A New Year story from Charlton Cemetery

Charlton Cemetery (photo by Leslie Archard used under Creative Commons)

On the last day of 2018 – an email from Ann Olson…

On Sunday 7th October my husband and I visited the McIntosh family grave at Charlton Cemetery after having flown in from Sweden the previous day. We had no flowers with us but after a while we spotted a middle-aged couple and I went over to ask if there was a flower shop in the area. The lady said that October 7th would have been her mother’s birthday and they immediately offered to share their flowers with me!

I was quite overcome – this act of kindness could only happen in England I thought to myself…

I would truly like to thank this lovely couple once again and wish them all the very best as we enter the New Year 2019. I would be so grateful if you could find a space to put this in a paper covering the Woolwich/Charlton area.

My maiden name was McIntosh and my great-grandfather started a watch repair business on Thomas Street, Woolwich which passed to my paternal grandfather Robert McIntosh who lived in Heathwood Gardens. I used to stay with them during school holidays.

Later my father, Douglas Robert McIntosh took over the business which had expanded to jewellery, rings, silverware, etc as well as watch repairs. After my father’s retirement, the old shops were taken down and a small community park now stands on the very spot.

Ann Olson
Ann Olson at the McIntosh family grave

If you helped Ann in the cemetery that day, drop us a line and we’ll put you in touch.

On that note, thank you for your support of The Charlton Champion in 2018 – have a happy new year.


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Greenwich Ikea opening date revealed: Store faces Addicks test on its debut weekend

There are widespread fears Ikea will bring traffic gridlock to Greenwich and Charlton

The first weekend of trading at east Greenwich’s new Ikea store will coincide with a big match at Charlton Athletic’s ground, threatening serious traffic issues across the area.

Yesterday the Swedish flat-pack furniture giant confirmed it would open its doors on Thursday 7 February. Signage appeared on the building, on the site of the former “eco” Sainsbury’s supermarket, two weeks ago and stock is already being taken into the giant blue store.

Past openings have led to chaotic scenes – most notoriously in Edmonton, north London, where five people were taken to hospital in 2005 after a midnight opening went wrong.

The Charlton Champion understands both Ikea and Greenwich Council – which has wrapped itself in the store’s yellow and blue colours, allowing it to sponsor a sustainability prize at its business awards and run a promotional stand at a recent festival in Woolwich – are keen to avoid such scenes, with rumours of a “soft” opening ahead of the advertised date.

However, the first Saturday – always due to be a concern – coincides with a home match at The Valley, raising concerns that nearly five years after giving it planning permission in the face of opposition from local residents’ groups, neither the council nor Ikea have got to grips with the potential for the store to bring the area to a halt.

Charlton Athletic will play Southend United that day, a match which usually sees the away side bring a large number of supporters to The Valley, whose proximity to the Blackwall Tunnel and the A13 to the Essex coast usually make it an easy trip. The Shrimpers are managed by former Addicks favourite Chris Powell, a factor which could also bump up the home crowd.

There are mitigating factors – Southend fans could be routed via the tolled Dartford crossing, while attendances at The Valley have dropped significantly in recent years with fans alienated by Roland Duchatelet’s ownership. But matches still cause short-term traffic congestion, and the curiosity factor around the wildly popular furniture retailer’s debut in SE10 is likely to make 9 February a difficult day to get around the local area.

Rail services are due to run as normal on the Greenwich line that weekend.

Greenwich Shopping Park
Other shopping centres are available: Greenwich Shopping Park last Sunday

Even after the opening weekend, there will still be fears about the potential for gridlock – withincidents of drivers being trapped in the car park of the chain’s Reading store. Issues have also been reported at its Exeter store.

Indeed, closer to home, long tailbacks regularly form inside the Bugsbys Way shopping parks as drivers queue to get out.

To mitigate this, Ikea has signed a legal agreement pledging to direct drivers to the west of the site “to address network capacity constraints on Peartree Way and Woolwich Road roundabout”, with £50,000 for new signage. (See the full legal agreement and travel plan.)

Ikea Croydon checkout
Coming soon: Meatballs to the right, bargain corner to the left

However, there are no signs yet of promised “improvements to pedestrian and cycling access links to the development from Westcombe Park and Charlton railway stations”, due to come from £750,000 to promote “travel by sustainable modes”. Work to widen Peartree Lane to create a southbound bus lane has started, though, and extra pedestrian/cycle crossings are being installed on Bugsby’s Way, which could address a promise to improve links from North Greenwich station. The store also pledged to pay £500,000 for extra bus services.

In a press release not sent to this website, Ikea promises to be “being a good neighbour and a true partner in the local community”, offering “a wide choice of affordable delivery services will be available, from 24-hour delivery for those living within the Royal Borough of Greenwich, to a Zedify bike courier service, competitively priced mini cabs and Hertz EV [electric] van hire”.

For the first 10 weeks the store is open, it will also have a special offer on home delivery for those who live within 40 minutes on public transport – although if pessimists’ predictions are true, that could be a very small area indeed on the opening weekend.


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Plans to demolish the Pickwick pub for ‘poor quality’ housing thrown out

Pickwicks pub on Woolwich Road
The Pickwick pub on Woolwich Road. Photo by Neil Clasper

Planning officers at Greenwich Council have refused permission for the Pickwick pub on Woolwich Road to be demolished.

An East Ham-based developer, Pure Let Greenwich Ltd, had applied to knock down the building and build 14 serviced apartments, six terraced homes and a replacement pub on the site.

But officers said the plan would “result in the loss of an existing pub that has a community role in the borough” and that Pure Let Greenwich had not submitted adequate evidence that it was no longer economically viable.

They called its planned replacement “a poor quality building” and added: “The existing building is considered to be a landmark building on Woolwich Road which makes a positive contribution to the surrounding area in general.

“Its demolition is therefore considered to be inappropriate and would lead to less than substantial harm, namely to the character and appearance of Woolwich Road. The proposed building by reason of its height, scale and appearance is unduly dominant and inappropriate within the street and fails therefore to act as a suitably high quality replacement for the existing public house. The poor quality replacement building coupled with the limited public benefits do not outweigh the harm.”

Plans to build six terraced homes on the site of the beer garden were “an inappropriate form of backland development that would be out of keeping and detrimental to the character of the surrounding area”, intruding on neighbours in Woolwich Road and Dupree Road, the officers added.

Only one letter of support was sent for the plan, with 23 objections submitted to the council after a campaign led by a neighbour. (Read the planners’ full verdict here.)

The pub, known as the Roupell Arms until the 1970s, has been closed for the past two years.

(Thanks to Becky Holmes for letting us know.)


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Charlton Riverside: Revised Rockwell plans released – tell City Hall what you think

Rockwell revised scheme
Rockwell’s new plan includes an “active frontage” along the new east-west road

London mayor Sadiq Khan has launched a new public consultation into the developer Rockwell’s controversial plans to build 771 new homes off Anchor & Hope Lane.

Khan took control of the planning application in August, weeks after Greenwich Council’s main planning committee threw out the proposed development.

The amended scheme, created after discussions with Khan’s officers at City Hall, sees two storeys lopped off a block that overlooked homes in Derrick Gardens, meaning the historic cottages of Atlas and Derrick Gardens will now have a four-storey block behind them.

Another block, to the south of Atlas Gardens, has also had two storeys removed, cutting it down to five. Other blocks around the site have been increased in height to compensate.

Rockwell plan

The number of homes – 771 – remains the same, but with the possibility of 165 homes (21.4%) for “affordable rent” and 127 (16.4%) for shared ownership with a City Hall grant. (See more details in the design and access statement.)

Rockwell scheme
Rockwell’s revised scheme, with Atlas Gardens at the centre

Rockwell’s new scheme is unlikely to satisfy critics, who say the developer’s plans go against the recently-adopted Charlton Riverside masterplan, which sets out a vision for lower-rise developments aimed at families in Charlton to sit in between the towers of Greenwich Peninsula and Woolwich.

All 11 councillors on Greenwich’s planning board rejected the scheme, with chair Sarah Merrill declaring: “This application in no way resembles the spirit of the Charlton Riverside masterplan, in terms of height, massing and design. It’s reminiscent of Stalingrad.”

But Rockwell – which has retained former Greenwich Council leader Chris Roberts’ company Cratus Communications as lobbyists – insisted it was “fantastic opportunity to kick-start the regeneration of this area”.

The public now has until 11 January to comment on the scheme, before a public hearing is held at City Hall. Revised documents can be seen on the GLA website (the design and access statement is probably the best place to start) together with a summary of the scheme and the mayor’s reasons for calling it in.

Comments and requests for information can be sent to VIPtradingestate[at]london.gov.uk.


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Morris Walk Estate: ‘Misleading rumours’ criticised as estate redevelopment delayed

Morris Walk Estate
Much of the Morris Walk Estate is now in a poor condition

Greenwich Council has hit out at “misleading rumours” that a major scheme to redevelop Morris Walk Estate has been delayed for nine years.

The programme, which will see the estate on the border of Woolwich and Charlton knocked down and replaced with new housing, was due to begin this year. Demolition was due to start this autumn. But little has happened so far, and the council and developer Lovell are currently discussing timescales for the scheme, which was first announced five years ago.

Tenants and leaseholders in both the Morris Walk and the adjacent Maryon Road estate have already moved out, and people on the council’s homeless list have moved in on a short-term basis. But many have spent all year waiting for the council to finally move them out so developer Lovell can begin work.

They were due to be moved out by late summer, but have been left in limbo by the unexplained delay to the scheme.

Chris Kirby, the council’s cabinet member for housing, spoke out after it emerged a residents’ group had been told the scheme had been delayed until 2027.

Morris Walk Estate
Morris Walk Estate was built in the mid-1960s in a similar fashion to the ill-fated Ronan Point block in Canning Town

“I am saddened and disappointed that misleading information appears to have been given to local residents,” Cllr Kirby told The Charlton Champion.

“On behalf of the council I would like to apologise to residents who deserve better than to be subjected to gossip and rumour about what is going to happen to their home and their community.

“I also want to reassure residents that the council are in active discussions aimed at ensuring this project remains on course and delivers the homes that local people need.

“As soon as the new timescales for the project are finalised we will be contacting our residents to update them fully.”

Morris Walk, along with neighbouring Maryon Road estate and Woolwich’s Connaught Estate, are being redeveloped by developer Lovell as part of the £269 million Greenwich Council-backed One Woolwich scheme, agreed under former leader Chris Roberts. The Connaught has already been demolished and the Trinity Walk development has risen in its place.

Built for the London County Council by Taylor Woodrow Anglian from prefabricated parts in the mid-1960s, the construction can be seen in some shots in the cult film Blow-Up, which featured scenes shot in and near Maryon Park.

It was built in a similar fashion to the ill-fated Ronan Point tower across the Thames in Canning Town, which partially collapsed in 1968 after a gas explosion, killing four people. Morris Walk’s gas supply was removed soon after. 50 years on, many of the buildings are now in a poor state of repair as they await demolition.

Across the three estates, 1,064 homes originally built for council rent will be replaced by 1,500 homes with 35% as “affordable”, a catch-all for a range of tenures from shared ownership, through proportions of market rent to social rent. Of the total number of homes, Greenwich Council says 25% will be for social rent, and that the scheme is at no cost to taxpayers.

The scheme follows the demolition of the Ferrier Estate in Kidbrooke, which had 1,910 council homes when completed in 1972, and its replacement with Berkeley Homes’ Kidbrooke Village development, which will have 738 homes at social rents when finished, along with a further 787 “affordable” homes.

Maryon Park friends group minutes
Members of the Maryon Park friends’ group heard about the delay last month

Neighbours of the estates have been hoping to secure improvements to the area as part of the development. While the missed timetable has made it clear to all that there is a delay, the 2027 date emerged in, of all places, the publicly-available minutes of the Friends of Maryon and Maryon Wilson Parks’ AGM last month. Maryon Park is adjacent to the Morris Walk Estate.

The minutes note that residents were “shocked to be told by councillors that work on the Morris Walk estate will not now go ahead until 2027. This will presumably have an effect on any plans for the Maryon Park playground, where we will continue to press for improvements and updating”.

Morris Walk Estate
Homeless families are living temporarily on the estate

Woolwich Riverside councillor John Fahy, whose ward covers the two estates, called upon Lovell to give the land up.

He said: “It is a matter of regret that Lovell seem to have taken a decision not to develop the estates until 2027. Officers continue to engage with them to clarify their intentions.

“300 residents are living in the most appalling conditions and remain an urgent priority. Clearly Lovell have failed to honour their commitment and should relinquish any rights they have in respect of the land in question.

“The council should urgently consider developing the site as part of its commitment to maximise council housing in the borough. Housing demand is a priority and any land available must be used now rather than allowing a developer to land bank for commercial gain.”


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Judith Quin: Meet the Charlton author who wants to change your life

Judith Quin

Not getting what you want out of life? Charlton-based life coach JUDITH QUIN might be able to help. After working as an actress and qualified massage therapist, she’s now a vocal coach, helping people build up their confidence. Her first book, Stop Shoulding, Start Wanting, shares the tips she’s learned. You can meet her at a book signing at Waterstones in Greenwich at 6pm this Thursday, 29 November. She spoke to The Charlton Champion about her work and her life in SE7.

How did you end up becoming a life coach?
I’ve been a bit of a natural coach my whole life, I was the one my friends would come to for advice (not that coaches give advice). But in reality, I fell into it. A massage client asked me one day if, as an actress and sound healer, I knew anyone who could help her husband with public speaking.

I did the job, he nailed his talk and I started having other clients ask me the same. One of those clients asked me when I’d trained as a coach – I hadn’t ever heard of coaching! She said what I was doing was coaching and sent me a link to The Coaching Academy where she’d trained – I went to their free event and signed up.

What personal experiences do you bring to your sessions?
I specialise in vocal confidence, helping people to find their voice and be able to speak up for themselves, or speak in front of others, so I bring a lot of my skills as an actress. For the life-coaching part of what I do, clients can be so varied in their experiences the best thing I can bring is knowing how to listen, ask good questions, and hold clients accountable.

Could you describe a typical client and what they did they get out of your sessions>
The clients who get the most out of working with me are those who are ready to step up and take leadership of their life. Often I work with people who are ready for promotion at work, to step up to the next level in their business or public speaking engagements, or find the confidence to be heard. The results are usually more confidence and clarity to move forward, not just for speaking, or at work, but also in life.

In the words of a couple of my clients:

“A life changing experience. Cured my fear of public speaking. Boosted my self-confidence.”

“For years I have always been looking to others for answers. Working with Judith has made me realise that I have all the answers within… Coaching in my opinion is: productive, personal, positive problem-solving.”

What led you to write the book?
It had been in me for years, but when I became a coach and realised I wasn’t the only person who believed that to “should” through your life is a waste of energy it became clear. So many of my friends kept telling me I should (ironically!) but I wanted to put it out there as it was something I kept taking about.

How long have you lived in Charlton for?
It’ll be 12 years next year!

What are your favourite things about the area?
All the green space, the fact I can be in town in 25 minutes, Blackheath farmers’ market, and the old coffee hut in Charlton Park.

How does living in Charlton contribute to a happy and confident life?
All the above. And that I know lots of my neighbours.

What’s the one piece of advice you could give to someone trying to improve their life?
Well … other than “stop ‘should-ing'”…

You can’t change other people, you can only change you; but also, if you don’t tell people what you’re thinking or feeling about their behaviour, you can’t expect them to know, so you don’t give them the chance to change.

Judith Quin will be at Waterstones, 51 Greenwich Church Street SE10 9BL from 6-7pm on Thursday 29 November – book a ticket here. Stop Shoulding, Start Wanting is also available on Hive Books (to pick up at Ottie and the Bea on Old Dover Road) and Amazon.co.uk.

WIN A COPY OF THE BOOK! Charlton Champion members can win a free copy of Stop Shoulding, Start Wanting by answering a really easy question. Sign up at www.patreon.com/charltonchampion by noon on Sunday 2 December and follow the instructions there. You can help us keep the site running and have a chance of winning a book!


We tell the SE7 stories you won’t read elsewhere. We can’t do it without your help.
– Please tell us about your news and events
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Sherington Primary School’s governors scrap academy plan

Sherington Primary School
Sherington’s governors came to their decision yesterday

Governors at Sherington Primary School have scrapped plans to break away from council control and become an academy, parents have been told this morning.

Teachers and local councillors had campaigned against the proposal, which would have seen the highly-regarded school join the Leigh Academies Trust chain.

But a letter from the school’s governing body states that while the school faces “challenges” in the future, “we are better placed to address them as a local authority maintained school than as part of the Leigh Academies Trust”.

The school will now remain controlled by Greenwich Council – and be directly funded by it – rather than breaking away and joining the Kent-based Leigh chain, and getting its cash from central government.

The letter says: “We promised to make this choice in the best interests of children now and in the future. That meant choosing the option that gave us the best prospect of financial sustainability and stability; the strongest opportunities for the recruitment, retention and development of high quality staff; and the best chance of delivering a sustainable school in a changing environment. The Governing Body has concluded that while these challenges remain, we are better placed to address them as a local authority maintained school than as part of the Leigh Academies Trust.

“Sherington is a great school, but there is some hard work to be done to make sure we stay that way and remain fit for the future. Working in partnerships with other schools and organisations is already an important part of the school’s operating model, and will become more so. We look forward to working closely with the Royal Borough of Greenwich, and to making the most of the partnership opportunities and other support they can provide.

“We would like to thank the staff of the Leigh Academies Trust for the candid and helpful information they have provided and also the parents, carers and staff who have asked questions, presented views and taken part in an emotive debate over the last few weeks.

“This has not been an easy process by any means, but it’s important that we are able to show our Sherington children that we can have difficult conversations and conduct them in a courteous, respectful and positive way.”

Documents outlining how the governors came to their decision have been published on the school website.

Parents had feared that teachers would take strike action if the school had opted to become an academy, with the issue also causing strains inside Greenwich Council: last week deputy leader David Gardner apologised to Leigh, which runs 18 schools in SE London and Kent, for criticism of its academic results in a letter sent to parents.

Teachers had also raised concerns about the plans, along with local MP Matt Pennycook. A petition against the proposal, handed in earlier this week, had over 900 signatures.

Friday update:
Local Democracy Reporter Tom Bull writes: Greenwich Council deputy leader and cabinet member for education David Gardner said: “It is brilliant and very welcome news that Sherington Primary School governing body has voted to continue as an outstanding Greenwich community school.

“Governors decisively rejected academisation and, after a long and rigorous process evaluating all the options, and decided the best partnership remained with the borough.

“My personal congratulations to the parents, staff and Charlton community who campaigned so effectively to stay ‘Greenwich and proud’.”


We tell the SE7 stories you won’t read elsewhere. We can’t do it without your help.
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