King’s Troop horses to take over Charlton Park

Part of Charlton Park is to be used by the King’s Troop horses for exercise while Woolwich Common is out of bounds for the Olympic Games, it has emerged.

The Charlton Champion understands Olympic organisers are paying for a temporary entrance is to be created for the 111 horses and their riders to enter the park, and they will be allocated a “designated area”.

However, it is unclear what area of the park is to be used or how long they will be using the park – popular with scores of Sunday league footballers – for.

The only warning park users have had has been two small signs at entrances to the park (thanks to Helen for the photo above of the sign at Cemetery Lane), while “beware – horses” signs have been erected on Charlton Park Lane. No news has been released by Greenwich Council, and there is no information on its website.

The King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery only moved into their new base in Repository Road, Woolwich, in February. With much of Woolwich Common being taken over for Olympic and Paralympic events this summer, the army’s ceremonial unit needed a nearby open space on which to exercise their horses. It is understood the decision to use Charlton Park was only taken earlier this month.

Roads have been closed across Woolwich Common to allow the shooting test event, the ISSF World Cup (see video of it here) to take place. A further test, the London Para Archery International Tournament, will take place between Friday and Sunday.

Meanwhile, locals are awaiting details from Greenwich Council on what parking restrictions will be put into place for the Olympics. It had been announced last year that all streets in Charlton would be placed in some kind of permit zone, but with less than 90 days to go to the opening ceremony, no news has been announced.


Councillors set to decide on controversial cafe scheme

A plan to convert an estate agency in Charlton Church Lane into a cafe goes before Greenwich councillors on Wednesday night.

Rashpal Dhesi is applying for “change of use” permission to open a “sandwich bar/coffee shop” on the premises, which were previously a minicab office, and before that part of the old main post office.

The council has received three letters and a 29-signature petition opposing the plan, with residents saying the area is already well-served with similar outlets, such as the long-established Valley Cafe.

Council officers have recommended the scheme be approved, on condition that sound insulation is installed and opening hours are restricted to 7am-5pm on weekdays and Saturdays, and 9am-4pm on Sundays.

The building, constructed as a post office in the 1960s, has recently had flats built on top of it. Greenwich Council’s Woolwich and Thamesmead Planning Committee is due to decide on Mr Dhesi’s application on Wednesday.

Council backs amended plans for Charlton riverside

On Monday night Greenwich Council’s cabinet agreed to adopt the masterplan for Charlton riverside.

This follows a four week period of consultation and a new document being drafted after responses from the public.

The main differences to this new version are the following:

1) The designated area now encompasses Charlton station.

2) A firmer commitment to downgrade Woolwich Road.

3) A mention of a green bridge as one option for a crossing at the eastern section of Woolwich Road.

4)  A nod towards enhancing Charlton railway station and improving its connections with other modes of transport.

5) The idea for a marina has changed to “leisure activities on the waterfront” due to concerns from the Port of London Authority that it would interfere with other river uses.

6) There’s a sentence added that calls for a limiting of retail uses in Charlton “to support the aspirations of Woolwich becoming a metropolitan centre”, which possibly came after pressure from investment vehicle Powis Street Estates who own buildings in the heart of the town. A council officer at the meeting stated that any new planning applications for the retail park would have to fulfill impact assessments so as not to take trade away from Woolwich.

Residents also addressed the cabinet at the meeting. Some representing local groups such as CRAG, the Charlton Society and the Westcombe Society. Each underlined the main themes from their formal responses. There were calls for Charlton to be seen as a whole and for residents and businesses to be involved as much as possible. The traversing of Woolwich Road was highlighted as key as well as improving our streetscapes.

Charlton Champion reader Ashleigh Marsh also raised the point that blogs (like this one) should form part of the consultation process, or at least noted.

Before the meeting a crowd had gathered outside Woolwich Town Hall protesting at the potential loss of businesses and the poor consultation. On further investigation it’s believed that this lobby group were actually the Christ Faith Tabernacle Church. They’ve recently been in the news with their battle to take over the former Gala Bingo building in Woolwich – something Woolwich’s masterplan conflicts directly with. Why they weren’t more up front with their intentions is beyond me, but it might have something to do with council statistics showing only 10% of these objectors live within the borough.

It’s probably best not to get too carried away and come back to what a supplementary planning document actually is. My own knowledge tells me that it will complement the overall plan for the borough. It will add to a “core strategy” and will be taken into consideration in future planning applications.

This point was reiterated by councillors and officers on Monday night. Council leader Chris Roberts added:

“Changes won’t necessarily happen overnight, next week or next year. This is a think-through as to what might happen when traditional industry moves on.”

I’m guessing the next step will be to confirm the actual core strategy.

Keep your eyes peeled for another consultation period.