Charlton’s riverside masterplan: What’s it all about?

Yesterday’s Charlton Society annual general meeting saw Greenwich & Woolwich MP Nick Raynsford highlight the Charlton Riverside Masterplan as being crucial for the area’s future. But what’s actually in it? We asked SE London’s top planning blog, From The Murky Depths, to take a look at what’s proposed…

Back in 2012 Greenwich Council published four masterplans covering various areas of the borough – Woolwich, Eltham, Greenwich Peninsula and Charlton Riverside. These set out the scale and scope of Greenwich Borough’s development ambitions for each of the four areas.

In the council’s own words, they provide “development planning guidance that ensures strategic rather than ad-hoc development” and “will attract investment from both the public and private sectors”.

Charlton Masterplan

The masterplan for Charlton Riverside has been controversial.

It envisages large-scale changes of use from industrial land to residential, and at least 3,500 new homes. This change would be centred to the east of Anchor and Hope Lane towards Woolwich and north of the A206 dual carriageway. In total, around 2/3rds of industrial land would be lost. Despite this, Greenwich claims that there would be no loss of employment:

“The redevelopment of Charlton Riverside and Greenwich Peninsula West will see a reduction in employment land and changing employment use. The employment land that is retained will be intensified and there will be no net loss of employment across the Borough.”

Even if true, this does prevent any future expansion of land to provide local employment. Greenwich’s solution seems to be to provide more industrial land to the east at Thamesmead’s White Hart Triangle site to cater for future growth. There’s a large number of viable businesses in the threatened area offering much local work, and the planned changes will be enormously disruptive. Have a look here for a very good overview of the range of businesses that would be affected.

As well as greater residential areas there are plans for a ‘creative quarter’ and an expanded Barrier Park, running from the Thames Barrier to Maryon Wilson Park. This would be twice the size and open up views of the Thames and the barrier.

The ‘creative, residential and historic’ section here is designed around the often-overlooked Second Floor art studios, which is the single largest site for artists studios in London and has a membership of over 410 artists, craft makers and designers.

The inclusion of residential here would cover areas such as the self storage facility facing the A206. It lacks detail on just how large the creative quarter could be. It is possible that it would be no larger than the existing site, with the rest to become residential.

The section marked ‘education’ to the east of the green strip is partly used for that purpose already. Windrush Primary School is based there in a Victorian building, with Royal Greenwich University Technical College next door.

A positive from land use changes here would be the large retail sheds housing PC World and others becoming housing.

With the need for housing at a premium in London, these sites waste valuable land in inner London with single-storey retail and large surface area car parks.

Under-utilised land that would help housing shortage

Under-utilised land that would help housing shortage

That small parade is some way from the rest of the retail in Charlton and located close to Charlton station. An ideal site for high density housing with commercial space at street level facing onto the road, bringing active frontages and life to the area.

Retail use would be consolidated around the area where superstores like Asda currently reside. This out-of-town retail area, in an inner London area, continues to grow.

A far more preferable long term aspiration would be a more traditional High Street-type shopping experience with high density housing above retail. In the short term, a move towards replacing large surface car parks with multi-storey to free up land would be ideal.

Another option is for sites like Asda to be rebuilt along the lines of Woolwich Tesco with basement parking (though this was altered at Woolwich to ground floor with the supermarket above, which explains a few of that building’s issues), the supermarket above and then housing above that – a far more efficient use of land. The planned Asda redevelopment over at the Isle of Dogs is along those lines.

Currently under construction in the area shown as retail are Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer. Here’s a photo taken a couple of weeks ago. There’s no housing, but at least it has the stores above car parking, which should provide a decent front to the street.

DSCF4256

With areas east of the Thames Barrier planned for high density housing, this could strengthen the possibility of moving Woolwich Dockyard station a couple of hundred metres west to a point equidistant between Woolwich Arsenal and Charlton stations, where Morris Walk Estate is currently located.

A large amount of planned housing shown on the Charlton masterplan would be just north of the estate, which is also to be demolished and rebuilt with a greater number of dwellings. The site is completely level and seems to lack geographical impediments to building a new station site.

Possible station site?

Possible station site?

The existing Woolwich Dockyard station is in a deep cutting and cannot be easily extended to take the 12-carriage trains which are supposed to start running soon – it’s the only station on the line that hasn’t been extended. Rebuilding on the existing site would be very expensive, so a move to a site which can take a new station with long platforms and close to large-scale house building should be studied.

The masterplan shows a ‘riverside transit’ running through the middle of the site to meet Bugsy’s Way, where it presumably heads to North Greenwich tube station along the lines of the cancelled Greenwich Waterfront Transit. That scheme ended up as an over-engineered and over-priced project that was deservedly scrapped as it stood.

Unfortunately no revisions or alternative schemes have been proposed under the mayoralty of Boris Johnson over the last six years. Let’s hope that any resurrection does not look for solutions to problems that aren’t there and focuses on improving bottlenecks that do exist.

The Greater London Authority is backing Greenwich’s zoning plans, and agrees that ‘the intensification of residential uses in the Charlton Riverside Opportunity Area is in line with the London Plan which sets out the potential for a minimum of 3,500 new homes and 1,000 jobs in the area’.

However the Port of London Authority and GLA both highlighted the safeguarded nature of Riverside Wharf and the importance of wharves in general in consultations. Subsequently, Riverside Wharf is to be included on masterplan drawings though Greenwich has noted it as having potential for relocation in the future into the industrial area.

Two years after the masterplans were finalised, the borough-wide ‘Core Strategy’ was adopted in July 2014. It provides a long-term vision for development and contains detailed policies to guide development.

The council notes that ‘it is the key strategic planning document for Royal Greenwich and will be used to help shape development and determine planning applications’. The full 94MB strategy can be seen here.

The core strategy does not deviate much from the 2012 masterplan. It states -

“Creation of a new mixed use urban quarter at Charlton Riverside incorporating around 3,500 – 5,000 new homes by 2031, which will involve substantial release of under-used industrial land and intensification of employment on remaining land.”

“It is considered that the housing component in the area will commence around 2017 and could take up to 20 years to be completed. It is therefore anticipated that just over 70% of the new housing will be delivered in this area during the plan period, with the remainder coming post 2027/28. Development of the area is dependent on the provision of increased public transport infrastructure in the waterfront area.”

The first stage scheduled to be built is the educational zone where Holborn College is. This site could include a primary school. Stage 2 is far more widespread and includes a substantial amount of industrial land, as can be seen below. Phase 3 is the retail area, though as the potential layout seems to show a grid like layout on sites such as the as-yet unopened Sainsbury’s this seems fanciful and unlikely any time soon. I would imagine phase 4 would happen before that. See the stages below -

masterplanstages

Finally, the next open day at Second Floor artists’ studios, on 16 November, is well worth visiting. Details are here. If future plans can maintain this site and utilise the clear potential it has, then that will be one of the biggest benefits to the local area.

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Charlton Lido latest: customer forum, survey, Halloween swimming, and Twitter

Charlton Lido

Some quick Charlton Lido updates:

Customer Forum and Members’ Survey

The lido’s first customer forum event saw 20+ members gathered to meet management and staff from the centre. You can read their write up here. One of the main themes that emerged (that’s rather downplayed in the write-up) is the lack of communication from the lido to members: a show of hands suggested that only two of the attendees had received an email from GLL this year. Clearly this isn’t helping engagement and visitor numbers.

GLL have advised that members who want to receive emails should contact the lido reception to ensure that they’re set up correctly on their system. If you’re a member, you should have received a customer survey by email earlier this month – if you’ve not, contact the lido. The next customer forum is to be scheduled before the end of this year (possibly because they’ll want to break the news of further reductions in pool opening hours); disappointingly they want to limit attendance to 15 members maximum.

Halloween

There will be a Halloween-themed late swimming event on October 31st – hopefully the first of many regular themed events mooted at the Customer Forum.

Twitter

We’ve wondered for a while why Charlton Lido doesn’t have its own Twitter feed, but learned this week that individual Better centres “aren’t allowed” their own Twitter feeds (rather surprising for any business in 2014, we think, never mind one that’s trying to attract new members…).

It seems, though, that some enterprising soul has started an unofficial feed. Given recent criticisms of the Lido’s communications, it’s tempting to think that anything must be an improvement on the way things have been done since it reopened. You can follow them here: https://twitter.com/charltonlido/. Let’s hope that GLL see sense and start an official feed soon.

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Have your say: Yet more retail planned for Woolwich Road

Greenwich Shopping Park plan

A plan of the proposed scheme, with the Ramac estate on the left and the new M&S on the right

Remember the Travelodge on Woolwich Road that was supposed to be open for the Olympics? That plan has since been scrapped, and now the owners of the Greenwich Shopping Park want to expand onto that site. Use Greenwich Council’s online planning search to find it – reference 14/2550/F.

Local resident Simon Hall has been writing to his neighbours to alert them to it. Here’s what he says…

I am concerned by some aspects of the planning application, particularly given that it was not clear from the Marks & Spencer application how high or how close to the road that store is now going to be! I am worried that we were going to have a similar height of development along the whole residential area of the road. As a result of my concerns I managed to secure, along with one of our local Councillors, a meeting with the developer of the site.

I am keen that you should also know the information I have been given so that you can, should you choose to, respond to the Council’s request for views. If the Council receive enough responses they will be able to discuss the application in public, and can either reject the application or impose conditions on the developer.

The planned restaurant

The planned restaurant

Key points of application

The application proposes the extension of the current “Greenwich Shopping Park” strip of shops down to Woolwich Road, with the largest of those units likely to be the new location of Matalan (when it moves from its temporary site next to the current Sainsbury’s to enable that site plus the current Sainsbury’s to become an Ikea if that passes the next stages of planning). There will then be a coffee shop by a new public square (probably a Starbucks), replacing the large willow tree with a “feature tree” and what could be an attractive artistic seating feature where coffee could be enjoyed outside.

The developer has suggested that this would be a nice small public space, and will provide a pedestrian entrance to their new development (car traffic for the development will be from Bugsby’s Way – as now, by Asda, not from our road). There is a further shop unit in this eastern part of the development, and they are talking to a cycle shop chain.

Between the other side of the public space and the current unsightly Asda pathway there is to be a Frankie & Benny’s restaurant. Probably not a bad addition to the local area.

As the Frankie & Benny’s is likely to be directly opposite to residential housing, I have spent some time assessing this aspect of the development. My key concern is that the facility will be positioned with its “front entrance” facing the public area/Starbucks, a glazed area facing the car park/Bugsby’s Way, and a very dull brick wall with some small shrubbery underneath facing the houses opposite. It should only be two storeys or so, but it is still a brick wall!

I think we should demand better, and would urge you to do so.

Sadly the developer has not included any improvements to the Asda path, which I am sure you will agree is an eyesore, in the application. This small strip of land is owned by the Ramac Company (that own the land around Ramac Way, and have stated that they have no plans to improve or redevelop their unsightly area of industrial/retail units). The former Travelodge application did have plans to resurface this path and provide lighting, and Ramac had agreed that that developer (who was the one currently building M&S) could do this.

The new developer is a different one, and is working for the company that owns the Greenwich Shopping Park and now own this land. I strongly urge you to suggest that the Council take action relating to the Asda path to ensure it is either incorporated properly into the development, it is improved, has better lighting, or some other solution you could suggest to them.

This may be the only chance for the next 20 years or so we get to make that area better, so please do include this in a response to the Council.

How the scheme will look from Woolwich Road (top) and the car park (bottom) - click to expand

How the scheme will look from Woolwich Road (top) and the car park (bottom) – click to expand

Other issues to be considered

Traffic: whilst it is unlikely that traffic on our road will increase considerably, you may wish to remind the Council that they have agreed to work with Transport for London to downgrade the status of our road to a quieter residential street, still wilth buses, and direct through traffic along Bugsby’s Way (a dual carriageway).

It is always worth reminding the Council that they should remember this commitment.

Pedestrian crossing: as part of the Sainsbury’s/M&S development those of us that responded to the Council then managed to secure improvements to the zebra crossing located at the end of Victoria Way by Phipps House (new central island and Belisha Beacons). However, you may share my view that this crossing will remain dangerous until it is a proper lighted crossing – known as a pelican crossing, or indeed (as I have suggested to the Council in the past), as part of a new traffic light controlled junction at Victoria Way. Feel free to include this in your response if you agree, as this can be paid for by the developer as part of the development.

Public realm: when putting in new developments there is something that was called Section 106 and is now known as CILL (I have forgotten what that stands for). Essentially want this means is that developers are required to provide a certain amount of money – directly or indirectly – to benefit the local community. The Council are in charge of administering this. If we do not request for this to be spent locally, on our area, then this will be used for other parts of the borough. I am sure, like me, you’d like to see some money spent to make our local area look better – and look better for years to come. We can demand this in our response to the planning application.

Things we could ask for include improving pavements; improving the drainage and sewers; adding in trees/public benches; better street lighting; or any ideas you may think of – even additional investment in local schools.

How to respond – reminder

I care passionately about our local environment, and I simply couldn’t sit back and see us have something “done to us” without us being able to influence and improve what is being planned. I hope you agree that it is worth making a response.

The tone of my response is likely to be “yes I agree with this application, but only with conditions” and then outline some of the things I have suggested above.

One way to respond is via the internet – the planning portal is not working well, and I have had problems accessing it so you may wish to use another method.

I have asked for the deadline to be extended – it is currently 21 October (Tuesday). Given the fact that the planning portal has been down, I am sure they will extend this.

However, please do try to send a response as soon as possible.

You can email your response to jacob.jaarsma@royalgreenwich.gov.uk – but be sure to include the reference number of this planning application in the title of your email (14/2550/F).

Please copy in our local Peninsula ward councillors. They have been helpful already and one of their number met the developer with me. (See Charlton ward councillor details if you live south of the railway line.)

If you have serious concerns, you could also email our MP: nick.raynsford.mp@parliament.uk.

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Can you help Charlton’s White Swan fly?

White Swan disposal notice in Greenwich Time

A notice in this week’s Greenwich Time indicates that the White Swan’s current owners wish to sell the pub. The White Swan was listed as an Asset of Community Value after a successful campaign by the Charlton Society earlier this year; any community groups interested in bidding for the pub now have until 4th November 2014 to register their request to be treated as a potential bidder. Written confirmation should be sent by email to community-assets@royalgreenwich.gov.uk or by mail to the address listed in the notice above.

White Swan, 15 February 2014

We’re very keen to know if there are any groups with serious interests in bidding – or people interested in forming a group to make a bid. Let us know in the comments below – and let’s hope Charlton doesn’t lose another pub to the property developers.

(PS. Thanks to @TheCharltonSoc for drawing our attention to this on Twitter.)

 

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‘Halloween Spooktacular’ at Maryon Wilson Animal Park

IMG_3297.JPG

Maryon Wilson Animal Park are holding a Halloween event on Saturday November 1st, featuring a tour of the Animal Park, followed by a hot meal, party games, and a showing of ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ in St Thomas’ Church.

Tickets can be purchased every morning, 7 days a week, from Charlton Park RDA Hut in Charlton Park. Call: 07877320406 or email: info@maryonwilsonanimalpark.org.uk

UPDATE: Tickets can now be bought online on the Animal Park’s website.

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Sainsbury’s Local to open on Charlton Church Lane

Sainsburys - Charlton Church Lane

We first mentioned it back in January 2011 and progress has been slow since, but it looks like Sainsbury’s is finally to open a Local branch on Charlton Church Lane; hoardings appeared on the building overnight indicating that it will open in November.

With work continuing on a rather larger branch of Sainsbury’s round the corner on Gallions Road, we’d be interested to know what our readers think of Sainsbury’s local dominance: good for your weekly shop, or bad news for local independent shops?

 

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Charlton Society AGM this Saturday – your society needs you!

Charlton House

It’s the AGM of the Charlton Society this Saturday at 2.30pm at Charlton House. I’ve been on the society’s committee for a year now, so I can’t really pretend to be unbiased over this one – come along, join up (it’s £12/year to join), grab a glass of wine, bend the ear of local politicians and chew the fat over local issues.

There’ll be a talk from Greenwich & Woolwich MP Nick Raynsford, while I’m sure Greenwich cabinet member David Gardner will have a few words to say as outgoing chair.

I think it’s fair to say the Charlton Society’s been a bit of a sleeping institution in recent years – it does a lot of work on planning issues behind the scenes, but it’s been not really well-known beyond its membership. It started in 1969 in response to threats to the Village from roadbuilding – but in recent years its profile had slipped somewhat.

So I’ve been working with the committee to try to make the society’s light shine a bit brighter – starting with the long, long overdue creation of a simple Charlton Society website. But the society’s also been involved in getting the White Swan pub listed as an asset of community value. It’s also given help to the campaign for a community council.

It’s easy to mock amenity societies as being out of touch and serving small-minded interests – but I thought I’d come into help open the Charlton Society up, and get more people involved in its work. We’re hoping to make some changes to the way the committee work, so there’s a stronger focus on issues such as environment and planning, while still preserving its traditional programme of Saturday talks.

But all this is a bit of a waste without more people involved, so if you’re the sort of person who reads this website and takes an interest in local issues, you’re just who the Charlton Society needs as a member. I’ve a few regular Charlton Champion commenters in mind here…

So, if you’ve got Saturday afternoon free, please come along and say hello – it’d be great to see you.

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