Charltemon: What to watch out for as Pokemon Go comes to SE7

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Never mind the new cabinet, Brexit or whatever our new mayor’s up to, for some people the biggest news right now will be that Pokemon Go is available to download in the UK from today. You might not ever have attempted to catch imaginary monsters to train them to fight before – I certainly never had, here’s a handy introduction – but you will likely know someone who will be very keen to hit the streets of SE7, smartphone in hand, to collect as many creatures as possible.

In brief, Pokemon Go is an ‘augmented reality’ game: using the GPS tracker in your smartphone, you need to walk to pre-defined places in the real world to find things and meet goals in the game. We downloaded the free app, took a walk, and found that Charlton has its share of monsters and other landmarks.

You might have younger kids who want to play but you’re concerned about letting them loose on their own – the NSPCC has concerns about the game being played by unaccompanied children, for example.

We thought it might be helpful if you could decide a bit more about what the game entails before you make decisions about your kids playing, so we had half an hour’s wander around the Village, Charlton Park and Charlton Church Lane, and this map (obvious spoilers there for older Pokemon trainers) shows what we found.

There are a couple of things for Charlton parents and players to be wary of: one Pokemon gym can be found at the rope sculpture on the corner of Woolwich Road and Anchor & Hope Lane, next to the busiest road crossing in Charlton.  

When I was wandering around there were a couple of Pokemon to be found on a private road near Charlton Park, and I really didn’t feel comfortable loitering near a block of flats doing something that looked like I might be taking photos with my phone so I had to let those ones go.

On the other hand, if you do decide to make a family outing out of a monster hunt, it might be useful to know that the White Swan is a Pokestop.

Have you played it? Have you found other things to be found around here that you can share with the rest of us? Is there a Pokemon Gym outside your front door? Let us know in the comments.

Charlton Village Conservation Area: There’s still time to have your say

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Charlton Assembly Rooms: recommended for national listing

Have you seen Greenwich Council’s recent proposals on Charlton’s conservation area?

If you haven’t commented on the council’s proposed changes to Charlton’s conservation area yet, there’s still time. The consultation closes at 5pm on Tuesday 5th May and is based on two documents that can be found here.  The first document is the Draft Character Appraisal, which is an easy and interesting read covering the architectural history and character of the area.

The authors argue that ‘countryside in the city’ is “one of the area’s most significant and defining characteristics” and that “the extent to which Charlton Village can accommodate further development – at least without significant compromise to its historic character – is probably limited”.

The risks to Charlton’s character identified are the loss of retail uses, unsympathetic extensions, redevelopment of historic properties, infill development and the loss and replacement of features.

The council go on to explain how they hope to manage the challenges of conservation in the Draft Management Strategy, which suggests it will:

  • Extend the current conservation area to cover properties at the top of Charlton Church Lane, properties in Lansdowne Lane and south west Hornfair Park, including the Lido
  • Restrict the colours and signage available to shops in The Village, and provide a design guide to be followed for future changes
  • Set a target of 50% of properties in The Village to be used for retail businesses
  • Put the Assembly rooms forward for national statutory listing
  • Add further properties to the local listing to give them some protection against future development:
    • properties on Charlton Church Lane, The Village and Lansdowne Lane
    • the east lodge in Charlton Park
    • The chapels in Charlton cemetery
    • Charlton Lido

The authors write that they considered extending the conservation area to include Maryon and Maryon Wilson Parks, the inter-war houses near Charlton Park, and the Victorian and Edwardian housing north east of Charlton Park and also to the north and north west of the Village. These proposals are not being taken forward: the parks have a sufficient degree of protection from various other measures, and the areas of housing don’t offer sufficient historic interest or rarity in the context of London.

Are these the right things for the council’s planning department to focus on? Do you agree that signs and paint should be more closely controlled in the village?  Should the conservation area be extended further?

We’re thrilled that the Lido will have another layer of protection against redevelopment: is there anywhere else in Charlton that should benefit from similar protection? Let us know in the comments below.

Do you have the broadband you need in Charlton? Greenwich Council would like to know

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Recent broadband speed test results for Charlton, taken from broadbandspeedchecker.co.uk

Keen readers of the council’s Greenwich Time paper will have spotted that this week’s front page story was about how the council has given permission for a start-up company to trial its grocery-delivering robots in Thamesmead. This is the latest announcement under its Smart City strategy, and the publicity has played heavily on futuristic self-driving cars and robots.

There’s a lot more to the Smart City strategy that the council published last year than that, though, which is worth a read if technology infrastructure and planning is your thing.  The document spends very little time talking about shopping robots and concentrates more on whether Greenwich borough will have the right digital infrastructure for the future, along with whether the council can make more use of open data and internet-enabled sensors on council premises.

You might have missed, meanwhile, that the council would like to know more about your experience of using broadband services in the borough.

There’s a survey here, open until April 23rd, and it’s probably in the long-term interests of anyone struggling with connectivity to fill it in so that the scale of any problems are known.

Back in 2013, we reported that Charlton was supposed to have London’s fastest broadband – is that still right? How is your internet connection? Do you run a business dependent on internet connection or work from home in Charlton and how do you get on? What would you tell the council about the digital future that it hasn’t asked?