Developer Rockwell told to consult community about new Charlton Riverside plan

Rockwell Charlton Riverside
What Rockwell says the development’s residential garden areas will look like

The developer hoping to build the first major housing development on the Charlton Riverside has been told it needs to properly consult the local community before Greenwich Council will decide on its plans.

Rockwell, which is acting for Channel Islands-based Leopard Guernsey Anchor Propco Ltd, plans to build 771 homes on land behind and next to Atlas Gardens and Derrick Gardens, including five 10-storey blocks.

But local residents’ groups complained that Rockwell had not consulted them properly on the project – which has changed dramatically from the developer’s original plan to build glass towers on the site.

Now they have been told by Greenwich Council that Rockwell has been advised to, and has promised to, consult residents on its proposals.

Led by the Derrick and Atlas Gardens Residents Association, a loose coalition of local organisations has now formed around the proposals, including the Charlton Society, Charlton Central Residents Association and others – with the shock of the Fairview Victoria Way planning decision prompting many to keep a close eye on the Rockwell scheme.

Charlton Society planning chair Roden Richardson said working together and using social media was proving to be effective.

“Any number of people are now contacted simultaneously and instantaneously to distribute a given message,” he said.

“In the case of the latest application that meant all our fellow community stakeholder members and councillors, leading council staff, the Greater London Authority and, of course, our MP, all virtually at the touch of a button. If we handle this kind of thing wisely, it might begin to help a bit to make community and council more like constructive partners than frustrated strangers.”

In total, 11 new buildings are planned for the site, with space for retail and commercial use alongside Anchor & Hope Lane. 210 car parking spaces are planned. But the developer only wants to provide 5% “affordable” housing on the site, although its application says it is in talks with Greenwich Council about a “growth scenario”.

Cratus Communications, the lobbying company which has former Greenwich Council leader Chris Roberts as its deputy chairman, involved in the project. Former Greenwich chief executive Mary Ney is listed on the Cratus website as an “associate”, while one-time Greenwich Labour borough organiser Michael Stanworth heads up the company’s London lobbying operation.


Councillors oppose Fairview’s 10-storey Victoria Way development

40 Victoria Way design
The plan includes 10-storey blocks next to the railway line (image taken from the original application)

Three local councillors have submitted objections to developer Fairview’s plans to build 330 new homes and 144 car parking spaces on a warehouse site off Victoria Way.

Greenwich Council’s main planning committee will meet to decide on the application on Tuesday 9 January, but the plans – which feature two 10-storey blocks, one 9-storey block and three 8-storey blocks – have attracted local opposition due to their height and design.

Peninsula ward councillor Stephen Brain and Charlton’s Allan MacCarthy and Gary Parker have raised concerns about the proposal, along with the Greenwich Conservation Group, the Charlton Society, and 125 individuals.

10 members of the public supported the application, some citing the 35% “affordable” housing provision – 23.3% social rent, 11.7% “intermediate”/shared ownership.

Brain calls the development “out of scale” and complains about loss of light – concerns echoed by residents in Dupree Road and Gurdon Road – while MacCarthy says it is “too large”, “out of keeping with the principally Victorian and other later housing of the area” and will worsen existing congestion, posing particular risks to pupils at Fossdene School.

40 Victoria Way proposal
View up Victoria Way taken from the original application

The Charlton Society has branded it a “monolithic, totally alien imposition” that is “devoid of human scale or any sense of enclosure”, suggesting the smaller next door development as a template to start from.

Transport for London wants to see most of the parking spaces removed from the scheme, which sits between both Westcombe Park and Charlton stations, while the Greater London Authority has also raised concerns about the high level of car parking spaces.

40 Victoria Way application

The level of opposition from councillors marks this out as a particularly sensitive application within Greenwich Council’s ruling Labour group.

Worth watching will be whether council leader Denise Hyland and deputy leader Danny Thorpe take their places on the planning committee – Greenwich is rare among London boroughs in having the council leader directly involved in these decisions – and whether the relatively high number of homes for social rent have helped seal the deal.

Consultation for the proposal has been handled by Cratus Communications, whose deputy chairman is former council leader Chris Roberts. In July 2016, Hyland and fellow planning board member Norman Adams joined Roberts on a town twinning trip to Berlin.

A much more modest development close to Eltham station was rejected by the same committee in September on the grounds of lack of car parking.

The 9 January meeting will also decide on a 100-bed extension to Queen Elizabeth Hospital on land facing Charlton Cemetery.

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 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.

Pop-up Pottery Shop: Meet Charlton’s ceramicists at The Corner

This Thursday, Friday, and Saturday there’s a chance to start your Christmas shopping, support local potters, and have a nose into the former pet shop on the corner of Bramshot Avenue and Sherington Road. Over to Pop Up Pots organiser Louise Tomlins:

I am a former midwife and now work as The Accidental Knitter, producing knitted and other handmade items. My husband and I bought 96 Bramshot Avenue as a rebuild project and it’s still very much a work in progress! I have had a number of pop-up shops over the last 12 months and have been overwhelmed by the support from the local community.

I met Fiona Veacock during this time and am delighted to be hosting a pottery pop up to showcase her work along with Anne Richards, Katherine Joekes and my own.

I am lucky to have my own wheel and share a studio with Anne and having making a piece of pottery as an item on my a bucket list has changed the direction of my life. The plan for the shop in the long term is for it to be a coffee shop but that is very much my husband’s project. 

The event runs at The Corner, 96 Bramshot Avenue, London SE7 7JN on:

Thursday 8.30am-4.30pm

Friday 8.30am-4.30pm

Saturday 10am-4pm.

PS. We’d like to feature more local artists and makers on The Charlton Champion – as time allows – and we’re particularly interested if you produce work that depicts or features the local area. Get in touch with us here!

The Alexandra Players bring Sir Alan Ayckbourn’s ‘Season’s Greetings’ to Charlton

The Alexandra Players return to the Alexandra Hall on Bramshot Avenue at the end of this month with a production of Season’s Greetings, written by Sir Alan Ayckbourn. The play, directed by Juliette Harrison, runs from Wednesday 25th to Saturday 28th October. Tickets will be available on the door, or you can book or reserve tickets online, by email, text or phone on 07867 627987.