‘Say no to Sherington becoming an academy’: School campaigners launch petition

Sherington Primary School
Governors are looking at options for Sherington’s future

Campaigners have launched a petition against plans to turn Sherington Primary School into an academy, taking it out of Greenwich Council’s control.

The school’s governors are looking at options for the school’s future which could include becoming part of an academy chain.

In a letter issued to parents last month, the school confirmed it was considering its future arrangements because “we can’t sit back and let the future take care of itself”.

Local MP Matt Pennycook, who attended a meeting of parents and staff at Charlton House last night, has said he is “puzzled and concerned” by the move.

“I know of no pressing challenges that require this outstanding local school to consider altering its existing structure, let alone a robust case for rushing toward a decision in principle to convert to an academy in the near future,” he said after the news broke.

The petition can be found at https://www.change.org/p/sherington-governing-body-we-say-no-to-sherington-primary-converting-to-an-academy.


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Charlton Assembly Rooms given Grade II listing by Historic England

Charlton Assembly Rooms
Part of the frontage of Charlton Assembly Rooms (photo: Neil Clasper)

The Assembly Rooms in Charlton Village have been given a Grade II listing by Historic England in recognition of the building’s special architectural and historic interest.

Opened in 1881 and funded by Sir Spencer Maryon-Wilson, whose family lived at Charlton House, the building continues to function as a community facility and is currently run by the Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust.

It was used by Siemens for war production before being handed over to St Luke’s Church in 1946. But by the early 1970s, the building was under threat of demolition. It was saved by the Save Charlton Assembly Rooms Project, which handed the building to Greenwich Council in 1983.

Historic England says:

The Charlton Assembly Rooms, a community hall of 1881, designed by J Rowland in the Jacobean Revival style, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:
* a good example of a late-C19 Jacobean Revival style community hall, designed in an exuberant, thoughtful and richly decorated form;
* good quality materials are used to strong architectural effect, including red brick, terracotta and stone detailing;
* the exterior of the hall is little altered, and the interior retains its original plan and stage.

Historical interest:
* the assembly rooms illustrate the continued influence of Charlton House and the Church of St Luke with Holy Trinity on the community of Charlton during the late-C19 and C20;
* as an example of Victorian philanthropy, and the impact of a wealthy benefactor on community hall design.

Group value:
* with the Grade I Charlton House, through their shared Jacobean design characteristics and mutual benefactor;
* with the Grade II* Church of St Luke with Holy Trinity, with which it shares some classically inspired design characteristics, and through C20 use and ownership.

You can read more on the Historic England website.

18-32 Bowater Road
English Heritage has opted not to list 18-32 Bowater Road (photo: Neil Clasper)

Meanwhile, Historic England has issued a “certificate of immunity” for one of the former Siemens factory blocks by the Thames Barrier, 18-32 Bowater Road, meaning it cannot be given a national listing in the next five years.

Developer U+I plans to redevelop the site, keeping this building but demolishing adjacent 37 Bowater Road, as part of a scheme to build shops, offices and up to 520 homes. Both sites are locally listed by Greenwich Council.

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Housing campaigners plan public meeting on Rockwell Charlton Riverside development

The planned development would be built here, behind Atlas and Derrick Gardens

Housing campaigners are to hold a public meeting on Monday 8 October about developer Rockwell’s plans to build 771 homes off Anchor and Hope Lane.

London mayor Sadiq Khan overturned Greenwich Council’s refusal of the scheme during the summer, meaning City Hall will now decide on the application.

The Charlton Champion understands a new proposal has been submitted to the mayor’s office, however it has not yet been made public.

Khan’s decision to “call in” the decision came with criticism of Greenwich Council for not allowing enough “affordable” housing in recent years – Rockwell’s scheme would have 32.4% “affordable” housing.

Residents in nearby Atlas and Derrick Gardens – built in the early 20th century for workers at the nearby Cory bargeworks – say the Rockwell development will loom over their homes and deny them natural light.

Atlas Gardens
Residents in Atlas and Derrick Gardens say the new development would loom over their homes

Local businesses have also voiced fears that they will have to move or close, saying the new development’s residents will not want them as neighbours.

Rockwell’s plans for 32.4% of the units to be “affordable” housing were inserted into the scheme at the last minute. Of those, 162 would be for London Affordable Rent – roughly £150/week for a one-bedroom flat – and aimed at those on low incomes, with the remaining available for shared ownership.

Greenwich Housing Forum recently held a meeting to discuss Greenwich Council’s plans to sell land at The Heights as well as on estates off Lewisham Road and Kidbrooke Park Road to developer Pocket Living. Video of that meeting can be seen here.

The meeting on the Rockwell scheme will be held at 7.30pm on Monday 8 October at Charlton House.

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Have your say: TfL confirms 53 bus cutback – and it’ll be less frequent, too

Route 53 bus in Whitehall
Route 53 at Whitehall: It won’t go here again if TfL has its way

Transport for London has confirmed its plans to cut the 53 bus back to County Hall – and will make it less frequent too under new plans out for consultation today.

Plans to withdraw the 53, a lifeline for thousands of local workers, between County Hall and Whitehall were leaked last month. Now TfL is asking passengers what they think of the plans.

One aspect not previously highlighted in the leaked plans is that TfL plans to cut the 53 back to every eight minutes. TfL says it currently runs every seven-and-a-half minutes, but the full timetable shows it runs as frequently as every five minutes around 6am, when the service is heavily used.

The cut to the 53 – which runs from Plumstead via Woolwich, Charlton, Blackheath, Deptford, New Cross and the Old Kent Road to Whitehall – is part of 33 changes to routes in central London.

TfL, which is chaired by mayor Sadiq Khan, says: “The last time there was such a comprehensive review of the central London bus network was before the Congestion Charge was introduced. As a result there are some extremely complicated and inefficient sections of the road network. Some roads in central London, such as Kingsway in Holborn, are now served by more than 100 buses an hour, many of which are significantly underused. This oversupply of buses can cause congestion, slowing down journey times and worsening reliability, air quality and road safety.

“If no action is taken, GLA figures show that by 2041, three days would be lost per person every year due to congestion on London’s roads, and 50,000 hours would be lost to slower bus speeds in the morning peak every day.

“Passengers can now use the Mayor’s Hopper Fare to change buses unlimited times within an hour for just £1.50.”

A 7am journey on the 53 from Charlton Park School is timetabled to take one hour to reach Elephant & Castle, at 8am the journey takes 66 minutes.

The consultation can be filled in at: https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/buses/16b1c48f/

‘Our plans will help reduce pollution’

Geoff Hobbs, Director of Public Transport Service Planning at TfL, said: “Buses have a crucial role to play in boosting the number of people using public transport, but they can’t do this without reflecting how London has changed. It is only right that we reassess the network after the significant changes in both London’s infrastructure and how Londoners choose to travel. Londoners expect their buses to be where they are needed and run in an efficient and cost-effective manner and that’s what this review is about.

“Our proposals to reorganise the bus network would modernise bus travel in London by matching capacity with demand, reducing bus-on-bus congestion while enabling year-on-year increases in bus services in outer London. In adapting underused and inefficient services in central London, our plans will help reduce pollution that has such a damaging effect on the health on Londoners.

“Ultimately these changes, which are predominately minor route restructures or timetable adjustments, would create an efficient modern network with buses in the right places at the right times.”

Greenwich & Woolwich MP Matt Pennycook has already labelled the cut as an attack on “working class constituents”.

He said: “As things stand in rush hour most 53 buses are frequently overcrowded by the time they get up the hill to Charlton.

“We need more frequent services on this route, not cuts to services.

“But my main concern is the impact on the large numbers of my constituents who get up at the crack of dawn to make the long journey into central London on the 53 to work low-paid jobs (if you think I’m exaggerating just catch one before 6.30am one morning and see for yourself).

“For them, the long journey on the 53 all the way to Whitehall is the only means of transport that is affordable into central London and it is therefore indispensable.

“As such, difficult to escape the conclusion that cuts to this service will punish my working-class constituents and at the very moment that a new Crossrail station is opened in Woolwich that will inevitably pile pressure onto our already over-stretched local transport network.

“So let me be as clear as I can possibly be: I will do absolutely everything in my power to fight cuts to the 53 bus service.”

The consultation into the 53 bus cut ends on 9 November.

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Campaign launched to stop Sherington Primary School becoming an academy

Sherington Primary School
Campaigners say Sherington will suffer if it becomes an academy

Updated story: A row has broken out about the future of Sherington Primary School after a teaching union revealed it was in talks about possibly becoming an academy.

The school is currently under Greenwich Council control, but the National Education Union – the successor to the old National Union of Teachers – says it is due to start talks with the Leigh and Compass academy trusts.

In a letter issued to parents on Tuesday, the school has confirmed it is considering its future arrangements because “we can’t sit back and let the future take care of itself”.

One angry parent, Vicky Makepeace, has organised a meeting for fellow parents at Charlton House this Thursday (27th) at 10am.

She says: “My older two boys did really well at Sherington and enjoyed their time there. I want my youngest two children to have that experience.

“Turning the school into an academy will take away parents’ rights, kids’ rights and teachers’ rights. The school is not underachieving, academies don’t care about children with special needs, these kids will get pushed out by the academy or they will not support them. Sherington has caring teachers, support team and parents.”

‘No turning back’

Greenwich Council’s deputy leader David Gardner – who is also cabinet member for education – urged Sherington to stay with the council. He said the borough’s primary schools have “an excellent record” and Sherington had “thrived as an outstanding school rooted in the local community”.

He warned: “Academisation is not only a trip into the unknown, it is a one-way street with no turning back. If the academy chain fails, it just gets eaten up by another unaccountable chain. If the local council falls short in its support, we can be held to account; and as a community school it is run by its head and governors, not a remote chief executive.”

Leigh runs a number of schools and colleges in south-east London and north-west Kent, including Crown Woods Academy in Eltham, Halley Academy in Kidbrooke (the old Corelli College/Kidbrooke School) and the Leigh Academy Blackheath, which is due to take over the old Blackheath Bluecoat site. Compass runs schools in Greenwich borough including Halstow in east Greenwich, South Rise and Willow Dene in Plumstead and Wingfield in Kidbrooke.

The union says there are no plans to consult staff, and a decision could be made as soon as November.

‘Outstanding primary school’

Asked for comment on the story, Sherington head Karen Dennett sent The Charlton Champion a letter which has been issued to parents, inviting them to a presentation from an “independent education advisor” on 17 October.

It reads: “Sherington is an outstanding primary school. Our children make excellent academic progress, as shown by our results, and our broad curriculum fosters creativity and confidence.

“We’re determined to maintain our high standards, so we can’t sit back and let the future take care of itself. The Governing Body and Senior Leadership Team are obliged to keep their eyes on the horizon and set a strategic direction in the best interests of the school.

“With this in mind, the Governing Body and Senior Leadership team have been reviewing some alternative models for the way the school could in future be structured and funded.”

It adds that it hopes to make a decision by Christmas.

Academisation – where schools receive their funding directly from central government rather than a local council – has shot up the local political agenda in recent months after John Roan School in Blackheath was ordered to become an academy after being judged to be “inadequate” by inspectors from Ofsted. Campaigners are currently fighting the order, which would see it link up with the Mile End-based University Schools Trust chain, which runs the Greenwich Trust School on Woolwich Road.

(Story updated at 4pm on Tuesday to include Sherington’s confirmation and its letter to parents.)

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It’s Urban Harvest day at Maryon Park Community Garden this Saturday

Urban Harvest flyer

The Community Garden in Maryon Park is throwing open its doors this Saturday as part of Capital Growth’s Urban Harvest event. Its chair TIM ANDERSON explains more…

Get a taste of London's edible gardens by dropping in to Maryon Park Community Garden in Charlton, one of Capital Growth’s flagship gardens, from 10am to 4pm.

Capital Growth is London’s largest food growing network, with over 2,000 gardens throughout the city.

At the Maryon Park Community Organic Food Growing Garden, activities include:
• Tours of the Garden and Forest School.
• Display of photos from the 1966 cult film Blow Up that was shot in Maryon Park.
• Activities for children: Making bird feeders.
• Pizza oven fired up from 12noon, bring your own dough and toppings
• Refreshments: Organic teas & coffee, cake and herb teas
• Jams and Chutney Sale
• Wood Craft Sale with Bird Boxes
• Plant and Cacti Sale

In the Community Garden Forest School area there will be a free Family Outdoor Art Workshop from 2pm to 3pm, lad by Simon Woodward from the Community Outdoor Art Therapy Service.

How to find the Community Garden: Enter Maryon Park from the main entrance in Maryon Road, follow the path to the left past the park lodge and find the Community Garden at the end of the park perimeter fence. Look out for the signs and bunting.

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Charlton Riverside: Developer U+I plans to demolish former Siemens factory building

37 Bowater Road
37 Bowater Road is set for demolition under the developer’s plans (photo: Neil Clasper)

Developer U+I has revealed it wants to demolish one of the remaining Siemens cable factory buildings on the Charlton riverside as part of a plan to build shops, offices and up to 520 homes.

The property giant, which recently completed the Deptford Market Yard development, has asked Greenwich Council if it needs to carry out an environmental assessment into the plans to develop land, which covers two streets in the Westminster Industrial Estate on the Charlton/Woolwich border: Bowater Road and Faraday Way.

Until 1968, this was home to the giant Siemens cable works, and many of the buildings remain in place. Several of them have recently been given local listing status by Greenwich Council, which has created a conservation area. U+I wants to demolish one of them, 37 Bowater Road, and keep the others.

Charlton Riverside Masterplan
The masterplan backs riverside towers near the Thames Barrier

Just as with the recent Flint Glass Wharf proposal, this is in an area where 10-storey blocks have been permitted (see map above).

37 Bowater Road
37 Bowater Road is the building on the right of the new “missing link” cycle route

‘One of London’s largest factories’

A heritage assessment of the area commissioned by Greenwich Council says: “The south side of Bowater Road represents a step change in the scale of the works development from about 1911.

“The first building to be constructed is a much larger L-shaped building of 5 storeys plus basement was built for making rubber coated copper wire cable. It adopts new structural technologies, made possible by new regulations granted in the London Building Act of 1909, and employs a reinforced concrete frame beneath a Fletton brick shell.

“The adoption of new technologies made it possible to include much larger steel framed windows externally and wider spans between support columns internally, creating a lighter and clearer working environment overall.

37 Bowater Road. Photo: Neil Clasper

“The building was designed by Herbert and Helland, Siemens’ in-house architects. This was one of London’s largest factories when built and an early adopter of the new construction methods.

“The building has a matching extension of 1942, built at the height of the wartime production effort, after extensive bomb damage on the adjacent site must have placed extreme pressure on the works’ resources.” (You can read the rest in Chapters 3 and 4 here.)

The striking white building which runs along the north of the site, 18 Bowater Road, is proposed to be kept, although it is currently in poor condition. (See page 14 here for a map of the site.)

This is still a relatively early stage of the planning process, so no designs or details on “affordable” homes have yet been submitted.

37 Bowater Road
37 Bowater Road is on the left of this photo

For more details, and to comment on the proposal, search for 18/3148/EIA at planning.royalgreenwich.gov.uk.

See also From The Murky Depths‘ take on the scheme.

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