Second Floor Studios & Arts open weekend – check out Charlton’s ‘Creative Quarter’

IMG_3603.JPGIt’s “London’s largest single site affordable studio space project”, it’s on our doorsteps, and it’s open to the public next weekend. Second Floor Studios & Arts (SFSA) provide affordable studio space to “a community of over 400 artists, printmakers, craft makers and designers” in premises on the Mellish Industrial Estate, off Warspite Road. Their open weekend is an opportunity for members of the public to take a look around the studios, meet SFSA members, try the canteen, and generally find out what’s happening  in Charlton Riverside’s ‘Creative Quarter’.

You can find the full open weekend brochure here, and a map of the site with a list of SFSA members here. The open weekend runs 11am to 6pm on Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th of November.


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1,100 locals press Greenwich Council to improve road safety

The petition was presented at last night's council meeting

The petition was presented at last night’s council meeting

Last night, residents who live near Little Heath, Charlton and Hillreach in Woolwich presented Greenwich Council with a 1,100-strong petition calling for traffic calming measures after a newsagent was killed when a car mounted the pavement outside his shop.

This stretch of road, heading out of Charlton towards Woolwich barracks, is a notorious spot for collisions, with three teenagers dying in a crash with an out-of-service bus in 2008. Neighbour Jane Lawson, who attended the council meeting, picks up the story.

Just three months ago our dearly loved local newsagent, Ash Patel, was killed outside his shop on Hillreach by a car which mounted the pavement. The local community were terribly distressed and angered by this and their distress was compounded by the knowledge that there have been dreadful fatalities in the recent past and innumerable RTAs which don’t get recorded on the official statistics.

This time we were determined to get the matter addressed. A core group of local residents, spear headed by Carrie Harman, and ably assisted in the wording by Matthew Pennycook (thanks to the speed of Twitter) drew up a petition asking for traffic calming measures.

For those who are not familiar with this locality, Hillreach is an enticing Big Dipper stretch of road which seems to impel a huge number of drivers to pretend they are Lewis Hamilton – the consequences have been deadly.

And so, over the last three months the petition has grown. Scores of volunteers have knocked on doors, neighbours have been proactive in returning to empty houses, those who shop at the newsagents have spread the word locally and by the end of October the petition had reached the total of over 1,100 signatures. The response on the doorsteps showed the frustration, anger fury and determination to get action. Without exception we heard accounts of accidents, near-misses and appalling driving.

Full Council was held on 5 November where the petition was formally presented by one of the Woolwich Riverside councillors. Sadly, the procedures do not allow petitioners to address the xouncil – had that been possible, they would have been very aware of the mood of the people.

We’ve been assured that the council wish to see average speed cameras installed and Matthew Pennycook and Nick Raynsford are writing to TfL to make sure they comply.

We shall be watching closely and we don’t intend to let this matter rest until this deadly stretch of road is made safer for those who live here.

To conclude, the council meeting was attended by Ash’s son, Samir Patel, who told us that in the midst of their grief, Ash’s two kidneys and his liver were donated so that others might live. That is part of his memorial. Let’s hope that the measures we have asked for will be the rest.

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Charlton Lido: Good news for winter swimmers

Moonlit swim at Charlton Lido

Charlton Lido & Lifestyle Club has announced pool opening hours for November through to February, and it’s good news for swimmers as the heated outdoor pool will remain open five days a week through the winter months. This will be the first winter’s swimming since the refurbished pool opened in 2012.

The pool opening hours from 1st November are as follows:

Monday – 7.00am – 2.00pm
Tuesday – Closed
Wednesday – 2.00pm – 8.00pm
Thursday – Closed
Friday – 7.00am – 2.00pm
Saturday – 9.00am – 2.00pm
Sunday – 9.00am – 2.00pm

As ever, we advise checking the official website for opening hours if you’re planning a swim.

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Charlton skate park consultation launched

The Charlton skate park options - A, close to the mini-gym; B, across the other side of the old athletics track; C, away from homes by Charlton Park Lane

The Charlton skate park options – A, close to the mini-gym; B, across the other side of the old athletics track; C, away from homes by Charlton Park Lane

Greenwich Council has opened a consultation into its planned skate park in Charlton Park – but don’t expect to be asked if you think it’s a wise idea or not.

In July, the council’s cabinet decided to relocate Woolwich’s Royal Arsenal Gardens skate park to Charlton, with £365,000 provided by Arsenal developer Berkeley Homes.

The public are only now being asked for an opinion – and that’s to choose between three sites in Charlton Park. The first site is close to the Charlton Lane entrance to the park, while the second is tucked away in the other corner of the field. The third site is in a corner used by dog walkers off Charlton Park Lane.

There are only two questions in the consultation – which site you prefer, and whether you have any other comments.

Aside from the decision not to consult with the community in choosing Charlton Park, hard facts about the skate park remain hard to come by. There is no information about who would operate the skate park, what provisions would be made for safety, security and landscaping, and whether any other funding is being sought to create a facility that’d be an improvement on the rather spartan space it’d replace in Woolwich.

The consultation can be found at, and is open until 1 December.

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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.


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 –


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.


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.


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: 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 – 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:

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