A Nasty One

I really, really don’t want to turn this blog into NIMBY City and oppose every single new development proposed in Greenwich but projects like this one make it very hard to love developers.

It’s the plans to redevelop Trident Hall in Park Row, next to the Trafalgar Hotel and it’s utterly, utterly out of place in between two gorgeous Georgian buildings, one of which is a famous and historic (if a little tatty at the moment) riverside landmark. Even the architect admits it’s only “attempting to achieve a neutral appearance…’

IMHO it doesn’t even go halfway to succeeding in that attempt.

It’s not like it can even hide behind the Trafalgar Hotel – it sticks up above it, which will completely spoil the vista from every angle.

It’s wrong, it’s insensitive and it’s greedy. We can’t do anything about greed, but we can do something about the other two.

Of course there are missing documents on the Council Website which makes it hard to see the complete picture, but frankly, if the artist’s impression can’t make it look halfway decent and appropriate, there’s not much hope for it in my humble. It does at least look like you can actually make a comment now (up til now there was a problem with the comments form.)

There is also some confusion about how long the consultation period is for – the expiration date on the website is 3rd Dec but in a letter sent to local residents notice was given as 21 days from the date of letter which was 1st November – so frankly, I’d be suggesting that if you want to voice your thoughts (and of course you might disagree with me and think that this is exactly what Greenwich needs and you’d be just as justified in writing to praise the sympathetic architecture and exciting materials, but I might start wondering why you bother to read this blog…) you should be looking at doing it as soon as possible before there’s any chance of moving the goalposts.

One last thought – since when was a six-storey, NINETY-TWO BEDROOM hotel ’boutique?’

You know I would so LOVE to be able to write about a new development that actually has some architectural and contextural merit.

Sigh…


18 Comments to “A Nasty One”

  1. Darryl says:

    Sounds like Frank Dowling’s old plan has staggered back to life.

  2. Dennis says:

    That’s an old, old plan, which I thought sank without a trace.

  3. Alex says:

    I’m not an expert at understanding these filings but the Council site suggests a very similar plan was scrapped just last month…

    http://publicaccess.royalgreenwich.gov.uk:81/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=_GRNW_DCAPR_75173

  4. Richard says:

    The link takes you to the old scheme of some years ago

    Unhappily you can’t get the drawings for this new application up on the RBG planning website yet although they say they are working on it .

    The new scheme, much modified but still unashamedly modern, was on show at a brief exhibition back in September in the Trafalgar.

    As Chair of the Greenwich Society, I am only too well aware that there will be a lively debate with opinions ranging from outraged opposition to enthusiasm for something new from an architect who has a good reputation for creating modern buildings in sensitive settings.

    As soon as you get pictures of the new scheme up, people can decide where they stand on the merits of the new design which some may feel, I personally certainly do, has gone some way to be more respectful of the listed buildings around Trident Hall. It would be shame if they made up their minds on the basis of the old artist’s impression which does look obtrusive and overbearing(again Phantom a personal view!)

  5. Franklin says:

    The missing plans – the proposed elevations – have now been posted on the Council’s website.

    The Park Row elevation is here:

    http://publicaccess.royalgreenwich.gov.uk:81/online-applications/files/16052222C72F5B06A1C610AF98AE5BCC/pdf/13_2791_F-DRAWING_743-2_P17-222457.pdf

    The view from the river is here:

    http://publicaccess.royalgreenwich.gov.uk:81/online-applications/files/654069875351B7112F72B82AADB84B2B/pdf/13_2791_F-DRAWING_743-2_P13-222450.pdf

    As far as I can see there is very little difference to the scheme of several years ago. The view from the river is particularly shocking to me.

    I see absolutely no reason that the architect and developer should be proposing a building that is higher than either of the two listed buildings on either side, that towers over the view of the Trafalgar from the river and Island Gardens – and that is actually taller than the ORNC itself!

    Finally, I find it shocking that they would propose demolishing the two Victorian houses on Crane Street, numbers 8 and 10, simply because they are not listed. This terrace defines the ambience of Crane Street; having a great wall of glass and steel will totally destroy the intimate, Victorian intimacy of that very special street.

    I also like and welcome modern architecture that is creative and sensitive to its setting. This design, IMHO, is neither.

  6. Geoff3 says:

    I can’t see why this shouldn’t get planning permission, they approved that Monstorous Stockwell Street development and to me this looks like a very similar project.

  7. Dennis says:

    I’m going to step up onto a very small soap box, and have a teensy weensy rant.

    At all of you, as I think you’re all barking up the wrong tree.

    Let’s zoom back and take a look at Greenwich. We’ve got a dramatic bend in the river, a baroque palace, a Georgian town centre, a Hawksmoor church, and a vast formal park, overlooked by the domes and towers of the observatory on the hill. And not just those headline items, but all the little details; the rotunda in the college, Wren’s potting shed on Royal Hill, and even the humble but wonderful banana warehouse on Durnford St. We can all agree that together, these all add up to an extraordinary environment.

    But the proposals we’ve seen, and the things that have been built. They’re dull, they’re prosaic, they’re pedestrian. They could be anywhere in the world, and they all look suspiciously like office blocks, designed around an algorithm maximising the floor space and dividing into optimal chunks for sale. Design entirely controlled by the real estate agent, and where the architect’s role is limited to choosing the colour of the architraves. It’s depressing if the best possible accolade that can be given to someone’s glass and concrete cube is that it is … sensitive. Have we run out of ideas? Do we have no more dreams?

    So here’s the challenge. How about something that is not ashamed of itself: that doesn’t hide behind office block blandness, Georgian pastiche, or Heavens forfend, sensitivity? How about something that people will notice, and not cringe, but admire? How about something that draws on all the aspirations and visions of Greenwich’s thousand year existence, and stands proudly amongst the best of them?

    Rant over.

    As you were.

  8. Andrew says:

    Even the two people in the artist’s impression appear to be laughing at the design

  9. Mary says:

    I am not going to comment on the style or anything like that. But I did think the Czech woman architect was an interesting person with an interesting past.
    too busy worrying about Knight Dragon otherwise

  10. Franklin says:

    Dennis

    I for one totally agree with you.

    And it’s precisely because I think this design is “dull, prosaic, pedestrian, could be anywhere in the world, and looks suspiciously like an office block designed around an algorithm maximising the floor space and dividing into optimal chunks for sale, its design entirely controlled by the [developer]” – which results in massing and height totally alien to that site, such that this design does not even achieve the minimum criterion of sensitivity to its setting – that I think it’s entirely wrong for this site.

  11. ” I did think the Czech woman architect was an interesting person with an interesting past.”

    This, with the greatest respect, Mary, is irrelevant. I’m sure she IS interesting, but we are not judging her on her personality but her designs. This, to me is not something that will enhance an historic area.

  12. Jon says:

    The architect’s narrative is nonsense. I don’t mean it’s rubbish or a bit wordy – it literally doesn’t make sense.

    Phantom’s comment above gets to the heart of the issue; it should be an absolute requirement for the town centre (with it’s incredibly special status) that any new building enhances the existing ones. Surely no one in their right mind can believe that this will?

    “Boutique hotel” is cynical fluffing for the council decision makers. It means absolutely nothing in planning terms (as the applicant well knows)

  13. Capability Bowes says:

    When I click on Franklin’s links, all I get is “Document unavailable”

  14. Franklin says:

    Hmm, me too CB. Here’s a bitmark to the main documents page:

    http://bit.ly/1gpm2Gf

    The documents that end p12 through p19 are the proposed elevations.

    The view from Park Row is the document that ends p17. The view from the river, p13.

  15. Matthew S says:

    I have objected. Even if the design and the architect were amazing the height and impact on the adjacent buildings is just not acceptable.

  16. John Norman says:

    Those trees are massive !! The developer should be made to plant trees that big to match the plans.

    Also if they get permission for a building that high, the neighboring buildings should immediately be able to slap another couple of stories on, of course in a nice Georgian style – I hate the attitude of lets make my building taller than the existing buildings so my penthouse can get a fantastic view – screw anyone else !!

  17. Sourav says:

    It would be appalling if this were to be built. Are they trying to lose the UNESCO status?
    I’ve raised an objection for this development!

  18. Mauritius Resident says:

    I am beginning to think that losing the world heritage status wouldn’t be such a bad thing. It might actually highlight the issues with the aggressive development going on in Greenwich and could be a turning point.