Charlton Village Action Plan to launch with public meeting this Saturday

Charlton Village
The Charlton Society has a plan to rejuvenate Charlton Village

The Charlton Society has launched an 18-point action plan to turn around the fortunes of Charlton Village – and is holding a public meeting on Saturday to discuss its ideas.

The Charlton Village Action Plan sets out proposals for traffic, buildings and the street scene to make the area more attractive for businesses and residents.

Last year, the Charlton Village conservation area was branded “at risk” by Historic England, with the agency warning that its condition was “deteriorating”.

The meeting will be held at the Grand Salon in Charlton House at 2.30pm on Saturday 20 January.

Proposals include: introducing traffic calming measures and making The Village a 20mph zone (worth noting that 20mph is now a standard speed limit in other south London boroughs); improving the two service roads behind The Village together with car parking; providing “welcome” signage; surveying property ownership and empty homes above shops; creating a market space outside The Baguette and Village Green Grocers; and improving street furniture and pavements.

Take a look at the full action plan and feel free to leave your thoughts below.

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White Swan freeholder Mendoza refused permission for ‘cramped’ house behind pub

White Swan
Mendoza bought the freehold to the White Swan in March 2015

The firm which owns the freehold to the White Swan has had its third attempt to build housing on the site refused by Greenwich Council planners.

Isle of Man-based property developer Mendoza Ltd, which makes its money from buying pubs and converting at least part of the land to residential use, had wanted to build a three-bedroom property on land behind the pub’s beer garden.

A letter sent to the firm’s agent before Christmas said it was rejected because the property’s “scale, bulk, site coverage, contemporary design and cramped appearance… would fail to preserve the character and appearance of the [Charlton Village] Conservation Area”.

Planners also say the scheme broke several London and local planning policies.

The letter also notes that Mendoza did not seek advice from the council before putting the application in, and that it should talk to planners before submitting a new proposal.

White Swan planning application
The rejected proposal was for one house, sunk partly below ground level

The house would have been partly built below ground level to reduce its impact on the surrounding conservation area, and would have had no windows that could open onto the beer garden.

Bermondsey-based architecture firm Milan Babic said in the application: “We believe that the new proposal preserves, enhances and uplifts the character of the site, thereby creating a habitable, functional and aesthetically woven architecture.”

A first attempt, to build two homes, in October 2015, was thrown out by Greenwich Council planners. That decision was upheld by a planning inspector. A second attempt was rejected earlier in 2017.

White Swan beer garden
The proposed house would have sat behind the pub’s beer garden

Attention will now turn to what Mendoza will do next – whether it will appeal, revise its plans once again, or look at the pub itself, which is rented by the team behind Greenwich’s Pelton Arms.

Earlier this year the firm lost a planning appeal against Camden Council’s refusal to allow it to turn the Carpenters Arms in King’s Cross into flats. However, in May it won an appeal against Tower Hamlets refusing it permission to build a hotel around the Duke of Wellington in Spitalfields.

Regenerating Charlton: What to do with the old summer house?

Charlton summer house

We’ve written before about whether Charlton needs a regeneration plan. We’ve also written about the challenges ahead for Charlton House under its new owners. There’s one place in SE7 where these two themes come neatly together.

You may well recognise the old public toilet opposite St Luke’s Church. It’s been locked shut for about a decade now. There’s a longer and more fascinating history to this building, though – it’s a Grade I-listed summer house, built in about 1630 and designed by Inigo Jones.

If it was in Greenwich, it’d be cherished. If it was in Woolwich, developers would probably have bulldozed it for “investment opportunities”. This is Charlton, though, so it’s just sat there, closed.

Now Severndroog Castle is back in rude health, it’s probably the most neglected historic building in Greenwich borough. It quietly passed from the council to the Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust in July 2014 – so it’s now their job to decide what to do with it.

If the centre of Charlton is to be regenerated, the trust is going to have to play a big part in that. It’s recently found a long-term tenant for Charlton Assembly Rooms, which was recently refurbished by Greenwich Council, but what future is there for the summer house?

We’d like to make a small suggestion. This could make a brilliant place for people to try out small businesses. A former public toilet near Loughborough Junction station is being used for just that – and there’s no reason why we think this can’t happen in Charlton.

Cider I Up, Loughborough Junction
The Platform Cider Bar at Loughborough Junction. The building has also been used as a bike market, jewellery shop and cosmetics retailer.

The Platform is a project backed by Lambeth Council and Meanwhile Space.

If you’ve got a business idea, The Platform gives you training and advice, and then allows you to try out your dream in one of three locations – two railway arches and an old toilet at Ridgway Road.

The best-known use for the Ridgway Road toilet has been as a cider bar – it’s well worth a visit if it reopens – but the space has also been used for a farm shop, art gallery, workshops, bicycle market, organic cosmetics shop and jewellery shop.

Perhaps a cider bar next to a pub might not work out (or maybe it would if you avoided matchdays?), but putting the summer house to good use for small businesses is certainly better than leaving it empty. It’s just an idea – and if Charlton’s fortunes are to be revived, it seems like a very good one to us.