Parking permit petition launched for Eastcombe Avenue and Victoria Way

Charlton free parking sign
Parking is currently free in the streets adjoining Eastcombe Avenue

Is parking a problem for you in Eastcombe Avenue or the neighbouring streets? DI GAINES has been in touch about a petition that she and residents in the local area are organising, asking Greenwich Council to introduce a parking permit scheme in the surrounding streets.

The group are door-knocking for signatures at the moment and say they have around 100 signatures already. You can download a copy of the petition here. The petition will be presented to the the full council meeting on Wednesday March 27th by Charlton ward councillor Linda Perks. Here’s what the petition organisers have to say:

Action is needed now and we have formed a residents group to petition the Council to obtain residents’ parking in the current free parking areas from Victoria Way, Eastcombe Avenue, Wyndcliff Road and adjoining roads.

With commuter and school parking we now have the issue of contractors parking for the Victoria Way development. This will only get worse and when the flats are occupied we will have the issue of where they are going to park.

We are one of the few areas in Greenwich borough without residents’ parking and although it is mainly one end of Eastcombe Avenue, Wyndcliff Road and Victoria Way that is currently affected we do not want to “push” the problem further into other roads and that is why we are campaigning for the whole area to have permits.

Permits are not expensive, currently £70 a year and visitors permits are easily obtainable. This works our roughly £1.35 per week, a cost we feel justified for piece of mind

It appears that the only consultation currently proposed by the Council is to existing permit holders. So we are taking action to present this petition at the next full council meeting on 27 March.

We are campaigning in the area but if we miss you and you would like to sign the petition or have any questions please email Permitsforus[at]gmail.com

Thank you for your support

Has has parking got worse in your street recently? Do you think a permit scheme is the answer? If you live in an area with a parking permit scheme in place, does it work? Let us know in the comments below.


SUPPORT THE CHARLTON CHAMPION

The Charlton Champion provides news and information about issues and events in London SE7.
– Help us by telling us your stories
– Become a monthly patron at patreon.com/charltonchampion
– Buy Neil a coffee at ko-fi.com
– Donate directly to the site at paypal.me/charltonchampion

Fourth Charlton Riverside development inches forward as recycling plant gets set to leave

Maybank Wharf
The site has been used for waste paper processing since the 1960s – but will soon see new housing

Plans for more housing development on Charlton Riverside have moved forward with one of the area’s biggest industrial concerns putting in a planning application to move to Belvedere.

Westminster Waste, which operates the old Maybanks recycling plant by the Thames Barrier, has applied to Bexley Council to build a new site in Mulberry Way, Belvedere.

The firm’s current base at Maybank Wharf has been bought by Hyde Housing for redevelopment and it has been given notice to leave. There has been a waste paper works on the site since the 1960s.

Hyde has recently begun the early stages of consultation about its plans for the site, recently holding a meeting for community groups to discuss the scheme. As well as Maybank Wharf, it has also bought the Tarmac ashpalt plant and mixed industrial units along New Lyndenburg Street.

There are currently three development schemes for the Charlton Riverside going through, or about to go through planning: the Rockwell scheme for 771 homes at Anchor & Hope Lane was refused first by Greenwich Council last summer, then by the Mayor of London in January; 500 homes are planned by developer Komoto at what it calls Flint Glass Wharf, the former Johnsen and Jorgensen glassworks which closed in 1981; and another 500 new homes from developer U+I on the old Siemens cable factory site, a development it called Faraday Works.


PLEASE SUPPORT THE CHARLTON CHAMPION

We tell the SE7 stories you won’t read elsewhere. We can’t do it without your help.
– Please tell us about your news and events
– Become a monthly supporter at patreon.com/charltonchampion
– Donate to our running costs at paypal.me/charltonchampion
– Buy Darryl a coffee at ko-fi.com

‘Nobody’s chosen to be here’: Stories from the winter night shelter

St Thomas Church Charlton-1
St Thomas’ Church hosts a winter night shelter for homeless people.

Charlton’s winter night shelter, at St Thomas’ Church on Woodland Terrace, opens its doors for the last time this evening. Since November, it has provided Friday night accommodation for homeless people as part of the seven-day Greenwich Winter Night Shelter network, whose programme for this year ends next week. Local Democracy Reporter TOM BULL met some of the shelter’s users, and the volunteers who help to run it.

Builders, chefs, and nurses are guests at the Greenwich Winter Night Shelter.

They are also rough sleepers.

The shelter has room for 15 of society’s most vulnerable to get a night’s rest. But more are waiting.

Volunteers are preparing for the “heart-breaking” final week knowing that the end brings uncertainty for clients and workers over where they will go next.

Guests, volunteers say, are people who haven’t chosen homelessness, they have fallen into it.

Their stories show the scale of rough sleeping in the country – one guest this year has been a student nurse, another a chef – one man last night needed a night’s sleep ahead of a job interview and had brought a shirt and trousers to be ironed by the volunteers.

‘No work, no money, no rent’

Rough sleeping in London has reached “inhumane levels”, one homeless builder told us last night.

The man, who didn’t want to be named, had his tools robbed nearly three weeks ago.

“No tools, no work – no work, no money, no rent. It’s simple ain’t it?” he said. He’s been sleeping rough for 16 nights, and this was his first time at the shelter.

“It’s been rough as f***. Last night was the worst. It’s so cold. You couldn’t sit down because you’d feel yourself freezing. You have to get up and walk – not a wink of sleep. If I was out tonight I don’t know what I would do.”

He knows that the shelter’s services are coming to an end, but he has no other choice but to take it up while he can.

“It’s inhumane how Britain is. It goes against human rights. If it wasn’t for here tonight, I’d be out there. These people should be given knighthoods.”

The shelter opened earlier than usual in this, its fifth year in operation, starting in November and working every night out of six different churches and a community centre.

One guest – who previously managed hotel kitchens – has got a job in a café during his stay. He had come over from South Africa in January looking for work and was pickpocketed at Waterloo station.

“I was sleeping rough, I had nowhere to go and I had no money. A woman walked past me and then came back. She asked how much it would be to get a night’s rest. I told her it was about £9, so she went and got me money –  she gave me a hundred quid. It was beyond belief.”

The volunteers said they worry about what happens once the project finishes. Come Wednesday, some guests will have found housing, but others will be back on the streets.

A council snapshot in November found there were seven people sleeping rough. Last night, all 15 beds were booked out.

Between playing pool with guests and organising dinner, volunteers found the time to say how important shelters are.

One co-ordinator, Jo, has been involved with the project from the start. She’s seen a big increase in take-up, putting it down to increased awareness – but said it’s surprising who comes through the doors.

“Nobody here has chosen to be homeless,” she said.

‘It has cost me my marriage’

Sat next to his bed for the night, a 43-year-old father of two said that without the shelter, he didn’t know where he would be.

He said he’s been rough sleeping for six years, and on the housing waiting list for three. He said the council provided a two-bedroom flat for him, his wife and two kids. His now 15-year-old daughter is still sharing a room with her mum, and he’s now on the streets.

“That’s the overcrowding that the Royal Borough of Greenwich can’t sort out,” he said. “It has cost me my marriage and I’ve ended up on the road.

“I’ve been sofa-surfing with friends, but I’ve exhausted everything I can. Absolutely, people don’t get the scale.”

The dad said he is in conversations with a housing officer for a plan to be put in place before the shelter closes.

“My fate is in their hands – I don’t know where I will go. Day to day it’s a challenge.”

Last year, the shelter had 30 different guests who stayed from between five and 85 nights. At least 20 were supported into some form of accommodation. Others either went back to the streets or had sorted another arrangement.

It’s estimated the hours put in by volunteers, at minimum wage, would be the equivalent of £66k.

94 rough sleepers in Greenwich borough

In Greenwich there were 94 different people thought to be sleeping rough over the course of last year.

Councillor Chris Kirby, cabinet member for housing, said that the council is currently reviewing its homelessness strategy.

He said: “We have an excellent track record of demonstrating the strength of working with partners to support homeless people and make the best use of our skills and resources. This includes a Vulnerable Adults Pathway, which provides housing-related support for ex-offenders and/or people with a substance misuse history.

“Official statistics show that rough sleeping in England rose by 169 per cent from 2010 to 2018, coinciding with when the coalition government came to power. We are doing all we can to help those sleeping rough in our borough.”

For more information about the night shelter, and how you can help, see our story from October.


LDRS logoTom Bull is the Local Democracy Reporter for Greenwich. The Local Democracy Reporter Service is a BBC-funded initiative to ensure councils are covered properly in local media.
See more about how The Charlton Champion uses LDRS content.

Bramshot Avenue subway in line for upgrade from Silvertown Tunnel money

Siebert Road subway
The upgrade is designed to make the subway more pleasant and cycle-friendly

The subway linking Bramshot Avenue with Siebert Road is to get a £50,000 upgrade as part of measures to mitigate the impact of the forthcoming Silvertown Tunnel on the area, Greenwich Council documents reveal.

The revamp of the 50-year-old subway is among an expanded package of measures to go with the controversial river crossing between Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks, which is due to open in late 2024 or early 2025. Work on the tunnel is due to begin by the end of this year.

A scrutiny panel of councillors rejected an earlier £349,000 package of “neighbourhood enhancements” which focused on expanding the current, limited, low emissions neighbourhood in east Greenwich in May. This has now been increased to £700,000.

There is very little for Charlton in the new package, but it does target some areas just outside – commuters who use Westcombe Park station will notice some difference by the time the work is finally done, which may not be until the tunnel is completed.

The new package includes £50,000 for improvements to Siebert Road subway, which links Westcombe Hill in Blackheath with Eastcombe Avenue in Charlton – a busy route for local schoolchildren and commuters using Westcombe Park station or buses to North Greenwich. It is partly aimed at making it safer for cyclists to use. Similar subways at the Sun-in-the-Sands roundabout already permit cycling.

Improvements promised include “lighting improvements to the entrances and within the underpass itself, “planting on ramp approach to tunnel to enhance public realm and slow cycles”, “planting and environmental improvements on Siebert Road side to make link more appealing to users”.

Footbridge improvements

Another £50,000 will go on improvements to the footbridge over the A102 between Farmdale Road, east Greenwich, and Westcombe Park station. This will comprise of “lighting along the entirety of the bridge”, “resurfacing with buff anti-skid surfacing”, “repainting railings” and “planting where appropriate and minor bridge repairs”. 200m long 4m wide bridge.

Soap fans will recall the bridge from a 2005 episode of EastEnders…

The bulk of the extra cash, however, is going at the footbridge’s eastern end, with a £275,000 scheme to improve the approach to the bridge at Farmdale Road. Before the A102 was constructed in the late 1960s, this was the end of Westcombe Hill – and the road has barely been touched since it was severed decades ago.

Plans here appear to be encouraging a pedestrian and cycle route towards the Thames – arguably, this is something that perhaps should have been included in the Ikea planning agreements, which merely include signage along this particular route. They include “footway improvements, decluttering and planting on Farmdale Road”, “resurfacing of Farmdale Road”, “continuous footways on both Farmdale Rd and Aldeburgh Street”, “toucan/parallel [pedestrian/cycle] crossing shifted to ped/cyclist desire line into Aldeburgh Street”, “greening on both sides of the railway bridge”.

A further £75,000 is set aside for the decades-overdue screening of the western side of Farmdale Road from the A102 slip road.

Separately, a planned noise barrier for the Blackheath side of the A102 will be doubled in length so it runs from near Invicta School to the railway line at Westcombe Park, protecting neighbours of the dual carriageway in SE3 from road noise, following heavy lobbying from residents. No such protection is planned for the Charlton side, where there has been no lobbying.

The council paper discussing the improvements can be read here, full details of the improvements can be seen here. (See also From The Murky Depths’ take on this.)

Siebert Road subway graffiti
Occasional graffiti has livened up the bleak subway under the A102

Council still backs the tunnel – despite what councillors said

The tunnel, which is backed by Greenwich, Bexley and Tower Hamlets councils, but opposed by Newham, Lewisham, Southwark and Hackney, was given planning consent by transport secretary Chris Grayling in May 2018.

An attempt to change Greenwich’s stance on the tunnel was defeated in an internal meeting of the council’s ruling Labour group last week, in part thanks to two Peninsula ward councillors – Stephen Brain and Denise Scott-McDonald – going back on their previous opposition to the tunnel. Neither would comment on their change of heart on the tunnel, but The Charlton Champion has been told that Brain changed his mind because of the increase to the mitigation package.

The elephant in the room – the A102 roundabout

Nothing in this agreement deals with the dangerous junction between Woolwich Road and the Blackwall Tunnel approach. It was originally due to be dealt with as part of plans for Cycle Superhighway 4 to Woolwich, which was then cut back to Deptford Creek Bridge.

City Hall has pledged to deal with the junction by “late 2023”, according to papers released by the mayor’s office last year.

Woolwich Road roundabout
Two cyclists have died at the Woolwich Road roundabout in the past decade

Now the A206 will be covered a by a new, separate plan for a cycle route between Greenwich and Woolwich. A consultation earlier this year on removing Greenwich town centre’s one-way system was the first step in that process. (Locals will get a preview of how this could work on Sunday, when The Big Half half-marathon closes part of the town centre.)

City Hall’s walking and cycling commissioner Will Norman said on Tuesday: “I’m excited about that, because unlocking that town centre unlocks the cycle route down to Woolwich. We now have the funding for that cycle route and we are working with the borough to deliver that.

“The plans are working well, it is unlocking the next phase and the money is in place to do that. The designs are being worked up for that new route all the way down to Woolwich.

“The Angerstein roundabout will be part of that. Greenwich is working up an interim scheme to make it a bit safer.

“But, as part of the longer route from the town centre to Woolwich, that is a core focus. That and the Woolwich Ferry roundabout are two hotspots for road danger.

“I’m seeing initial plans to make that [the Angerstein roundabout] safer for cyclists and pedestrians, at the moment it is a horrible area. That work is ongoing, the new [council] leadership are really behind it, it’s very exciting.”

While the flyover dates from the construction of the Blackwall Tunnel Southern Approach in 1969, the original layout of the junction featured a more complex arrangement with traffic lights and longer slip roads from the A102 to the south. The current roundabout dates from a reworking of the junction about 10 years later, which itself had traffic lights installed in the late 1990s.

Will Norman material from Tom Bull, the Local Democracy Reporter for Greenwich. See how The Charlton Champion uses material from the Local Democracy Reporter Service.


PLEASE SUPPORT THE CHARLTON CHAMPION

We tell the SE7 stories you won’t read elsewhere. We can’t do it without your help.
– Please tell us about your news and events
– Become a monthly supporter at patreon.com/charltonchampion
– Donate to our running costs at paypal.me/charltonchampion
– Buy Darryl a coffee at ko-fi.com

Want to help Charlton Park skate park get lights? Here’s how

Charlton skate park
The Friends of Charlton Park wants to see the skate park lit on winter evenings (photo: Neil Clasper)

Last month, we reported how Greenwich Council says it can’t afford to pay for lighting around the skate park and gym in Charlton Park.

The Friends of Charlton Park aren’t giving up, though – and are looking to get funding from elsewhere. If you’re a regular visitor to Charlton Park in the afternoon or evening, you can help them.

If you pass the skate park and gym between 3pm and 9pm, keep an eye out for how many people are using them – and please fill in this form.

The friends group hopes to be able to demonstrate what should be blindingly obvious – but needs underlining to people who can give money – which is that more people use the skate park and gym when there is light.

Want to help the Friends of Charlton Park put on Parksfest?

The group is also putting on a Parksfest festival around the skate park on Saturday 22 June – if you want to help raise money for it, there’s a Curryoke event on Saturday 16 March at 8pm at Cattleya on Charlton Church Lane. Tickets £25 are email elizabethrj001[at]gmail.com for details.

Curryoke flyer

And if you can spare some time to volunteer on the day of Parksfest itself, feel free to drop the group a line too.


PLEASE SUPPORT THE CHARLTON CHAMPION

We tell the SE7 stories you won’t read elsewhere. We can’t do it without your help.
– Please tell us about your news and events
– Become a monthly supporter at patreon.com/charltonchampion
– Donate to our running costs at paypal.me/charltonchampion
– Buy Darryl a coffee at ko-fi.com

Charlton stores among sticking points for Sainsbury’s and Asda merger

Asda Charlton
Asda has been trading on the Bugsby’s Way site since 1984

Sainsbury’s and Asda are likely to have to sell one of their Charlton stores if the two supermarket giants are allowed to go through with their plans to merge, according a report from the competition watchdog.

The two superstores are among 629 locations where a tie-up between the two companies could result in a “substantial lessening of competition”, the Competition and Markets Authority said in a provisional report on the merger plan, released on Wednesday.

The two supermarket giants announced plans for a tie-up last April, and it has been widely reported that the combined company would take one pound out of every three spent by UK grocery shoppers. But the CMA says a combination of the two firms could mean shoppers would “face higher prices, reduced quality and choice, and a poorer overall shopping experience across the UK”.

While the strength of the CMA’s concerns about the merger could force the two companies to abandon their plans, Sainsbury’s and Asda have said they want to go ahead with the tie-up.

The full report was made public on Thursday afternoon. As well as the two Charlton stores, the CMA has raised issues about stores in Lewisham, New Cross, Abbey Wood, Kidbrooke, Peckham, Deptford, Old Kent Road, Isle of Dogs, Bexleyheath and Belvedere.

Both retailers also have petrol outlets within close proximity of each other, as Sainsbury’s retailed the filling station from its former Greenwich store, now replaced by an Ikea. These outlets are also highlighted by the CMA.

As well as their two Bugsby’s Way superstores, Sainsbury’s also has a Local supermarket on Charlton Church Lane. This is not included in the CMA’s list of concerns.

The Charlton Riverside Sainsbury’s store opened in 2015

Of the two Charlton superstores, the Asda branch is arguably the most vulnerable to a sale. The store has been trading for 35 years, making it the second oldest in the Charlton retail area (Makro is 10 years older) and its facilities are dated. It could be seen as a target for Lidl, which is currently applying for planning permission to convert two units in an adjacent shopping park into a supermarket, or the new Tesco low-cost brand Jack’s.

The Charlton store only opened in 2015, and there have been anecdotal reports that trading has been slower than expected – one consequence of its move from east Greenwich was that the store was cut off from shoppers who would take a bus down the hill from Blackheath. But a new store could be attractive to a rival such as Morrisons, which lacks a store between Peckham, Welling and Thamesmead.

The full Competition and Markets Authority report will be released in April.


PLEASE SUPPORT THE CHARLTON CHAMPION

We tell the SE7 stories you won’t read elsewhere. We can’t do it without your help.
– Please tell us about your news and events
– Become a monthly supporter at patreon.com/charltonchampion
– Donate to our running costs at paypal.me/charltonchampion
– Buy Darryl a coffee at ko-fi.com

We can’t afford floodlights for Charlton skate park, Greenwich Council says

Charlton skate park
The skate park opened in October 2017 – but has no lighting (photo: Neil Clasper)

Greenwich Council says it doesn’t have the money to install floodlights at the skate park in Charlton Park, after 344 people signed a petition calling on the authority to light up the facility.

The skate park, which opened in October 2017, currently has no lighting so can’t be used safely after dark. It was built with £365,000 of money from developer Berkeley Homes after it built on a previous facility in Woolwich.

But the Friends of Charlton Park and Greenwich Skatepark Cooperative raised safety concerns about the poor lighting in the area, and presented a petition to the council in December calling for low level lighting to be installed. Safety concerns have increased since then following the break-in at the Old Cottage Cafe last month.

However, the response to the petition says the council “has no funding for the costs of installing the lighting”.

Instead, the council has suggested that the Friends of Charlton Park seek external funding for the floodlighting. “It was agreed in principle subject to public consultation, planning consent and that planning and installation costs being secured by the Friends Group that floodlights for the skate park and outdoor gym could be installed,” a report to be presented to next Wednesday’s full council meeting says.

“However, it was recognised that this could take a couple of years to achieve due to uncertainty regarding funding being secured.”

The Friends of Charlton Park has also been asked to monitor usage of the skate park and outdoor gym to demonstrate how busy they are.

Security in the park has also become a bigger issue after the break-in at the Old Cottage Cafe last month.

The response, however, is likely to generate even more disquiet about how the council spends funding from developers – known as Section 106 money, which is used to mitigate the impact of development in an area and contribute to community projects and facilities.

Greenwich Council is currently sitting on hundreds of thousands of pounds from developers of schemes nearby which could fund improved lighting. Figures released this month show that the construction of Primark and other stores on Bugsbys Way, for example, means £125,000 is available for public safety projects, with £41,752 for public realm projects (“30 Bugsbys Way” in this document.) Meanwhile, £53,000 is available for public safety projects following the construction of the new housing at the end of Fairthorn Road (“40 Victoria Way”) – a figure agreed seven years ago. (Those figures will be discussed at a cabinet meeting this evening.)

The petition response will be discussed at the full council meeting on Wednesday 27 February. If you wish to ask a question about it, or any other matter in the borough, email committees[at]royalgreenwich.gov.uk by noon today (Wednesday 20th).


PLEASE SUPPORT THE CHARLTON CHAMPION

We tell the SE7 stories you won’t read elsewhere. We can’t do it without your help.
– Please tell us about your news and events
– Become a monthly supporter at patreon.com/charltonchampion
– Donate to our running costs at paypal.me/charltonchampion
– Buy Darryl a coffee at ko-fi.com