Archive for the ‘Development in Greenwich’ Category

And Now The Old Loyal Britons…

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

Good heavens I feel so bloomin’ samey – all I seem to blog about these days is pubs dying. Apparently there’s an application to demolish The Old Loyal Britons and replace it with – guess what – a six-storey block of flats (plus basement) and a restaurant.

Now I know it’s not the prettiest pub ever, but it has loads of potential and keen management up for making a go of it. It’s not been open long in its most recent incarnation. Do we have to have dreary identikit newbuilds everywhere? Surely the reason Greenwich is what it is is the variety in architecture.

It’s Ref. 14/1636/F on the council website. Remember – if the council get more than 8 objections they HAVE to consider it…

Please can I write about something else now…

The Swan. Going, Going…

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

Photo: Mike Purdy

Sorry, folks, it’s started. Mike went to have a look the other day and there are demolition guys working as fast as they can to demolish the Swan before any pesky protest group manages to stop it.

The workmen were pretty hostile to Mike – a far cry from the jolly chaps that allowed Phillip to look around a couple of weeks ago. This lot were unpleasant – as you’ll see from the photo above, where one of them is making a rude gesture…

So, if you want to get a look at it get yourself down there quick, eh.

Photo: Mike Purdy

I guess it was always a very slim chance, the campaign was started FAR too late for anything to really happen. But let’s take inspiration from Sir John Betjeman who famously failed to stop the Euston Arch from being demolished, but, through the publicity, managed to save St Pancras – and look at that particular ‘white elephant’ now.

Let’s keep an eye on the Thames Pub, and make sure the same thing doesn’t happen again.

I understand that the roundel above the pub is to be retained to be set into whatever monstrosity goes there next as some kind of sop to the neighbourhood.

You can’t polish a turd, they say, but you can stick a flag in it.

Save The Swan

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

Good heavens. Philip was, just two days ago,wishing there was an ‘emergency heritage button’ he could press to stop developers from demolishing the beautiful Swan pub in West Greenwich.

Well, good for him. He has decided that if something doesn’t exist, it needs to be invented. He and some pals have been tinkering in the shed and have come up with a prototype and he needs us to help road test it.

SAVE THE SWAN has been set up as a plucky pressure group with just days to get a review on this building.

Amazingly, Philip tells me the council are currently in the process of reviewing the “plans to demolish” and need to make a decision this week.

There is no time to waste. If you agree that Greenwich would be better off saving this beautiful building and developing around it instead, please write to object to the plans to demolish, by contacting the council’s development controller:

Explain that you object to application ref 14/0919/SD and oppose demolition because of the building’s architectural heritage.

You should provide your address so they can see you are a local. If you’re not local, please still write – beauty for visitors is important too.

Save The Swan

This is urgent stuff – so if you’re thinking about writing, please do it asap. It’s a slim chance, but it’s a chance to do something to keep Greenwich beautiful.

I wish Philip and his heritage-loving chums the very best of British.

While we’re about it, Philip and I have been discussing the fate of the Thames Pub in Norway St. I often mention it as I truly believe it could be Greenwich’s answer to the Dog & Bell. But it’s currently disintegrating into the ground while the new developments shoot up around it and we’re a bit worried.

It would be good not to have to do an emergency campaign on that one too. Anyone got any news about it? Does it need its own little band of watchful guardians?

What Happens When One’s Eye Drifts From The Ball…

Friday, May 30th, 2014

Photo: Philip Moore

Sad news, folks.

I only passed this sad old pub – ex-Swan, ex White Swan, ex-Millers, soon to be ex-anything – the other day thinking to myself, ‘I must see what’s happening with this.’

I was beaten to it by Philip, who tells me we’re about to lose it. Very, very imminently – i.e. the demolition gang are in there right now.

This lovely, if somewhat dilapidated example of late Victorian/Edwardian pub architecture was flagged up as important for preservation in a 2009 Heritage report for the Mayor of London’s office. And indeed, a Deptford Creek Conservation Area came into force – but only on the Lewisham side of the Ravensbourne, leaving the Swan(and the waterworks) unprotected.

We often say, when lamenting the dreadful loss of historic buildings in the 1960s and 70s ‘That would never happen these days’. We are so bloomin’ wrong. Philistines exist in every age, and philistine developers seem to get an especially macabre joy from demolishing beautiful buildings.

This one is to be razed to the ground for shops. That lovely Wedgewood-style roundel of the Swan, the stunning red brickwork, all to be ground into the dust for some soulless project that almost certainly won’t see out the century’s teens.

Cluttons got planning permission for demolition back in July 2011, and since then Philip believes the site has been sold on twice. The latest soulless Philistines are Galliford Try. Check out their website for the kind of architectural merit we can expect to see along Greenwich High Road in the future.

Philip says “I wish there was an ‘emergency heritage alarm’ you could hit!”

I agree.  There’s not much hope for doing anything about this one now, though Philip says “I have written to everyone except my MP (will do that now)”. Good luck with that one, Philip, if your MP is Nick Raynsford, Enemy of Heritage. A man whose well-documented and self-confessed loyalties to the construction industry come, if past form is to be taken as present, a long way before any kind of duty to his constituents, his surroundings or even, one might hazard to guess, his conscience.

In some respects I sort of blame myself for not banging on about it more at the time. I knew it was in a precarious position, but in my innocence, I assumed that the worst could happen to such a valuable piece of heritage would be turning it into dreary flats – that we wouldn’t actually lose the fabric of the building. I never cease to wonder at my own naivety.

But I also blame the council planning department, so quick to jump on any private resident who might want to put a double-glazed sash window in their period property but quite happy to sign off the demolition of an historic pub that has, just two years previously, been recommended for conservation. It could have been a Section 106 – for community use or – heavens – actually used as a pub when the new development went up. But no. It’s all to be flattened – within days.

The Swan is to be consigned to memories, then forgotten entirely in a day and age when we claim to give a damn about our architectural past. And perhaps us heritage lovers are partly to blame. But what is a part-time Phantom with no actual power whatsoever to do against such a deluge of ignorance? The sheer volume of historic buildings being lost just now in this construction boom is dizzying, daunting and depressing.

Flatpacks and Fisticuffs

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

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.

Tree Felling in Greenwich Town Centre – and Greenwich Park…

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Sorry folks – a depressing one today. I bring you, courtesy of Rod, a set of grim pictures of Bardsley Green, which is about to be green for not much longer…

After a long fight, the developers are moving in after all.

I’ve lost track of the scope of the demolition – whether we are to lose Up the Creek Comedy venue completely or just everything but the front – I suspect we won’t see that thinking chap sitting on the bog much longer if it’s to be luxury flats…

…or whether the delightfully eccentric Greenwich Bookplace and its equally delightfully eccentric owner will finally be homeless.

I seem to remember the Lord Hood is safe now…

But if anyone can fill me in on exactly what’s going on, I’d be grateful. I sometimes wonder whether one of the most powerful weapons in developers’ armory is to string everything out and make things so confusing locals just get confuddled and give up.

In the meanwhile I also hear that there’s a planning application going through at the moment that will allow St Mary’s Lodge Cafe just inside the gates of Greenwich Park to start selling alcohol.

I confess that I don’t personally have a big issue with enjoying a nice glass of wine on a summer’s day in the park and I disagree that it’s going to lead to any more drunken disruption in the park than might already happen given the number of straightforward pubs in the area – if you really want to get tanked before you go through the park gates you only need to cross the road (and I can’t see that the drink on sale in the cafe is going to be anything other than the usual overpriced fare on sale in Greenwich Park venues) – but what concerns residents is that the application also makes provision for after-hours drinking for private events which would involve security staff at the gates etc. They’re concerned that the noise will be intrusive.

I’ve heard rumour that the park keeper is planning to clear away trees and shrubs there – presumably to increase the drinking area so it looks as though Royal Parks is supportive of the plan. I am assuming that the trees and shrubs concered aren’t going to be fabulous specimens given the way they did actually protect important trees during the Olympics, but I’d be keen to be sure of that and if they include those amazing limes that smell so heavenly every May/June I’ll erect the barricades myself.

I shall be interested to see how Greenwich Council deal with this application. I know they’ve been turning down applications in the centre of town because of potential disruption and disorder – I wonder if they’ll be dazzled by the gilding on those park gates and give the Park itself special treatment…

There’s only a week to object (if you do) but although I have seen the application I can’t find it on Greenwich Council’s website and I don’t have time to attach it as a PDF. If you want to know more email me and I’ll pass you onto the residents who are organising objections.

Greenwich Swing Bridge…

Monday, January 20th, 2014

…is finally going to happen. I was delighted to hear the news from IanVisits (if you haven’t signed up for his weekly newsletter, DO IT NOW) who keeps his eye on all sorts of interesting places, not least the PLA. And when the PLA tell ships that work is going to begin on something, you know it’s true.

There’s been all sorts of muttering over the years about whether this would actually ever happen. It was originally a Section 106 agreement which would be just brilliant for anyone who wants to use the Thames Path. No slogging it round Norway street and trudging through Creek Road, just a straight walk across the bridge.

Then a new developer took over and it was feared that the bridge might accidentally get lost along the way. And for a while there was a plan for a fixed, rather ugly and very high bridge instead. But a swing bridge has won the day (maybe Waitrose, seeing more potential business from across the water, used a bit of pressure there, who knows) and work begins on the 11th Feb and will go on for 9 months. A long while, but that area’s been a building site for yonks anyway and this is something the whole community will benefit from.

Okay – I know that’s alright for me to go on about in the East – but believe me we have our own disruption from development and it’s rarely on anything like so positive a project.

Something I did learn this morning that I didn’t know, was that that wharf is called Granophast Wharf. What a wild name – I’ve never heard it before. Must look that one up…

AEG’s New Hotel

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

Cliff tells me this is going up on the Peninsula next year. I guess it’s been coming our way for sometime – AEG sulked for a while that they didn’t get the Super Casino, but they were always going to build a hotel here. It’s a monster though.


A Nasty One

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

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.


Durnford Street Reprieve

Friday, November 1st, 2013

You know I really thought the sweet little banana warehouse in Durnford Street was a gonner. We fought a good fight and the ghastly market plans were dropped (though no sign yet of that new roof, I note…) but when the florists was moved out of the little Edwardian building, I honestly thought Greenwich Hospital would pull it down as threatened (after carefully ‘preserving through record,’ of course.)

But Franklin tells me that the property portfolio manager at Greenwich Hospital, spoke at the Greenwich Society AGM last night and revealed the banana warehouse on Durnford Street is going to be retained and restored – although they are going to build new ‘modern’ retail units behind it.

Okay, I’ll buy that. I’m okay with compromise. I just hope they do it sympathetically and try to keep a few indies around. I’m told Peyton & Byrne are opening a new cafe – I guess at least we’re getting the posh chains these days…

Maybe we could have some stores that aren’t cafes, bog-standard boutiques or multinationals?

But hey. That’s for another day. Franklin’s made my day telling me that little warehouse is being kept. Just for nostalgia, here it is a couple of years ago, looking magnificent: