Talk about the future of Maryon Wilson animal park

This Sunday sees the return to the airwaves of In the Meantime at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Their studio guest this week is Tim Anderson. Tim, is the chair of The Friends of Maryon and Maryon Wilson Animal Parks. As you may be aware already, the animal care centre located in Maryon Wilson Park has been highlighted as a possible saving in the council’s budget plan. No changes will be made over the coming year, but the council are asking people to come up with ideas about how to keep the park going.

There’s been coverage of these plans and the campaign against it in the News Shopper and this site. There is also a petition and a Facebook page campaigning for the future of the animal park.

So tell them your feelings about this proposal. It’s not set in stone yet, but should we be cutting other services rather than the park? and if so, what services should be cut instead? What do you see for the future of the park? Will it find a rich patron? Will a local group or organisation rise up to take it over? Does someone have a fantastic idea to save it? Could the council still reverse the idea? Or, in the worst case scenario, how will it make you feel if it does indeed have to close? Tell In the Meantime your views.

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Horse and Groom church decision deferred

Horse and Groom, Charlton, SE7

A Greenwich Council planning committee has opted to defer a decision on whether or not the old Horse and Groom pub on Woolwich Road should be turned into a church. Our man at last night’s meeting takes up the story…

The pub has been sold to a church which started holding services there without planning permission. Greenwich Council stopped this and the church put in a planning application for change of use.

This was rather mysteriously placed before Wednesday’s Woolwich Planning Committee as an urgent item, with officers recommending approval. There were objections on noise and parking grounds from a couple of neighbours and also from CAMRA.

Following an impassioned plea from Woolwich Riverside ward concillor John Fahy, the mattter was adjourned for further discussions and will probably come back before the Commitee on March 16th.

The pub wasn’t much of a loss when it closed about three years ago, frankly – its only real trade came from Charlton home games and the odd strip show. But surely this site would be better used as housing? I’d be interested in your thoughts.

(Flickr photo via Euan-M.)

Maryon Wilson animals petition launched

A petition has been launched to ask Greenwich Council to reconsider plans to close Maryon Wilson Park animal centre if sponsorship cannot be found.

The council says it has to save the £43,000 it costs to run the centre as a response to cuts in the grants it gets from central government.

If sponsorship cannot be found, it is likely the centre will close in April 2012.

The petition is already approaching 200 signatures, with one signatory commenting that the animal park is “as much a part of Charlton as Charlton House or Charlton Athletic”.

Others have pointed out how many local children, from Charlton schools and others in the borough, take part in educational visits to the centre.

The petition can be found at http://www.gopetition.com/petition/42106.html while a campaign web page has been created at http://www.causes.com/causes/555789-save-maryon-animal-park

UPDATE: There’s more on this, and how one Charlton councillor could help save the centre, on 853.

Charlton in 2027 – housing by the Thames?

Greenwich Council wants to change planning guidelines so more housing can be built on the Charlton riverside, according to its long-term proposals for the borough’s future.

Vaizey's Wharf
The only riverside housing in Charlton at the moment is at Vaizey's Wharf, off Anchor and Hope Lane
An exhibition about the proposals will be held at Charlton House on Tuesday afternoon (between 3-7pm) to explain the plans for the future, which will see developers encouraged to build homes between Lombard Wall and Warspite Road, Woolwich.

At present, most of the riverside is given over to industrial and commercial use, with Sainsburys – which is applying to redevelop its depot on Anchor and Hope Lane – one of the major employers, although the large factories which dominated the riverfront are long gone and have been replaced with retail outlets.

A century ago, “New Charlton” was a residential area. The former Lads of the Village pub (now a veterinary surgery) and derelict Victoria pub near the Thames Barrier are among the last remnants of the riverside community which saw the birth of Charlton Athletic at Siemens Meadow – land now occupied by the Westminster Industrial Estate.

Angerstein Wharf and Murphys Wharf on the Charlton/Greenwich border will remain in industrial use, but the council wants to see the borough’s entire riverfront, from Deptford to Thamesmead, made available for housing.

For Charlton, the council’s “spatial strategy” says:

Charlton

3.3.10 With the exception of Charlton Riverside, Charlton will see limited change within the plan period. Its existing character will be protected and it will benefit from the improvements to both Woolwich, to the east, and Charlton Riverside, to the north, and the increase in services and facilities that the planned development in these locations will bring.

Charlton Riverside Strategic Development Location

3.3.11 Charlton Riverside is a key regeneration area that provides a significant opportunity for new high quality river front development. The area will be transformed into an attractive and vibrant mixed use urban quarter providing around 6,000 new homes. The area has the potential to offer new community and education facilities, space for small businesses particularly within the creative industries, new employment opportunities and accessible open spaces.

3.3.12 The Strategic Development Location will exclude the current Aggregate Zone and the safeguarded Angerstein’s and Murphy’s Wharves. The total area for the site is over 100 hectares.

3.3.13 An Area Action Plan will be prepared to guide development at the site. It is envisaged at this stage that the large site could provide for a significant residential led mixed use development plus improved commercial space, retail and community facilities as well as improvements to the existing open space.

3.3.14 It is considered that the housing component at the site will commence around 2016 and could take up to 20 years to be completed. It is therefore anticipated that just over 70% of the 6000 dwellings will be delivered in this area during the plan period, with the remainder coming post 2026/27. Development of the site is dependent on the provision of increased public transport infrastructure in the waterfront area.

The draft “core strategy” for the borough also promises long-overdue redevelopment for the Morris Walk and Maryon Road estates, as well as further development along the Greenwich riverfront and on the peninsula.

The strategy and consultation documents can be found on the council website, along with further details. Former councillor Paui Webbewood has written about the plans for greenwich.co.uk.

Make a date with your councillors

Here’s a date for your diary if you live in the central part of Charlton – 31 January at 7pm. That’s when there’s a “meet your councillors” event at the Charlton Liberal Club, held by the Charlton Central Residents Association.

Charlton is unfortunate in that it’s divided into four different wards, Charlton, Kidbrooke with Hornfair, Peninsula and Woolwich Riverside, with the boundaries slicing right through some important areas (a stroll from Charlton post office to the Stone Lake retail park will take you through three of those wards).

Do you hear from your councillors very often? I can’t say I ever hear from the Charlton trio outside of election time – which is why the “meet your councillors” event caught my attention. You may have had a different experience from me, mind. Peninsula ward’s Mary Mills is that rare thing, a blogging Greenwich councillor – see Mary’s Diary – and also sends out regular e-mails detailing what’s happening on her patch. But what about the other SE7 wards?

I might well sneak along to hear what my councillors have to say. But I’d love to hear what your experiences have been with local councillors – have they been helpful or hopeless? If it’s the former, let’s celebrate it, and if it’s the latter – what can we do to improve matters?