Charlton could be split down the middle under the final proposals to redraw where Greenwich councillors are elected – with Victoria Way and Canberra Road forming the new boundary line.
At present, Greenwich borough is split into 18 wards, which each elect three councillors, with Charlton sliced into four wards: Charlton, Peninsula, Woolwich Riverside and Kidbrooke with Hornfair. But with the area’s population rising fast, the map is being redrawn to accommodate 55 councillors rather than 51.
New plans from the Local Government Boundary Commission for England propose that the SE7 area still be split into four, but most of it would be covered by two wards, Charlton Village & Riverside and Charlton Hornfair. If approved, they will apply from May 2022’s council elections, and will not affect the Kidbrooke with Hornfair by-election which is due in May. The commission is asking for the public’s views on its plans.
The L-shaped Charlton Hornfair ward would cover the area north of Shooters Hill Road and east of the A102, and would run as far as the Westcombe Park to Charlton railway line, Victoria Way, Canberra Road and Charlton Park Lane – ending a 20-year split which has seen residents of much of this area vote for Kidbrooke councillors. It would also include Blackheath residents around the Royal Oak pub and Woolwich residents in developments south of Queen Elizabeth Hospital. It would elect two councillors.
Charlton Village & Riverside would cover the area from the river up to Charlton Park, including the Troughton Road and Atlas Gardens areas that currently find themselves in Peninsula and Woolwich Riverside wards. It would also elect two councillors.
Small parts of SE7 would still cast their votes for other wards – the area around Gurdon Road, with new developments on Fairthorn Road and Bowen Drive, would be in a three-councillor Greenwich Peninsula ward, while Maryon Road, Erwood Road and Woodland Terrace go into Woolwich Dockyard, along with the rest of what will soon become the Trinity Park development.
The proposals do not affect parliamentary constituencies, so much of Charlton Hornfair would still come under Clive Efford’s Eltham seat for the time being. They also do not affect the borough’s boundaries with Lewisham and other neighbours, which were last tweaked in the 1990s.
Greenwich Council has input into the proposals but it is the commission that sets the boundary. The town hall had initially gone along with proposals for 55 councillors, but changed its mind last autumn and proposed 56. The commission has rejected that, and has based its proposals on those filed by the borough’s Conservative councillors.
The Tories may well be pleased to see the largely Labour-voting Charlton streets moved out of wards in the Kidbrooke area that was a traditional target for them. Other changes may also help the council’s opposition – such as a Woolwich Arsenal ward covering new developments by the Thames in Woolwich town centre, as well as a Kidbrooke Village ward.
The council’s own proposals would have further entrenched the old four-way split in Charlton’s councillors – including bringing the Kidbrooke with Hornfair boundary right up to Canberra Road. “As this proposal involves crossing Shooters Hill Road, we do not consider that this reflects the community identity of these areas, and we have therefore not adopted it,” the commission said.
The commission also rejected council plans to put Heathwood Gardens and Kinveachy Gardens in Woolwich Dockyard. “The council proposed an alternative boundary in this area, with Heathwood Gardens and Kinveachy Gardens in a Woolwich-based ward. We visited this area on our virtual tour of Greenwich and considered that these streets look towards Charlton for their community identity rather than Woolwich. This judgment was supported by the relatively small number of local residents who provided evidence that these streets regarded themselves as part of the Charlton community, using Charlton-based shops and community facilities rather than those in Woolwich.”
There will now be a public consultation on the plans, which will run until 10 May. You can have your say at the Local Government Boundary Commission for England website.
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