FromTheMurkyDepths

Housing and Development in London

Plumstead

All go at Plumstead – £11.2m spending on library, 1400 homes and the Fire Station moving?

Plumstead library plan

An absolute slew of news regarding Plumstead has been revealed. It’s hard to know where to begin really. Firstly, the council has drawn up a Plumstead ‘ Urban Framework’ to guide development. This is badly needed for the High Street area which is an utter mess and has been for many years.

As part of this framework the existing leisure centre is to be sold off for housing with facilities moving to the library site. To accommodate this the council are planning to demolish the entire library behind the front facade. This is dependent on it not being listed. An application to do so is currently under consideration by Heritage England. If it isn’t then the building will go. The library will move elsewhere for 18 months whilst that happens.

Retaining the front facade alone is often referred to as ‘death masking’. There’s some cases where it’s worked very well with the new building well integrated with the retained frontage. There’s also many horror shows. One such building won Building Design’s Carbuncle Cup in 2013, sandwiching two winners within Greenwich borough. I’m sure the council don’t want that dubious accolade again.

Normally any additions to retained frontages attempt to be subtle to not overshadow. One worrying aspect is that the council document seems to want to make a virtue of new features from the front.

library frontage

It already has a striking visual presence externally onto the High Street. It’s a beautiful building. It seems they want to punch a hole into it. And it isn’t even for an accessible entrance. The main entrance is listed as being to the side.

library front

Unfortunately trees obscure the frontage in this shot. Trees are of course great in urban areas, but who the hell thought planting them directly outside an attractive building and obscuring the highlight of this street was ever a good idea? This typifies various Greenwich council department’s knowledge and application with street design going back many years.

Martin Arnold Architects are mentioned as working on the new plans. They are a local practice based at Woolwich Arsenal.

Sell offs

To fund this project council buildings other council owned buildings are to be sold. In line for disposal is the car park on the High Street beside the noodle bar, as well as the former Kinara Building at 236 Plumstead High Street. The council had previously agreed to sell the Housing Office at 256-258 Plumstead High Street. There’s no mention of outside funding though.

This scheme seemed a perfect fit for recent awards from central government and the GLA/Mayor for London High Streets. Bexley borough received £2m from the fund for Erith which they agreed to match. Greenwich council received nothing. But a Tory preference from the Mayor cannot be argued. Many Labour councils were awarded substantial funds. Over the river in Labour run Newham £600k was awarded to revamp the old North Woolwich station and £450k at Silvertown. Labour run Barking council sees £3.8 million, Hackney council £3 million, Southwark £2.4m, Lambeth £1.7m and Harrow £1.5m, to name just five. Greenwich council continually misses out on numerous funds. Why is this?

Other sites the framework plan sees changing on Plumstead High Street are the car wash site and MOT centre to halt the severance from the High Street and the station area. Improving the station area is mentioned. This needs action asap. It’s an incredibly shit introduction to the town. Waiting 10 years for Peabody housing to spring up nearby is not good enough. That trick was pulled in Abbey Wood with its station area and now the main parade is seeing a pittance after 20 years neglect.

Another striking bit of news is that the Fire Brigade are looking to vacate their site after over 100 years. They are looking to possibly moving to Griffin Manorway. This is at page 79 of this document.

fire station

A map showing development sites along the High Street:

Plumstead development sites

Peabody Housing Plans

Documents show that the possible Fire Station site would be located close to forthcoming Peabody housing around the one way system, which surrounds the bus garage. Plans reveal Peabody’s development could comprise “851 residential units, 7,149sqm retail and commercial and 2395sqm hotel”.

The one way system is a bit of a mess and cuts off the station from parts of Thamesmead. Work on this is welcome. Hopefully in time the entire bus station moves for housing near the station. This is my speculation but there’s space for a new bus station on Nathan way around five minutes away. The land is highlighted on the latest plans for industrial when Crossrail finish with it in 2018. It faces a private road with quick links to Thamesmead’s dual carriageways, so access is very good. This would allow a comprehensive change to the one-way system.

Just north of there 615 homes are planned at Broadwater Dock by the Thames. Though technically in west Thamesmead it’s a stones throw from Plumstead with homes extending south to close to the one-way system and Plumstead station.

thamesmead plumstead sites

There’s lots happening across Plumstead then and most not a moment too soon after years of neglect along the High Street. A lot of good news. There’s some things such as the library design that need a very close eye kept on. Some Plumstead residents online seem frustrated that consultation has been extremely minimal so far with the Council’s cabinet set to rubber stamp plans next week.

Interaction with the public could still be vastly improved. Promises made at a previous meeting havn’t happened. We’re talking really simple thing like getting the jet washers down from Woolwich depot to deep clean the streets, especially around the filthy station area. But there are plans to give some areas a lick of paint.

To those in Plumstead (and elsewhere) it may be worth looking at setting up a community group. Greenwich council have recently carried out consultation for groups at borough boundaries with Lewisham council at Deptford and Lee. From their website:

“Neighbourhood planning was introduced under the Localism Act to give local people more of a hands on role in the planning of their neighbourhoods. It is a process that is led by the community and supported by Royal Greenwich.

Neighbourhood planning aims to be a positive process that improves the social, economic and environmental well-being of an area.”

Developing a plan

Neighbourhood planning is driven by the local community at the neighbourhood level.

Developing a neighbourhood plan for your area involves submitting three applications to us:

  1. neighbourhood area application, which sets out the geographical boundaries of the neighbourhood
  2. neighbourhood forum application, which sets out the composition and constitution of the forum.
  3. neighbourhood plan application.”

More information on the council website here.

6 Comments

  1. kevin sweeney

    Absolute disgrace how the Council disregards the needs of the Community to feed the Greed of developers.

  2. Claire

    FINALLY! Some steps are being taken to help start some regeneration on the High Street. I’m disgusted that it has been allowed to get in to this state. There is a lot of good going for it – the best dry cleaners, the Co-op, Boots, Iceland and a few decent restaurants AND many bus routes. But it is dirty and in disrepair. It is awful to walk down in the morning and the evening and it is intimidating at night. It is also embarrassing when people come to visit us. But it could be sooooo good to have a decent high street. I’m very happy about this news. Any new development, housing or otherwise is welcome by me. It has got to be better than what we have currently. This is positive news.

    • Yep – like other run down places such as Abbey Wood and some of Woolwich it has much that’s good there and the potential is huge. I welcome the infill of underused sites. Making the station area attractive will also help the towns fortunes. The fire station going is a bit of a shame for nostalgia reasons but the building will be retained and the rear site utilised, which currently presents a corrugated fence to the main road.

  3. Mike S

    My understanding is the one way system around the bus garage is a deliberate attempt to both persuade traffic down the Thamesmead spine road, and to provide a buffer for the backed-up traffic into Plumstead Road. The bridge is not actually weak at all – that is simply a lie.

    • Yep I believe that was one reason given for the road alterations about 10 years back. It never really worked at altering traffic flow along the High Street.

  4. John R

    I was involved in saving the library when the Council planned to knock it down the best part of 30 years ago. They never consulted then but we found a number of features besides the frontage that were of importance, made a fuss and demonstrated outside the Town Hall. The reality is the Council do as they want unless people in numbers show they won’t let them get away with it.

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