MP criticises ‘bad practice’ at Fairview New Homes’ Synergy development on Victoria Way

Fairview Synergy development
The Synergy development is now poking into the sky above Charlton

Local MP Matt Pennycook has reacted angrily after the developer behind 330 new homes being built on Victoria Way shrugged off complaints about the impact of construction work on the site’s neighbours.

Fairview New Homes dismissed a series of issues raised by Pennycook on behalf of residents about dirt, idling construction vehicles and work taking place outside permitted hours.

Its senior site manager, Matthew Hook, said “we can only assume that the points raised are generally historical” and said that Greenwich Council was happy with the cracked state of the road outside the development site, which is being branded Synergy.

After effectively being told residents’ complaints were groundless, Pennycook has now said he will name the company in Parliament as an example of bad practice in the construction sector. He is also asking for residents with complaints to get in touch with him and the company.

Greenwich had threatened Fairview with an unlimited fine in December 2018 after complaints that contractors were working outside permitted hours. Hook claimed that the work was actually being carried out by a utility firm.

Fairview Synergy
Residents have had to put up with dust and construction lorries

Hook also said that the points had been addressed in a meeting with the council on 25 February, and that no further complaints had been made since.

“So to summarise, all of the concerns raised in your letter have already been discussed, reviewed and mitigated following a meeting between [Fairview] and [Greenwich Council] on the 25/02/19 and to date, since the meeting we have had no further complaints or correspondence from local residents or [Greenwich Council] or any other industry bodies such as the Considerate Constructors Scheme regarding the development on Victoria Way,” Hook wrote.

However, the residents’ complaints were made to Pennycook at a roving advice surgery on 30 March, more than a month after the meeting with the council, with the letter written on 14 May.

Pennycook has responded: “It is patently the case that local residents do have outstanding complaints about construction management on the site. Rather than seeking to dismiss these complaints as you did in your letter, a responsible developer would have engaged with the substance of each of them and given due consideration as to what more could be done to alleviate them.

“I intend to name [Fairview] on the floor of the House of Commons and use your letter as an example of bad practice in the sector as well as making additional direct representations to ministers at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.”

The source of residents’ gripes was clear on Thursday afternoon, with surfaces on the lower stretch of Victoria Way covered in dust from construction. While a site worker hosed down the entrance to the development, nothing was being done about dust and grime outside people’s homes. The wheels of a passing construction truck did not appear to have been washed.

Fairview Synergy site
Fairview has hosed down the road and pavement outside the site, but not outside people’s homes

An eight-strong committee of councillors approved the scheme, which includes two 10-storey blocks and 144 car parking spaces, by six votes to one in January 2018. Among the complaints from residents was a lack of consultation with neighbours about the scheme, and accusations of bullying tactics.

Fairview has not responded to a request for comment.

Cratus Communications, whose deputy chairman is former Greenwich Council leader Chris Roberts, handled the consultation for the Victoria Way scheme. Last month, the company published a blog post on its website claiming it was “quietly revolutionising and abolishing the traditional view of ‘faceless’ developers sweeping into town and ‘doing what they like’”. “Communication with existing residents has to be managed carefully and with tact,” it added.

If you live close to the Victoria Way development and are affected by the dirt and grime from Fairview New Homes’ Synergy development, please email matthew.pennycook.mp[at]parliament.uk, and copy in matthew.hook[at]fairview.co.uk. Comments are also open below.


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Developer plans new homes on land behind Victoria Way gardens

The plot has been unused since Greenwich Council sold it in 2004

Five new homes could be built on land behind houses in Victoria Way if a developer gets permission from Greenwich Council, which sold the property at auction 15 years ago.

One 4-bedroom home, two 3-bedroom semi-detached homes and two 2-bedroom flats would be built on the land adjacent to Wellington Gardens, between Victoria Way and Wellington Mews.

Henry Browne, a Guernsey-based developer, bought the land behind sheltered accommodation on Victoria Way in 2004 when Greenwich Council sold it. Planning documents filed by the developer say it was described as “suitable for development”. No price is recorded with the Land Registry for the sale, but its records state the land was worth £750,000 in 2015.

The developer’s drawing of the planned homes

The developer says the land is covered in “thick bramble undergrowth”. “There are a number of self-sown sycamore trees, dying from sooty bark disease. There are many dead trees and fallen branches which could make the site unsafe if it could be penetrated,” planning documents state.

The new homes would be screened from Wellington Gardens by new trees, the developer says, with two trees on the site – protected by preservation orders going back to 1972 – kept. They would be next to a car repair yard and garage on Wellington Mews, an unmade road. Other schemes to build homes on Wellington Mews have been rejected over the years, the most recent being a scheme that was withdrawn in 2006.

A plan of the site with the car yard top left, Wellington Mews on the left and Wellington Gardens beneath, with the back garden of 111/113 Victoria Way on the right

The documents state that Greenwich Council planning officers stated the land was unsuitable for development in 2017 – despite the same council having sold it 13 years earlier. The developer responds “no reason is given… the site is surrounded by other residential developments”. It says “the five family homes would respect the scale and character of the area and the site”.

Documents, including the key design and access statement, can be seen by searching for reference 19/0755/F on Greenwich Council’s planning search, where you can leave responses to the application before 30 May.


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Parking permit petition launched for Eastcombe Avenue and Victoria Way

Charlton free parking sign
Parking is currently free in the streets adjoining Eastcombe Avenue

Is parking a problem for you in Eastcombe Avenue or the neighbouring streets? DI GAINES has been in touch about a petition that she and residents in the local area are organising, asking Greenwich Council to introduce a parking permit scheme in the surrounding streets.

The group are door-knocking for signatures at the moment and say they have around 100 signatures already. You can download a copy of the petition here. The petition will be presented to the the full council meeting on Wednesday March 27th by Charlton ward councillor Linda Perks. Here’s what the petition organisers have to say:

Action is needed now and we have formed a residents group to petition the Council to obtain residents’ parking in the current free parking areas from Victoria Way, Eastcombe Avenue, Wyndcliff Road and adjoining roads.

With commuter and school parking we now have the issue of contractors parking for the Victoria Way development. This will only get worse and when the flats are occupied we will have the issue of where they are going to park.

We are one of the few areas in Greenwich borough without residents’ parking and although it is mainly one end of Eastcombe Avenue, Wyndcliff Road and Victoria Way that is currently affected we do not want to “push” the problem further into other roads and that is why we are campaigning for the whole area to have permits.

Permits are not expensive, currently £70 a year and visitors permits are easily obtainable. This works our roughly £1.35 per week, a cost we feel justified for piece of mind

It appears that the only consultation currently proposed by the Council is to existing permit holders. So we are taking action to present this petition at the next full council meeting on 27 March.

We are campaigning in the area but if we miss you and you would like to sign the petition or have any questions please email Permitsforus[at]gmail.com

Thank you for your support

Has has parking got worse in your street recently? Do you think a permit scheme is the answer? If you live in an area with a parking permit scheme in place, does it work? Let us know in the comments below.


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Greenwich Council warns Victoria Way developer for disturbing neighbours

Victoria Way
Fairview’s development was unpopular enough with neighbours before work started (photo: Neil Clasper)

Greenwich Council has threatened the developer behind 330 new homes off Victoria Way with an unlimited fine after neighbours complained work was taking place outside permitted hours.

Fairview, whose controversial development was approved by councillors a year ago, is only allowed to carry out work between 8am and 6pm on weekdays and 8am to 1pm on Saturdays, but neighbours complained to the council about work taking place outside these hours.

A Section 60 notice was served on Fairview last month warning it that it would face a fine if work continued outside permitted hours.

Greenwich’s cabinet member for community safety, Jackie Smith, told The Charlton Champion: “The council served, Fairview, the building contractor working on 40 Victoria Way, Charlton, with a Section 60 notice in December 2018, following complaints from residents that it had been working outside of the hours permitted by its planning consent.

“The notice restricts the times that noisy works can be carried out. The council is in contact with Fairview to encourage it to take all reasonable steps to limit the impact on surrounding residents but if it is found to have contravened its notice the council has the power to take legal action.

“Concerned residents can report unreasonable or out of hours, noisy work from a construction site to the council by calling 020 8921 8921. We log all calls as this enables us to both assess the extent and pattern of activity and provides supporting evidence should enforcement action be necessary.”

An eight-strong committee of councillors approved the scheme, which includes two 10-storey blocks and 144 car parking spaces, by six votes to one last year. Among the complaints from residents was a lack of consultation with neighbours about the scheme.


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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.

Travellers occupy Fairview development site at Victoria Way

Travellers on Fairview New Homes site

It’s almost predictable, really. Large company takes ownership of large plot of land in south-east London for development. Large company doesn’t secure the land properly. Then the neighbours find a load of caravans parked on their doorstep.

It happened when Ikea took over the site of its new Greenwich store, and it’s now happened at the Fairview New Homes site on Victoria Way, where the company recently put in a planning application to build 341 new homes on land that had been occupied by storage depots.

Travellers on Fairview New Homes site

The caravan invasion is unlikely to endear Fairview to neighbours who are already unhappy about its plans to build blocks of up to 10 storeys on the land (reduced from 11 storeys after a recent consultation).

Travellers on Fairview New Homes site

Fairview’s plans are currently being considered by Greenwich Council. Its former leader Chris Roberts and chief executive Mary Ney now work for lobbying company Cratus Communications, which is working with Fairview on the development.

Travellers on Fairview New Homes site

One Charlton Champion reader kindly sent in these snaps, saying: “As I went past last night I took some pics and the kids ran out throwing stones and planks of wood at me. They also seem to have a dog unit at the front of the site, guarding it presumably.”

That particular incident has been reported to police. Local residents will now be hoping their new neighbours won’t be around for long.

Have your say on 11-storey blocks planned for Victoria Way

Fairview render

Developer Fairview New Homes is asking residents what they think of plans to build 370 new homes, including 11-storey blocks, on the site currently occupied by the remaining warehouse units off Victoria Way.

The western part of the site – the former Thorn Lighting factory – was developed a couple of years ago as an extension of Fairthorn Road, providing 209 homes.

Now Fairview wants to finish the job by building blocks of between two-and-a-half and 11 storeys, of which 20% will be “family sized units”, with 148 car parking spaces. 35% of homes will be “affordable”, the firm claims, adding a nursery/creche may be provided on site.

There’ll be no vehicle access to the already-developed part of the site, although it’ll be possible to walk between the two areas.

A consultation event is behind held today (Thursday 16 March) at Charlton House from 6pm to 8.30pm (we only found out about it today), but you can find out more and have your say at www.fairviewvictoriaway.co.uk, including the exhibition boards.

Victoria Way, February 2017

Early concerns are bound to surround the height of the development – but access is also going to be an issue for a development that sits between both Charlton and Westcombe Park stations.

A side entrance to Charlton station was promised at the time of the Sainsbury’s/M&S development but has not materialised – can this development fund that? More ambitiously, should a new bridge across to Westcombe Park station also be built from the original development, to save residents from having to use a dingy alleyway?

It may also be a prompt to do something about rat-running around Victoria Way and Eastcombe Avenue, a problem which some residents feel has increased since the new supermarket development.

Incidentally, this consultation is being run for Fairview by Cratus Communications, whose deputy chair is former Greenwich Council leader Chris Roberts. (This hasn’t stopped the consultation materials being strewn with basic errors about the area, mind…) We will be watching with interest.

(Thanks to Marianna on Twitter for the tip-off.)