Got an idea to promote health and wellbeing in Charlton? Apply for up to £2,000 in funding

Maryon Wilson Park
Funding could be used to help people in Charlton get out and about

Community Voting Day is coming to Charlton on Saturday March 27. Greenwich Council has a pot of government money to spend on community health and wellbeing schemes in SE7 as part of its response to the pandemic. GAYLE WALLACE, who is running the scheme, explains…

Individuals and organisations are encouraged to apply for ‘small grant’ funding of up to £500 or ‘larger grant’ funding of up to £2,000, to provide projects that will improve health and wellbeing in the local area.

The criteria for funding applications have been set by local residents from the Charlton Neighbourhood Delivery Team, who have been championing health in the community for some time.

This is a unique opportunity, as it will be local residents in this area who will vote to decide which projects will be successful through an online (lockdown compliant) Community Voting Day, based on the principle of participatory budgeting. This will be held on Saturday March 27 (time to be decided). It’ll be a community-style Dragons Den.

The funding is being dispensed through the Royal Borough of Greenwich. I have been commissioned by the council to deliver the Community Voting Day process for this area.

Residents and organisations have the opportunity to gain funding through making an application outlining a project that they wish to deliver (based on the criteria set by the local community).

As well as organisations, we are actively encouraging individuals with great ideas, enthusiasm, and the energy to deliver, to apply. To support this aim we are also looking for organisations willing to play the role of an umbrella/sponsor organisation for an individual or small group that has a good idea but may not be constituted.

The application forms will be available shortly, with a final decision being made (as to who gets the funding) at the community voting day to be held on March 27, to which all from the community would be invited to take part.

Training will be available to help those interested in applying to help them formulate their project ideas, complete application forms, and to make a great presentation to the local community.

If you have any further queries regarding this funding, please do feel free to contact me at gayle.wallace[at]btconnect.com or call me on 078144 22696 for a brief discussion.


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Pizza takeaway and flat at Charlton’s Victoria pub get council approval

Victoria pub plans
The plan for the Victoria was submitted last August

Plans to convert the crumbling Victoria pub on Woolwich Road into a pizza takeaway with a flat behind it have been approved by Greenwich Council.

The Gillingham-based Zaan Group, a Domino’s Pizza franchisee, was given permission for the conversion by council officers after only one person complained about he proposal. The pub, known for its sloping floor, is locally listed but has been unused for over 20 years, and has been recently damaged by fires.

Earlier proposals to turn the pub, into a takeaway and build four flats behind it were thrown out in 2019 because the new flats would “appear as an incongruous addition which would fail to preserve the character and appearance of the locally listed host building and Thames Barrier and Bowater Road Conservation Area”. Plans for student flats have also been rejected.

But Zaan’s latest plans, which feature a single three-bedroom flat, were given the nod just before Christmas by council officers. As there was only one objection and no local councillors called it in, the scheme did not have to go before a planning committee – so the approval has only just come to light.

Victoria pub interior
Inside the Victoria after the May 2019 fire.

“Given the poor structural condition retention of the building requires creative thought and use. This is an isolated building that does not relate to any existing use in the area. Therefore, new uses are required,” the submission from architects Cook Associates says. The developer warned that the pub would face demolition if it could not be redeveloped.

Zaan has three years to start work on the site, council officers have said. The sole objection pointed out the takeaway’s proximity to local schools, but a report by a council officer states: “The specific intention is not to cater to pupils of nearby schools. In light of this [the] proposed change of use to a takeaway would be unlikely to significantly undermine efforts to combat childhood obesity.”

The Victoria in 2018

The scheme is also the first Charlton Riverside development to get approval – even if it may end up being the smallest with just one home, with thousands more planned for future years.

Seven schemes are in the pipeline:

Greenwich Council also owns significant portions of land on the riverside, and next week its cabinet is due to approve plans to buy more, The town hall is set to buy land on other side of Penhall Road from Leopard Guernsey Anchor, a company involved in the ill-fated Rockwell scheme rejected last year. The purchase price has not been disclosed. The plot is next to land the council already owns.

Another formal council document, the Site Allocation Plan, will also come up before the cabinet next week. This reiterates the council’s plans for housing and employment on the riverside, and gives guidance for developers looking at various plots of land. This includes the Makro site at Anchor & Hope Lane – where it says any development “should accommodate a mix of small and medium sized commercial, retail, leisure and community uses and flexible SME space”, although there is currently no suggestion the the cash and carry retailer is planning to leave the area.


PLEASE SUPPORT THE CHARLTON CHAMPION

We tell the SE7 stories you won’t read elsewhere. We can’t do it without your help.
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Pocket Living ‘micro-flats’ for The Heights passed by Greenwich Council

The Heights development
The blocks would sit behind two-storey homes on The Heights

Plans for 48 “micro flats” on a council car park on The Heights were approved by Greenwich councillors last night, two-and-a-half years after the proposal to sell the land to a private developer caused a political storm.

Developer Pocket Living plans to build 45 one-bedroom flats and 3 two-bedroom flats on the contaminated plot overlooking The Valley. It plans to sell them all for 80 per cent of market value to people earning under £71,000 within the borough of Greenwich – meaning they tick the official definition of “affordable”, if not the dictionary definition.

The company specialises in building small flats on awkward sites, with one-bedroom flats typically little bigger than a studio. It has been funded by City Hall under both the Johnson and Khan mayoralties, and has former Greenwich & Woolwich MP Nick Raynsford on its board.

When Greenwich first outlined proposals to sell land on its housing estates to Pocket, it caused an outcry within the local Labour party, with 12 out of the party’s 41 councillors in post at the time attending a protest meeting at Charlton House.

Plans to offload sites off Lewisham Road and Kidbrooke Park Road were later scrapped, but the council pursued proposals to sell the land at The Heights after just two local residents attended a consultation meeting in 2019.

Two linked blocks of four and five storeys will be built, with two car parking spaces for disabled residents – 21 spaces for existing residents will be retained and relocated, with Pocket’s homebuyers banned from buying residents’ permits. A viability assessment supplied with the planning application suggests a one-bedroom flat could sell for £260,000 with the discount applied.

The Heights
The whole site is used as a car park at present

A decision on the scheme had been due to be taken in December, but councillors voted to visit the site. The lockdown meant they had to watch a video tour instead.

Only four objections were received – including from the Charlton Society and the nearby Charlton Central Residents’ Association – but 18 supporters got in touch to back the plan; 14 of those had contacted the council in the wake of the original meeting being announced.

Possibly reflecting the internal Labour tensions around the scheme, Greenwich Council leader Danny Thorpe spoke in support of the application. “This site is one I and the council have been involved in for a number of years,” he said. “This piece of land is not one that was suitable for the council to deliver [as housing],” he said. “We were new to council house-building, we simply didn’t have the skills and experience to deal with a highly contaminated piece of land.”

Referring to those who already live on the low-rise Heights estate, he said: “When you’re looking out on a gated-off hill that has ‘hazardous – beware’ signs on, any improvement has got to be better than none.” He promised the public realm in The Heights would be “substantially improved” with funding from the sale. The estate has recently undergone a refurbishment with upgraded pathways, suggesting it would be the entrance to the Pocket site that is in line for improvements.

“It’s not often that you get to decide on a scheme that more residents support than oppose, but that is a fact,” he said. “There are 235 of our younger Greenwich residents who are registered for the chance to buy a Pocket home, which is indicative of the substantial interest that we know there will be.”

Thorpe said he had visited a similar Pocket scheme in Lewisham and all the residents had previously lived in the borough. “There were teachers, public sector workers, firemen, that shows the kind of offer Pocket can make to younger residents who are desperate to stuck in their own home, who are likely to be stuck in an HMO, and the discount means they can take that first step into home ownership.”

Pocket Living render
The flats would overlook The Valley

Conservative councillor Spencer Drury also spoke in support, telling the committee that Greenwich’s housing cabinet member, Anthony Okereke, had suggested he visit a Pocket development at Sail Street in Kennington. “What a high-quality build we would be seeing – the communal spaces are genuinely well-designed and form a good basis for a community. This is a really useful, valuable addition to the affordable homes in the borough,” he said.

The only objector to speak was local councillor Gary Parker. He told the committee: “This site has been unused since the Second World War, even in the heyday of council house building this wasn’t built on. What information has Pocket got that previous generations of [council] officers didn’t?”

Parker also raised questions about the developers’ consultation, citing The Charlton Champion’s report that residents’ groups in Greenwich appeared to have been contacted rather than ones in Charlton.

Pocket’s chief development officer, Nick Williams, described the company’s work as a “public-private partnership”, and said a typical Pocket buyer would be earning about £40,000.

“Many of our residents come from private rented HMOs – moving into a single person’s flat makes a big difference to their life chances,” he said.

Valley Grove estate
The flats will sit above an old chalk pit that now contains Charlton Athletic’s ground and the Valley Grove estate

Williams said the homes would be affordable for 42,000 households in Greenwich borough, including 10,000 key workers; he cited a hospital doctor who had moved 11 times in 10 years before moving into a Pocket home in Walthamstow. “Typically people live for five, six, seven years in a Pocket property,” he said. “Some people from our first scheme in 2008 are first there 13 years later.”

He added that 700 residents as well as groups and amenity societies had been contacted by Pocket about its plans.

Councillors were also told by an engineer working for Pocket that the technology to deal with the contaminated land had improved since the Heights estate was developed, and that controlled modulus columns would be used to stabilise the land, on the edge of a former chalk pit.

All nine councillors voted for the scheme, but two said they were doing so reluctantly – Kidbrooke with Hornfair councillor Norman Adams raised concerns about the contamination, while Abbey Wood councillor Clive Mardner said that homes available to people earning £71,000 were “not helping to resolve our housing crisis in Greenwich, because local people are not going to be able to afford that”.

Charlton councillor Linda Perks backed the scheme, saying while there had been worries about the proposal at first, “I feel that the concerns that have been answered. I can’t speak completely for the community but a lot of people will have been reassured by the effort that has been put in.”

Fellow Labour councillors Denise Hyland, Stephen Brain, Ian Hawking and Mehboob Khan joined her in supporting the scheme, along with Conservatives Nigel Fletcher and Geoff Brighty.


PLEASE SUPPORT THE CHARLTON CHAMPION

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
– Become a monthly supporter at presspatron.com/charltonchampion
– Donate to our running costs at paypal.me/charltonchampion