The announcement was made today to coincide with the 10th anniversary of Greenwich being declared a royal borough.
Council leader Danny Thorpe said: “We’re thrilled to be able to bring our community together once again this summer. This year, we have an extra reason to celebrate to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee so we are planning full weekend of fun for all the family – whether you’ll be attending, performing or setting up a stall, we can’t wait to see residents from across the borough getting involved.”
Traders who are interested in hosting stalls at the events should contact events[at]royalgreenwich.gov.uk, while the council is also offering funding for cultural organisations to take part in the events – more details at royalgreenwich.gov.uk/RGFfunding.
Boundary commissioners yesterday published their final plans for 23 new council wards to replace Greenwich’s current 17. All London boroughs have had their ward boundaries reviewed in recent years to take into account changes in population.
Two wards – Charlton Village & Riverside and Charlton Hornfair – will replace the old Charlton and Kidbrooke with Hornfair wards, with Victoria Way and Canberra Road forming the boundary between the two.
However, the new Greenwich Peninsula ward will absorb a bigger chunk of SE7 than first planned – with residents living around Troughton Road being absorbed into a ward that will run up to Morden Wharf and the O2, along with the new Bowen Drive development and homes around Fairthorn Road. This effectively replaces the old Peninsula ward.
Maryon Road, part of Woodland Terrace and the Maryon Grove Estate will come under the new Woolwich Dockyard ward – along with the under-construction Trinity Park development – but Kinveachy Gardens and Heathwood Gardens come home to the new Charlton Village ward. All of these streets are currently in Woolwich Riverside.
While the current wards all have three councillors each, the new wards will have a mixture of two and three-councillor wards. Charlton Village, Charlton Hornfair and Woolwich Dockyard wards will have two councillors; Greenwich Peninsula will have three.
The Local Government Boundary Commission for England said there was “broad support” for the two new Charlton wards. There had been calls for the area of SE7 around Gurdon Road and Felltram Way to the Thames to be included in Charlton Village – but moving 1,500 voters would have left an unbalanced pattern of wards.
Local MP Matt Pennycook argued in favour of moving the area around Troughton Road into Greenwich Peninsula. He observed that “the entire area between Woolwich Road and the railway line was a single community which should not be split, citing such unifying features as the Rose of Denmark pub and the new Synergy development providing direct access between Rathmore Road and the Gurdon Road area”, the commission said in its summary. Pennycook also pointed out that the new Bowen Drive development means it is possible to walk from Rathmore Road to Gurdon Road directly.
But he was less successful in arguing that Charlton Hornfair should be renamed “Charlton Slopes & Hornfair” to take into account its larger area.
Once largely used as estate agents’ shorthand for the streets north of Charlton Road, the name began appearing on official maps two years ago after parliamentary researchers asked for real-life descriptions for small areas used for statistics.
However, the commission was less keen on giving Charlton Slopes official status. “Matthew Pennycook MP suggested renaming this ward ‘Charlton Slopes & Hornfair’, recognising the Charlton Slopes area in the ward name,” the commission said.
“However, we received submissions from residents of the Slopes area supporting both the boundaries and name of this proposed ward. We are therefore not persuaded to change our proposed name for this ward.”
The changes do not affect parliamentary constituencies – which are being reviewed separately – or Greenwich’s boundaries with other boroughs. The new ward boundaries will take effect from the council elections on 5 May 2022.
Greenwich councillors dealt a blow to their own town hall’s plans to redevelop the Charlton Riverside after they rejected a second housing scheme for a site near the Thames Barrier.
The developer Aitch Group had hoped to build 188 homes land behind the derelict Victoria pub, between Eastmoor Street and Westmoor Street, along with shops, workspace and a new green space. But Labour and Conservative councillors objected to the height of the development on Coopers Yard, which had been recommended for approval by their own planning officers.
A three-year-old masterplan for the Charlton Riverside – which both Greenwich Council and City Hall have long earmarked for thousands of new homes – suggests a maximum height of ten storeys for buildings, with guidelines of three to five storeys in that particular area.
But Aitch wanted to build up to nine storeys – insisting that the masterplan provided guidance, not strict rules – enraging local lobby groups, including the Charlton Society and the Charlton Central Residents Association, who believe this breaks the terms of a masterplan they were closely involved in writing.
The situation is complicated by the Environment Agency objecting to ground-floor housing close to the Thames Barrier because of the risk of flooding – an objection which calls parts of the masterplan into question.
Labour and Conservative councillors sided with the lobby groups for the second time in three weeks, rejecting Aitch’s plans – leaving Aitch to decide whether to appeal to a planning inspector or try to rework the proposal with council officers.
Tuesday’s vote saw the rejection of another 40 homes for London Affordable Rent that would have been included in the Aitch development along with 10 shared-ownership homes, making 30 per cent “affordable” housing.
The two refusals now plunge the Labour council into a high-stakes gamble on the future of its own masterplan – successful appeals from Aitch or Optivo would take much of the decision-making out of the hands of local officials and could result in less money being spent on local infrastructure to support the new developments and their neighbours.
With other developers waiting to present their plans for the riverside to councillors – some much bigger than Aitch’s scheme, like the Faraday Works project on the old Siemens factory site, the decision is a significant setback for the Charlton riverside’s transformation into a new neighbourhood.
The meeting was split into two parts because of Covid-19 restrictions – Woolwich Town Hall’s only meeting space fitted with cameras is its cramped council chamber – with the first meeting two weeks ago seeing planning chair Stephen Brain clash with local lobby groups.
Tuesday night saw Aitch’s associate planning director, Luke Cadman, tell councillors that the scheme would be of a “human scale and very much in contrast to Greenwich Peninsula and Woolwich town centre”, adding that there would be a net increase in jobs and that existing businesses would be given help leaving. Feedback from residents had resulted in changes to the scheme including a reduction in height, he said.
Referring to his company’s own proposals, Optivo’s scheme and others in the pipeline, he warned: “These proposals, many developed over years of discussion, could result in 5,000 new homes and 1,500 jobs. By not supporting [your] officers’ recommendation tonight, and reiterating an absolute test of heights and density, this potentially jeopardises the delivery of the [masterplan] vision, and thousands of new homes and jobs.”
Failing to permit development could see “pressure for housing development shift to other more sensitive parts of the borough”, he added.
Pointing out that Greenwich Council itself is the largest landowner on the riverside, with its he said that refusal would have “far-reaching ramifications for the council and its redevelopment aspirations, and for the ability to deliver new homes and jobs”.
Challenged on this by Abbey Wood Labour councillor Clive Mardner, Cadman said: “There are a lot of developers that are seeking planning approvals to deliver on the [masterplan] vision – I’ll just leave it there. It’s not really what anyone wants to see.”
Mardner – who chairs the council’s housing scrutiny panel, so may have been expected to know the answer already – also asked who would be eligible for the London Affordable Rent homes, which charge half market rates and are for people on the council’s waiting list. The rent level is an initiative of Labour mayor Sadiq Khan.
Charlton councillor Gary Dillon said he was “disappointed that height and density is not important to the project”.
“If every developer walks into this room and says the same thing, we’re going to get 20,000 dwellings in an area earmarked for 8,000, and that throws the transport and infrastructure out,” he said. “Every part of the [masterplan] has been calculated. To dismiss it is pretty disappointing.”
Cadman insisted that Aitch had not ignored the masterplan, saying that there was more to it than height and density, and that the scheme fitted Sadiq Khan’s London planning policy. “When you weigh it all up, on balance, as your officers have done… we’ve done a huge amount to meet its aspirations and we haven’t just ignored the height, the heights and density have all been a consideration in what we’ve done.”
Dillon sits on the committee of the Charlton Society, one of the groups that objected. He declared at the start of the meeting that he was a society member and had not taken part in its discussions on the proposals.
Woolwich Riverside councillor John Fahy, whose ward includes the development site, repeated a question his two Labour colleagues had put to Cadman, asking if Aitch had “had any regard for the masterplan” when drawing up its proposals, accusing the company of ignoring residents’ views.
“I’ve answered that a few times, the masterplan required a few things,” Cadman said, pointing out that the plan also allowed for a new road and green space which were set out in the plans. He added that the company had spent two years consulting local people and had recently made changes as a result of local lobby groups’ feedback.
Conservative Nigel Fletcher said that it was clear that the masterplan had divided the riverside into plots, and the maximum for that plot was five storeys.
Simon Camp, from Alan Camp Architects, said that the masterplan did not take into account the risk of flooding and that homes had to be above a certain height. “The town houses in the masterplan are impossible due to the constraints,” he said.
“We’ve taken that on by maximising the commercial and maker spaces, and the community facilities, we’ve expanded the green link [open space] – so we’ve taken into account other aspirations in the [masterplan] and then we’ve looked at the height.”
Fahy complained that the riverside, where land ownership is split, was “being developed piecemeal” and that the planning board had a duty to ensure that developments there reflected the area’s heritage.
Allowing the Aitch scheme would allow other developers to build tall buildings, he said, adding: “If that’s the case, we might as well chuck the masterplan in the bin and allow developers to carry on regardless. The applicants were well aware of the requirements to meet the masterplan. It’s not something you pluck out of the air – it’s a legal document and we have to have some principles that guide us in our decision making.
“They say they got the green light from our officers – I find that hard to believe.”
Fletcher said he did not believe it was a straightforward refusal, but said the developer had not justified why it wanted to build higher than suggested in the masterplan.
“We see this masterplan as being very important. We think it’s important, the heights and density are important,” he said. “We have a different reading of [the masterplan] than the applicant and it should be something we are prepared to defend.”
But planning chair Stephen Brain spoke up for the proposal, criticising “emotive terms” made by local lobby groups at the last meeting. He said it was possible to be flexible with the masterplan “if a balance is achieved across the area”.
“It has 30 per cent ‘affordable’ homes, which we need for Londoners, it has designated play space – there’s very little in the area. I do know the area – I’ve had my car serviced down there for 32 years, I’ve walked around that site a lot,” he said.
“One speaker said that children could cause noise – it’s what children do. It provides green space, and retail – the area desperately needs retail, the only thing you can buy down there is a burger from a dodgy van and you wouldn’t be wise to do such a thing.
“It’s an area where people work but don’t live. You can see from all the Range Rovers down there – they drive down there and go back to Kent in the evening.”
“One of the main German newspapers said all of the people living on habitable spaces on the ground floor were dead. That’s why the Environment Agency makes these guidelines, it’s in a flood plain and the heights may have to be higher.”
Brain mocked the notion put forward by one of the local lobby groups, who spoke of “protecting Charlton from the river to the slopes and into the village – they didn’t say how far it went, does it go beyond the village to Charlton [sic], or to Bexley? I couldn’t understand that at all.”
“I can’t see what turning this application would do for the area. It’s an area that is industrially blighted and I can’t see many bungalows being built down there.”
But the vote was lost and the plans rejected on grounds of height and massing – leaving the immediate future of the Charlton riverside up in the air, and possibly out of the hands of local people.