Charlton hustings: Councillors acted ‘appallingly’ over Victoria Way scheme, ex-planning officer says

Victoria Way, February 2017
The Victoria Way site last year. Demolition teams have now moved in.

A former Greenwich Council planning officer who is standing for election in Charlton this week says councillors acted “appallingly” when they decided to back a controversial development in Victoria Way without explaining why.

The eight-strong planning committee faced jeers from the public after after endorsing the Fairview New Homes proposals for a former warehouse site, which include two 10-storey blocks and 144 car parking spaces, as well as a nursery and office space.

Neighbours had called the plans “overbearing” and had voiced concerns about traffic congestion and the lack of facilities for residents. Others criticised a lack of consultation with residents about the scheme.

In the meeting overseen by vice-chair Ray Walker (Labour, Eltham West), councillors Mark Elliott (Conservative, Eltham South), Clive Mardner (Labour, Abbey Wood), Danny Thorpe (Labour, Shooters Hill – council deputy leader and regeneration cabinet member), Sarah Merrill (Labour, Shooters Hill), Norman Adams (Labour, Kidbrooke with Hornfair), Steve Offord (Labour, Abbey Wood) backed the scheme without discussig 125 objections from residents, three written objections from local councillors in Peninsula and Charlton wards and concerns raised by Transport for London and the Greater London Authority about the high level of car parking spaces.

Only Thorpe attempted to offer any explanation when it came to vote on the scheme. Conservative Geoff Brighty (Blackheath Westcombe) voted against it.

At the Charlton ward hustings on Saturday, Green candidate Clare Loops – a former planning policy manager for Greenwich who is standing in Thursday’s council election – condemned the way the councillors acted.

“Just looking at the way the committee is structured at the moment, they should be discussing the points raised, and that is appalling that it didn’t happen,” Loops – who now works for neighbouring Bexley – said.

But incumbent Labour councillor Gary Parker said: “What you have to remember is that the Planning Board is not whipped, and it wasn’t just Labour candidates that voted for it. They get the papers in advance and they get officers’ recommendations, and there was a recommendation in favour of it.

“I do think we should listen to residents a lot more, but the complexities of planning law make that very difficult.”

‘Charlton has no representation on planning committee’

It is normal convention in a Greenwich planning meeting for councillors to discuss the application – no explanation has been given as to why they didn’t on the Fairview Victoria Way case.

Parker agreed with Loops that the council needed to bring some applications to planning committees at earlier stages to obtain residents’ input.

Fellow Labour candidate Gary Dillon said that the Charlton area had no representation on the Planning Board, which is the council’s main planning commitee, “I hope that changes after the next election,” he said.

But Lib Dem candidate Ian Gerrard responded: “Parties decide who serves on committees – if Charlton isn’t being represented, that’s down to Labour.”

Women’s Equality Party candidate Pamela Ritchie also attended the hustings, along with one of the three Conservative candidates, Macharia Gakuru, and a second Lib Dem candidate, Charlie Rome. Linda Perks – the Labour candidate condemned by a judge for rule-breaking in a union election – did not attend.

Planning issues dominated the hustings, with concerns raised about the fate of the Charlton Riverside masterplan in the light of the planning application by Rockwell for 771 new homes on an industrial estate at Anchor & Hope Lane including five 10-storey blocks.

“All residents of Charlton could be affected by this,” Ritchie said, adding: “We’ve already seen the segregation in Woolwich between the new-builds and the town of Woolwich.”

“I don’t like calling it Charlton Riverside,” Loops said. “The best way to integrate it would be to call it ‘Charlton’.”

Parker said the council was consulting via the Charlton Stakeholder Forum, which he called “a public forum”. “I’ve been at some of them, I haven’t seen any of the opposition there.”

(The Charlton Champion has never been invited or asked to publicise its meetings. Furthermore, this website understands that at the last meeting, representatives of developer Rockwell outnumbered all other attendees.)

He also pointed to the council’s Better Together meetings and public planning meetings – such as the one which discussed Victoria Way where councillors ignored residents.

Loops said it was “worrying” that council officers had recommended the Rockwell development even though it was contrary to the masterplan. “What’s the point in having a plan if you’re not going to follow it?,” Lib Dem Rome said.

There was also criticism of both council leader Denise Hyland and deputy leader Danny Thorpe sitting on the Planning Board – Greenwich is the only council in London where the leader sits on its main planning committee. Gary Parker said a leader or deputy leader on the planning board “leaves you open to potentially being compromised, blurring the distinction between the [council’s] planning function and being a member of the executive”. “If I was in that position, I wouldn’t be on it, but that is for them to decide.”

On Sunday, a resident at the hustings for Woolwich Riverside ward – which covers some of the eastern side of Charlton – also brought up former Greenwich Council leader Chris Roberts’ role as deputy chairman of Cratus Communications, which has acted for the developers of both the Fairview Victoria Way and Rockwell Charlton Riverside schemes. “I suppose ex-leaders of councils have to earn a living,” Labour councillor John Fahy said.

Ideas for Charlton’s future

Back at the Charlton ward hustings, candidates were also asked how they would improve Charlton Village and Charlton Church Lane. Conservative Macharia Gakuru said he would change Charlton Church Lane into a one-way street, while Lib Dem Gerrard suggested the council could temporarily lower business rates.

Loops said: “We need to make sure footfall in the Village is all of us using it. We could be changing some of the A5 uses – hot food takeaways – into more of a cafe culture, to provide more places to hang out. And slow down the traffic – 20mph is much better.”

Parker said: “We need to look at more pop-up shops and a range of other short-term measures to support businesses and people who want to get into business. I think the council could be more flexible about this.” Ritchie complained about the state of the pavements on Charlton Church Lane and suggested parking in that street could be moved.

All candidates also spoke out against the current plans for the proposed Enderby Wharf cruise liner terminal in east Greenwich, which will allow ships using it to use their own highly polluting engines rather than energy from the National Grid.

All 51 seats in Greenwich borough are up for election on Thursday – see candidates, manifestos and more hustings coverage over on 853. Of the councillors that passed the Fairview Victoria Way scheme, all are up for re-election in their various wards except Mark Elliott and Ray Walker; while Steve Offord was deselected in Abbey Wood and is now contesting Eltham North.

Video from selected parts of Saturday’s Charlton hustings – including opening and closing statements – can be seen on YouTube.

The Charlton Champion sent a questionnaire to candidates…

Charlton ward candidates (three are elected): Gary Dillon (Labour), Macharia Gakuru (Conservative), Ian Gerrard (Liberal Democrat), Rebecca Ireland (Liberal Democrat), Catherine Latham (Conservative), Clare Loops (Green), Maya Mann (Conservative), Gary Parker (Labour), Linda Perks (Labour), Pamela Ritchie (Women’s Equality Party), Charlie Rome (Liberal Democrat). Polls are open from 7am to 10pm on Thursday 3 May.

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    Cllr Gary Parker’s Charlton Ward Report: Winter 2017-18

    Gary Parker

    Dear Charlton residents, this is my current ward report. It’s a snapshot of my recent activities, so it does not cover individual case work or a range of other meetings. I try to highlight a few key activities which may be of general interest. Please contact me direct if you want more information: gary.parker@royalgreenwich.gov.uk, Twitter: @CllrG2013.

    Planning & Development Issues – I have been working with local groups and individuals regarding a range of planning issues. I opposed the recent application by Fairview Homes, in the Victoria Way area -this application was passed by the planning board recently. The Rockwell development on Charlton Riverside is also still an issue – a revised planning application for a range of buildings/10 storey towers with only 25% ‘affordable housing’ has been submitted. I object to the revised planning application as the social rent/ housing element needs to be much higher, there are other related issues too, regarding this development. There is a large group of residents and other groups in the area actively opposing this development- I will support them as much as I can.

     Charlton Society – I attended the Charlton Society meeting on redevelopment and regeneration of the village and surrounding areas, together with other councillors and candidates from the ward, some good ideas came forward, I will be working with the CS and others to develop and support these ideas wherever possible. A meeting is scheduled in the near future to further consider these issues and proposals by myself and other councillors/ stakeholders.

    Community Wealth Conference, Preston–  I attended this on 8th Feb with other councillors from all over the UK, through a range of measures including support for small businesses, social enterprises and co-operatives, changing procurement practises, investment of pension funds and working with other public sector agencies. They have put back £200 million into the local economy and safeguarded and created 1600 jobs in the locality. The Preston model is now official Labour party policy and is now recommended best practice in England. I will report back more about this is due course for anyone interested see – www.councils.coop/case-studies/community-wealth-building.  I have long argued for similar measures in Greenwich. I will be advocating a range of new measures related to this; if I am re-elected at the forthcoming local elections.

    Events & Engagements – A selection

    • Attended two Better Together Community Engagement events covering Charlton
    • Attended the Friend of Charlton Park AGM
    • I attend the event to mark International Women’s day on 8th March
    • Attended Campaign For State Education group meeting
    • Met with council officers to discuss special anti-social behaviour review meeting I chaired which went very successfully
    • Raised some issues regarding repairs in cold weather and council policy.

    SURGERIES/CASEWORK – Raised a very large amount of housing and planning related casework, community safety and crime related issues which is ongoing.

    Dealt with a number of emergency cases due to the cold weather and have raised a number of gritting related cases I also raised a number of issues around tenancy conditions and service standards in cold weather.

    COUNCIL – I attended and chaired the Community Safety and Environment scrutiny panel and Overview & Scrutiny Panel and the Corporate Finance Scrutiny panel.

    COUNCIL – I attended and chaired the Community Safety and Environment scrutiny panel and attended the January 2018 council meeting which was lobbied by the far right and their supporters. I also attended the February 2018 full council meeting and debated the budget and council tax setting with the opposition. See the council’s website- www.royalgreenwich.gov.uk for further information and streaming of this and other council meetings.

    Cllr Gary Parker’s Charlton Ward Report: Summer 2017

    Gary Parker

    Charlton ward councillor Gary Parker brings us up to date with what he’s been doing in the local area and at the town hall.

    As a Charlton ward councillor I have dealt with over 2,500 personal cases both at my surgery and on an informal basis, with many positive results. I have significant knowledge, skills and experience on many issues including, housing, noise and nuisance, employment, benefits, anti-social behaviour, education, air quality, council services and social care. Since I have been a councillor I have conducted over 400 surgeries at Charlton House and other locations. Myself and my co-councillors conduct a surgery every Friday on a rota basis at Charlton House, 7.00-8.00pm, no appointment is needed. Or you can email, call or tweet us.

    CHARLTON/COMMUNITY

    Community & Environment – I have met local residents with regard to street
    cleaning, environmental issues and anti-social behaviour in the Wellington Gardens/
    Charlton Church Lane/ Floyd Road/ Victoria Way areas. I am continuing to monitor this
    situation.

    Air Pollution – I have been approached by local residents regarding a number of
    issues related to air pollution and planning, I am currently researching these issues and will raise them at the appropriate level. I also asked a question on this issue at the last Regeneration Scrutiny panel in July. I continue to be concerned about the high levels of pollution in our area and I am working hard to raise these issues when I can and will continue to work with local groups and individuals.

    Planning – I have been working with the Charlton Society, Charlton Central Residents Association and Wyndcliff Residents Association, and other local groups and individuals regarding a range of planning issues. I have raised a wide range of planning issues again on behalf of local residents. I have objected to a planning application in the Victoria Way area, which will now go to the planning board. I also attended the July meeting of the planning board.

    I have also meet local residents regarding planning applications related to Fred Styles House and issues related to The Heights in the post-Grenfell environment. I am closely reviewing planning applications with regard to health and safety and air pollution issues.

    Raised some issues about the impact of revalued business rates at the Labour Group [of Greenwich councillors]. This will also have an impact on small businesses/ retailers in Charlton. I am very concerned about the impact on local businesses. I am still following these up and will report on this at a future date.

    Ward Budgets – Submitted a further ward budget project to officers for consideration and I am now pleased to say that the ward budget request from the Charlton Society for their events programme has now been agreed by myself and my co-councillors. I also gave advice to other groups wishing to apply – please contact myself or my co-councillors for advice on this.

    Raised some issues about the impact of revalued business rates, at the Labour Group this will also impact on small businesses/ retailers in Charlton. I am very concerned about the impact on local businesses.

    Attended a meeting with other councillors regarding the possibility of supporting a Charlton sign post in the Village.

    I attended the July meeting of the Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust of which I am a
    member.

    I attended the 95 th birthday party of Jean Crocombe, local resident, former teacher in
    the area and Labour Party member – my best wishes to you Jean! and also engaged
    with local residents present about issues of interest and listened to their views.

    SURGERIES/CASEWORK

    Still dealing with a large amount of planning and housing related casework. Raised a very large amount of planning related casework, which is ongoing. Attended all relevant surgeries and did some home visits too.

    COUNCIL

    Attended main council meeting in July

    Chaired Community Safety & Environment Scrutiny (CSE) Panel and attended Regeneration Scrutiny panel.

    I also convened a meeting with council officers regarding the special meeting of the
    CSE panel on anti-social behaviour in February 2018, more on this in the autumn.

    Thanks to Gary for his report. If you’ve an issue to raise with him, please drop him a line via the council website: royalgreenwich.gov.uk/garyparker. He’s also on Twitter: @CllrG2013.

    What’s happening at Charlton House? A Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust update

    Charlton House’s Summer House is being refurbished by the Trust

    Following on from Cllr Gary Parker‘s ward report, here’s his update on what is happening at Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust – which controls Charlton House – where he is a trustee. Comments are open if you have any views on the Trust and its work.

    Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust celebrated its third anniversary on 1 July 2017. A new three-year Service Level Agreement (SLA) has been agreed from 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2020 with the Royal Borough of Greenwich.

    The Trust recently announced a grant of c.£160,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Resilient Heritage programme. The project, A Resilient Future for Greenwich Heritage, will support the Trust in developing and delivering its vision and planning, growth and training.

    A grant of £20,000 was awarded by the Ministry of Defence Community Covenant to create a Woolwich History Walk. This project will be delivered in partnership with Heronsgate Primary School.

    The Trust is a partner in the Cultural Destinations programme, funded by Arts Council England and Visit Britain.

    Funding and support in kind has also been provided by the Arts Marketing Association. The Museum is participating in the Future Proof Museums programme and the Prince’s Regeneration Trust is also providing mentoring support to the Trust staff and volunteers.

    The Trust has received planning consent to carry out a programme of enabling works at the Summer House, Charlton House. This Grade I-listed building, built around 1630, was converted to public toilets in the inter-war period. This facility has been out of use for approximately 10 years. The works will include asbestos strip-out and removal of toilets and partitions to bring the structure back into community use and to generate additional income. This work is part funded by the continuing support of the World Monuments Fund Britain with a grant of £25,000.

    The Trust is working with St Alfege Church, Greenwich on the Heart of Greenwich: Place & People Heritage Lottery-funded project. Project research identified an original Nicholas Hawksmoor drawing in the collections of the Royal Borough, held in the Heritage Centre. The detail of the North Porch is a rare find. St Alfege was the first London church completed by Hawksmoor.

    The new Making Woolwich display opened at the Greenwich Heritage Centre in December 2016. Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, and Royal Artillery Museums Ltd, this gallery at the Heritage Centre tells the story of the 300-year history of the Royal Artillery in Woolwich, 1716-2016.

    The Friends of Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust was re-launched on 30 June 2017. The Trust is funding a Friends Secretary post one day per week to support development of an events programme.

    The Royal Arsenal Woolwich Historic Society has closed business and has agreed to transfer remaining funds to the Trust to support its work. This funding is valued at approximately £8,000.

    Thanks to Gary for both this and the ward update. For more information about the Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust, visit its website.

    What’s Charlton ward councillor Gary Parker been up to? Here’s his latest report

    Gary Parker

    Charlton ward councillor Gary Parker presents his update on what he has been up to in recent months. Comments are open below if there are issues you’d like to raise…

    Apologies for the delay in publishing this report, it was originally going to be published in late April/early May 2017, but due to the surprise general election and various issues related to purdah (restrictions on what can be done during election periods) . I was unable to do this. My next and more up to date report will be published towards the end of the summer and be more current.


    CHARLTON/COMMUNITY

    Planning – I have been working with the Charlton Society, Charlton Central Residents’ Association and Wyndcliff Residents Association, and other local groups and individuals regarding a range of planning issues. I have raised a wide range of planning issues again on behalf of local residents.

    Had further discussions with residents regarding proposed new meeting hall with regard to the Our Lady of Grace primary school planning application.

    I have raised a wide range of planning issues again on behalf of local residents. These include the proposed development on Victoria Way, Charlton Church Lane issues and other smaller local developments, some of which when raised by me have been reviewed and refused by officers.

    I have objected to a number of other planning applications which I will report on in my next report as I have requested ‘call in’ – a request for the issue to be heard before a planning committee on some of these issues.

    Raised some issues with Cabinet member for Transport about water leaks and the lack of action by Thames Water, they are taking up to 4 weeks to deal with these, some have not been fixed since our last meeting – if you have an issue or see such a leak let me know!

    Met with Transport For Charlton activists, re: future local issues and the SE Trains consultation, the new franchise document for SE Trains is proposing major changes to services.

    Distributed leaflets and attended Campaign For State Education public meeting on Education Cuts in March.

    Raised some issues about the impact of revalued business rates, at the Labour Group this will also impact on small businesses/ retailers in Charlton. I am very concerned about the impact on local businesses.

    Attended Apprenticeship week event at Woolwich Job Centre.

    Attended a meeting of Campaign For State Education steering group.

    Researched a number of issues relating to Air Pollution in the area after representations from local groups – I am working with other councillors on these issues.

    Submitted a further ward budget project to officers for consideration.

    Addressed a range of local inquiries regarding Charlton Riverside Regeneration Programme.

    Raised some issues about the impact of revalued business rates at the Labour Group [of Greenwich councillors] – this will also impact on small businesses/ retailers in Charlton. I am very concerned about the impact on local businesses.

    Held meeting with four LSE students with regard to Charlton Riverside programme.

    SURGERIES/CASEWORK

    Still dealing with a large amount of planning and housing related casework.

    Raised a very large amount of planning related casework, which is ongoing.

    Attended all relevant surgeries and did some home visits for older people too.

    COUNCIL

    Attended main council meeting in February and spoke out against cuts and austerity and also attended the March meeting too and the special meeting of the council in May 2017.

    Attended Corporate Finance Scrutiny Panel, Overview and Scrutiny, Regeneration Scrutiny panels and all other relevant meetings.

    Get in touch with Cllr Gary Parker via the Greenwich Council website.

    Cllr Gary Parker’s Charlton ward report: March 2017

    Cllr Gary Parker

    Here’s an update from Charlton ward councillor Gary Parker on what he has been up to over the winter.

    I have met with residents and raised issues with the Chair of Planning about planning issues – the council’s planning department is now being restructured. This is a direct result of my continued intervention on these issues for local groups and residents. I am confident this service will improve, once new measures are in place.

    I attended funeral of local resident Robert Crocombe and would like to pay tribute to him and his wife Jean for years of steadfast loyalty and work for the local community and the Labour Party – a great man and a sad loss to the Charlton community.

    I formally objected to the Rockwell planning application for a 28 storey tower block on the new Charlton Riverside. I raised this issue at the Charlton Society AGM in October and will be working with local groups to oppose this and ensure we have full public consultation on other local planning applications and Charlton Riverside.

    I intervened to get the Xmas lights switched on in Charlton Village.

    I attended the Co-op Party AGM at Charlton House.

    Worked with co-councillors to support local organisations with Charlton ward budgets, organisations that have been funded include – Big Red Bus Club, Charlton Toy Library, Thorntree School, Global Fusion Arts, Greenwich Food Bank and others currently being processed. If you want a project funded, please email me for the application form: gary.parker[at]royalgreenwich.gov.uk

    I helped establish ownership of the notice board next to the Assembly Rooms in the Village, this will now be updated with new notices.

    I attended the SE London Chamber of Commerce AGM.

    I attended the Federation of Small Businesses SE London Branch AGM.

    I attended the awards ceremony for Greenwich University/Santander awards event for local students.

    I met Sean Kelleher from Business in the Community for a discussion on social enterprise in the borough and related issues.

    I attended 3 Campaign For State Education meetings.

    I attended a Charlton area community engagement event at Charlton House.

    I chaired the inaugural meeting of Transport For Charlton.

    I attended the Charlton Central Residents Association and Charlton Society AGMs.

    I attended a range of planning board meetings.

    I attended meetings of Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust.

    I attended the Charlton & Kidbrooke Housing panel.

    Met Greenwich University about the development of workers’ co-operatives and other non-profit making models in Greenwich.

    I attended meeting with a local Community Energy organisation about their work

    SURGERIES/CASEWORK

    I am still dealing with a large amount of planning and housing related casework. I have dealt with a number of issues around blue badge allocation. I raised a large amount of housing casework, which is ongoing.

    I attended all relevant surgeries and did some home visits for older people too.

    I have raised a significant number of inquiries about street cleaning and fly-tipping.

    COUNCIL

    I attended the two main council meetings. [This would now be three as Gary submitted this before the most recent council meeting at the end of February.]

    I attended the launch of the Fairness Commission project in Greenwich on anti-poverty issues.

    I chaired 3 Community Safety and Environment Panel meetings

    I attended Corporate Finance Scrutiny Panel, Overview and scrutiny, Regeneration Scrutiny panels, have raised issues about community safety, air quality and electoral registration as part of this work.

    I attended a special meeting on affordable housing.

    Liaised with council officers over a public realm special meeting of the Community Safety and Environment scrutiny panel in January and chaired the meeting, which was a review of how we could improve the look, cleanliness and design of out public realm with a focus on parks and open spaces

    If you want to get in touch with Gary, his email is gary.parker[at]royalgreenwich.gov.uk, or you can follow him on Twitter at @CllrG2013.

    What’s happening at Charlton House? An update from Cllr Gary Parker

    Charlton House

    Here’s the latest on Charlton House and the Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust (the body that runs it) from Charlton ward councillor Gary Parker…

    This is a summary of the work I have been involved in with Board members, staff, volunteers and the public with regard to the Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust/ Charlton House.
    Councillor Gary Parker

    Charlton House

    Donald Insall Associates, who completed the Condition Survey for Charlton House, hosted a seminar about Jacobean architecture with speakers including Professor Malcolm Airs of the University of Oxford, who returned a key to the Charlton House team, gifted to him 50 years previously by a former caretaker!

    Charlton House key

    Making Woolwich

    Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust is delighted to announce the opening of the new permanent exhibition Making Woolwich – The Royal Regiment of Artillery in Woolwich 1716-2016 at Greenwich Heritage Centre, on the historic Royal Arsenal, Woolwich.

    Developed in collaboration with the people of Woolwich and the Royal Borough of Greenwich. The museum team talked to over 300 residents to discover their stories and histories of military life in Woolwich.

    Opening addresses were given by Len Duvall OBE, Chair of Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust; Major General Nick Eeles, Royal Artillery; and Cllr Denise Hyland, Leader of Greenwich Council.

    The gallery was formally opened by the daughters of Woolwich men who served in the First World War, and whose stories are shared in Making Woolwich. The project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Royal Regiment of Artillery, Royal Artillery Museums Ltd, Friends of the Royal Artillery Collections and the Royal Artillery Historical Trust.

    41 Pattison Road

    Focusing on one Plumstead home, this new exhibition at the Heritage Centre explores the lives of the residents of 41 Pattison Road, through the museum & archive of Royal Greenwich. The story – spans one hundred years including two World Wars – and tells the story of the day-to-day life of the Downar family and features items including motor car ration books, national identity cards and aircraft damage insurance details.

    Horn Fair

    Moved back to the original date in autumn to coincide with the Feast of St Luke, Horn Fair took place on 16 October 2016. In its second year the event was a great success with craft demonstrations including stone masonry, stone carving, decorative plasterwork, and a Delft tile design workshop. Traditional music was again provided by Trustee Malcolm Woods and friends. A marketplace featured stalls from local businesses including Roger Wharf, Charlton House beekeeper who did a roaring trade in sales of our very own honey!

    We will begin planning for Horn Fair 2017 in the new year, with a proposed date of 22 October 2017.

    Charlton noticeboard

    The Trust have recently refurbished a community notice board at Charlton Assembly Rooms. Requests for items to be posted should be made to the Trust at office[at]rght.org.uk.