chance l get at an election!

    Royal Greenwich deserves so much better….
    Come aboard my ship Nicky boy….walking the plank is too good for you.
    Savvy!

  18. Mary says:

    Only to add a bit moirfe to say that I am aware of a number of people with good ideas – like allotments – for greening the old GDH site and that several of them have approached the landowners, Homes and Communities Agency, for permission, and got absolutely nowhere.
    However – give a bit of credit, and support, to those shops who struggle on – and Greenwich Town Social Club round the corner who are doing the best they can too.
    The Plaza – I assume residents have seen the flashy new building Purelake have erected at Plaistow Green in Bromley (which now seems to be called Purelake Green) – and, also and by the way, I too have nagged and nagged and nagged about that frontage. (sigh)

  19. Alain de Valois says:

    The former restaurant/bar in the Plaza is for sale as a fixer-upper flat. A snip at £450,000. It’s an interesting space, but I’m not sure I covet the view from the huge front window. There are details, interior photos and a speculative floor-plan at http://www.findaproperty.com/displayprop.aspx?edid=00&salerent=0&pid=8206504

  20. Robert Number 16 says:

    The Plaza has a very smart 20/30`s frontage that no one has ever made the best of.(Do you all remember the “net” curtains of the chinese restaurant ?) I also recall when the flats were being built, just the outside walls were left .It was a massive space. I cannot believe it is ten years since the hospital closed. I remember it well as I spent two years in GE ward.( The maximum security home for the gently ,and not so gently distressed )Break downs are so very awful!!

  21. Anon says:

    And hurrah for you now, Robert Number 16.

  22. Robert Number 16 says:

    Anon/Thank you/The most kind post I`ve ever had/(i`m crying) forget that long live GREENWICH xx

  23. Of Interest To Some Lawyers says:

    Looks like HCA London Board may have approved the HoEG scheme at their February Board meeting – although there are no minutes on their website yet?

    http://www.homesandcommunities.co.uk/public/documents/London_Board_Agenda_16feb11.pdf

  24. Lex says:

    A slightly rude article considering many people live in this area and gasp, somehow manage to go about their everyday business without collapsing in shock about how *terrible* it all is.

    Yes, it’s not great. It does look fairly tired and run down, but residents DO use all these shops and pubs around here or else they wouldn’t be in business (and many of them have been around for a long time).

    The area may not fit the Greenwich ideal of quaint little independent shops, but this is a residential area after all. These shops don’t work (see: Home Front, fishmongers, Greenwich Pantry etc) and bring nothing to the area. There’s more community spirit to be found down the Co-op than any of these ‘delightful’ shops. What we need in this area is the council to splash out on a good deal of sprucing up.

    I do agree the old hospital site is a mess and have given up hope that anything will ever happen with it. Apparently foxes live there, so at least someone’s getting use out of it.

    As a Plaza resident, I can attest to its loveliness. Thanks for saying it wasn’t converted ‘terribly’ when you’ve never been inside. The Ladbrokes and rest of the frontage has nothing to do with the Plaza and is a separate entity, so shouldn’t be tagged on to us. Its tattiness is all their issue.

  25. Barbara says:

    it is beyond grim, indescribable really. Made doubly worse by the way too small and completely ineffectual yellow box on the junction.
    I remember the chimney being blasted away either 5/6 yrs ago this summer. The house shook to it’s foundations. No one could have forecast economic meltdown but where is Cameron’s Big Society when there is this much empty space going to waste for years and years. Given the asbestos removal that went on for some time, and likely quality of the soil I don’t think I’d be that keen to grow veg in there, but I have no idea why, with a set of approved plans and public consultation completed (though I have to say I loathe the actual building design), that I can’t understand why it hasn’t been put out to tender to develop some or all of the site.

    Why not put a new secondary school there if it comes to it – weren’t the council trying to shoehorn a new school into the land beside the Blackwall tunnel?

  26. Paul W says:

    Grewenwich Council Leader Chris Roberts sits on the HCA’s London Board

    http://www.homesandcommunities.co.uk/the-HCA-london-board

    The next meeting is on Monday 11th – I don’t know whether it is open to the public.

  27. scared of chives says:

    @ Lex

    ‘but this is a residential area after all..’ why’s it such a shit-hole then?

  28. Nick Martin says:

    If you think that’s bad, you should have seen it when the old hospital (formerly the old Greenwich Workhouse) was there. But still, at least then, the old cinema didn’t look like a chinese gin palace in those days. It has never been pretty. However, as someone who watched his father die in the old concrete and glass monstrosity, it’s very sad to see it being replaced by more of the same. East Greenwich as always been the poor relation of West Greenwich, and I don’t think this is going to do very much to change that. Such a shame !

  29. Lex says:

    @scared of chives

    I wasn’t saying that it could be excused for being a ‘shit hole’ because it was residential. I was saying everyone stop bitching about the shops being depressing and rank. Just because everyone wants to see Greenwich turn into a little Islington with delightful streets of independent shops doesn’t mean it will ever work. My point was people in residential areas like this don’t need quaint little shops that sell handmade pillow cases, they need and use shops like hairdressers and nail salons, whether you like it or not.

  30. scared of chives says:

    You’re right, we need three chemists within 30 metres of each other, boarded up pubs and shops, KFC, rubbish Chinese takeaways…much better than those horrid west greenwich shops

  31. JT says:

    @ Of Interest To Some Lawyers

    I live across the road from the HOEG site, so am naturally interested in what is happening with the development. I contacted the HCA London Board to enquire about the minutes of the 16th February meeting, where the project was discussed, and was told that they will be published on the HCA website (http://www.homesandcommunities.co.uk/the-HCA-london-board) in draft form early next week (w/b 2nd May).

  32. [...] been so busy looking at the other side of this grim junction that we’ve been missing something (or at least I have, anyway.) I knew that there was a [...]