St Richard’s Church Hall – your views wanted on its future

St Richard's Church Hall, 16 September 2015

You might not know about St Richard’s Church Hall – it’s tucked away on Swallowfield Road, just off Victoria Way. It’s an important venue for the Charlton Central Residents Association as well as other local groups. It’s run by St Luke’s Church, which is seeking your views on its future. It says…

The Parochial Church Council (PCC) of St Luke’s Church, Charlton is seeking views for the future use of St Richard’s Church Hall. Terms of reference as follows have been agreed:

“To identify and assess all possible options for the future of St Richard’s, taking into account:

* the value of St Richard’s in advancing the Christian mission of the parish;

* the running costs, maintenance costs, depreciation and likely capital cost requirements for St Richard’s as it stands;

* the potential revenue from the use of St Richard’s by community groups and others;

* the options for promoting the use of St Richard’s and increasing the role it plays in the community;

* alternative options for moving forward; and

* to report back to the PCC by 30 November 2015.

St Richard’s is an important venue that could have a bright future – indeed, considering the costly room hire costs at Charlton House and the Assembly Rooms, the loss of the Conservative Club and the shrinking of the Liberal Club, community space is at a premium in Charlton. If you want to feed into the consultation, visit its website to find out how.

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What’s the future for Charlton House? Get inside and take a look around this Sunday

Charlton House

Ever walked past Charlton House and wondered what’s inside? You’ll be able to take free tours one the capital’s best surviving Jacobean mansions this Sunday as part of the annual Open House London event.

The 400-year-old Grade I-listed building features original period detail including wood panelling and plasterwork. The tours are run by the Friends of Charlton House and it’s a chance to get to know a fascinating building whose importance to the area is often overlooked.

It also comes during a period of change for the house, which was spun off by Greenwich Council last year into the Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust, along with its heritage centre in Woolwich and some war memorials.

The past year has mainly been spent setting up the trust and finding its feet – we’re told disentangling its computer systems from that of the council has been a challenge. If you look inside, it’ll be obvious that the building is in need of refurbishment, and the independent charity is charged with finding a sustainable future for the house.

The archway in the house’s grounds needs work done to it, and the trust recently got a £35,000 grant to fund a survey of the whole site.

Currently, the house runs as a community centre, and is also home to the borough’s least-used lending library, a Japanese language school, Charlton Toy Library, and the Mulberry Tea Rooms – bafflingly only usually open during weekday day times. It’s also frequently hired out for weddings.

We’ve written before about the shaky publicity given to events there – the trust has taken some steps to address that, although billing Charlton House in a press release for Open House as being in “the heart of Greenwich” suggests the old local authority mindset perhaps hasn’t quite gone away.

The trust also has the old summer house opposite St Luke’s Church (most recently used as a public toilet) and the Charlton Assembly Rooms (the red brick building at the Woolwich end of the village) – so it’ll be a big player in any discussion about the future of Charlton. It hasn’t inherited the stable buildings next door to the house, which remain in council hands.

William Morris Gallery, 2 July 2015

The future? The William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow, restored by Waltham Forest Council in 2012

What’s the future for Charlton House? Maybe one clue is over in Walthamstow, where the William Morris Gallery – the former home of the celebrated designer – reopened in 2012 after a multi-million pound revamp. It now houses a museum devoted to Morris as well as guest exhibitions. On a sunny weekday visit in early July, it was doing a roaring trade.

Interestingly, Waltham Forest Council still owns the 1740s building and obtained funding as part of an Olympic legacy project. In Charlton, it’s the new trust that’s been left with the mammoth job of finding a new future for the district’s most historic building.

If you want to find out more about the building’s past and present, pop along on Sunday and take a look. As for the future, your thoughts would be welcome below.

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Visit Maryon Park’s edible garden this Saturday

Maryon Park Community Garden

What you’ll find inside Maryon Park’s community garden…

From the Maryon Park Community Garden group…

As part of Capital Growth’s London-wide Edible Gardens Day, Maryon Park Community Garden will be open to the general public from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm on Saturday 19th September.

The Maryon Park Community Garden is a not-for-profit community organic food growing project providing plots for local people, volunteer gardening opportunities and a Forest School for local primary schools. The unusual terraced garden features 16 raised beds, an orchard, a children’s area, a wildflower bank, pond, forested space and art installations.

The Open Day will feature guided tours of the Community Garden and Forest School plus family activities; making lavender bath bag and bird feeders. Refreshments, teas and coffee, will include herb teas from the garden. Volunteers will lead local history talks and the garden fundraising stall will be open with damson jams for sale.

Maryon Park Community Garden is on the site of the Old Plant Nursery behind the park fence. Follow the path and open day signs from the main park entrance in Maryon Road by the Park Lodge, 126 Maryon Road, SE7 8DH.

The Garden is in walking distance of Charlton and Woolwich Dockyard stations. Nearest bus stop is St Thomas Church on the 380 bus route. Bus routes 161, 177,180 and 472 serve the north side of park.

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Weekend night buses on route 486 get set to start

Bus route 486
The Night Tube might have been delayed, but bus route 486 still gains a night service this weekend, with buses every 30 minutes between North Greenwich, Charlton, Shooters Hill and Bexleyheath.

Services will run through the small hours of Saturday and Sunday mornings, with the eventual aim of connecting with the weekend Night Tube at North Greenwich.

A new weekend service on the 132 at North Greenwich will also start this weekend, serving Sun-in-the-Sands roundabout. Routes 108, 188 and 472 already run to North Greenwich every night of the week.

TfL said 86% of respondents to its consultation who expressed an opinion supported a night service on the 486, with many responses “from the Charlton area, particularly around Charlton Church Lane”. 

When asked for more detailed views, 18 people said it should be more frequent while 11 claimed the service was “not needed”. There were nine complaints about noise from buses and two claiming the road was too narrow (presumably this refers to Charlton Church Lane).
Plans to cut the weekend service on route N1 from three buses an hour to two appear to have vanished, although it’s unclear if the proposal has been junked for good. Of 49 people who expressed detailed opinions, 15 said the N1 should be more frequent.

Other changes in south-east London see the N47 night bus replaced with a 24-hour service on route 47 from Shoreditch to Bellingham, and a new N199 from Trafalgar Square to St Mary Cray, which will replace the small section of N1 which runs through Deptford’s Pepys Estate.

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It’s back! Pelton Arms team reopens Charlton’s White Swan

White Swan, 4 September 2015

The newspapers are down… the pub is open!

Charlton’s worst-kept secret is finally out – the White Swan pub has reopened, with the team behind Greenwich’s Pelton Arms aiming to give the bar a new lease of life.

The pub has had a “soft opening” – so don’t go expecting a full service just yet. But we do know that there’s plenty of beer from Woolwich’s Hop Stuff brewery ready for you…

We popped in on Friday for its test night, and we found Brockley Brewery’s Golden and two beers from Croydon’s Cronx brewery on too. It’s amazing what some new furniture and a little bit of redecoration can do for a pub which hasn’t looked quite right since the old carpets were stripped out many moons ago. We had a great night and we’re looking forward to many more.

It’s the fourth pub to be taken on by Pelton boss Geoff Keen, who also runs Bromley’s Shortlands Tavern and the Red Lion in Godalming, Surrey. The Pelton’s firmly established as one of south-east London’s best-loved boozers and we know he’s done a excellent job with the cosy Shortlands, so we’re looking forward to watching the Swan develop.

As with any new leased pub, there are still a few niggles to be ironed out. But since Geoff has managed to transform the Pelton despite having Punch Taverns as a freeholder, we’re optimistic the Swan can finally fly. It’ll only take off if you visit – so pop in for a pint.

A lot of people have been fretting over the Swan over the past couple of years – probably more than the numbers who actually regularly drank there, truth be told. Hopefully, this tale finally has its happy ending. For everyone who worked on the asset of community value, everyone who took time to look at a community bid, and everyone who spread the word about a great pub going to waste – it’s time for a drink, I reckon. Cheers!

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Charlton Sainsbury’s development – did the community get a raw deal from £1.5m planning cash?

The new superstore store complex looms over housing on Woolwich Road

The new superstore store complex looms over housing on Woolwich Road

The developer behind Sainsbury’s and M&S paid Greenwich Council nearly £1.5 million to help secure planning permission, the Charlton Champion can reveal. But none of this money has been spent in the Charlton area – and promised facilities at the development haven’t materialised.

The firm behind the Charlton Riverside Retail Park, LXP RP (Greenwich 3) Ltd, agreed to pay £1,484,927 to Greenwich Council in Section 106 payments. These are aimed at easing the impact of large construction projects on local communities.

But none of the money has been spent in Charlton – with a chunk of the money going to projects in Woolwich instead.

The Charlton Champion used the Freedom of Information Act to find out what LXB paid Greenwich Council – and how it is being spent.

Making a difference in [insert store name here]

Making a difference in [insert store name here]

So far, £170,685 has been spent. The first £150,000 has gone to “employment and training” – believed to be Greenwich Local Labour and Business, the council’s employment agency, which is largely funded by these payments. GLLaB is due to receive a further £284,613 from this project.

The remaining £20,685 has been spent on a “public safety” contribution – the council’s CCTV control room in Woolwich.

The other sums have been allocated, but not spent. Asked where they would be spent, the council merely said on “schemes within the Royal Borough of Greenwich”.

£303,120 has been earmarked for “town centre management”. This sum won’t be spent in Charlton – instead, it is likely to go to Woolwich, Eltham and/or Greenwich.

A huge motorway-size sign adds to street clutter at Charlton Church Lane

A huge motorway-size sign adds to street clutter at Charlton Church Lane

£209,202 has gone to “public realm” – effectively, making streets look nicer. Again, there’s no pledge to spend this money locally – despite the poor state of the area’s streets (worsened by the huge SUPERSTORE signs that have appeared in recent weeks). A further £217,307 has gone to “environmental health”.

Finally, £300,000 has gone to “bus service enhancements”. Again, it’s not clear quite where this money will be spent. There are currently no plans to enhance bus services in the Charlton area, while Transport for London rejected proposals to extend bus route 202 from Blackheath Standard to serve the new store.

There’s an additional £449,715 too – this is a community infrastructure levy, collected by boroughs on behalf of City Hall to help pay for Crossrail.

So far, so disappointing. But if local groups want to start lobbying for improvements to the area, there’s where the cash is.

It helps to get the small things right...

It helps to get the small things right…

Should residents have expected anything different?

Well, when the plan was first announced, developer LXB held several meetings with local people, who formed the Charlton Riverside Action Group.

Both CRAG’s prime movers have now moved out of the area, but other groups such as the Charlton Society and Charlton Central Residents’ Association also had a hand in these talks – designed to address fears that the complex would add to already-bad traffic congestion in the area..

It appears, though, that these talks they were largely for nothing. Those who took part in the talks believed they were getting…

The proposed exit would have been on long-disused railway land

The proposed exit would have been on long-disused railway land to the left of this photo

A new entrance to Charlton station: One of the proposals to encourage people to travel to the new complex by public transport included opening a new entrance to Charlton station at Troughton Road, nearer the western end of the Kent-bound platform. This plan, however, appears to have stalled.

Bus arrivals information in the store: Residents were told the store would feature boards showing bus times (you’ll see these in North Greenwich bus station and the new Greenwich University building in Stockwell Street). They never materialised. Meanwhile, a new bus stop on Bugsbys Way doesn’t even have a shelter.

Legible London signs installed by Lewisham Council on Blackheath

Legible London signs installed by Lewisham Council on Blackheath

Local signposts: Another plan was to make it easier to walk to the store by installing Legible London signposts in the local area – the black and yellow signs used in Blackheath Village and Woolwich Town Centre. This scheme could have been rolled out to make it easier for visitors to find Charlton House, Charlton Lido, Charlton Athletic and other attractions. Nothing has appeared.

Why does this matter? Well, Charlton’s riverside will soon undergo huge redevelopment – community groups are waiting for a new masterplan to be announced. If local people aren’t getting anything from current developments, what hope is there when the diggers start going in by the river?

It also matters because community groups believed they had a scheme that could have delivered tangible benefits for residents. Instead, those locals haven’t seen any of those benefits – and are suffering from rat-running as cars head down side roads to the new supermarket.

A few weeks ago, this website asked if Charlton needed a regeneration plan. We now that thanks to this development – and others – there is money available, even if only to tidy up the public realm and put some signs up to direct people around. If community groups want to take this seriously, then they should be watching where the cash from these developments go – and making sure SE7 gets more than scraps.

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It’s happening: Charlton’s White Swan all set to sail again…

The White Swan, 15 February 2014

At last, good news for SE7 drinkers…

If the new people in charge are who we think they are, we’re looking forward to the launch night.

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