Use volunteers to get food, Greenwich Council tells shielding tenant cut off by building works

Fletching Road
The access route to Louise Noyce’s home was cut off on Wednesday

A disabled woman living in a Greenwich Council flat has been told to rely on volunteers to bring in food because her usual access route to her home has been cut off by contractors building new homes.

Louise Noyce lives in a block of flats in Charlton next door to where Meridian Home Start, a council spin-off company, is building 29 houses and eight flats on the site of an old sheltered accommodation block and garages.

The construction work cut off access to the flats from Fletching Road, a quiet street behind Charlton Village, apart from a narrow alleyway. The residents all have Fletching Road in their addresses.

This final remaining route to their road was blocked on Wednesday, with residents told that they would have to use a bin storage area on Charlton Church Lane to get in and out of their homes. The route is expected to be closed for about eight weeks.

Fletching Road
Residents used to have deliveries taken down this alley, which is now closed for 8 weeks

Noyce, who uses a crutch or a mobile scooter to get around, has been shielding during the lockdown and relies on supermarket deliveries for her supplies. She is also recovering from injuries sustained after falling while trying to use the bin storage area, which sits on top of a slope. “My knee gave out on the slope because it is too hard on my joints,” she said.

She has been told by her supermarket that because she cannot provide a recognised address on Charlton Church Lane, she can no longer get deliveries.

“The shop said they can only deliver to my bank card address,” she said. “I have to eat to take medication, so either I don’t eat or I go out to get my shopping myself and break the lockdown law and hope I don’t get coronavirus.”

Fletching Road
Noyce injured herself using the council’s suggested access route, via the bins

She said others in her block are elderly or disabled and face similar problems. “I am not the only one who will have to do this if we don’t get access to our road.”
After raising the issue with the building contractor in November, and getting nowhere, she tried emailing Greenwich Council leader Danny Thorpe earlier this month. She was advised by a council officer to use the town-hall’s volunteer-led community hub service to get supplies.

Noyce, who is 50, has had to spend the pandemic stuck at home next to the noisy building site, making her depression and anxiety worse. “I don’t like asking for help because I will try and look after myself,” she said. “I have had people help me but I get ripped off or they can’t help when I need it.”

The new development, Duke Court, replaces a sheltered accommodation block, Fred Styles House. The 37 homes were given planning permission as council housing in October 2017; however the development has been transferred to Meridian Home Start, a spin-off company which charges tenants about 65 per cent of market rent, compared with the 40 per cent typically charged for a council flat.

Fletching Road
Noyce has been stuck at home next to a building site during the pandemic

At the time, residents complained of a lack of consultation about the planned work – and the then-chair of planning, Labour councillor Mark James, said more work needed to be done in communicating with residents. Three years on, it appears his words have not been heeded.

“I had no idea until it started coming down,” Noyce said. “I feel they should have moved us all out. I feel as if I don’t have a voice in the matter.”

When visiting the block on Thursday, The Charlton Champion spoke to an elderly neighbour of Noyce’s who told how she took a bus one stop to reach Charlton Village because she was unable to walk up the hill at Charlton Church Lane. She added that the problems accessing the block were compounded by a broken lift.

Fletching Road
Work on the new homes is taking place behind the plywood partition

Despite Noyce’s pleas for help, the council has been insistent that using Charlton Church Lane should be sufficient, even though her supermarket will not recognise the address. “Please could you advise delivery companies that the most appropriate access arrangement to your flat is via Charlton Church Lane,” a council officer wrote on Wednesday.

“They don’t care what happens to disabled and old people,” Noyce said.

“I don’t know what I will do next, I will just try and look after myself the best I can. I will keep trying with the council because what they are doing is wrong.”

Fletching Road
The new homes replace a sheltered accommodation block

A Greenwich Council spokesperson told The Charlton Champion: “Fletching Road remains open to vehicles and no area of the road is due to be closed off. As part of the building works, a footpath will be closed for eight weeks and affected residents were given advanced warning by the contractor beginning a year ago.

“In the interim, affected properties can be accessed from Charlton Church Lane via a footpath to the street. Signs have been installed advising visitors to the area of access routes to the various blocks on the estate.

“Residents should advise their delivery companies of these temporary arrangements. It is disappointing if supermarkets are not currently recognising this alternative route – and we would urge them to rectify this.

“If shielding residents are unable to receive their groceries, the council’s community hub can help.”


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37 new council homes to replace Charlton Village sheltered housing

Fletching Road drawing
The proposed development on Fletching Road, with Charlton Church Lane to the left

Plans for 37 new council homes to replace a 1980s sheltered housing block behind Charlton Village were backed by Greenwich Council’s main planning committee last night.

The council’s Planning Board endorsed the scheme by three votes to one, with two abstentions, after concerns were raised about the way the council had gone about consulting people who live next to Fred Styles House, which faces demolition.

The block will be replaced by three 1-bedroom and five 2-bedroom flats, along with 16 one-bedroom, seven 2-bedroom and six 3-bedroom houses, all for social rent.

While the current block only allows access to Charlton Church Lane through a gate, the new scheme will see two pedestrian walkways linking it with Fletching Road, which runs behind The Village.

Residents of the homes that surround Fred Styles House have voiced concerns that turning their area into a pedestrian thoroughfare will lead to an increase in crime.

Fred Styles House
Fred Styles House as seen from Charlton Church Lane
Fred Styles House
The current building has 42 bedsits and closed in October 2013

One resident, who lives next door to the proposed development, told councillors she only found out last week that the development would come right up against the side of her house – building over a path she uses to access her front garden, particularly when emptying bins.

Another complained that construction of three one-bedroom flats would block out daylight and lead to two homes being “enclosed like caves”, while one objector said residents’ questions had been met with “stock answers, don’t knows or ‘we’ll get back to you'”.

Fred Styles House
Many of the upset neighbours’ homes have this view of the current Fred Styles House

One of the architects behind the new development told the meeting that he wanted the site to feel “much more villagey” with a “traditional approach to housing”. His aim was to create “a little neighbourhood”.

Fletching Road houses
How the new homes will look

Several councillors indicated they were unhappy with the way the residents had been consulted. Council deputy leader Danny Thorpe said there was “potential for an off-line discussion” about giving existing residents communal bins to ease the problems caused by losing space near their homes. Kidbrooke with Hornfair councillor Norman Adams voiced concerns about the homes having flat roofs so close to a conservation area.

Planning chair Mark James said he backed the scheme but wanted the applicant – the council – to “engage further” with residents, adding that open walkways actually reduced the risk of crime.

Fletching Road development
A 3D view of the development

The council was spared the embarrassment of seeing its own housing proposal thrown out, with three councillors – James, Thorpe, and Mark Elliott – backing the scheme to one – Clive Mardner – against. Two – Adams and Geoff Brighty – abstained.

  • Last night’s meeting also approved plans to transform the Woolwich “island site” – the former home of Greenwich University – with 300 new homes.