Charlton’s Travelodge gets go-ahead for London Olympics

How the Travelodge's backers hope Woolwich Road will look 12 months from now

Greenwich Council’s planning board backed building a Travelodge hotel in Charlton last night – with the scheme’s backers pledging to get it up and running before the Olympics.

The seven-member panel unanimously endorsed the plan to build a 120-room hotel at the junction of Woolwich Road and Victoria Way, along with a supermarket on its ground floor and a standalone restaurant next to the Greenwich Shopping Park.

But council leader Chris Roberts, who sits on the planning board, raised worries that the restaurant could be a “magnet for people to hang around” if it was let to the wrong tenant.

While the scheme’s backers said it should be “predominantly a sit-down restaurant and coffee shop”, and the conditions were made on the planning permission to encourage this, Cllr Roberts said he was “still nervous” about the eatery.

“It could be a sit-down fried chicken restaurant,” he said, but added that with an 11pm closing time, “It should be no more disruptive than a pub.”

Even though the Olympics are less than a year away, Travelodge’s representative said the hotel should be open by July 2012, with much of the construction work being done off-site.

The development sits on the site of a demolished retail and industrial estate which was left vacant for use in the now-scrapped Greenwich Waterfront Transit scheme.

Concerns were raised about the height of the building, with Cllr Roberts commenting that it seemed to face its car park rather than the Woolwich Road. The Greenwich Conservation Group said the design was “mediocre” and the lobby looked “mean and uninviting”.

How the site looks now, facing Woolwich Road

How the development will affect the road junction at Victoria Way was left undecided after local resident Simon Hall called for the zebra crossing to be moved west, to line up with a revamped footpath and cycle route through to the Asda supermarket. It was decided the scheme’s backers should have more discussions with local residents and planning officials on what to do about the junction.

Mr Hall, who lives on Woolwich Road, told the meeting he was worried about the junction being made more complicated with the addition of a hotel.

“I’ve lived there for 11 years, and I dread crossing the road, especially with my two-year-old daughter. We’re keen that this is sorted out,” he said, adding he would prefer to see traffic lights at the junction.

Council planners, who had originally proposed moving the junction 2.5 metres to the east, said discussions with Transport for London had ruled out traffic lights at the junction, and creating a crossroads there would not be feasible.

But Cllr Roberts supported Mr Hall, saying: “I don’t care what the mayor thinks about traffic lights – if it needs traffic lights, it needs traffic lights.”

Mr Hall also called for the hotel to invest in signage to promote attractions in Charlton such as Charlton House, the village and the Thames Barrier. He saw his suggestion adapted as a condition in the planning application to promote local tourism.

Plumstead councillor Sajid Jawaid, a former resident of the area, said he was “really glad” to see the site being developed, but said Mr Hall’s ideas “need to be taken seriously”.

Kidbrooke with Hornfair councillor Hayley Fletcher said: “It is refreshing to hear a [planning] applicant that is listening to local people.”

The Charlton Champion was mentioned in the hearing, with reference made to the 92% of respondents to a poll on this site who backed the construction of the hotel.

The same planning meeting also endorsed the construction of a “skywalk” at the O2 in Greenwich – for news of that, read greenwich.co.uk.

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School plan for Hervey Road sports field dropped


A little outside this site’s normal area, but still worth noting anyway. Plans to build a school on a sports ground in Hervey Road, Kidbrooke were formally dropped by Greenwich Council at its cabinet meeting last night.

The council had planned to move Willow Dene special school from its current site in Plumstead to Hervey Road. It was claimed it would replace outdated facilities at the school’s original site, while the new location would be easier for pupils to travel to.

However, with the scheme facing years of delays because of planning issues about building on open space, the council formally backed down last night and endorsed plans to rebuild Willow Dene on its existing site at Swingate Lane.

In the years since the council first proposed the scheme, the Hervey Road field has become dilapidated – with locals taking advantage of holes in the fence to use it as an unofficial park.

The Save Hervey Road Sports Field group now hopes to keep the site as an open space in community use. It does seem bizarre that with Greenwich borough hosting Olympic events next year, that the council has been content to let a sports field go to rack and ruin – hopefully it can be put to better use in the months and years to come.

Travelodge scheme gets boost from council


Greenwich Council officers have recommended councillors approve plans to build a 120-bed Travelodge hotel on a derelict Woolwich Road site.

The hotel, together with a small supermarket and restaurant/cade, would “positively contribute to the character and appearance of the surrounding area”, according to a report put together for the council’s planning board ahead of its meeting next week.

Conditions proposed include restricting the supermarket from opening beyond 8am-10pm on weekdays, and making the cafe/restaurant – which will be at the back of the site, next to Greenwich Shopping Park – close by 11pm each day.

The development sits on the site of a demolished retail/industrial estate which was left vacant for use in the now-scrapped Greenwich Waterfront Transit scheme.

Council planners say the new hotel should be open for the Olympics, generating 11 full-time and 27 part-time jobs, and should have “a positive knock on effect for local businesses, in particular local public houses and restaurants in the Charlton area”.

The footpath towards Asda would be widened and re-surfaced to provide a combined cycle/footway link. “A scheme of lighting is proposed, which together with lowgrowing planting will provide an open, attractive and safe route,” planners say. The zebra crossing at the foot of Victoria Way would be moved slightly to the east, along with a bus stop.

Also coming before the planning board on 28 July will be a scheme to divide one of the retail units at Stone Lake Retail Park into two, and a proposal to build a “Skywalk” on top of the O2 in Greenwich.

Mayor’s cash for Charlton Lido refurbishment


A bit late with this, but it’s been confirmed that Charlton Lido’s long-delayed refurbishment has been given a boost with a grant from the Mayor of London, part of a £12m scheme to develop grassroots sport across the capital. GLL is to develop a heated pool at the lido for next summer, which last opened in 2009 before the failed scheme to turn it into a diving centre.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “From hockey in Hillingdon to karate in Kingston, we are storming ahead to revamp facilities and increase sports participation across the board. This investment, which sees some hugely important match funding being pledged, is fantastic news for Londoners of all ages and abilities from across the city. I am absolutely clear that to create a lasting legacy from the London Games, we must do all we can to get people out of their living rooms and into physical activity.”

Meanwhile, work has started on the BMX track in Hornfair Park – you can hear a debate on the issue from the last meeting of Greenwich Council (on 29 June) below, featuring campaigner Toni Hale, Conservative leader Spencer Drury (8 mins 40 secs in), and leisure cabinet member John Fahy (9 mins 50 secs in).

Separately, one of the entrances to the park, on Charlton Park Lane, is closed until 25 July for works to fix a water leak – but other entrances remain open. The park is now supposed to be closed at nights – although I’ve seen the gates open at 11pm recently. Is the council living up to its promises?

Valley of doom – will you miss this lost pub?


The old Valley pub on Elliscombe Road has been demolished ahead of its conversion into flats. Opened by former Charlton Athletic player Harold Hobbis in the 1960s, the pub fell into decline in its final years and closed in the summer of 2008 following a robbery. Nine flats are to be built on the site.

The Valley pub

The old pub did feature a huge photo of The Valley in its glory days as one of the country’s biggest stadiums. I believe that it was saved for posterity before the building was knocked down, unless you know different…

Meet Maryon Wilson Park’s newest arrivals

A little note from the Save The Animals in Maryon Wilson Park campaign…

The two fawns were born in the park’s deer enclosure last week.

“We’d been expecting the arrival of one baby deer, but two healthy fawns being born in the same week was a lovely surprise,” said a local resident who passes the deer enclosure daily.

“As I walked past the pen early one morning, I saw a tiny face pop out of the nettle patch, blink at me and then disappear again. I couldn’t believe it. A beautiful, healthy, baby deer.”

The two fawns spent most of their first few days hiding from their adoring public in the nettle patches in the enclosure. The two mothers returned to the babies every four hours or so to give them milk. Born in an Olympic borough, the two fawns soon found their running feet and within days were cantering around with their mums.

The new arrivals have received many visitors including local children from Pound Park Nursery. Head teacher Sheena Gilby said, “It’s wonderful for the park to have some baby deer. We’ll be taking more of our children along to meet them. The animal centre is a much loved and important learning tool for us at the nursery.”

“I’ve lived in the area all my life,” said Nathan Lobb, who brought his two-year-old son Sam to the park, especially to see the new fawns. “They’re beautiful. To see them racing around in the sunshine is lovely for Sam. He’s still to watch ‘Bambi’, but now in his local park he can see baby deer for himself. He was captivated.”

Beautiful though they are, these real-life Bambis are under a threat as serious as any faced by their film counterpart. The entire animal centre in Maryon Wilson Park is still under threat of closure following sweeping budget cuts by the Council. The public was told earlier this year that funding for the centre will end in April 2012, implying that the animals will be shipped out and the stockman made redundant.

This has aroused much local anger and an amazing 7000 plus people have now signed a petition calling on Greenwich Council to find a way to maintain funding and save the Centre. The two young deer should be allowed to live out their lives as part of the Charlton herd where they were born, but will the council let them?

The petition can be signed at http://media.causes.com/ribbon/988480 – and more information about the campaign can be found via the Friends of Maryon and Maryon Wilson Parks.