The news of a triple stabbing, and one death, at Lyndean industrial estate in Abbey Wood comes after years of problems at the site, which was known to the authorities. It’s located beside many existing homes as well as directly next to the new Cross Quarter development which is now almost complete, and for a couple of years I’ve received messages from people living nearby informing me of the multitude of problems with illegal use of the industrial units in a residential area. There can be hundreds of visitors to events with many clearly taking the piss, and almost nothing done to stop it time after time.
Some things residents have to contend with are persistent, very loud noise and music throughout the week, all-night events till 5am, shouting, screaming and much rubbish (last time I walked past there were a huge number of discarded flyers littering the whole road advertising an event) and then there’s the ridiculous parking. A substantial number of attendees drive.
There’s large numbers of cars arriving for daytime events parking anywhere and everywhere, and also many driving to attend the night time events till 5am. Terrible parking all along the road is frequent with cars blocking the road and access for the few genuine businesses still trying to survive. There are reports of people often driving away at 5am clearly drunk but no action taken.
I’ve seen atrocious driving myself during the day on the road outside. Cars driving the wrong way on the right hand side towards a blind 90 degree bend, other near-misses from idiotic driving, cars weaving all over the road and some truly terrible and selfish parking that has to be seen to be believed. And no enforcement by the council or police whatsoever, it seems. The authorities appeared to be completely ineffective or unwilling to deal with it, as things got worse.
As I normally cover new buildings, public spaces and developments I thought it’s not my area to cover when contacted, and directed people to message Greenwich council, the police or local MP. But the whole sorry history of the site does cover the failure of the planning system locally.
This event should never have been held there. The authorities have known about all the problems and issues there for years. Search ‘Felixstowe Road’ on Greenwich’s planning website and there’s a litany of failed applications which were ignored. Last year a club night was held and they found the fire escape locked. This was about the only time the authorities attended on hundreds of occasions. It changed nothing.
Time and time again the owners and users just ignored everyone, and little ever happened as things got worse. Firstly, they opened up and operated churches and ‘community’ spaces without permission. This badly affected other businesses in the industrial estate and residents. Then when discovered they were told to apply for planning permission. This was rejected but they appealed. When that failed they simply carried on. Sometimes they change the planning permission use slightly and start all over again. Sometimes Greenwich council issued an enforcement notice but it achieved nothing and no serious action was taken by the police or council.
The operators carry on blatantly, advertising widely and making no attempt to hide what they are doing, or showing any concern for people living nearby. For religious folk many attending really don’t seem to care about others. The thing is, there’s tons of places to do this where you aren’t pissing off many people and hampering businesses. I personally don’t really care whether they get permission too much as long as they don’t treat people living there like shit. But the events and selfish behaviour seen is continual by many accounts. Yes, the area is dull but there’s suitable places to hire for day events and this is far from suitable for all-nighters.
Finally, Greenwich Council took the owners to the High Court just two weeks ago. This was welcome but it should never have taken so long. But look here at the ‘Christ Church Ministries’ page. Numerous events still going on (in addition to the all night parties) which can be seen on the left, despite the injunction. The one on Wednesday starts at 7pm. Another late, loud night?
This kind of thing is happening all over Greenwich borough, but the Abbey Wood example is particularly bad and very close to many homes. And some of these churches across the borough are spewing out odious homophobic messages which again the authorities seem to be ignoring, but that’s another point.
Who is mainly at fault for years without serious action, the owners/users doing what they like and ignoring residents – is it the council or police? I believe the council won their injunction but nothing changed, as seen, and another chaotic event was held with more misery for residents, and culminating in three stabbings. The strange police statements on the BBC and local news sites is that the event was ‘organised’. Hmmm. That doesn’t mean it was permitted. Every illegal event had to have been organised by someone. Just because it was organised does not mean it was legal, had permission, or not causing problems for many coming after numerous other similar, problematic events. It came two weeks after a High Court injunction against the very ‘organised’ events held there! If it was permitted after all that it is the strangest decision in a very long time.
The really sad thing is it took this event to probably bring some real action to occur, though even now I expect the owners to keep going and flout the ruling, like they always have. If they got away with it so long why change now? Feeble responses by the council and police have not worked. Maybe Sainsbury’s opening next door will actually be what brings about change. After all, the complaints of locals going back years were never truly acted upon to halt the problems.