What do you like down by the river? Greenwich Council is asking people for their views on what they value about the two new conservation areas on the Charlton riverside – helping protect the area’s heritage as developers eye up the industrial land for thousands of new homes.
Two conservation areas – Charlton Riverside, and Thames Barrier and Bowater Road – were created two years ago as part of plans to make sure the area’s history wasn’t completely wiped out when the construction companies moved in, as has happened in other riverside areas of London.
Now Greenwich is consulting on the details – area appraisals – to work out what is of value to the area and what isn’t.
Places like the old Cory barge works and the modern homes at Vaizey’s Wharf are cited as having a positive impact on the area – but the old Watercoombe House office block on Anchor and Hope Lane and the McDonald’s on Woolwich Church Street are seen as negatives.
The council has prepared two detailed documents which are worth a look if you’re interested in the area – even if you don’t want to respond to the consultation – as they are full of details about the history of the buildings and their uses.
After the consultation, proposals will go to councillors on planning committees before being considered by the council’s ruling cabinet.
Greenwich Council says it is working with City Hall to bring new public transport to the Charlton Riverside sooner rather than later so new homes are not delayed.
A report to senior councillors says that developers are keen to start building in the area – but getting infrastructure in place is an issue.
Some 7,500 new homes are planned – although City Hall wants this bumped up to 8,000 as part of its new London plan. For comparison, there are currently 8,900 households in the SE7 postal area. However, nothing has been built so far, and a planning inspector threw out the first scheme – Rockwell’s controversial development off Anchor & Hope Lane – earlier this year.
In recent weeks, developers have applied for permission for two new housing schemes on Eastmoor Street, to add to the five major schemes that are already in the planning pipeline.
“In the medium term, [the council] is working closely with the Greater London Authority and TfL to bring forward public transport improvements in the early phases of delivery at Charlton Riverside,” the housing delivery action plan report says. The report has been prepared for a meeting of the council’s cabinet next week.
“There is significant developer/landowner interest in securing early permissions, and early public sector intervention/investment will ensure that the implementation of these permissions is not slowed down by infrastructure requirements.
“The issue in Charlton Riverside is mainly one of infrastructure coordination and timing of delivery, with development values across the area sufficient in the longer term to support delivery of necessary physical and social infrastructure.”
Those expecting dramatic improvements to the area’s public transport are likely to be disappointed, however – one of the major development schemes, Hyde Housing’s proposals for 1,350 homes by the Thames Barrier, suggests funding an extension of the 301 bus to Woolwich Crossrail station; nudging residents who live in zone 3 to take a train to work from zone 4. A new east-west road – essentially extending Bugsby’s Way – is planned, with councillors hoping in the long-term to see the Greenwich Waterfront Transit, a souped-up bus to North Greenwich, to run along the road.
Secondly, on the next-door site – closer to the Barrier – developer Aitch Group wants to build 202 flats in blocks of up to ten storeys on land bounded by Eastmoor Street, Westmoor Street and Mirfield Street, currently in industrial use. 65 per cent of the homes will be private, 10 per cent for shared ownership, 25 per cent for affordable rent (as above). A public courtyard will be provided in the middle. Again, blue badge parking is provided only, although Greenwich Council told the developer “a car-free scheme cannot be supported until local infrastructure is improved” – a reflection of the issues described above. (See the application and comment / read the design statement / search 20/1924/F on the council website if these links don’t work)
A police desk is among the plans for 1,200 homes to be revealed to local people on Friday by the developer seeking to transform the Stone Foundries industrial site off Woolwich Road.
Montreaux, which bought the site earlier this year, promises “retail, workspace, community, leisure and social infrastructure” along with the new housing. It is the fifth development to come forward for Charlton Riverside.
More details have now emerged about the scheme. It says about 420 homes (35%) will be “affordable” – there is no detail yet on how affordable this will actually be as these are down to negotiations with the council and City Hall. Greenwich Council’s local plan states that developers must provide “at least 35% affordable housing” (our italics).
The police desk is an eye-opening offer. With government cuts forcing the closure of nearly all of Greenwich borough’s police stations, Charlton has lost its nearest police stations in Greenwich and Woolwich and is now served by Plumstead and Lewisham. (An even more local police front counter for many, at Westcombe Park station in Combedale Road, Greenwich, closed about two decades ago.)
However, officers are close by, even if largely out of sight – they parade at Warspite Road, just outside the Charlton Riverside area. In other parts of London, local councils have stepped in to try to keep a visible police presence in communities – just how this developer-funded offer works out remains to be seen. After all, will there even be enough police to staff it?
Montreaux is also promising a “large, open green space” and will “support upgrades to the area’s transport system to avoid congestion” – again, just how much this will be above what the council will demand anyway remains to be seen.
Steve Lawn, Montreaux’s project lead, says: “We are very excited to regenerate this underused site and bring new life and employment to an overlooked area of Charlton. At the same time, we will integrate the area’s heritage into our scheme and provide a better home for the existing businesses who wish to remain.”
The firm also quotes Mark Ager, whose Flower Skills company is based on the Stone site. “Montreaux has listened to us throughout this process and we are delighted we will be staying on in the regenerated scheme, as part of a more diverse and vibrant business community,” he says.
Greenwich Council deputy leader David Gardner is among those who have seen the proposals. He says they are “far too dense and high“.
The exhibition will be held at The Valley on Friday 13 December from 2pm to 7.30pm (coinciding with the home match against Hull City) and from noon to 4pm on Sunday 14 December.