Greenwich Council’s planning board backed building a Travelodge hotel in Charlton last night – with the scheme’s backers pledging to get it up and running before the Olympics.
The seven-member panel unanimously endorsed the plan to build a 120-room hotel at the junction of Woolwich Road and Victoria Way, along with a supermarket on its ground floor and a standalone restaurant next to the Greenwich Shopping Park.
But council leader Chris Roberts, who sits on the planning board, raised worries that the restaurant could be a “magnet for people to hang around” if it was let to the wrong tenant.
While the scheme’s backers said it should be “predominantly a sit-down restaurant and coffee shop”, and the conditions were made on the planning permission to encourage this, Cllr Roberts said he was “still nervous” about the eatery.
“It could be a sit-down fried chicken restaurant,” he said, but added that with an 11pm closing time, “It should be no more disruptive than a pub.”
Even though the Olympics are less than a year away, Travelodge’s representative said the hotel should be open by July 2012, with much of the construction work being done off-site.
The development sits on the site of a demolished retail and industrial estate which was left vacant for use in the now-scrapped Greenwich Waterfront Transit scheme.
Concerns were raised about the height of the building, with Cllr Roberts commenting that it seemed to face its car park rather than the Woolwich Road. The Greenwich Conservation Group said the design was “mediocre” and the lobby looked “mean and uninviting”.
How the development will affect the road junction at Victoria Way was left undecided after local resident Simon Hall called for the zebra crossing to be moved west, to line up with a revamped footpath and cycle route through to the Asda supermarket. It was decided the scheme’s backers should have more discussions with local residents and planning officials on what to do about the junction.
Mr Hall, who lives on Woolwich Road, told the meeting he was worried about the junction being made more complicated with the addition of a hotel.
“I’ve lived there for 11 years, and I dread crossing the road, especially with my two-year-old daughter. We’re keen that this is sorted out,” he said, adding he would prefer to see traffic lights at the junction.
Council planners, who had originally proposed moving the junction 2.5 metres to the east, said discussions with Transport for London had ruled out traffic lights at the junction, and creating a crossroads there would not be feasible.
But Cllr Roberts supported Mr Hall, saying: “I don’t care what the mayor thinks about traffic lights – if it needs traffic lights, it needs traffic lights.”
Mr Hall also called for the hotel to invest in signage to promote attractions in Charlton such as Charlton House, the village and the Thames Barrier. He saw his suggestion adapted as a condition in the planning application to promote local tourism.
Plumstead councillor Sajid Jawaid, a former resident of the area, said he was “really glad” to see the site being developed, but said Mr Hall’s ideas “need to be taken seriously”.
Kidbrooke with Hornfair councillor Hayley Fletcher said: “It is refreshing to hear a [planning] applicant that is listening to local people.”
The same planning meeting also endorsed the construction of a “skywalk” at the O2 in Greenwich – for news of that, read greenwich.co.uk.