’40 Victoria Way’ development – exhibition this Thursday

Last summer, developers Galliard Homes won an appeal against Greenwich Council refusing it planning permission for over 200 flats and office space on a site catchily called “land to the rear of 40 Victoria Way” – the long-disused Thorn Lighting plant which sits behind Gurdon Road.

Councillors had thrown out the “Constellation” scheme in November 2009, largely because of pollution and noise levels around the land, adjacent to the A102 Blackwall Tunnel approach road – although Galliard had already pre-sold plots to homebuyers.

One of the biggest worries was that the main entry/exit to the site would be through sleepy Fairthorn Road. When the Thorn plant was up and running, traffic for that was routed via Victoria Way. But the adjacent industrial units on the rest of the 40 Victoria Way site were still due to stay in place – meaning a big change for Fairthorn Road.

Now there are changes to the plan, with Fairview New Homes taking the site on, and seeking to “update and enhance” the scheme – whatever that means.

There’s a public exhibition taking place from 3pm-8pm this Thursday at the Grand Salon in Charlton House (through the foyer, turn left, and up the stairs). It’s the first this website has heard of the event, so it might be worth asking just how seriously Fairview is taking this “consultation”.

It should also give the Charlton Riverside Action Group something to get their teeth into this Wednesday…


Would you change Charlton’s biggest traffic intersection?

Allow me a moment to run something past you. Above is the Woolwich Road/ Bugsby’s Way/ Charlton Church Lane interchange, I’m sure you’re familiar with it. If you were TfL and you had an opportunity to redevelop these crossroads, what would you do?

Would you try to funnel more traffic into Bugsby’s Way? Would you restrict more traffic from entering the narrow Charlton Church Lane? Would you make it more pedestrian friendly? Would you give more access for bicycles? Would a new set of traffic lights in Woolwich Road demand a rethink of this junction? Would you keep it like it is?

What will Charlton’s riverside look like in five years?

This website has brought you news on future and proposed developments. Sainsbury’s are inviting residents to give feedback on their plans for the area. But what does all this mean as a whole? How could the area alter over time and what role are the council playing in this? Please accept this invitation (see below) to attend the second meeting for the Charlton Riverside Action Group.

This meeting – perhaps more of a forum – is for residents, stakeholders and proprietors of the riverside and beyond. We hope to have in attendance representatives from Greenwich Council, Transport for London, community managers, property developers and land owners. But we also need you, a person who’s interested and cares about Charlton and what the future has in store for it.

Hope to see you there. While we’re waiting here’s part of the council’s strategic development plan, laid out earlier this year:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Sainsbury’s and M&S development: What’s in a name?

Did you get along to the exhibition about the plans for a new Sainsbury’s and M&S? Reservations about inviting even more traffic to the area aside, it all looks fine to me, and I like the developers’ ambitions to try to open up new routes to the riverside.

I do know one senior figure on Greenwich Council – Woolwich Riverside councillor John Fahy – has voiced reservations that further developing Charlton’s retail offerings could damage Woolwich town centre. He’s got a point, but that’s not stopped Greenwich Council before. Bearing in mind the first retail barns opened 30 years ago, and Asda was unveiled in 1984, that ship seems to have sailed away a long time ago.

But I do have one quibble. The name. Currently, the development has the working title of The Meridian Centre. But the meridian is in Greenwich, and this is in Charlton. So surely it should have a name which celebrates SE7, rather than clinging to the skirt of SE10? It’s bad enough having the “Greenwich Shopping Park” sat down the road.

But what, though? Most of the street names in the area have connections with the river – Gallions Road, Bugsbys Way, Derrick Gardens, Anchor & Hope Lane. Actually, the Anchor & Hope Centre could be nice, even if it sounds like the pub’s gained a huge extension. Or what about one of the big, long-gone riverside industries?

Maybe a celebration of the football club? Bartram Parade? The Valley Centre? The Sir Chris Powell Shopping Park?

I’m flailing around a bit here, but The Meridian Centre just doesn’t cut it for me. If you have any suggestions, share them here. This could be your chance to leave your mark.

Boundary changes should unite Charlton, says Raynsford

Indus Road: Left side in Greenwich & Woolwich, right side in Eltham

Charlton should be reunited under one parliamentary constituency, Greenwich & Woolwich MP Nick Raynsford told a public hearing into proposed boundary changes on Monday.

The area has been split between Mr Raynsford’s seat and Clive Efford’s Eltham constituency since the last election, but proposed changes provided an opportunity to bring Charlton back under one MP, he said.

A Boundary Commission report suggests splitting the Greenwich & Woolwich seat as part of nationwide changes designed to cut the number of MPs – leaving Charlton divided between a new Woolwich seat and an Eltham constituency that would stretch as far as Sidcup and Blackfen.

But Mr Raynsford told the hearing at Lewisham Town Hall he endorses an alternative proposal put forward by the London Labour Party, which would see Greenwich and Woolwich retained, gaining Lewisham borough’s Blackheath ward and the Kidbrooke with Hornfair ward which takes in the southern part of Charlton.

This, he said, would mean both Greenwich and Blackheath would both be represented by one MP (current plans would split Greenwich) and, Charlton, “a community with a historic core”, would also be reunited he said.

Referring to Charlton House’s position “at the heart” of the area, he said the boundary between the Greenwich & Woolwich and Eltham seats “comes almost to the southern edge of Charlton House”.

Current arrangements do not “comfortably represent Charlton as a community”, he added. At present the border between the two seats runs along Indus Road and Canberra Road.

Labour’s proposals for south-east London seats also include the creation of a new Eltham & Plumstead constituency and retaining the Erith & Thamesmead seat currently represented by Teresa Pearce. While the Boundary Commission suggests a new Deptford & Greenwich seat, Labour suggests a Deptford & Nunhead seat as well as retaining an expanded Greenwich & Woolwich.

The hearing continues tomorrow, with Clive Efford and representatives of Greenwich borough’s Conservatives and Liberal Democrats due to speak.

Wednesday update: Here’s the local Conservatives’ take on the boundary issues. Local Liberal Democrats also support the Boundary Commissions proposed changes.

Spooky goings-on at Charlton House this weekend

Once again, this Halloween Charlton House will play host to a ghostly performance by Phantasmagoria Events. Tours run every 15 mins on Saturday 29th October and Sunday 30th October between 7pm and 9pm. Every tour lasts one hour and tickets are available at Greenwich Theatre’s website. Here’s the ghoulish description of their show:

Way back in time, when gods and monster rules an ancient land, an iron age community lived near the site. They created a portal to the spirit world – From the four corners of Greenwich, a legion of the borough’s most horrid and historical phantoms are drawn to the imposing Jacobean mansion. Once a year, at Halloween the portal opens to allow the trapped spirits to ascend to a higher realm. In order for the ancient magic to work, 13 spirits are needed. However, there is a catch. Only 12 spirits are in the house. They meet you, greet you, tell you there story, however they are watching you like a hawk. You could be the 13th. 

There is actually a real ghost that lurks through the halls of Charlton House (no, really!). It’s said to be Sir William Langhorne who bought the house in 1680. At the age of 80 he married a 17-year-old bride from Charlton Village. He was desperate to have a child to inherit his wealth but died two months after the wedding before his wife had conceived. He still haunts the grounds in the hope of finding a fertile bride.

Perhaps even more scary is that back in the 1990s GMTV devoted a whole five minutes of programming to this story, anchored by the timeless Lorraine Kelly. Enjoy:

Charlton drivers could need Olympics parking permits

Remember these? In 1999, a controlled parking zone was introduced across parts of Charlton, Blackheath and Greenwich because of fears the area would be overrun by Millennium Dome visitors sneakily avoiding the “no-car zone” around the peninsula.

As everyone knows, visitor numbers for the Dome were wildly overestimated, and if I remember correctly, the restrictions were lifted with a month or two to go. The parking bays stayed, though, and some controlled parking zones were created – in Charlton, one was created around the station. In other areas, parking remained – and remains – free in the spaces.

But the permits could return for the Olympics. It’s already been confirmed that the Charlton controlled parking zone will run from 0830-2100 seven days a week between 28 July and 6 August, and 30 August and 6 September 2012 to stop people parking up to visit the North Greenwich Arena (Dome/ O2).

But residents and visitors outside the zone could have to use Olympic permits under plans to ensure that visitors to the Dome, Greenwich Park and the Royal Artillery Barracks don’t park in back streets and take the train instead, according to plans revealed by LOCOG today.

(Longer term, it’s likely those streets could become part of parking zones as part of Greenwich Council spending cuts. But that’s another story.)

I’ve written more about the plans on 853, but you can find out more on Friday between 9am-6pm, and Saturday between 9am-5pm, at an exhibition at Devonport House, King William Walk, Greenwich. It’s worth a look – even if you don’t drive or have a car – because life around here is going to be very different for a few weeks next summer, and forewarned is forearmed…