Flatpacks and Fisticuffs

If you don’t know where this is, it’s probably not a surprise. It’s possibly the most secret ‘eco park’ Greenwich has. I wrote about it back in 2007 when it was still relatively young; it’s filled out a little now, but not for much longer if Bad People have their way.

When I heard Sainsburys were moving, I was fed up on a personal level – where I currently walk to the supermarket in future it’s a bus, a drive or a long walk with heavy shopping.

It annoyed me that they were definitely not going to let the space out to a food retailer – for obvious reasons, of course, but still very irritating. Selfishly, I wanted a retailer there that I’d actually use on a regular basis.

Of course I’m able-bodied and can easily shift my sorry carcass over to the new place if I have to (though actually it will probably prove to be a boost for all the smaller places, as frankly I’ll be going there in future, which I guess I should have done anyway. Sainsburys are showing me no loyalty, so I’ll take my own elsewhere) but for anyone with mobility issues, it’s going to be a (literal) pain.

But I’d made my peace with that. I’ll just go to the smaller places. It’s not the end of the world. And if Sainsburys are refusing to have a food retailer there, I do accept that someone else will fill the gap.

But IKEA? The place that creates traffic chaos wherever it is even when it’s out of town? When we already have a flyover/roundabout so congested it creates angry people on a daily basis and sprouts ghost bikes like flowers? It’s already not safe. It’s already a nightmare to go round. I’ve had an accident there myself – not life-threatening but definitely car-threatening.

I guess I should say I don’t have anything intrinsically bad to say about IKEA over any other multinational blandity. I don’t shop there myself but then I don’t shop at a lot of sheds. But they are infamous for their queues and to site a store within yards of a traffic blackspot (the Blackwall Tunnel takes centre stage in pretty much every traffic report on every radio station every day…) is just asking for trouble.

Their argument to a council which is either gullible beyond measure, greedy beyond measure or corrupt beyond measure is the most disingenuous you can imagine. People will, apparently, take public transport to the superstore, then pay to have it all delivered to them.

Yeah, right. So someone with a car is going to say one Saturday morning: ‘You know what? I think I’ll take three buses to IKEA today, pick out a flat pack wardrobe I could get in the back of the Maestro I’m leaving behind, pay thirty five quid to have it delivered in two weeks’s time, enjoy a slap up meatball feast then take three buses home again.”

And yet outgoing Council Leader Chris Roberts and his cohorts thought that was a viable argument. They have approved a scheme to put a major traffic hazard next to a major traffic blackspot.

It’s nuts. The amount of car-parking available, even when they’ve bulldozed the Micro Eco Park above (which IKEA apparently say is ‘regrettable’ – big bloomin’ deal), is tiny. The lorries delivering to the shop alone will clog up the roads and if you get angry people on that roundabout now imagine the fisticuffs every week once IKEA arrive.

Of course they’ll argue it’s nothing to do with them. All their customers came by bike.

You may disagree with me, think it’s a great idea and that flattening the park is just a sign of Progress.

But if you don’t there’s a group starting up saying No to IKEA with petitions and an event on 26th April in the Eco Park behind Sainsburys. There’s an open letter I was sent in PDF form but I’m useless at hosting PDFs so it’s probably best just to go to their Facebook page. Boris still has to ratify Greenwich Council’s decision – so there’s a slim (very slim, frankly given his track record…) chance that if there’s enough local opposition, it will get refused yet.


the attachments to this post:

mini eco park
mini eco park


13 Comments to “Flatpacks and Fisticuffs”

  1. Michael says:

    The link doesn’t seem to be working. Can you post a link to their Facebook page?

  2. Steve says:

    Absolutely right Phantom.
    The area is a blackspot at the best of times and, considering that a larger Sainsburys as well as a new M&S are opening up in the same area too, well…
    It’s almost as though Greenwich Council are operating a scorched earth policy which is odd considering the hold they have within the borough.

  3. Dazs says:

    Don’t forget that you will be able to get your Sainsburys fix at the Old Hospital site (still can’t bring myself to call it Greenwich Square!) when they open in ‘summer’.
    I’m hoping it will actually draw people to that end of Greenwich and boost trade for the local shops!
    As for IKEA, well I won’t be shopping there. Also heard that they will be doing a ‘Traffic Survey’ once the store is open. Missing the point really!! Too late by then.
    Make sure your voices are heard. Sign petitions, attend protests….. PLEASE!!

  4. Sorry about that, folks – I made a spelling mistake in the HTML. Dunno why I can’t just use the ‘link’ button.

    The Facebook page should be working now.

  5. Sven says:

    Whoever goes there next are forced to demolish because Sainsburys built a bespoke eco-supermarket that no other retailer can use and then ensured no other supermarket can take it over. They have milked the PR of the place and have apparently “outgrown” it but my guess is it is not profitable to keep going and they can’t go and expand onto the park because of the backlash. Blame Sainsburys not the next tenant. If you don’t like Ikea, don’t shop but who are what would you want there? Derelict land? I suppose a picnic area. You can’t live in one of the busiest cities on the planet and then get in a spin over a change like this.

  6. Chris – I am not worried by another retailer taking over, just IKEA – because of the massive amount of cars it would attract. Any other shed would attract local custom and yes, cars, but not from a vastly wide area – you don’t get people coming halfway across town to visit B&Q or Comet (though of course Comet didn’t get anyone visiting them…) It’s merely the fact that small roads and a traffic blackspot don’t make good neighbours for a store that attracts custom from such a large catchment area.

  7. Chris says:

    What baffles me is that anyone wants to shop there in the first place!

  8. Sven says:

    Fair point about the catchment area. But then something that isn’t as alluring probably wouldnt be a viable business opportunity for most companies in the current climate in such a prime location. Catch 22. The bottom line is that the infrastructure and river crossings need expanding. But that’s a whole other protest. All the best.

  9. Jah Wibble says:

    A few months back (back in 2013) I got a “how might you feel about us doing this to your local area-were going to do it anyway” local opinion form from TFL regarding alternatives to Blackwall.

    They suggested:

    *Another tunnel- pretty much next to Blackwall
    *A bridge (as above)
    *Another Ferry a bit further down the River

    Much like the problem with this Ikea, I pointed out to them that all but the ferry idea did nothing except invite more traffic into the area so what’s the point?

    Tolls is the answer.

    They want to charge people for use of the new bridge and/or tunnel. They said this would just be till the new crossings had paid for themselves, but again I pointed out that if it was going to be anything like Dartford-that was never going to happen as it’ll make too much money

    What I think is truly crazy is there is absolutely nothing wrong with the current Sainsbury’s site….it’s a huge store in good nick, why do they feel they need to build an even bigger one a stones throw away?

    GP-How ever slim the chance, please keep us in the know about any petitions ect ect

  10. DB says:

    Sven – is not an argument against development of any kind, or IKEA as a company. Rather that the claims that the proposal is based upon are complete works of fiction. The Sainsbury’s and Matalan that currently occupy the site are being moved (and significantly enlarged) only half a mile down the road. Yet the IKEA proposal claims that adding an IKEA store, and its additional tens of thousands of customers, on top of that will somehow result in a REDUCTION in traffic and pollution.

    It’s one thing to approve a development whilst accepting (and mitigating) the known issues that will arise. It’s quite another to approve on the disingenuous claim that there will be no impact.

  11. WL says:

    Spot on Phantom. Having had a recent encounter with the Council over a licensing application, I despair that the very people we are paying to look after this wonderful place can’t seem to stand up to big multinationals on behalf of the locals whose daily lives will be affected. I’m definitely not against progress – I’d love to just nip into an Ikea to pick up candles, plants and the odd bookcase without having to drive 45mins to Thurrock – but this location is not the right one. Put it somewhere further out of town, away from the Blackwall Tunnel, where there is adequate infrastructure and parking for the hundreds/thousands of cars that it will attract.