Rubble Trouble

We’ve 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 consultation going on for the the large area of land around Blackwall Lane/Pelton Road/ Commerell St, which has been lying derelict for a couple of years now and which the council flogged off to speculative developer Kitewood Estates, but what I didn’t know was that although they have all sorts of fancy plans for gated developments etc. they want to raze everything to the ground now, despite the fact that they haven’t even applied for planning permission to build anything there yet.

If the example diagonally opposite to it is true then instead of some slightly scruffy, but nevertheless historical buildings, an old playground with trees, wild flowers and birds/bees/butterflies/lovely things we’ll have a great wasteland of concrete nothing for bloomin’ years.

This would be the perfect opportunity for a developer to show a bit of humanity – and create some ‘meanwhile’ uses -I don’t know –  let people use the buildings for community-type stuff, encourage the local school to use their old playground for nature lessons, that sort of thing.

A resident who’s as publicity shy as myself has pointed out that the buildings are actually, of historic interest.

Something I didn’t know when I was joshing yesterday about Jack the Ripper’s first victim having been in Blackwall Lane (total tosh, or so I thought at the time when I was giggling with Mary about former uses for the little parklet on Tunnel Avenue ) was that, according to the census report of 1891, Elizabeth Fisher and her family lived at 33, Commerell Street. She was the elder sister of Catherine Eddowes, a victim of Jack the Ripper. Now, while I can’t see the spotty, top-hatted youths who conduct hyper-authentic JTR tours round Spitalfields of an evening making a special detour for this, it’s something to think about.

And, of course, the old school building at 47, Riverside Street (I have a photo somewhere but my archives are like the Minotaur’s Labyrinth and I haven’t got enough string to venture inside) is a lovely thing in itself, allegedly linked to Robert Owen about whom I remember being bored about at school, but when you actually see real stuff about famous historical people it’s then that they become more interesting. Every time we lose a historic building we lose a little bit of our collective soul.

There isn’t anything in Kitewood’s development plans that’s ‘for the community’ – neither opens spaces nor buildings for public use. The gardens will be gated and for residents only. I didn’t think that was allowed, but something’s banging in my head that developers no longer have to deal with Section 106 – am I right?

But of course talking about actual building is looking waaaay ahead. The issue here is that Kitewood Estates want to demolish absolutely everything to scorched earth with no firm plans ahead. I’m not even convinced they have the funds in place to build this, which means that just as we get rid of one ugly, empty space in East Greenwich, it will be replaced by another.

One last thought. If I was an evil developer wanting to maximise profits, without any stake or interest in the community in uncertain times, I would want to clear the site I owned to absolutely nothing, sit on it as a dusty wasteland for as long as I needed to, then sell it off at an inflated prices as a clear site to someone else when times got better. Mwhahahaha…

Good job I’m not, then, isn’t it,and that it’s Kitewood who own the land, not me.

Folks – if you’re uneasy about this, by all means talk about it here, but remember that there is, as is traditional, a very small window in which to officially say something about the plans. You have until next Wednesday, the 6th July, but it’s very, very hard to find where to go. I spent a long time this morning trying to find the relevant link,  then discovered that you have to go to the council’s planning page, then type in the case number 11/1382/D1. If you want to make a direct comment, you can go to the application comment form

There’s also a group being set up:

Of course, where there’s a view there’s always another. Another local resident is all for the plans:

I live at Commerell Street and will be in the midst of the the planned regeneration of SE10. I have met with Kitewood and wholeheartedly support their plans to firstly demolish the existing buildings. I have lived in the street for 6 years and over this time myself and my partner have had endless trouble with squatters, vandalism, drug users…you name it.

We have spent hours contacting the council and the police, have spent our own time and considerable money trying to tidy the area up and the stress and anxiety involved over the years has been immense. I am furious that after years of neglect at long last a developer is prepared to invest money and regenerate the area and in particular my street.

I do not object to Kitewood demolishing the site prior to any development, even if left empty at least this would massively cut down on crime and vandalism – nothing there, nothing to destroy. It is so easy for others to comment on this situation when they have not lived everyday with the issues and situations we have had to deal with.

Certainly no – one has cared so much about the area prior to this, only us it seems. The campaign to save certain buildings is in my mind going to be detrimental to the desperately needed redevelopment and I therefore do not support it.

Firstly, I live near the ‘Jack the Ripper’ related house and the sooner this is demolished the better – it is falling down, affecting other buildings, unsightly and forever attracting crime. It’s historical importance seems to be limited and again why is it suddenly, after years of neglect that important.

The same can be said for the Victorian Old school house; where was the support, community spirit for us all these years, why suddenly is this building deemed to be so important, why was it not campaigned for a long time ago?? I think that a little more knowledge about the situation would be much wiser that immediately condemning the plans by Kitewood, we live here and we need change.

So – one site; two views. And I expect to see many more.


the attachments to this post:

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7 Comments to “Rubble Trouble”

  1. Resident says:

    Dear Phantom,
    I don’t see why you are so anti this regeneration. I live on Commerell street and
    have spoken to a number of local residents who fully support this. Not every project goes the same way as the old hospital site! The dilapidated buildings have a been draw for anti-social behaviour for years, I don’t agree the with
    the objection saying “crime will move into your neighbourhood” if they go surely it will take away the attraction making the areas better for all.
    I have spoken to Kitewood many times (they even held 2 public exhibitions) and the development will be staged as is common on these projects. No developer could afford to do it in one go and they have put in a lot of effort to draw up building plans.
    As for the provision of community facilities we already have an excellent community centre at the Forum on Trafalgar road.

  2. Capability Bowes says:

    In The Phant’s defence:

    “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”. – Voltaire

  3. Mary Baker says:

    I agree with Phantom:

    I live on Colomb St and some lovely people visited me yesterday and told me about their plans to reuse the old school building while we are waiting for the developers to get their act together..I say go for it! Noone has cared for years about that site, and now a nice group of young people want to do something with it for a short time, what harm is there in that? They may have arrived in the final hours, but it will be months & years before anything is built on that site. It’s pointless to demolish it when someone can use it. Let them do it I say! The council has let the site become blighted and abandoned for years & the developers are only interested in profits. Once the old school house & the energy of the young people are gone they will be gone..let people flourish like flowers in the pavement cracks I say!

  4. Resident says:

    Mary: The harm from that is it will stop a regeneration of an area that badly needs it. The developers do have their act together and how can you say it will be years before anything is built, the money comes from selling the housing. You can’t think it’s the hospital site.
    As you say the council have let the site become blighted and when regeneration is planned you complain.
    As I have said we already have an excellent centre for energy of people in the Forum on Trafalgar road!

  5. Douglas says:

    If Kitewood do actually build this development – which I doubt in the current economic climate – all the new people who move into it will put pressure on existing community services. Greenwich Council should issue Kitewood Estates with a Section 106 by law to make sure they offset the impact of their supposed ‘regeneration’, and provide a development that benefits the wider community. I went to the public exhibition too, and they said they’re giving 500sq mtrs over to ‘community use’, then they explained it’s a communal garden inside a gated community to be used only by those who buy into the scheme. I’m not saying they should stop the development – I’m saying they should provide more than just an insular ghetto for the wealthy in the middle of a deprived area which desperately needs regeneration, and which is accessible to ALL. Greenwich Council used to own the land, it’s been under their stewardship & left to rot & ruin for at least 2 years – to now allow a questionable developer to knock everything down to the ground on the basis of a few pretty diagrams is a travesty. That old school house is a beautiful historic building that should be brought back into use – it would cost less to recycle & reuse it as a community space in the middle of the development than knocking it down anyway!

  6. Resident says:

    Douglas: I dont understand why you call them a “questionable developer” I and others have spoken many times about their plans and always found them reasonable and helpful.
    There are many local sites already available for community use including the early years/primary school right next door. This regeneration will benefit the whole community far more than keeping one building could.

  7. Capability Bowes says:

    News in: We Win! The developer has withdrawn the application for redevelopment