Morris Walk Estate demolition to start in autumn 2018

Maryon Road
Maryon Road and Morris Walk estates were built in the mid-1960s

Demolition of the Morris Walk Estate, on the Charlton/Woolwich border, has been brought forward to autumn 2018, it has emerged.

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

Built from prefabricated parts in the mid-1960s, the construction of the Morris Walk Estate can be seen in some shots in the cult film Blow-Up, which featured scenes shot in and near Maryon Park.

Many long-term residents have already left the estate, with the buildings currently being used for temporary accommodation. 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 range for tenures from shared ownership, through proportions of market rent to “social target rent”.

New plans mean the estate will be empty by late summer, with demolition set to begin in autumn, a year ahead of schedule, residents’ group representatives at a “stakeholders’ forum” last week were told.

The Charlton Champion emailed Greenwich Council’s press office for more information about the plan, but has not been sent a response.

Coming down: Rockwell’s 28-storey Charlton tower cut to 10 storeys

Rockwell's plans included a 28-storey tower close to Charlton station
Coming down… this 28-storey tower has now been taken out of Rockwell’s plan

Developer Rockwell is to remove plans to build a 28-storey tower off Anchor & Hope Lane from its proposed Charlton Riverside development, it has emerged.

The firm had hoped to put up nine buildings ranging from two to 28 storeys on the old British Ropes site off Anchor and Hope Lane , providing 975 homes with retail, community and leisure facilities.

But now the company is revising its scheme to cut the buildings down to 10 storeys, which means it would fit in with Greenwich Council’s recently-adopted Charlton Riverside Masterplan.

It would also cut the number of new homes to 771. It is not known how many would be for social rent or “affordable” – the previous scheme had just 13% “affordable” homes.

The announcement was made at a “stakeholders’ forum” of representatives from residents’ and amenity groups last week and tweeted by council deputy leader Danny Thorpe.

The Charlton Champion emailed Rockwell’s representatives seeking clarification on the plan, but did not get a response. A new planning application is expected soon.

Blackheath Standard’s NatWest branch to close in June 2018

Blackheath and Westcombe Park NatWest
NatWest’s closure will leave Barclays as the only bank at the Standard

The NatWest branch at Blackheath’s Royal Standard is to close in June 2018 as part of a nationwide cutbacks programme announced today.

One in four of the bank’s branches are being closed after parent group RBS said use of its branches by customers had fallen 40% since 2014.

The Old Dover Road outlet – the nearest bank for many Charlton residents – has been known as the Blackheath & Westcombe Park branch since the 1990s, when it took on the responsibilities of the closed Blackheath Village NatWest.

According to information given to its customers, the cash machines will remain in place after the last day of business on 18 June.

NatWest branches in Greenwich, Lewisham and Woolwich will remain in business.

The closure means Barclays will be last remaining bank at Blackheath Standard. The former Woolwich Equitable building society and the long-gone Greenwich Building Society – swallowed up into Portman, now part of Nationwide – also once had branches there.

The last bank remaining in Charlton itself – a Barclays – was demolished 20 years ago to accommodate a new exit for Charlton station.

Charlton Primark: Hundreds queue to bag bargains as store opens

Charlton Primark
Charlton’s new Primark is open for business

Hundreds of people turned up on Thursday morning to be among the first to rummage through the racks at Charlton’s new Primark store, which was opened this morning by Charlton Athletic players Johnnie Jackson and Ben Amos, along with club ambassador Keith Peacock.

The 47,000-square foot store is Primark’s 183rd in the UK and 21st in London. It employs 216 staff (there are still 16 vacancies), with 50 in their first ever jobs. Among their tasks will be looking after 243 mannequins.

It’s been a huge effort for the retail giant to get the store open – staff only got the keys last Wednesday, and have been busy unpacking 14,000 boxes of stock.

A little look around before the rush…

Primark Charlton

Primark Charlton

Primark Charlton

Primark Charlton

Primark Charlton

Primark Charlton

Primark Charlton
Apparently these tassel ear-rings are Primark’s biggest seller…

Primark Charlton

Primark Charlton

Primark Charlton

More stats: there are 50 fitting rooms, 20 cash desks, two “recharge” seating areas and a coffee shop. Like we said, it’s a retail giant.

Proud store boss Sunny Vadhar thanked his staff at the opening…

See, he says “Charlton”. They say “Charlton”. Unlike some of the other chains in the retail parks, the Primark team know where they are and are proud to be here.

After a few words from from Primark chief executive Paul Marchant, the outsized scissors came out…

…and then the moment the crowds were let in. It’s a perfectly choreographed moment. You can see why people who have opened scores of stores in their careers were still looking genuinely excited.

And they kept coming. 400 people? 500 people? We all lost count.

So there it is. Primark’s arrival completes the Brocklebank Retail Park, and we’ll have to live with the traffic jams it’ll bring. We’ll deal with all that another time, but for now, we’ve a plush new clothes store on our doorstep that’s given lots of people employment. And one that was kind enough to invite us and show us around, rather than just imposing themselves on the area and pretending their store is in Greenwich.

So go and have a look. Maybe leave the car at home, though…

Charlton Primark

Charlton Primark

Primark Charlton

Primark Charlton

Primark Charlton

Primark Charlton is open for business from 9am-8pm Mondays to Saturdays, 11am-5pm on Sundays. Thanks to Primark for the invite and the tour.

Charlton and Woolwich Arsenal set to lose Charing Cross trains from 2022

Southeastern train at Charlton
The new Southeastern franchise begins in April 2019

Charlton and Woolwich Arsenal stations will lose direct trains to Charing Cross from December 2022, according to the Department for Transport’s plans for the new Southeastern franchise, which have been published today.

The invitation to tender sets out what the Government expects of the firm which wins the new franchise, which due to begin in April 2019. It sets out the basic service the winning operator is expected to provide.

Currently, six trains per hour run from Charlton to Cannon Street via Greenwich, with two running to Charing Cross via Lewisham.

From next year, this will become four trains via Greenwich to Cannon Street, two to Charing Cross via Lewisham, plus two new Greenwich line trains that will run via Blackfriars to Luton on the Thameslink route.

But from 2022, those Charing Cross services would be rerouted to Cannon Street, calling additionally at New Cross and St John’s. Passengers who want Waterloo East and Charing Cross will have to change at London Bridge.

Southeastern invitation to tender
Part of the specification being given to bidders for the new franchise. Thameslink trains not shown.

Looking in the other direction, there is also an option given for bidders to extend one set of Greenwich line trains to Maidstone West, while Belvedere and Erith may see a cut in services, with bidders asked to provide only a minimum of four trains per hour. The planned Thameslink trains are not set to call at those stops.

There are also changes planned for elsewhere on the network, with more trains to Victoria from Lewisham, although these will no longer run through Blackheath.

Last year, transport secretary Chris Grayling refused permission for Transport for London to take on Southeastern’s metro services. The new franchise is due to last until 2027.

Charlton Lane level crossing: What’s happened to the footbridge?

Charlton Lane level crossing
Where’s it gone?

A few weeks back, Network Rail workers moved in on the level crossing in Charlton Lane. And took away the footbridge.

Arthur asked The Charlton Champion what was going on. So we asked Network Rail.

A very nice spokesperson told us: “The footbridge at Charlton Lane has been taken away for major refurbishment and re-painting. We aim to get it back in position before Spring 2018 and in the meantime if people could use the level crossing we would appreciate their patience and understanding.”

A bit inconvenient if you come at a time when there are multiple trains coming, but hopefully a brighter and less creaky bridge will be back in place soon.

Fairview trims Victoria Way development but keeps 10-storey blocks

40 Victoria Way design
The plan includes two 10-storey blocks next to the railway line

Plans for new homes on the remainder of the old Thorn Lighting site on Victoria Way have been revised, cutting the number of dwellings from 341 to 330.

But developer Fairview New Homes still plans to build 10-storey blocks on the site, which has caused anxiety among residents who live close to the proposed scheme.

Fairview submitted the plans back in June, but has now changed its proposals following discussions with Greenwich Council planning department.

40 Victoria Way application

It says 35% of the new homes will be “affordable”, while a nursery and business space have also been added to the scheme.

The changes are, according to the planning documents:

  • 330 new dwellings, including 35% affordable homes – tenures and mix as previously ‘agreed’ with RBG Planning Policy, namely 77 rented (including 29 family rented units) plus 37 intermediate /shared ownership.
  • New D1 Nursery building at approx. 439m2, with a potential child capacity of 125 children depending on ages and up to 22 staff / jobs – based on DfE / OFSTED requirements.
  • A new dedicated B1 employment building – building ‘A’ at 999m2 (GIA) of open-plan flexible floor-space, suitable for SME workspace, with a capacity of approximately 85 FTE roles. A combined potential employment offering of approximately 107 jobs.
  • Design improvements to the ground floor layout and elevations along Victoria Way and the internal ‘Avenue’
  • Increase provision of 3-bed family units to 89, bringing the percentage to 27%.

40 Victoria Way proposal
View up Victoria Way taken from the original application
40 Victoria Way scheme
View from Gurdon Road, taken from the original application
Victoria Way scheme
The tall block can be seen in this view from Fossdene School

The scheme can be found by searching for reference 17/1795/F on Greenwich Council’s planning pages. Comments need to be in by 13 December.