Charlton Village Action Plan to launch with public meeting this Saturday

Charlton Village
The Charlton Society has a plan to rejuvenate Charlton Village

The Charlton Society has launched an 18-point action plan to turn around the fortunes of Charlton Village – and is holding a public meeting on Saturday to discuss its ideas.

The Charlton Village Action Plan sets out proposals for traffic, buildings and the street scene to make the area more attractive for businesses and residents.

Last year, the Charlton Village conservation area was branded “at risk” by Historic England, with the agency warning that its condition was “deteriorating”.

The meeting will be held at the Grand Salon in Charlton House at 2.30pm on Saturday 20 January.

Proposals include: introducing traffic calming measures and making The Village a 20mph zone (worth noting that 20mph is now a standard speed limit in other south London boroughs); improving the two service roads behind The Village together with car parking; providing “welcome” signage; surveying property ownership and empty homes above shops; creating a market space outside The Baguette and Village Green Grocers; and improving street furniture and pavements.

Take a look at the full action plan and feel free to leave your thoughts below.

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Neighbours’ fury as Fairview Victoria Way development gets green light

40 Victoria Way design
The plan includes 10-storey blocks next to the railway line (image taken from the original application)

Greenwich Council’s planning board faced jeers last night after backing plans to build 330 new homes on the site of a warehouse at the foot of Victoria Way.

The eight-strong planning committee were barracked after endorsing the Fairview New Homes proposals, which include two 10-storey blocks and 144 car parking spaces, as well as a nursery and office space.

Councillors on the planning board voted by six to one to back the scheme, with one not voting. The vote was greeted with cries of “shame!” and “you shouldn’t be our councillors”.

Planners had recommended the scheme for approval, despite 125 objections from residents, three written objections from local councillors in Peninsula and Charlton wards and concerns raised by Transport for London and the Greater London Authority about the high level of car parking spaces.

40 Victoria Way application

Neighbours had called the plans “overbearing” and had voiced concerns about traffic congestion and the lack of facilities for residents. Others criticised a lack of consultation with residents about the scheme, with the Charlton Society’s Roden Richardson suggesting it was part of a wider “failure of democracy”.

“The perspectives of council officers and residents differ so much we wonder if the officers are on the same planet,” he said.

40 Victoria Way proposal
View up Victoria Way taken from the original application

However, there were 10 submissions supporting the scheme, some citing its provision of 35% “affordable” housing – two-thirds which would be for social rent, with the remainder for shared ownership.

Unusually for such a meeting, councillors did not give their reasons for voting ahead of the vote, although council deputy leader Danny Thorpe said he was “mindful” of concerns residents had raised, and asked for Section 106 funds from the development to go into local transport.

‘Unrealistic’ proposals

Charlton Central Residents Association chair Jodie Coughlan said the plans were “unrealistic” and would affect the quality of life for people living in the area. “If you act in haste, you will repent in leisure,” she added.

Peninsula ward councillor Stephen Brain said approving the scheme, which sits outside the area zoned for tall buildings, would set “a dangerous precedent”. He also said concerns about congestion had already led the London Fire Brigade to ask for a yellow box junction to be installed outside East Greenwich fire station because engines were having trouble accessing the road.

There were also concerns raised about the scheme only having one point of access for vehicles, on Victoria Way. One resident said Victoria Way and Eastcombe Avenue had already effectively become “arterial roads” and that any development would cause “irreversible damage”. There were sniggers from the public gallery when a representative from Fairview said pedestrian-only access from Dupree Road would “help people move around the area more easily”.

Residents walking through the site would have the benefit of play areas “away from the traffic of Victoria Way”, the rep added.

Another pointed to the frequent conflict between drivers on the pinch point at the Victoria Way railway bridge, recently narrowed by the council so it can only be accessed by one vehicle at a time. Cllr Thorpe suggested Section 106 money could go to a scheme to ameliorate this problem.

40 Victoria Way scheme
View from Gurdon Road, taken from the original application

Others raised the heights of the buildings – including two 10-storey blocks, one 9-storey block and three 8-storey blocks – while one resident of Gurdon Road said the incline of the hill would mean her own home would be overshadowed by a three-storey block.

The Charlton Society’s Roden Richardson praised the neighbouring, lower-rise development at Fairthorn Road, on the other half of the warehouse site, and asked why the Fairthorn scheme could not be like that.

‘Remote’ developer

A claim that Fairview had held “a number of local meetings” was met with disbelief from the public – CCRA’s Jodie Coughlan branded the developer “remote” while one resident said “bullying tactics” had been used. The consultation for the scheme had been handled by Cratus Communications, whose deputy chairman is former Greenwich Council leader Chris Roberts.

After the vote, one resident tried to quiz a council officer on the heights of the building while another asked councillors if any lived in the area. None responded. The one councillor on the planning board who does live in the area, planning chair Mark James – whose home is very close to the site – was not on the panel. Council leader Denise Hyland was also not present.

Victoria Way, February 2017

The decision appears to contradict an earlier refusal for a nine-storey building on the site of Valley House on Woolwich Road, which was thrown out in 2015 because of the size and density of the development. A seven-storey scheme was later approved.

And a much more modest development close to Eltham station was thrown out by the same committee last September because of a lack of car parking spaces.

The Fairview scheme will now have to be ratified by City Hall, which may give disgruntled residents a glimmer of hope that the mayor’s office will demand changes.

Later in the meeting, a plan to extend Queen Elizabeth Hospital was unanimously approved by councillors, despite concerns about car parking raised by Kidbrooke with Hornfair councillor Norman Adams. Danny Thorpe said he would ask health cabinet member David Gardner to raise the issue with the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust.

Votes for: Ray Walker (Labour, Eltham West – vice-chair), Clive Mardner (Labour, Abbey Wood), Danny Thorpe (Labour, Shooters Hill – council deputy leader and regeneration cabinet member), Sarah Merrill (Labour, Shooters Hill), Norman Adams (Labour, Kidbrooke with Hornfair), Steve Offord (Labour, Abbey Wood).

Vote against: Geoff Brighty (Conservative, Blackheath Westcombe)

Have your say on new Charlton riverside conservation areas

Derrick Gardens
Atlas and Derrick Gardens would become part of a conservation area under the new plans

There’s a week left if you want to comment on Greenwich Council plans to create new conservation areas by the riverside at Charlton.

Two new areas are planned – one to protect the housing at Atlas and Derrick Gardens, the Anchor & Hope pub, Vaizeys Wharf and the Corys barge works; the other to protect areas around the Thames Barrier such as the old Victoria pub, the former Siemens works, and surviving parts of the old Woolwich Royal Dockyard.

The council also wants to locally list several buildings in the area, from the 1985 East Greenwich fire station (“an example of late 20C public sector design”) to Stones Foundry and Windrush Primary School.

The former Clancy’s pub at the end of Warspite Road is also scheduled for listing, under its original name of the Lord Howick.

It follows the publication last year of Greenwich’s masterplan for the Charlton riverside area.

You can see the full proposals and have your say on the Greenwich Council website. All comments have to be in by Wednesday 17 January.

TfL to cut night bus service on route 53 – despite arrival of Night Overground at New Cross Gate

Route 53 bus in Whitehall
Route 53 will be a rarer sight at night from 20 January

Transport for London is to reduce night services on bus route 53, which runs from Whitehall to Plumstead via the Old Kent Road, New Cross, Blackheath, Charlton and Woolwich.

From 20 January, all-night services will run every 30 minutes from Sundays to Thursdays, and every 15 minutes at weekends. The night 53 service currently run every 20 minutes during the week and every 12 minutes at weekends. Daytime services are unaffected.

TfL says the change is “to match demand”. Passenger numbers on the night service have fallen from a peak of 447,000 in 2013/14 to 405,000 in 2016/17.

Night routes have also been hit by competition from minicab app Uber, which offers heavily subsidised fares while it builds up market share.

TfL’s finances are being squeezed by central government scrapping its grant funding as well as mayor Sadiq Khan freezing some fares until 2020.

The neighbouring N89 service was also trimmed back last month.

The change will badly hit those who depend on the all-night service to get to and from work as well as people coming back from nights out in central London.

It will also make it harder for those who live on the 53 route to take advantage of the Night Overground rail service, which began running between Dalston Junction and New Cross Gate earlier this month. Mayor Sadiq Khan said the weekend service would “help thousands more who are working through the night or out enjoying our capital’s nightlife”.

Many London routes, both and day and night, have been cut back as TfL grapples with its financial problems. Other cuts planned in south-east London in coming weeks affect the 484 service which runs through Brockley and the 269 between Bexleyheath and Bromley.

Local London Assembly member Len Duvall has asked Khan for details of which other routes in Greenwich and Lewisham will be cut. He is still waiting for a response.

The Charlton Champion 2017 Review of the Year

Sunset from Charlton Riverside

As 2017 draws to a close we thought we’d take a look into the Charlton Champion‘s site stats to find out what stories had been most popular this year. But first we’d like to say:

Thank you. For reading our stories, commenting, contributing, sharing, ‘liking’, retweeting, sending us local information, and so on. We have no promotional budget (or – for the moment – any revenue to support one), so it makes a tremendous difference to us when our readers help spread the word. This year we’ve acquired a lot of new followers on our social media accounts (if you’ve not already done so you can find us on Twitter, Facebook, and – most recently – Instagram). So, ‘Welcome’ if you’ve recently joined us (you can find out more about how we got here here); and ‘thanks for sticking with us’ if you’re a longer-term reader.

If you find the stories you read here useful, please let people know about us: tell your friends, relatives, the local businesses you frequent, and your elected representatives… We’re grateful to councillors Gary Parker and John Fahy for providing us with their ward reports in 2017, and we’d welcome contributions from other councillors in Charlton and the surrounding wards.

We believe The Charlton Champion is a great platform for anyone wanting to communicate with an engaged local audience, and we know our readers have an appetite to lent more about the issues and developments shaping the local area.

And secondly we’d like to say:

Please get in touch if you’d like to contribute to The Charlton Champion. We’d love to have a wider range of contributors and a more diverse set of voices on the site in 2018. If you’ve got a Charlton story, project, campaign, idea, event or other local interest, get in touch and let us know.

This year The Charlton Championjoined the Independent Community News Network, which aims to champion and support journalism at the local and hyperlocal level, where news coverage is most at risk of dying out because of continued cutbacks by the major publishing groups.

Our membership of ICNN gives us access to the expertise built up by the University of Cardiff’s Centre for Community Journalism as well as the experiences of our fellow members. It also enables us to feed into their discussions about how the sector should grow. Our sister site 853 is also now a member.

Primark Charlton

The top 10 most-read Charlton Champion stories in 2017

  1. Charlton Primark: Hundreds queue to bag bargains as store opens. Whatever you think of Charlton’s expanding retail parks (and associated road congestion) Primark certainly appears to be popular.
  2. Charlton skate park: First detailed images emerge with construction planned for summer A story we’ve been covering since the plans first emerged came to a conclusion as the skate park opened in Charlton Park (see 4 below for photos of the occasion)
  3. Charlton set to keep Charing Cross trains and gain Thameslink services in rail revamp
  4. Charlton’s skatepark officially open: photos
  5. Charlton and Woolwich Arsenal set to lose Charing Cross trains from 2022
  6. Charlton history: The man who took a bullet for the PM. October saw a sudden flurry of interest in a post from 2011 from viewers of ITV’s Victoria drama, searching for the facts on the death of Edward Drummond, private secretary to PM Robert Peel. A reminder that we’ve not posted any local history for a while – let us know if you’d like to write some!
  7. ‘Deteriorating’ Charlton Village placed on Historic England ‘at risk’ register. Concerns raised about the state of Charlton Village’s conservation area.
  8. Flowers left at scene as police launch murder inquiry following Charlton stabbing
  9. Crossrail bus changes: TfL plans to halve bus frequencies between Greenwich and Charlton by switching route 180
  10. Ikea coming to Greenwich – can we stop it grinding Charlton to a halt? Planning permission has been granted and construction’s started; how will the new IKEA impact congestion around Charlton and east Greenwich?

Looking forward to 2018

Christmas Eve traffic jam, Anchor & Hope Lane
I’d walk it if I were you…

What’s going to happen in the new year? We’re not fortune-tellers, but we think at least some of the below will shape Charlton and the topics we write about:

Finally, if you’ve read this far, we’d like to say thanks once again. We wish you a happy 2018.

Neil and Darryl.

White Swan freeholder Mendoza refused permission for ‘cramped’ house behind pub

White Swan
Mendoza bought the freehold to the White Swan in March 2015

The firm which owns the freehold to the White Swan has had its third attempt to build housing on the site refused by Greenwich Council planners.

Isle of Man-based property developer Mendoza Ltd, which makes its money from buying pubs and converting at least part of the land to residential use, had wanted to build a three-bedroom property on land behind the pub’s beer garden.

A letter sent to the firm’s agent before Christmas said it was rejected because the property’s “scale, bulk, site coverage, contemporary design and cramped appearance… would fail to preserve the character and appearance of the [Charlton Village] Conservation Area”.

Planners also say the scheme broke several London and local planning policies.

The letter also notes that Mendoza did not seek advice from the council before putting the application in, and that it should talk to planners before submitting a new proposal.

White Swan planning application
The rejected proposal was for one house, sunk partly below ground level

The house would have been partly built below ground level to reduce its impact on the surrounding conservation area, and would have had no windows that could open onto the beer garden.

Bermondsey-based architecture firm Milan Babic said in the application: “We believe that the new proposal preserves, enhances and uplifts the character of the site, thereby creating a habitable, functional and aesthetically woven architecture.”

A first attempt, to build two homes, in October 2015, was thrown out by Greenwich Council planners. That decision was upheld by a planning inspector. A second attempt was rejected earlier in 2017.

White Swan beer garden
The proposed house would have sat behind the pub’s beer garden

Attention will now turn to what Mendoza will do next – whether it will appeal, revise its plans once again, or look at the pub itself, which is rented by the team behind Greenwich’s Pelton Arms.

Earlier this year the firm lost a planning appeal against Camden Council’s refusal to allow it to turn the Carpenters Arms in King’s Cross into flats. However, in May it won an appeal against Tower Hamlets refusing it permission to build a hotel around the Duke of Wellington in Spitalfields.

Councillors oppose Fairview’s 10-storey Victoria Way development

40 Victoria Way design
The plan includes 10-storey blocks next to the railway line (image taken from the original application)

Three local councillors have submitted objections to developer Fairview’s plans to build 330 new homes and 144 car parking spaces on a warehouse site off Victoria Way.

Greenwich Council’s main planning committee will meet to decide on the application on Tuesday 9 January, but the plans – which feature two 10-storey blocks, one 9-storey block and three 8-storey blocks – have attracted local opposition due to their height and design.

Peninsula ward councillor Stephen Brain and Charlton’s Allan MacCarthy and Gary Parker have raised concerns about the proposal, along with the Greenwich Conservation Group, the Charlton Society, and 125 individuals.

10 members of the public supported the application, some citing the 35% “affordable” housing provision – 23.3% social rent, 11.7% “intermediate”/shared ownership.

Brain calls the development “out of scale” and complains about loss of light – concerns echoed by residents in Dupree Road and Gurdon Road – while MacCarthy says it is “too large”, “out of keeping with the principally Victorian and other later housing of the area” and will worsen existing congestion, posing particular risks to pupils at Fossdene School.

40 Victoria Way proposal
View up Victoria Way taken from the original application

The Charlton Society has branded it a “monolithic, totally alien imposition” that is “devoid of human scale or any sense of enclosure”, suggesting the smaller next door development as a template to start from.

Transport for London wants to see most of the parking spaces removed from the scheme, which sits between both Westcombe Park and Charlton stations, while the Greater London Authority has also raised concerns about the high level of car parking spaces.

40 Victoria Way application

The level of opposition from councillors marks this out as a particularly sensitive application within Greenwich Council’s ruling Labour group.

Worth watching will be whether council leader Denise Hyland and deputy leader Danny Thorpe take their places on the planning committee – Greenwich is rare among London boroughs in having the council leader directly involved in these decisions – and whether the relatively high number of homes for social rent have helped seal the deal.

Consultation for the proposal has been handled by Cratus Communications, whose deputy chairman is former council leader Chris Roberts. In July 2016, Hyland and fellow planning board member Norman Adams joined Roberts on a town twinning trip to Berlin.

A much more modest development close to Eltham station was rejected by the same committee in September on the grounds of lack of car parking.

The 9 January meeting will also decide on a 100-bed extension to Queen Elizabeth Hospital on land facing Charlton Cemetery.