TheCharlton Champion welcomes submissions of councillors’ reports from Charlton and the surrounding wards. Cllr John Fahy of Woolwich Riverside ward writes:
Woolwich Riverside Ward Report:
Please find an update on my activities over the period since the last newsletter. Meeting attendance has been limited due to a knee replacement in August.
Meeting the needs of Greenwich Residents
There was a time when August was regarded as a period of recess but lots of activity has been happening in the Town Hall. Top of the agenda and the most discussed policy issues relate to the decisions of the Planning Board and the impact these have on the lives of residents facing major housing needs.
I am pleased to see that this debate is now out in the open and a change of policy is required. It cannot be right that the shortage of housing based on a social rent is not being maximised in the Borough. Councillor responsibility is to the needs of our residents rather than the aspiration of developers to maximise their profit margin and develop housing for overseas speculators.
A number of planning applications are in the pipeline that must be regarded as not meeting community aspirations.
Meyer Homes have now submitted their planning application for Woolwich Central Phases 3 and 4. The proposals include three new buildings (each between 9 and 16 Storeys in height). The proposals also include a twenty seven storey Tower Block in Love Lane directly in front of the Tesco Store. The Tower Block does not include any social housing. None at social rent. The proposal includes 20% of units in the new phases which is suggested as being affordable. Of course they will not be.
In addition the Island Site has received planning permission with proposals for housing, retail and a cinema. The amount of social housing is derisory. More importantly, in my view, a significant level of social housing is far more important than a cinema. Indeed a cinema is included in the Spray Street proposals.
The Herringham Road development is the other worrying proposal. The proposals for a 20 Storey Tower Block contrary to the Charlton Riverside Masterplan. Again the lack of social housing is self evident. It was encouraging to see how those attending the Public Exhibition spoke out in clear terms about the proposals.
There are challenging times ahead but the steps taken by Mayor Khan will help to influence a change of direction for the greater good of Londoners.
Council Officers have been working for some time to find solutions to resolve. Solutions have now been found and work will late October. There will be two phases to complete the work and the missing link will open in the Spring of 2018.
The Alexandra Players return to the Alexandra Hall on Bramshot Avenue at the end of this month with a production of Season’s Greetings, written by Sir Alan Ayckbourn. The play, directed by Juliette Harrison, runs from Wednesday 25th to Saturday 28th October. Tickets will be available on the door, or you can book or reserve tickets online, by email, text or phone on 07867 627987.
Charlton House hosts its Horn Fair on Sunday 15 October from 10am to 4pm.
It might not be the riotous, drunken event of Horn Fairs past, but it does promise a range of family-friendly activities, cream teas, market stalls, children’s music lessons, and “Hogarth’s 1751 pub selling gin and beer” – plus live music and balloon entertainment.
“My lungs feel better already,” was my note to Ben Murphy, traffic officer for Greenwich Council. I said the same to local councillors, who were on show, along with our supportive local MP as he passed by.
Of course, you need the reason why. Whilst checking my son’s school bag one evening I found a short note titled ‘STARS project’, which informed my wife and I that Friday was a walking to school day and that the roads surrounding his particular primary school and a number of others in the borough were to be closed for a period of time throughout the day and afternoon.
We set off for school as normal that morning and found an obvious reduction in both traffic and the sometimes overlooked noise.
There were children playing games in the roads which the schools had organised (cycling, rowing machines, hopscotch, and more) and a noticeable excitement in the body language of the children. The headteachers thanked us for walking – a statement which really made me laugh.
As many parents know, the catchment areas of schools these days – and probably always have been – can be summed up as “if you you don’t live within walking distance to the school, you won’t get in”.
With this being the case, why is that so many parents or carers decide to continually drive their young to school on a daily basis?
I would suggest the investment in our public transport these days has become exceptional. It is frequent and reliable – although many would choose to dispute that – and the added benefit of tracking it through smartphone apps mean we are constantly updated.
I put the driving to school down to laziness rather than a necessity.
Possible reasons why:
Moving further out as soon as the child has been allocated a school place, taking advantage of maximised property prices
“I need to make other drop-offs”
“I won’t get to work on time”
On the first point, this means some families are denying children living in close proximity to their closest school a place, thus making them travel further afield and having a detrimental impact on the immediate community. This just isn’t right.
Our borough’s primary education system has an abundance of excellent, enthusiastic, passionate teachers that have turned our schools into arguably some of the best in the country, making the options ever more attractive.
Positive impact and suggestions/ideas:
Local retired residents might like to get involved by supporting/marshalling the school roads
Local businesses. There’s an opportunity here to grow our community, as some of the local shops might find a way to promote their businesses through pop-up shops before and after school.
We all like to think we have an interest in the environment. But we choose to ignore the easiest thing to do and one that would make a huge difference. School run traffic has been chaotic and at times unsustainable for local residents, some of whom adjust their schedules around the inconvenience of the double parking.
Let’s start making a real difference to those little lungs. It could also help the older ones too. School by school, class by class, year by year, we could make a positive change – just like the one our teachers have made to an increasingly popular borough.
It shouldn’t just be be a one-off poster to stick to the school gates, it needs to be embraced and properly implemented.
What do you think? Could you help make car-free days a regular occurrence? Leave a comment below.
Plans for 37 new council homes to replace a 1980s sheltered housing block behind Charlton Village were backed by Greenwich Council’s main planning committee last night.
The council’s Planning Board endorsed the scheme by three votes to one, with two abstentions, after concerns were raised about the way the council had gone about consulting people who live next to Fred Styles House, which faces demolition.
The block will be replaced by three 1-bedroom and five 2-bedroom flats, along with 16 one-bedroom, seven 2-bedroom and six 3-bedroom houses, all for social rent.
While the current block only allows access to Charlton Church Lane through a gate, the new scheme will see two pedestrian walkways linking it with Fletching Road, which runs behind The Village.
Residents of the homes that surround Fred Styles House have voiced concerns that turning their area into a pedestrian thoroughfare will lead to an increase in crime.
One resident, who lives next door to the proposed development, told councillors she only found out last week that the development would come right up against the side of her house – building over a path she uses to access her front garden, particularly when emptying bins.
Another complained that construction of three one-bedroom flats would block out daylight and lead to two homes being “enclosed like caves”, while one objector said residents’ questions had been met with “stock answers, don’t knows or ‘we’ll get back to you'”.
One of the architects behind the new development told the meeting that he wanted the site to feel “much more villagey” with a “traditional approach to housing”. His aim was to create “a little neighbourhood”.
Several councillors indicated they were unhappy with the way the residents had been consulted. Council deputy leader Danny Thorpe said there was “potential for an off-line discussion” about giving existing residents communal bins to ease the problems caused by losing space near their homes. Kidbrooke with Hornfair councillor Norman Adams voiced concerns about the homes having flat roofs so close to a conservation area.
Planning chair Mark James said he backed the scheme but wanted the applicant – the council – to “engage further” with residents, adding that open walkways actually reduced the risk of crime.
The council was spared the embarrassment of seeing its own housing proposal thrown out, with three councillors – James, Thorpe, and Mark Elliott – backing the scheme to one – Clive Mardner – against. Two – Adams and Geoff Brighty – abstained.
Now it is running a year-long National Lottery-backed project, For Walls With Tongues, to record the history of the artists who created the UK’s mural movement from the 1960s. As part of this, it’s looking for people to interview artists as part of an oral history project. These interviews will be archived by the British Library and on a dedicated website.
Project leader Carol Kenna says: “Our project aims to develop an art history to intrigue people who have not encountered mural painting before and provide a resource for students, researchers, critics, historians and the general public. For Walls With Tongues will ensure that the mural movement will be recognised as an important aspect of 20th century art history.”
If you want to develop your interview skills, For Walls With Tongues is hosting a one-day professional interviewing course at Charlton House on Friday 20 October. It’ll be led by Rib Davis, a specialist oral history tutor and author and is aimed at anyone interested in developing interview skills to a standard required by the British Library.
Participants can then become volunteer interviewers on the For Walls With Tongues project if they want to, although the course is open to all who want to sharpen their interview skills.