A Plumstead-based brewery is hoping to turn the former Barclays branch at the Royal Standard into a “beer café” – just weeks after the bank closed its doors for the final time.
Common Rioters has submitted a planning application to Greenwich Council to change the building’s use – the first stage in a journey it hopes will end with its own bar and place to brew its beers.
The three-year-old brewery, run by Stephen and Maryann O’Connor, takes its name from the Plumstead Common rioters, whose revolt in 1876 saved the open space from being destroyed by a developer.
They had originally hoped to take on a unit at the Jack’s Acre development on Rochester Way in Eltham, but when that fell through, Stephen told The Charlton Champion that he spotted the Blackheath bank building was being let.
“We’re into learning about historical and modern styles of brewing coupled with peoples’ history,” he said. “Not yet having a commercial brew kit or place to brew means that until now we’ve relied on friends in the industry to brew our beers with. Our beers have been available at a select few pubs in the area and at our Plumsteadshire stall, which pops up in various locations as well as online. Following the theme of our stall somewhat we intend to have guest brewery appearances at our pub alongside many other non-beer items for enjoyment.
“The opportunity to bring The Green Goddess to Blackheath in an iconic building was too good to miss.”
Common Rioters’ interest in the bank comes less than two months after it closed. Barclays announced it was shutting the branch – the last bank at the Royal Standard – in October, and it closed its doors on 15 January. Nearby, the former NatWest branch has not yet found a tenant nearly three years after the state-owned bank pulled out of the area.
The brewery is currently selling beers from other suppliers though its online shop, with free delivery in SE7 and other Greenwich borough addresses every Friday.
While all pubs are closed because of the lockdown, there have been hopeful signs for SE7 drinkers looking for a decent pint once the restrictions have passed, despite the loss of the White Swan a year ago.
Plans to make cycling safer for schoolchildren could see through traffic banned from Old Dover Road, according to plans unveiled by Greenwich Council yesterday.
Cameras could be placed on the bridge over the A102 to stop cars, vans and lorries from heading down the full length of the road as part of the proposal to finish a proposed cycle route from Shooters Hill Road to Greenwich Park.
The council also plans to put a camera on Banchory Road to stop the rat-running that has blighted the short-cut to and from Charlton Road for years, with HGVs transporting cars to the Metropolitan Police’s pound on Bramshot Avenue continuing to thunder down the dog-leg into Craigerne Road.
Traffic would still be able to use Old Dover Road, but drivers heading to the shops would have to enter from the Royal Standard if the proposals go ahead. Using cameras means buses and emergency services can still use the route, while closures could be limited to rush hours or daytimes only.
However, rather than following an existing footpath to Greenwich Park, cyclists would be expected to turn left into Vanburgh Terrace and then right into Maze Hill – the top section of which would be closed to through traffic – before reaching the park.
The route was chosen as it runs close to or past five different schools: Greenwich Free School, Halley Academy, Leigh Academy Blackheath and John Roan School. It is one of two routes to be chosen for funding by Transport for London – the other is a cycle route from Eltham to Greenwich Park, which is also being consulted on.
Sizwe James, the council’s cabinet member for transport, said: “These routes will help more people cycle more often, even more safely, and help us with our green recovery. Whether it’s for shopping, commuting to work, getting to school or for leisure these routes have the potential to make cycling a serious option for more people.
“Travelling by bike is much cheaper than driving and these cycle routes will open the borough up so residents can travel further, more confidently. Not only is cycling easy on the wallet it’s good for our health and everyone around us too. If you’re serious about putting the brake on unnecessary car journeys, avoidable chronic health conditions caused by car exhausts and climate change then please have your say.”
Last month Greenwich announced a scheme which would involve cutting through traffic in Westcombe Hill: many Charlton residents have recently received anonymous leaflets urging them to protest against the proposals, and promoting a website which also does not reveal who is behind the campaign. Two weeks ago the council told The Charlton Champion it would monitor any effect the scheme had in Charlton and would take action if necessary.
Progress is also well under way on the extension of Cycleway 4 along Woolwich Road into Charlton, a scheme which is being delivered by Transport for London rather than the council.
Maze Hill has been particularly badly hit since the upsurge in traffic following the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as similar traffic measures in west Greenwich and in Greenwich Park. Westcombe Hill is often used as an alternative to the six-lane motorway-standard A102, which runs alongside it.
Similar schemes across London – aimed at tackling a long-term increase in motor traffic in London, much of it borne by residential roads; as well as to make it safer for people to walk and cycle when public transport is restricted – have proved highly controversial, with often bitter campaigns for and against them. The west Greenwich scheme, which saw streets around Royal Hill and Hyde Vale blocked with planters, saw competing petitions both for and against the scheme and misleading claims that the ambulance service had objected. Two opposing campaigns have sprung up in Greenwich: Greener Maze Hill and Greenwich Gone Too Far.
This scheme will see cameras put in place on Maze Hill, Vanbrugh Hill and Westcombe Hill; planters will be installed on Halstow Road. One option mentioned on an online consultation is to make the measures only operate in the rush hour, with free access at other times.
While most schemes are clearly aimed at making back streets safer, many drivers will consider the three roads with cameras as main roads – particularly Westcombe Hill, which older motorists will remember as the main route to the Blackwall Tunnel until the late 1960s and is served by four bus routes.
Responses to the council’s proposals on its consultation website have been overwhelmingly hostile, although it is unclear how many respondents live within the affected area and how many are drivers from outside who object to the upheaval of taking a different route. In the Blackheath Westcombe ward which makes up the south of the area, 36 per cent of residents do not have a car – a figure that rises to 48.8 per cent in Peninsula ward to the north, which suffers the most from congestion.
One risk of the Maze Hill and Westcombe Park scheme is that traffic will simply move to another rat-run – Eastcombe Avenue and Victoria Way, which are already blighted by traffic heading to and from the Charlton retail parks. TfL analysis given to councils last summer indicated that Charlton and the western part of Woolwich was the area of Greenwich borough most suited to hosting a low-traffic neighbourhood.
There are no formal plans at present to deal with the rat-running in Charlton, but the council’s cabinet member for environment, sustainability and transport, Sizwe James, said the new scheme was “just the start”.
Asked if the council had contingency plans in place if that happened, the cabinet member for environment, sustainability and transport, Sizwe James, said: “During the experimental period we would assess any impact on surrounding areas including the Eastcombe Avenue and Victoria Way routes. Schemes can be improved, and additional measures put in to reduce traffic on other residential streets.
“Due to funding arrangements, we cannot work on all areas at once, but we have got more proposals in the pipeline for other areas which we will be consulting on soon. This is just the start.”
He said the consultation was for “initial proposals” and added: “Any measures would be implemented as an experimental scheme with a full consultation forming part of this process.”
“Our proposals are based on traffic analysis and concerns about increasing traffic raised by local residents. We’re collecting residents’ views on traffic levels in recent years, whether levels have increased and how residents have been affected,” he said.
“If we don’t act now traffic will only continue to get worse. It has already doubled over the last decade in London and in our borough alone between 2014 and 2019 the number of miles driven on our roads increased by one hundred and thirty million.
“People who choose to drive through residential areas are disproportionately affecting everyone’s quality of life – due to air and noise pollution, speeding and illegal parking.
“The proposals would not stop anyone from using their car if they want or have to, but would direct vehicles on to the main roads that were designed to carry them in the first place.
“Why should the health of our residents and in particular our children be at the mercy of drivers who do not even live in the borough taking short-cuts through residential areas because that’s what their mobile sat-navs told them to do. It may even make people question what their first choice of transport is if they feel safer walking, cycling or wheeling because their streets are no longer dominated by heavy traffic.
“If we want to reduce the amount of people with heart disease, osteoarthritis and cancers caused by inactive lifestyles or asthma and respiratory diseases caused by car exhausts then we have to be brave and we have to begin somewhere. The gases from these vehicles are causing a third of all our emissions too – making the planet warmer and directly contributing to climate change.”