Greenwich Council plans to hold £165,000 festival in Charlton Park in August

Charlton Park
Charlton Park could host Greenwich Council’s main summer festival in August

Greenwich Council’s annual Great Get Together festival is to move from Woolwich to Charlton Park and be given a new look and name, tender documents issued to potential event producers reveal.

Held to coincide with Armed Forces Day for the past decade, the event began life at Barrack Field on Woolwich Common, as a merger of smaller events held around the borough in the years before that. It moved to Woolwich town centre in 2019.

After last year’s event fell foul of the pandemic, the council is now planning to relaunch its annual jamboree, with Saturday 21 August pencilled in as a start date – at a cost of £165,000.

The move from Woolwich to Charlton Park will disappoint those hoping for a boost to the troubled town centre, which is receiving up to £17.1m in government funds to make it more appealing to visitors and residents.

But the council says “this year provides a natural opportunity to reconfigure the event and move location”.

“This location has been chosen as the park is in the centre of the borough, is a large, flat, green space with many sections, fenced with several gates, a small car park and is well equipped with existing facilities including a skate park, cafes and a playground making it the perfect location for a contemporary outdoor community festival, with exciting new content for residents to enjoy,” the tender document, spotted by tweeter Jo Brodie, states.

“The event will also provide an opportunity for thanks to our NHS and key workers, as well for reflection and memorial to those lives lost during the pandemic. The focus for the event should be a contemporary family festival with an overriding theme of equality and diversity,” potential organisers are told.

“We envisage music, arts, culture, food and entertainment from around the world, but embedded in the diversity of the variety of communities we have in Royal Greenwich [sic]. The event needs a rebrand – with a new name that captures this essence.”

The document says that for this year only and as “a celebration of the potential end of the pandemic, we are able to invest more in the event than ever before, enabling the opportunity to produce a really spectacular show”.

While coronavirus restrictions remain in place until at least June 21, and scientists have warned of a third wave in July or August, the tender document makes the assumption that London will be in a better position to hold outdoor events.

“The end of summer date hopefully allows for the Covid-19 restrictions to have been lifted, the vaccination programme to have been completed, and anticipates that visitors will have regained confidence in large events and social gatherings again,” the document states.

The proposals appear to be similar to those for the hugely popular Lewisham People’s Day, which takes part in Mountsfield Park in Catford. However, organisers have also been told that “due to the borough’s rich military history and some armed forces content at previous events, we may want to include some content of this nature such as an assault course and visibility and support from local community groups such as the Army Cadets and British Legion”.

The plan to spend £165,000 on a festival in Charlton Park comes two months after the council declined to spend money on improving lighting in the park to make it safer during the winter months.

Companies who want to put the event on have until 30 April to submit their application.

A version of this story appears on our sister website 853.


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Take a step into Charlton’s future: Support proposals for a Thames Barrier Bridge

Thames Barrier Bridge
A Thames Barrier Bridge could be a tourist attraction in its own right

Two years ago, we reported on early ideas for a pedestrian and cycling bridge at the Thames Barrier, connecting Charlton with Silvertown on the north side of river. Now the team behind the proposals are looking for your support to make this a reality. ALEX LIFSCHUTZ, of the architecture firm Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, explains more and how you can get involved.

The Thames Barrier Bridge, conceived by the London architects Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, with the marine, civil and structural engineers Beckett Rankine, is a low-cost, low-impact pedestrian and cycle bridge that would link the communities of Charlton and Woolwich with the Royal Docks. The transport consultants Steer reckon that five million pedestrians and one million cyclists would use the bridge every year, based on journeys to work alone. These figures don’t include leisure or other trips.

The grim statistics of the pandemic have alerted us to so many issues of health and social inequality. Likewise the return of birdsong to our cities has reminded us that, as we emerge from lockdown, we really do have to replace motor vehicles with sustainable transport. Walking and cycling are part of the solution to all of these problems – promoting health, social and economic progress, and reducing pollution. A hopeful sign is the massive increase of bike sales – according to The Guardian, up 40% on last year.

Thames Barrier Bridge
A bridge at the Thames Barrier would not stop shipping

But the river creates an enormous barrier to walking and cycling in east and southeast London. For instance, a journey from Charlton to the new City Hall at The Crystal, or the 70,000 new jobs in and around the Royal Docks Enterprise Zone, currently takes about 40 minutes, cycling and walking though the Woolwich foot tunnel (assuming the lifts are working or you don’t mind carrying your bike down and up the stairs), 40 minutes by the Docklands Light Railway, or over 70 minutes walking.

A bridge across the river close to the Thames Barrier would allow you to reach the same destination in 20 minutes, walking or you could cycle there in half that time. It would be the only bridge east of Tower Bridge (other than the Dartford Crossing), where half of London’s population now lives, compared to over 20 bridges in west London.

Thames Barrier Bridge
The bridge would create opportunities for communities on both sides of the Thames

In the late 1990’s, Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands came up with the idea of a bridge connecting the South Bank to Charing Cross station and slung off the existing Hungerford Railway Bridge, creating minimal obstructions to river traffic. Completed in 2002, the Golden Jubilee Footbridges have become the Thames’s most popular crossing with about 8.4 million pedestrian journeys each year.

Our idea for the new bridge at the Thames Barrier is similarly opportunistic. Like the Golden Jubilee Bridges, its supports would shadow the piers of the existing structure and hence create only a small additional impact on navigation and the flow of the river. In fact, like our bridges further upstream, it would also provide the barrier with protection from impact on whichever side it is placed. Its low height (about 15 metres above Mean Water High Springs) makes it easier to access by cycle, foot or wheelchair, with minimal shore taken up by its relatively short ramps rising from the parks at either side. It would be around nine metres wide with separate lanes for walking and bikes.

Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands came up with the idea for the Golden Jubilee Bridge, linking the South Bank with the West End (image: Mary and Andrew via CC BY 2.0)

It would totally transform the accessibility of the Charlton and Woolwich waterfronts including existing occupants such as the Thames-Side Studios and the many new homes and businesses planned for Charlton Riverside. Looking further afield, it would link the Green Chain, including Maryon Park and Charlton Park on the south side, to the Lee Valley and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Parks to the north.

Like Tower Bridge, the Thames Barrier Bridge is an opening bascule bridge, so allows passage for boats and barges by raising its deck. The elegant structure is a series of small spans that use a minimal amount of material (especially steel), making it both cost-effective and environmentally friendly. With shorter, multiple openings, the bridge is less prone to the risk of malfunction compared to a single point of opening, and can be raised at the last minute for ships to pass, minimising disruption to cycles and pedestrians. The bridge would serve journeys to and from work but also attract visitors and tourists, bringing economic benefits north and south of the river.

Thames Barrier
A bridge would connect new developments, transport links and green spaces on. both sides of the Thames

The idea is receiving support from local MPs and councillors, residents’ groups, cycle organisations, developers, environmentalists and transport experts. What we need are local political champions, including the Royal Borough of Greenwich and the London Borough of Newham, the Greater London Authority and statutory agencies like the Environment Agency to pick up the idea and help us run with it.

Of course, we are only at the concept stage and much testing needs to be done. Curiously, once it has political support, funding the design work – and ultimately the £300 million structure – is less difficult than you’d expect as there is a large amount of green finance available at the moment, given government and corporate climate initiatives.

So what can you do to help? Click on the website – www.thamesbarrierbridge.com – to find out more and send us your comments, or write to your local council.

The pandemic has shown us that we can rapidly change our behaviour to counter a virus; we can use the same energy and enterprise to counter the even more dangerous threat of climate change and, in doing so, make better lives for ourselves.

ALEX LIFSCHUTZ is the founder and principal of Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands.

This comment piece is also appearing on our sister website 853.


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The Charlton and Woolwich Free Film Festival is back for 2021: Can you help?

Charlton and Woolwich Free Film Festival screening of They Shall Not Grow Old at the White Swan
The White Swan might not be around, but the Charlton and Woolwich Free Film Festival is back in September after a year’s break

Coronavirus might have put paid to last year’s event, but the Charlton and Woolwich Free Film Festival is coming back in 2021. PAUL CHAPMAN reveals when and explains how you can get involved…

Very excited to announce that the Charlton and Woolwich Free Film Festival is coming back in 2021! After the disappointment of last year when coronavirus called a halt to so many people’s plans, we’ve started planning and we’re on the lookout for volunteers to help us put on events.

We can also announce – exclusively in The Charlton Champion – that this years Festival will run from Friday 3rd to Saturday 11th September!

If you’ve not heard about us before, it’s a simple concept. We’re volunteers, and we host films, for free, only in venues with an SE7 or SE18 postcode. The films range from documentaries to blockbusters, and the venues range from pubs to churches to cafes to… well, you tell us! (Especially if you run a venue!)

Previous highlights have included Vertigo at Severndroog Castle, Battle of Britain at St George’s Garrison Church, Shaun of the Dead at The White Swan in Charlton and First Man under the Stars on the Woolwich riverside. We’ve also played obscure documentaries where the volunteers outnumbered the visitors, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show on the big screen at General Gordon Square… when the sound didn’t work. You’re always guaranteed an adventure with CWFFF!

To get involved, or to be notified of advance news, sign up to our mailing list. You can also find our social media details below, where you can give us a follow and let us know your film and venue ideas.

Twitter: twitter.com/CWFilmFestival
Facebook: facebook.com/CharltonWoolwichFFF


PLEASE SUPPORT THE CHARLTON CHAMPION

We tell the SE7 stories you won’t read elsewhere. We can’t do it without your help.
– Please tell us about your news and events
– Become a monthly supporter at presspatron.com/charltonchampion
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