Durnford Street Still at Risk?
Among all the rejoicing last week that Greenwich Market isn’t to be redeveloped into a soulless mall after all, one little niggling voice remains.
I am hearing that the lovely old banana warehouse and stable in Durnford street is still at risk, and I’m hoping that there may be something we can do to change Greenwich Hospital’s mind about this too. Okay – it’s only late Victorian/early Edwardian, but it is a small part of ‘ordinary’ Greenwich, which is pretty rare these days. Reminders of Greenwich’s royal, maritime and posh past are all over the place but its heritage as a real place where real people lived and worked is ebbing away with each tide.
Various arguments were used to do away with it – the original plans were to get rid of it for a rubbish area, I’m assuming it’s just prime real estate land now. It’s supposed to be condemned, but it’s not so rickety that Greenwich Hospital fears a lawsuit for renting it out to a florist who could get crowned by falling masonry.
In the conclusion to the previous consultation even the old guard at Greenwich Hospital conceded that these buildings
have a degree of charm and character and are examples of service buildings that provide an understanding of how the market functioned in times past
but then went on to say
Nevertheless their rentention is not possible with the proposed service yard configuration and in any event listed building consent for their demolition already exists. The Council does not object to their loss.
That seemed a pretty weak argument even at the time – basically – ‘we can’t be bothered to alter our design to make it work and who’s going to stop us, Big Boy?’
Despite the efforts of locals (it’s always hard when you’re fighting against the efforts of your own MP – Nick Raynsford – take note of Iain Duncan Smith and the Walthamstow track / Boris Johnson farce yesterday – a politician I’m not specially fond of but who at least stands up for his constituents over his party…) the market battle was lost.
But that was then. Now the goalposts have moved. There is a new broom at Greenwich Hospital – perhaps one happier to look at the long-term benefits of keeping Greenwich as a place of heritage that tourists and Londoners will want to continue visiting rather than turning the whole thing into a mall – short-termism in action.
The development is to be allowed to lapse – which is great – I am particularly happy that they will replace the roof as a job that does actually need doing – a sensible thing that will enhance the heritage rather than Disneyfy it. They are, apparently, talking February for the job – a time of year that is sympathetic to market stallholders – it’s always going to mean loss of earnings but February is the least visited month – they seem to have thought about it.
In fact I have high hopes that the new guard actually have Greenwich’s best interests at heart, rather than the best way to create revenue in the short term. They seem to have recognised that the best way to keep cash flowing for the charity is to keep the assets desireable – something I am delighted about.
I can’t help thinking that now is the time to lobby to ensure the security of the old banana house and stable. Surely any ‘piecemeal’ development they’re planning instead of the old plans could work around it? Spruce it up and the towery-bit would be a great little studio/offices for a trendy company, and the florists is a real asset to the market, whatever the time of year.
In trying to find the place to write to Greenwich Hospital I did find this rather odd address (from the equally odd History of Maritime Greenwich site, clicked through from the official contacts page on the Hospital site – with the appearance of a serious ‘corporate’ site, it nevertheless starts out ‘London is an awesome city and offers lots and lots of attractions and places to visit.‘ Yo, dude ) Look at this:
888 Undergrown Street
I’m guessing that’s not going to help much (try putting the postcode into Streetmap – it gets very hot under the ether…)
The actual postal address seems to be:
Greenwich Hospital’s head office is located at:
3 Creed Court
5 Ludgate Hill
London EC4M 7AA
Tel: 020 7396 0150
Fax: 020 7396 0149
But it feels a bit general for my liking. I’d love to have a proper, concrete address that will actually get to the new guy so that we can let him know what we think (and I am willing to accept that some of you may actually welcome the demolition of the building – you’re welcome to write too, just don’t expect me to buy you a drink in the pub for it…) He seems like a sensible chap – let’s hope he’s into ‘everyday’ heritage as well as the big-hitters…
Any ideas? Paul?
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