Before and After?

Here is a comparison of the view from Greenwich Park across the river to the Isle of Dogs and Canary Wharf (before) and the same view, adding the computer generated appearance of all the high-rise towers that are proposed (after).



Railway Chaos?

Despite the best efforts of GLUG, the Greenwich Line Users’ Group, all the publicity about the work at London Bridge and the impact it will have on Greenwich passengers (those using Westcombe Park, Maze Hill, Greenwich Deptford stations) has until now been labelled as a Thameslink operation. If you have seen a leaflet about the “Thameslink Programme” and read it carefully you will quickly see that the Thameslink Programme is not just about upgrading the First Capital Connect services between Gatwick Airport and Bedford. The programme also involves the complete rebuilding of London Bridge station between 2015 and 2018. This major redevelopment with result in huge changes – both for the three years over which the work takes place (from 2015 to 2018) and for the Greenwich line service thereafter.


The new London Bridge station - as planned

Everything seemed geared towards the Thameslink service and the message about the severe consequences of the work on passengers who use the Greenwich line was in danger of being lost. Was this just poor focus or did the railway authorities decide that the Greenwich Line was a low priority?

Rail passengers throughout south-east London will be affected but the Greenwich line - and passengers at Deptford, Greenwich, Maze Hill and Westcombe Park stations in particular – will feel the most severe consequences: 

  • All our services from January 2015 will go in and out of Cannon Street only – there will be NO direct Charing Cross services at all. This change will be permanent; the Charing Cross service will NOT be restored after the development is complete. In the long term, passengers will have to change trains at London Bridge in order to reach Waterloo East and Charing Cross.
  • For 18 months (from January 2015 to mid 2016) Charing Cross bound trains will NOT stop at London Bridge (because of the rebuilding of these platforms), so the only London station that can be reached on the Greenwich Line will be Cannon Street.
  • For 18 months (from mid 2016 to 2018) Greenwich Line trains will NOT stop at London Bridge. Once again, the only London station that can be reached from Deptford, Greenwich, Maze Hill and Westcombe Park will be Cannon Street.

For the three years of the work, Greenwich Line passengers wishing to travel on from London Bridge or reach Waterloo East or Charing Cross will have to find alternative routes – by bus or tube. As yet, not information has been provided about accessing alternative routes, whether shuttle services will be provided and what access passengers will have to other bus and tube services with their existing tickets.

Network Rail and SouthEastern railway are beginning to do more to inform passengers of the consequences of the work and the potential chaos, thanks to pressure from GLUG and the council. A new information leaflet was handed out at London Bridge station in January and more publicity is promised in April.

However, there is still no guarantee that Cannon Street tube station will stay open later in the evening and through the weekend (an essential element in providing alternative through routes for passengers and no plans to restart trains through the under-used tunnel between Charlton and Blackheath in the morning peak (which would give Greenwich line passengers a few more options).

GLUG has been seeking urgent meetings with Network Rail, Thameslink and SouthEastern railways, so far without a much success, and still wishes to hold a public meeting when and if those in authority will agree to meet with us and provide the information local rail users need.

Greenwich line passengers need answers to some fundamental questions: 

  • Will a shuttle service be provided between Cannon Street and both Waterloo East and Charing Cross throughout the redevelopment work?

Þ   Using the line that bypasses London Bridge?

Þ   By special bus?

  • How can passengers reach London Bridge form other stations when both the Jubilee and Northern lines are already so crowded?
  • Will passengers with rail season tickets be able to use buses and tubes without additional cost during the redevelopment work?
  • Will Oyster Pay-As-You-Go ticket holders be refunded the cost of using buses and tubes as alternatives to reach Charing Cross?
  • Will Network Rail, Thameslink and SouthEastern provide more targeted information for passengers using the Greenwich line?
Thames logo

Jonathan Chandler

 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.


Greenwich Society Pub of the Year


Tim Barnes presenting the award



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.

Richard Baglin

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.

Tim Barnes

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 Estate

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.


Town Centre Freehold

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


Market vision

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?

 Greenwich Park Panorama

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.