Charlton and Woolwich Free Film Festival is back for 2019 – here’s how to get involved

Alfred Hitchcock
Organisers are hoping this year’s festival goes without a Hitch (photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The Charlton and Woolwich Free Film Festival is returning for eight days this September – and it’s looking for movie fans to get involved with the running of the event.

The Charlton Champion can exclusively reveal the dates for this year’s festival – Friday 6 to Saturday 14 September. If you’re new to the idea, the format is simple – free films screened at locations anywhere in the SE7 or SE18 postcodes.

If you’re looking to put a film on – maybe you have an idea, or you have a venue – then your ideas are welcome, but the team is also looking for people who are also happy to learn projectionists’ skills, rattle buckets, fundraise, or deliver leaflets to help the cause.

One of the most successful events of last year’s festival was a screening of Young Frankenstein at Severndroog Castle – organisers are considering putting on a Hitchcock film there this year. Past events have seen Withnail and I and This Is Spinal Tap put on by Deserter.co.uk at The White Swan, and Battle of Britain at St George’s Garrison Church in Woolwich. There are plenty of other ideas – and you may have your own.

To get involved, sign up to the event’s mailing list or attend its open meeting at Charlton House on Wednesday 27 February at 7.30pm (with drinks at the White Swan after), where organisers hope to start nailing down some of the ideas and preparing a timetable.


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Faraday Works: 13-storey blocks planned for Thames Barrier live/work development

18-32 Bowater Road
The former wire workshop would become a new hub for offices and industry (pic: Neil Clasper)

Developer U+I is planning blocks of up to 13 storeys and 500 new homes on the old Siemens cable factory site next to the Thames Barrier.

The Faraday Works project, on the Charlton-Woolwich border, promises 8,000 square metres of employment space, with 40% at discounted rents to keep businesses in the area.

U+I render
U+I’s vision for Bowater Road, with the wire workshop on the right

The scheme, the latest to come forward for the Charlton riverside, includes transforming a crumbling former wire workshop on Bowater Road – the street recently opened up as part of the Thames Path “missing link” – into an “exciting new co-working space promoting and helping young and emerging businesses in the area”.

But U+I has confirmed plans to demolish another heritage block, the 1911 Faraday building, which it plans to replace with a similarly-designed block – although 13 storeys high – containing new housing, with a courtyard garden in front of it. It says the building is in poor condition with damage to windows and concrete.

37 Bowater Road
U+I wants to demolish the Faraday Building and replace it with homes (photo: Neil Clasper)

The developer says it wants 35% of the homes to be “affordable”, with a priority for housing at social rent (usually half of market rents).

It says the Wire Workshop element of the scheme will create 460 jobs, and will be similar to The Old Vinyl Factory in Hayes, west London, which was built out of the former EMI record-pressing plant.

U+I development
U+I plans to build up to 13 storeys on the site

The scheme also plans to keep light industry on site, with the Telegraph Works building extended to accommodate industry downstairs and homes above.

U+I revealed the scheme at a public consultation last week, and the exhibition boards can now been seen on its website, faradayworks.com, where it is also asking for public comments on its ideas.


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New bus service planned for Charlton Church Lane and North Greenwich

Charlton Church Lane
Lots of parking means buses find it a squeeze to get up Charlton Church Lane

Charlton Church Lane could gain a new bus route if TfL goes ahead with plans to create a service linking the Kidbrooke Village development with North Greenwich station.

A new route linking the development on the site of the former Ferrier Estate with the Jubilee Line has long been planned, and TfL’s preferred option is for it to run via the Charlton retail parks, according to a document released at a council scrutiny meeting last week.

A question-and-answer document from TfL claims that “councillors and many residents have lobbied” for the service to run to the Royal Standard at Blackheath, then along Charlton Road, then down Charlton Church Lane, Anchor & Hope Lane and onto North Greenwich station via the current 472 and 486 routes.

In an answer, TfL says “the route preferred by residents and councillors is also our preferred route”. It is not known what other options were on the table, which residents were consulted or how they were consulted.

TfL says the route would “link Blackheath to the new Sainsbury’s in Charlton, connect people in Kidbrooke to Blackheath, Charlton and North Greenwich [and alleviates pressure on the 132, as it is another route that goes to North Greenwich from Kidbrooke Park Road”.

While another route to North Greenwich will be welcomed, the narrow Charlton Church Lane often struggles with the existing two services – the 380 and 486 – that use it. It is not known whether any parking restrictions would be put in place to allow buses to pass on the road. It also not known if there are any plans to improve bus access outside the Sainsbury’s/M&S development, where the eastbound bus stop is some distance away from the stores.

“We will shortly have internal approval to allow consultation to happen,” TfL’s reply says. “The implementation is reliant on section 106 [developer] funding from sites at North Greenwich and Kidbrooke (and to a lesser extent, Charlton).

“We need confirmation from the borough on when Kidbrooke’s funding will be released, which will influence when consultation and implementation can occur. TfL are keen on doing this as soon as possible.”

Many long-standing residents will remember when Charlton Church Lane had no buses at all – the 380 started running up and down the hill in 1993, while the 486 started using the road when it was introduced in 2001.

TfL is cutting back frequencies on the 486 at most times of the day from Saturday, although it is increasing them slightly during weekday morning peak hours.

Documents submitted to the Silvertown Tunnel planning hearing in 2016 showed TfL planning a service between Grove Park and Canary Wharf via Charlton Church Lane and the proposed tunnel, which would run four buses per hour.

  • Either Sainsbury’s or Asda in Charlton could be placed at risk of closure this week when a competition report into the merger of the two supermarket giants is released. The Competition and Markets Authority is expected to recommend the closure of a number of stores if it allows the tie-up between the two chains to go ahead. Yesterday’s Mail on Sunday claimed the merger may not go ahead if the CMA recommends closing more than 170 stores. A provisional report is expected this week, with a full report due this April.

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    Addicks fans get The Valley declared an Asset of Community Value again

    The Valley
    ACV status gives limited protection over The Valley

    Charlton Athletic fans have succeeded in having The Valley declared an Asset of Community Value – meaning they can bid to buy the stadium if it is ever put up for sale.

    The Valley was first made an ACV in 2013, and now Charlton Athletic Supporters’ Trust has successfully renewed the designation on the ground, which was first used for football 100 years ago. Charlton have played there ever since, apart from two near-disastrous spells away at The Mount in Catford (1923) and at Selhurst Park and Upton Park (1985-92).

    With the club’s future up currently up in the air, the renewal of ACV status with Greenwich Council goes some way to asserting the importance of the Addicks to the wider community. Charlton’s absentee owner, eccentric Belgian electronic magnate Roland Duchatelet, oversaw the side’s relegation to League One in 2016 and a calamitous drop in attendances. His representatives have been in on-off talks about selling the club for well over a year.

    Trust chair Richard Wiseman said: “Although ACV status might be viewed as largely symbolic it is nevertheless very important because it recognises the role of our historic ground and club in the community and offers some limited protection against worst case scenarios of asset stripping.

    “I would like to thank the club, the Royal Borough of Greenwich and CAST volunteers who worked on this successful application. There is scope for strengthening the legislation to offer even more protection for historic football grounds, and we will continue to argue for this.”

    Greenwich and Woolwich MP Matt Pennycook said: “I’m delighted that the council has re-listed The Valley as an Asset of Community Value. The ground and the club are an integral part of the local community and this decision reaffirms the right of the fans to be part of any discussion about their future.”

    Charlton play Blackpool tomorrow in the annual Football For A Fiver match, with striker Lyle Taylor strongly criticising Duchatelet for authorising the signing of a new striker to add to the the team, who currently lie fifth in League One.

    “I don’t know if he [Duchatelet] is even going to sell the club. He doesn’t seem to be that interested in anything Charlton, or anything helping Charlton at the moment,” he told the South London Press.


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    Have your say on Lidl’s plans to join Charlton’s retail park traffic jams

    The proposed store would use two units in the shopping park

    Lidl has submitted a planning application for its proposed new store in the Charlton retail parks – giving residents the opportunity to have their say on the plans.

    The store plans to move into the former H&M unit in “Greenwich” Shopping Park, as well as taking over the adjacent River Island store, which is due to close in September.

    Lidl’s plans to move in across the road from its rival Aldi will further add to concerns about traffic in the area – with the Greenwich Shopping Park already regularly jammed up at weekends, and the potential for heavy traffic spreading further with the opening of east Greenwich’s Ikea store last week. There are no plans to change traffic access into the park, which frequently becomes a bottleneck.

    Residents have until Wednesday 6 March to comment on the proposals – search for reference 19/0298/F on the Greenwich Council planning website.

    The traffic assessment submitted by the retail park’s owner skirts around the potential for gridlock, with a traffic survey looking at only a Friday and Saturday in early November, without including the heavily-congested Sundays. It claims there were 90 free spaces in the 391-space car park at the busiest hour on the Saturday.

    Greenwich Shopping Park
    There are no plans to deal with the bottleneck entrance/exit to the site

    Basing its assessment on a 2011 survey carried out in a retail park in Cardiff with an M&S food store, it claims 10% of the Lidl store’s trade will be new traffic to the area, but another 30% will be tempted in from Bugsby’s Way or other local roads. It also cites a 1998 planning appeal by Tesco for a store in Exeter to support its point.

    Ikea is not mentioned in the transport assessment.

    Whether the council’s Charlton Riverside Masterplan, which covers the area, will give planners any teeth in dealing with the store’s application is not clear. While most of the retail in the area is relatively recent – the Greenwich Shopping Park was given permission in 2000, others were approved in 2013 and 2014 – the council now says “the existing retail does not conform with [council] policy”. This application could be a test of how the masterplan, adopted in 2017, relates to the current retail parks.

    As reported earlier this week, Lidl has also applied for an alcohol licence for the store.

    Update 5.40pm: Story updated earlier to correct the planning reference. If you are commenting on Lidl, you might also want to submit a comment on Ikea’s plans to allow five hours’ free parking at its “sustainable” store – see planning reference 19/0109/I106 and more details at From The Murky Depths.


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    Lidl gets set to join Charlton retail parks traffic party

    Greenwich Shopping Park
    Traffic is already regularly jammed in the “Greenwich” Shopping Park

    Discount supermarket Lidl is set to return to Charlton, having applied for a licence to serve alcohol in the former H&M unit on Bugsby’s Way.

    The appearance of yet another hugely popular store will put even more pressure on the traffic network in the area, following the opening of Ikea last Thursday, as well as Primark and Matalan in 2017.

    It is not clear whether or not Lidl will need to apply for planning permission to open the store – but the it does need a licence to serve alcohol.

    Lidl did have a store on Bugsby’s Way until the 2000s and has long been linked with a return. Its German rival, Aldi, opened its doors on the other side of Bugsby’s Way in 2017.

    There are 32 retail units in the Bugsby’s Way cluster – between the railway line and Gallions Road of which 30 are currently occupied.

    Thanks to Alison Rogers for the tip-off.


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    Ikea Greenwich’s first weekend: How were the traffic jams for you?

    A102
    Sunday afternoon and the queue can be seen building up from the A102 (photo: Neil Clasper)

    So, the first weekend with an Ikea on our doorstep is over. How was it for you?

    The east Greenwich Ikea’s first Saturday appeared to get off to a quiet start with traffic appearing to be a little quieter than normal – but queues did start to build, not helped by congestion at the Blackwall Tunnel. In the retail park itself, queues (of people) formed during the afternoon, with Transport for London reporting congestion in the area.

    As for Sunday, “car park full” signs went up and long lines of traffic formed on Woolwich Road…

    None of this was helped by there being no trains on the Greenwich line, of course. Sustainable transport, eh?

    But… was this any worse than usual? This is the old Sainsbury’s store, taken on a Sunday afternoon in 2014.

    Former Sainsbury's Greenwich
    Missing: Big blue box

    As one of The Charlton Champion‘s wisest social media correspondents points out, traffic has always been horrible.

    Ikea – with its notoriety for bringing areas to a standstill – has merely become the latest poster child for years of bad planning and short-term thinking in the Charlton/ east Greenwich retail parks. And there’s been years of bad feeling built up by a decision to approve a store that perhaps could have been better-placed on the quiet dual carriageways of Thamesmead.

    While Charlton has had warehouse shopping since the 1970s, it intensified in the late 1990s with the appearance of Peninsula Park (Pets at Home, Smyths Toys etc – approved c.1987 and 1995), the “Greenwich” Shopping Park (Sports Direct, Homesense, Hobbycraft – planning permission granted in 2000; Matalan – extension approved in 2014) and the Brocklebank Retail Park (Aldi, Next, Primark – approved 2013); providing stores which are big draws for repeat visits, rather than the DIY/furniture stores which had been the Charlton retail park staples in the 80s and 90s.

    And the traffic in these retail parks, adjacent to Ikea, is frequently terrible. But few go on social media to give Matalan or its customers a kicking for causing traffic jams. Or Asda or Makro, for that matter, which have been there 35 and 45 years respectively, outlasting a whole host of other retailers.

    Greenwich Shopping Park
    The problem was already there: Traffic trapped “Greenwich” Shopping Park on a December Sunday

    What does appear to be different, though, is the queues coming off the A102. Yet this was foreseen, and action should have been taken to prevent this.

    Ikea traffic
    Traffic on Sunday at 3pm, as seen on Google Maps

    The 2014 legal agreement between Ikea and Greenwich Council which enables the store to be built specifically says that Ikea should have provided money for signage to be put in place directing customers away from the Woolwich Road roundabout – signage which hasn’t appeared.

    Ikea legal agreement
    From Ikea’s 2014 legal agreement

    It is unclear quite what has happened to these signs. Pedestrian improvements, which are under the control of Greenwich Council, are due in the spring. It’s also unclear quite what local councillors are doing to make sure their officers are on top of the situation.

    The first weekend seems to have been a mixed bag of experiences; some appearing to contradict each other. Early shoppers could get in and out quickly; later shoppers, less so. Travellers on the Woolwich Road seemed the unluckiest of all. Predictions of gridlock could have driven some away from the area. Whether the traffic will settle down or whether it will be like this every weekend remains to be seen.

    But with many of the decisions around Ikea so far not really engendering much hope in the store’s interest in the community around it – a feeling exacerbated by the tone-deaf attitude of Greenwich Council over the years since the scheme was approved – for every shopper delighted to have a flatpack furniture emporium within half-an-hour’s drive, there’ll be a neighbour approaching each weekend with trepidation for some time to come.

    If you were out and about over the weekend and saw the conditions for yourself (rather than watching on social media), please let us know your experiences in the comments below. Thank you.


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