Honey Bees, Mulberry Trees…and job opportunities: latest news from Charlton House

Bee Hives On Charlton House Roof
Bee hives amongst the chimneys on the roof of Charlton House.

News in from Charlton House of two events happening next week – one celebrating the honey bee on Thursday August 24th (did you know there are thriving beehives on the roof of Charlton House?), including talks from a beekeeper, kids’ activities, and a chance to see the beehives. 

On Tuesday 22nd August ‘Morus Londinium’ looks at the heritage of London’s mulberry trees, including Charlton’s own. The latter is a Friends of Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust exclusive event – find out more about the Friends here.

Plus, Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust – keepers of Charlton House – have two job vacancies open at the moment. Find out about the roles – they’re looking for a Business Development Executive and a Community Outreach Officer – here.

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Councillors back plan to add flats and gym to Antigallican pub

The Antigallican

A Greenwich Council planning committee has backed plans to build eight flats, a gym and a retail unit in an extension to the Antigallican pub at the foot of Charlton Church Lane.

The pub would stay in operation under the proposals, which include having a three-storey extension built facing Woolwich Road to help accommodate the new homes and retail unit. But it would lose its function room, which would be turned into a gym for the new residents, while its 23 hotel rooms would also go.

Six councillors on the Greenwich area planning committee backed the scheme unanimously, saying it would help protect the future of the pub, which is believed to date back to the 1870s.

Both the Charlton Society and the Charlton Central Residents’ Association had objected to the proposal, claiming it was an inappropriate location to build housing.

However, the council’s environmental health team had backed a condition that the flats be fitted with mechanical ventilation to mitigate the air pollution problem at the junction.

Owner and licensee Sean Murphy told the committee that the hotel rooms above the pub had been unable to compete with new hotels opening in nearby Woolwich.

“The hotel rooms used to be 80% full, now it’s down to 50%,” he said, adding that the only boosts to trade came from events at the O2.

Councillors were told by planning officers that the current hotel rooms – 10 of which have shared toilet and and bathroom facilities – “were not high quality for servicing tourists’ needs” while the new flats would provide a “high quality living environment”. Residents of the new blocks would be barred from obtaining parking permits.

Murphy agreed to a condition that the flats should have sprinklers, saying to install them would be “no problem”. “After Grenfell and so on, it’s in everybody’s interests.”

Antigallican pub design

Committee chair Mark James (Middle Park & Sutcliffe, Labour) praised what he called “an innovative scheme”, while Peninsula councillor Chris Lloyd (Labour) noted the loss of other pubs on the Woolwich Road in recent years.

Greenwich West councillor Mehboob Khan (Labour) said the proposal was “in keeping with the character of the area” and would support a “struggling local business”.

“It would be a shame to lose the pub after 150 years – long may it continue.”

Woolwich Riverside ward report: find out what Cllr John Fahy’s been up to

Charlton Riverside Masterplan: “Important to ensure that the principles of maximising employment opportunities, increase public transport provision and ensure that all attempts to build high rise developments are challenged.”

The Charlton Champion welcomes submissions of councillors’ reports from Charlton and the surrounding wards. Cllr John Fahy of Woolwich Riverside ward writes:

Councillor Fahy serves on three Scrutiny Panels including Healthier Communities and Adult Social Care, Corporate Finance and Performance, Regeneration, Transport and Culture. These meetings are open to the general public. The function of Scrutiny Panels is to hold the Executive to account. In recent times Charlton Central Residents Association provided some views on the consultation process currently in operation.

Community Engagement:

 During the period relating to this report I have attended:

  • Picnic In the Park in Maryon Park
  • Exhibition relating to the Baptist Church in Woolwich
  • Armed Forces Day at Woolwich Barracks
  • Ferryview Patients Forum
  • Citizens U.K. / Greenwich Free School Meeting 
  • Briefing on Housing Blocks Fire Safety
  • Local Government Association Annual Meeting in Birmingham
  • Woodlands Farm Open Day
  • Food Poverty Group
  • Colour of Light Performance in Woolwich
  • Woolwich Riverside Safer Neighbourhood Panel
  • Induction of Rector at St Thomas’s
  • Estates Regeneration Tour

Community Safety

Recent attendance at the Safer Neighbourhood Panel discussed the proposed changes to the Metropolitan Police Service, the Borough Commander would cover three Boroughs including Bexley, Greenwich and Lewisham. Reductions in police numbers would continue to impact in the way policing would function. Clearly worrying for all residents and I continue to voice concerns.

Housing Regeneration

Housing continues to cause the most concern across the Ward. Morris Walk Estate is currently being decanted to make way for the redevelopment of the area. Lovell is the developer and ASRA now PA following a merger will be the social housing provider. The importance of maximising the amount of social housing remains an issue in the Borough as it does elsewhere. I was recently involved in the Planning application of Berkeley Homes which was opposed by a significant number of residents who were faced with the prospect of serious overlooking into their front room. The proposal was agreed by Planning Board. The developer made a financial contribution to build social housing off site. Priority must be given to the needs of local residents in finding an affordable home and steps must be taken to significantly increase the number of social housing built. I will be working  closely with colleagues , the local community and amenity societies to seek changes to existing practises where profit over the needs of the community exists.

Cllr John Fahy

Education

I have recently become a Trustee of the Royal Greenwich Trust School on Woolwich Road. Work is underway to expand this school and will help to maximise school places. Woodhill Primary has spearheaded the Multi Academy Trust and have joined with a number of other local schools. I will be reporting in detail on education issues in the Borough in the coming months. The fragmentation of schools is unlikely to help improve standards or support the family of local schools that have worked well in previous years. Greenwich Campaign for State Education is actively engaged on all of these issues and I attend their meetings on a regular basis.

Charlton Riverside

Charlton Riverside Masterplan has been agreed. However a number of developers have several acres of land in the area. Important to ensure that the principles of maximising employment opportunities, increase public transport provision and ensure that all attempts to build high rise developments are challenged.

Woolwich Town Centre 

Regeneration of the area remains a top priority. Woolwich Town Centre is in urgent need of significant investment. Although footfall is increasing, the level of spend remains a challenge. The shopping experience is limited at this point. However some projects are underway. The Spray Street development is making progress. We have a new hotel, future developments include a new leisure centre in the Town Centre, together with plans for the Tesco sites and the planning applications to be considered includes a number of housing developments. Happy to receive any ideas or suggestions you might have about the Town Centre. 

Please feel free to contact me should you want to raise issues of concern. Woolwich Riverside Councillors hold surgeries at the Town Hall every Friday from 6-7pm

Get in touch with Cllr John Fahy via the Greenwich Council website.

Council planning blunder may mean unwanted phone mast for Siebert Road

The site sits just behind houses on Westcombe Hill

A fuller version of this story can be read at 853.

A Greenwich Council planning blunder means residents of Westcombe Hill may get a mobile phone mast at the end of their gardens – despite planners refusing permission for it.

Residents who thought their protests against the mast had paid off were shocked to find diggers turning up last week – and had to persuade contractors to stop work.

Agents acting for Vodafone and O2 applied for permission to build a mast on land off Siebert Road, next to the Blackwall Tunnel Southern Approach in September 2016. The land sits between homes on Westcombe Hill and the dual carriageway, which divides Charlton and Blackheath.

Council planners refused the application in November after protests from residents, citing its “prominent location, height, design, scale, appearance and poor siting would lead to a cluttered and an over-dominant appearance within the location and when viewed from the neighbouring conservation area”.

But the council took too long to reject the application – under planning law, a council needs to respond within 56 days to prevent this type of application. Greenwich took 57 days to respond, meaning Cornerstone Telecommunications Infrastructure Ltd (CTIL), which runs Vodafone and O2’s networks, has permission to build the mast by default, so long as the property owner agrees.

Land ownership confusion

However, there is confusion as to who actually owns the land – it had been believed it was owned by Greenwich Council, but Land Registry documents indicate that it is actually owned by Transport for London. The planned location of the mast is on the route Bramshot Avenue used to take before construction work started on the A102 in 1967.

Confusion over the land ownership and relevant permits meant contractors had to stop work, while residents have been urged to lobby TfL to refuse permission if it is confirmed that the mayor’s transport agency owns the land.

Siebert Road, 1 August 2017
Residents already have to live with the noise and pollution from the A102 – typical evening rush-hour congestion can be seen behind

A letter sent to residents by senior planning officer Victoria Geoghegan and seen by this website says: “Regretfully and due to a systems error, the application wasn’t determined within the 56-day period which means it is deemed to be consented and the mast can now be installed provided all other permissions are obtained.

“It is extremely unfortunate that the application wasn’t determined in 56 days given representations objecting to the scheme were made. I can assure you that the system now now been corrected to ensure this will not happen again.”

Greenwich Council sorry

Residents are lobbying local politicians and starting their own campaign, Westcombe Hill Against the Mast (Wham), to fight the proposal.

A spokesperson for CTIL told this website: “Vodafone and O2 customers expect to be able to use their mobiles and devices where they live, work and travel. Base stations are low powered devices which cover approximately half a mile in radius, therefore we have to put base stations close to our customers.

“Vodafone and O2 identified that they need to improve the coverage to their customers in Blackheath and we now have consent for a base station on Siebert Road. We have received a query on the land ownership at the proposed location and are currently investigating this point.”

A Greenwich Council spokesperson said: “The Royal Borough listened and responded to residents’ objections to this phone mast. Planning permission was refused on 14 November 2016. An IT fault regrettably resulted in this decision coming after the legal 56 day period and therefore planning permission was attained ‘by default.’ We apologise to residents and are determined, going forward, to make sure that all works on the site only proceed with the landowner’s permission.”

More on this story, including other planning mistakes in the borough, at 853.

What’s happening at Charlton House? A Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust update

Charlton House’s Summer House is being refurbished by the Trust

Following on from Cllr Gary Parker‘s ward report, here’s his update on what is happening at Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust – which controls Charlton House – where he is a trustee. Comments are open if you have any views on the Trust and its work.

Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust celebrated its third anniversary on 1 July 2017. A new three-year Service Level Agreement (SLA) has been agreed from 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2020 with the Royal Borough of Greenwich.

The Trust recently announced a grant of c.£160,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Resilient Heritage programme. The project, A Resilient Future for Greenwich Heritage, will support the Trust in developing and delivering its vision and planning, growth and training.

A grant of £20,000 was awarded by the Ministry of Defence Community Covenant to create a Woolwich History Walk. This project will be delivered in partnership with Heronsgate Primary School.

The Trust is a partner in the Cultural Destinations programme, funded by Arts Council England and Visit Britain.

Funding and support in kind has also been provided by the Arts Marketing Association. The Museum is participating in the Future Proof Museums programme and the Prince’s Regeneration Trust is also providing mentoring support to the Trust staff and volunteers.

The Trust has received planning consent to carry out a programme of enabling works at the Summer House, Charlton House. This Grade I-listed building, built around 1630, was converted to public toilets in the inter-war period. This facility has been out of use for approximately 10 years. The works will include asbestos strip-out and removal of toilets and partitions to bring the structure back into community use and to generate additional income. This work is part funded by the continuing support of the World Monuments Fund Britain with a grant of £25,000.

The Trust is working with St Alfege Church, Greenwich on the Heart of Greenwich: Place & People Heritage Lottery-funded project. Project research identified an original Nicholas Hawksmoor drawing in the collections of the Royal Borough, held in the Heritage Centre. The detail of the North Porch is a rare find. St Alfege was the first London church completed by Hawksmoor.

The new Making Woolwich display opened at the Greenwich Heritage Centre in December 2016. Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, and Royal Artillery Museums Ltd, this gallery at the Heritage Centre tells the story of the 300-year history of the Royal Artillery in Woolwich, 1716-2016.

The Friends of Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust was re-launched on 30 June 2017. The Trust is funding a Friends Secretary post one day per week to support development of an events programme.

The Royal Arsenal Woolwich Historic Society has closed business and has agreed to transfer remaining funds to the Trust to support its work. This funding is valued at approximately £8,000.

Thanks to Gary for both this and the ward update. For more information about the Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust, visit its website.

What’s Charlton ward councillor Gary Parker been up to? Here’s his latest report

Gary Parker

Charlton ward councillor Gary Parker presents his update on what he has been up to in recent months. Comments are open below if there are issues you’d like to raise…

Apologies for the delay in publishing this report, it was originally going to be published in late April/early May 2017, but due to the surprise general election and various issues related to purdah (restrictions on what can be done during election periods) . I was unable to do this. My next and more up to date report will be published towards the end of the summer and be more current.


CHARLTON/COMMUNITY

Planning – I have been working with the Charlton Society, Charlton Central Residents’ Association and Wyndcliff Residents Association, and other local groups and individuals regarding a range of planning issues. I have raised a wide range of planning issues again on behalf of local residents.

Had further discussions with residents regarding proposed new meeting hall with regard to the Our Lady of Grace primary school planning application.

I have raised a wide range of planning issues again on behalf of local residents. These include the proposed development on Victoria Way, Charlton Church Lane issues and other smaller local developments, some of which when raised by me have been reviewed and refused by officers.

I have objected to a number of other planning applications which I will report on in my next report as I have requested ‘call in’ – a request for the issue to be heard before a planning committee on some of these issues.

Raised some issues with Cabinet member for Transport about water leaks and the lack of action by Thames Water, they are taking up to 4 weeks to deal with these, some have not been fixed since our last meeting – if you have an issue or see such a leak let me know!

Met with Transport For Charlton activists, re: future local issues and the SE Trains consultation, the new franchise document for SE Trains is proposing major changes to services.

Distributed leaflets and attended Campaign For State Education public meeting on Education Cuts in March.

Raised some issues about the impact of revalued business rates, at the Labour Group this will also impact on small businesses/ retailers in Charlton. I am very concerned about the impact on local businesses.

Attended Apprenticeship week event at Woolwich Job Centre.

Attended a meeting of Campaign For State Education steering group.

Researched a number of issues relating to Air Pollution in the area after representations from local groups – I am working with other councillors on these issues.

Submitted a further ward budget project to officers for consideration.

Addressed a range of local inquiries regarding Charlton Riverside Regeneration Programme.

Raised some issues about the impact of revalued business rates at the Labour Group [of Greenwich councillors] – this will also impact on small businesses/ retailers in Charlton. I am very concerned about the impact on local businesses.

Held meeting with four LSE students with regard to Charlton Riverside programme.

SURGERIES/CASEWORK

Still dealing with a large amount of planning and housing related casework.

Raised a very large amount of planning related casework, which is ongoing.

Attended all relevant surgeries and did some home visits for older people too.

COUNCIL

Attended main council meeting in February and spoke out against cuts and austerity and also attended the March meeting too and the special meeting of the council in May 2017.

Attended Corporate Finance Scrutiny Panel, Overview and Scrutiny, Regeneration Scrutiny panels and all other relevant meetings.

Get in touch with Cllr Gary Parker via the Greenwich Council website.

Travellers occupy Fairview development site at Victoria Way

Travellers on Fairview New Homes site

It’s almost predictable, really. Large company takes ownership of large plot of land in south-east London for development. Large company doesn’t secure the land properly. Then the neighbours find a load of caravans parked on their doorstep.

It happened when Ikea took over the site of its new Greenwich store, and it’s now happened at the Fairview New Homes site on Victoria Way, where the company recently put in a planning application to build 341 new homes on land that had been occupied by storage depots.

Travellers on Fairview New Homes site

The caravan invasion is unlikely to endear Fairview to neighbours who are already unhappy about its plans to build blocks of up to 10 storeys on the land (reduced from 11 storeys after a recent consultation).

Travellers on Fairview New Homes site

Fairview’s plans are currently being considered by Greenwich Council. Its former leader Chris Roberts and chief executive Mary Ney now work for lobbying company Cratus Communications, which is working with Fairview on the development.

Travellers on Fairview New Homes site

One Charlton Champion reader kindly sent in these snaps, saying: “As I went past last night I took some pics and the kids ran out throwing stones and planks of wood at me. They also seem to have a dog unit at the front of the site, guarding it presumably.”

That particular incident has been reported to police. Local residents will now be hoping their new neighbours won’t be around for long.