- 4 Dec 13 The Battle of Lovell's Wharf
- 4 Dec 13 Royal Hill Flowers
- 4 Dec 13 Greenwich & Thames 2014 Calendars available now
- 19 Nov 13 IKEA in Greenwich?
- 15 Nov 13 AGM minutes
- 22 Oct 13 Impact on the Greenwich Line
- 2 Oct 13 southeastern railway - Newsletter
- 19 Sep 13 Annual Report and Accounts
- 19 Sep 13 September Newsletter published
- 20 Aug 13 London in the 1920s
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The Greenwich Society goes into 2014 with an increased membership base after our recruitment campaign last year; we gained more than 60 new members taking the total of households supporting us to more than 540. Hopefully this encouraging result demonstrates that people do see the value of a well-supported civic society and want to support our work in trying to improve Greenwich as a place to live, work or study.
I am sure there will be no shortage of issues for the Society to tackle in 2014. We know the next round of debate over river crossings is due this year; we hope to see more comprehensive and scientific detail about the potential impacts on Greenwich than we have seen to date. We need data and analysis and not just enthusiasm from those who have decided more roads are "a good thing".
The London Bridge development is pressing on and we in turn will continue to press for meaningful engagement with Network Rail and the train operators over all the issues which will impact on our local services.
2014 will see some of the major building developments completed, notably the University School of Architecture and Library in Stockwell Street, and some of the bigger housing developments too, both in West Greenwich and beside Deptford Creek. East of the Park, the old GDH site, once to be the Heart of East Greenwich but now apparently to be Greenwich Square, is taking shape and soon focus will shift to the future of the Arches. Development is planned for the Alcatel site and work will start soon at Enderby Wharf and at its cruise ship terminal.
All this is taking place against the background of a frankly inadequate Council Core Strategy, the weaknesses of which are clearly set out by Alan Bailey in this Newsletter. Effective methods of consulting local communities and engaging local people in regenerating their neighbourhoods are badly needed. The successful campaign over Lovells Wharf demonstrated that people are deeply concerned not just over greedy overdevelopment close to their established communities but are also unconvinced that that there is a coherent strategy for the infrastructure of transport, health, education and more which are essential for a sustainable community.
We have some interesting initiatives, still in the formative stage, which we hope will harness people's desire to see their neighbourhoods more attractive, safer and less at risk of being swamped by the impact of development. So there will be much to do in 2014 which we hope will be a very Happy New Year for all our members and readers.
The Greenwich riverside is a place of diversity and change. What are visible are the last vestiges of a working river, its wharf and industry. Within the next few years these remains will have gone the dereliction replaced with the greater uniformity of high rise residential accommodation.
From Ballast Quay to the O2 is not a romantic walk but is interesting and has beauty all its own. The signs of change to come are evident and are described, pictured and commented upon in current and past issues of the newsletter. Our riverside is changing. See it before all ‘is melted into air, into thin air’.
2014 subscription reminder notice
We take the opportunity to remind all members that the 2014 annual subscription became due for payment on 1 January 2014. The annual subscription is £15 per household. If you do not pay by Standing Order, would you kindly send a cheque for £15 made payable to ‘The Greenwich Society’ to the Hon. Treasurer, David Matheson, 30 Hyde Vale, Greenwich London SE10 8QH. If you would like to pay via internet banking then our bank details are: Barclays Bank; Sort code 20-98-57; Account No. 20427853; Reference...your name.
Annual General Meeting 2013
The Society’s Annual General Meeting was held on 30th October in 2013 in what has become our regular location, the Howe lecture theatre, in the Queen Anne Court of the Old Royal Naval College. We are lucky to be able to rely on the support of the University of Greenwich for a home for our deliberations – both for the monthly committee meetings and when we meet in assembly on special occasions.
The main speaker on this occasion was Gillie Bexson, the Property Portfolio Manager for Greenwich Hospital and members will have seen both the summary of her presentation – about the Hospital’s plans for the market and town centre – in the November newsletter and the full report on the website below.
The business meeting which followed, and which was attended by approximately 40 members, included a report a report from the Chairman, Richard Baglin, highlighting the Society’s recent successes, particularly those against the excesses of Lovell’s Wharf and the continuing battles with businesses and their signage around Greenwich Pier. Members were also alerted to the representations being made on behalf of local rail passengers by the recently formed GLUG (Greenwich Line User Group), which was established jointly with the Westcombe Society and others. The redevelopment of London Bridge station has begun in earnest and there will be substantial consequences for all rail users which the Society will monitor and on which it will report.
The Honorary Treasurer, David Matheson, reported a healthy reserve and the annual accounts for 2012 were approved.
Changes to the Executive Committee
The meeting was advised of the retirement of Hélène Mitchell, a stalwart of the committee over many years, a representative on traffic and transport matters and a very valuable link with the Blackheath Society and a member of the Blackheath Joint Working Party. Hélène was thanked for her long and fruitful contribution to the work of the Greenwich Society. Also retiring from the committee was Helma Zebregs. Originally appointed as the Society’s link with Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, Helma will continue her valuable contribution to the Society as a member of the Events sub-committee.
The AGM voted to accept a number of changes in the personnel acting on its behalf on the Executive Committee. The appointment of two members who had previously been co-opted to provide particular expertise – John Evans and Andy Smith – was confirmed. Eight existing Executive Committee members were also re-elected to serve for a further three years: Richard Baglin, Alan Bailey, Jonathan Chandler (as Honorary Secretary), Lesley Hodsdon, David Matheson (as Honorary Treasurer), Franklin Steves (as Membership Secretary), Ray Smith and Pieter van der Merwe. Two new Executive Committee members were confirmed by the AGM - Philip Craig, who will act as the Society’s liaison with the Blackheath Joint Working Party, and Lorraine Turton, who runs a local business and the East Greenwich Business Association.
Richard Baglin was re-elected to serve as Chairman and Alan Bailey was re-elected to serve as Vice-Chair of the Executive Committee and Society for three years and one year respectively.
Members in conversation
After questions, which included a strong message about the importance of the newsletter to members – especially for those without access to the internet or an email service – and major concerns about the changes occurring to local communities with the concomitant fears of deteriorating security and an increase in crime, the Annual General Meeting was formally closed and members adjourned for refreshments.
Greenwich Society Pub of the Year
The Plume of Feathers
The last entry in the Newsletter produced a blizzard of nominations for this award. There was a clear winner in the Plume of Feathers in Park Vista. Indeed such was the voting pattern in the 3 weeks leading up to Christmas that the intervention of some wily bookmaker might have been suspected were it not for the fact that the Plume is simply an excellent pub and a worthy winner of our first such award.
The Executive Committee will decide what form the award will take, early in 2014, but we will inform the licensee that she has won the highest award which the Greenwich Society is in a position to bestow!
Well Done, East Greenwich!
In January the Society's Newsletter carried the headline "Lovells Wharf Unwelcome Proposals" and I wrote ‘expect a heated debate if these plans go forward’.
That came to pass when residents of the surrounding streets set up a formidable campaign as East Greenwich Residents. Posters, media coverage,an online petition and even a video set out their objections to the plans to build much higher blocks, to remove the hotel and much of the retail and employment space in favour of another 250 flats. All concerns the Society had set out in our own objections.
Residents turned out in force at the Planning Board and campaigners spoke eloquently of the impact of the development on their neighbourhood and their fierce objections to being overshadowed by even taller buildings than those already consented. Familiar concerns were stressed: the impact of more commuters on the stretched travel network, pressure on health and schools, traffic and parking. It was a very impressive display of community spirit and determination to save their neighbourhood from more damage.
The Society and the Greenwich Conservation Group reiterated our objections on the grounds of density, design, the much taller blocks proposed, the damage to the view downriver from the World Heritage Site and to the surrounding streets.
In the face of all these well-argued objections, the developer's case looked frankly feeble and the Planning Board voted unanimously to refuse the application.
So well done East Greenwich Residents and well done the Greenwich Society too! We wait to hear whether the developer will appeal.
St Alfege Church Restoration Appeal
￼This appeal, to which the Greenwich Society has generously contributed, has had recent success in accessing funds. The Getty Trust has contributed £50,000, the Heritage for London Trust has donated £2,000 and the Cathedral Group, whose Managing Director Richard Upton hales from Greenwich has given £25,000.The appeal is due to wind up in 2014 and we still have some way to go to reach our target of £550,000. On November, 24th Brian and Jane Sullivan also generously hosted a lunch with music event at Hamilton House at the top of Point Hill to support the Appeal.
Greenwich Hospital Plans in the town centre
- a presentation to the Greenwich Society AGM by Gillie Bexson (Property Portfolio Manager, Greenwich Hospital).
Gillie Bexson offered her assessment of the Hospital’s plans by establishing the context of its work within its charitable objectives, describing the Greenwich estate, explaining the Hospital’s vision, how it hoped to achieve that vision and the nature of the collaboration that would be required in the process.
Greenwich Hospital is an ancient Crown charity providing support (including annuities, sheltered housing and education) to serving and retired personnel of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines and their dependants. It was established in 1694 for the following purpose: -
“The reliefe and support of seamen serving on board the shipps or vessells belonging to the Navy Royall who by reason of Age, Wounds or other disabilities shall be uncapable of further service at sea and being unable to maintain themselves. And for the Sustentation of the Widows and the Maintenance and Education of the Children of seamen happening to be slain or disabled. Also for the further reliefe and Encouragement of seamen and Improvement of Navigation.”
The Hospital supports 26,000 people through 20 charities, 3 sheltered housing schemes and a Naval Care Home. It also supports a faculty at the University of Greenwich and students at Trinity/Laban. Plans are also on-going for the establishments of apprenticeships, the retraining of injured service men and women and business start-up assistance. There is no public money involved in any of the Hospital’s investments - which are in Greenwich, the rural estates (8,000 acres in Suffolk, Northumberland and Tyne and Wear – a total of 15 farms with many residential cottages), two properties in central London and in equities.
Greenwich Hospital Estate
The Property Portfolio provides an income stream from its assets to enable the Hospital to meet its charity commitments. These properties have been in ownership for three hundred years and the Hospital has a duty to maintain its value and income for the future. In order to do so, the Hospital will manage its holdings to the best advantage, invest for long term growth and improvement of Hospital properties and consolidate the core estate - acquiring premises within it or adjoining it where there is benefit to the core. There are very few town centres in single ownership and this makes Greenwich almost unique.
Following the decision to drop permanently the previous market regeneration plan, the Hospital has embarked on a series of projects to enhance and improve its buildings - to refine, not purify, the town centre and it is the Hospital’s intention to implement a series of strategies to enhance this thriving retail and residential community including the investment in and commitment to improving retail and residential accommodation, the public realm and the market. Greenwich Hospital’s vision for the town centre is not to change it, but to improve and enhance it where it holds the freehold. In doing so it aims to enhance the character of the World Heritage Site, of which it forms a part.
Greenwich Hospital Freehold
Historically the buildings have been let as a whole on long leases to retailers who have used the upper floors for storage, staff accommodation and it is unfortunate but true that they have not been looked after well. The Hospital is now taking back buildings whenever possible and working hard to provide modern retail and restaurant accommodation at the ground floor, returning the upper floors to residential use.
Greenwich Hospital aims to work collaboratively, with the Royal Borough of Greenwich and other stakeholders, to undertake a long-term strategic investment programme that will refine Greenwich Town Centre’s historic assets and enhance their contribution to the local economy. The Hospital would like to work as a partner in everything in which it invests in Greenwich generally and meets regularly with the senior members of Greenwich Council in a number of forums (enjoying support at a high level even if there are some challenges in dealings with conservation officers) and with Nick Raynsford MP twice yearly.
The Hospital has been accused of failing to care for its assets, but it is responsible for all the fine buildings in the town and has no no intention of destroying them, only refurbishing them for modern and future use with the adaptations necessary for 21st century occupation. In order to deliver this vision, the Hospital aims to be an active Landlord, to offer responsible stewardship of the historic environment, to consult, engage in planning, providing a development framework strategy and deploy an integrated approach to servicing. Specific plans are to : -
- Conserve Greenwich’s urban village character through a proactive commitment to the protection and enhancement of its built heritage.
- Improve the appearance of the Hospital’s buildings by investing in the external fabric of the retail and residential frontages.
- Deliver buildings that respond to the character and quality of the area with a commitment to architectural excellence and the business needs of the 21st Century.
- Create prime accommodation to attract strong covenant and high quality restaurateurs and retailers.
- Continue to mix uses by taking back upper floors wherever possible and return them to residential use.
- Enhance and improve the historic market place and maintain its significance in the context of Greenwich’s history.
Many retailers have been “Grown in Greenwich” and the Hospital aspires to continue that tradition with new market traders. However, the current retail tenant mix has evolved over a number of years and the quality requires improvement as opportunities arise. The specification of the market area requires substantial upgrading in order to attract high quality designer-makers to the market. The public realm and access require upgrading to attract visitors of all ages. The Hospital will work with its retailers and traders to market the town centre through the web site and by hosting events for charity bringing in an ever-wider audience to the town centre.
Greenwich Market Vision
The Hospital’s plan focuses on the creation of a flexible food market with publically accessible open space, seating, hard and soft landscaping to reduce the number of food stalls in the existing market space at weekends, thereby reducing congestion in the historic Portico. It is proposed that this will be accommodated in the area known as Fry’s Court. A new covering for the market roof using the existing structure (which will have improved daylight, lighting, event specific lighting and ventilation capabilities) is planned as is the restoration and relaying of the cobbles on the market floor, improve access for all ages as well as improving the drainage and power for stall holders. The brief itself includes: -
- Creation of an attractive destination at the heart of Greenwich town centre
- Retention of the historic character of the market
- Restoration and reuse the original structure of the market roof
- Improvement of the public realm
- Improvement of the range of potential uses – Antiques & Crafts market, food market and event space, for example
- Reconfiguration of the service areas, aiding efficiency
The Hospital will continue its dialogue with Nick Raynsford MP, with the Council’s Planning and Conservation Officers. It will provide Council member briefings, pre-application meetings and ensure consultation with key stakeholders – like the Greenwich Society.
Although there is no town centre master plan, the Hospital has a continual investment programme and a coordinated construction timetable. Through consultation with the Royal Borough of Greenwich and the local community the Hospital also hopes to minimise disruption and maintain its commitment.
Greenwich Society Achievements
- Since 2001 our team of volunteers have removed more than 16,000 graffiti which disfigured the town centre, Trafalgar Road and our residential streets.
- We have helped make Greenwich a greener place by planting the now mature trees outside Greenwich Station; in front of the Arches in Trafalgar Road; in Greenwich High Road and in Crooms Hill as well as creating small gardens around the area.
- We look at every planning application and comment constructively and vigorously too when we see unsuitable development proposals.
- In the run-up to the Olympics we worked hard to ensure that the organisers and the Borough protected residents' interests during the Games.
- We have helped launch the Greenwich Line Users Group to provide a voice for passengers as the London Bridge development begins to impact on all
- The Newsletter has a great track record of keeping members informed about local affairs and events; the latest is our 173rd edition
- We are playing a part in bringing about an improvement to the town centre street scene. And the Society led the campaign against the garish neon signage on the Pier restaurants, supported by the Royal Borough and the Government Inspector.
- The Society campaigned successfully against the plan for a one-way system which would have increased rat- running
Greenwich Society Challenges
- Pressure from developers pushing the limits of the planning system to build taller apartment buildings with high densities, too few family homes and little outdoor space for recreation.
- Plans in the pipeline could produce an increase of 50,000 new residents between the Convoys Wharf towers in Deptford and the Peninsular. Will public transport, the roads and the infrastructure cope?
- How do we achieve a balance between the needs of residents and the pressures of a growing tourist industry?
- Plans for the new river crossings are supported by little evidence about the health and pollution impacts. What effect would a proposal to finance the crossings by charging tolls in the Blackwall tunnel have on the town centre?
What does Greenwich mean to you?
The Greenwich Society, which was born as a civic amenity group in the late 1950s, aims to work to make Greenwich a better place for all who live, work and study here – from Deptford Creek to the O2 and from the river to Blackheath. The Society has a special interest in thriving, long and sustainable businesses, the town’s commercial centres East and West, regeneration, traffic management, the natural and built environment and relations with the local authority and all the agencies who have to manage change. Whether it is the watchfulness that is required to protect the town’s heritage or the natural concerns of local residents to improve its amenities, the Greenwich Society welcomes members and gives a voice to everyone who cares about the past, the present and the future.