FromTheMurkyDepths

Housing and Development in London

Deptford, Greenwich

Visit to new developments in Greenwich & Deptford

Charters Wharf

I was recently around Greenwich and Deptford, and with time to kill, thought I’d have a look at how the new developments are shaping up. I’ll get on to that in a bit, but despite the plethora of new builds bringing thousands of homes and millions in developers cash to councils, adjacent areas such as Greenwich’s council estate by Norman Road still look a mess.

Pleading poverty is no excuse for the state of these areas; the severe mismanagement long predates cuts and Greenwich council has more money coming in from nearby developments, that can be utilised to boost deprived spots, than almost all other councils.

What is it – not giving a damn or not being able to due to chronic and systemic management problems? They either don’t want to turn long-neglected estates and poorer areas into attractive, safe, welcoming spots, or lack the ability to do so. I hope it’s not the former, so Councillors need to be asking real questions of funding priorities (ie don’t siphon it all off to select areas) and Council Officers in charge of departments. For one – the Housing Department need serious questions being asked of their neglect of public spaces. It’s endemic across many, many areas.

But then again Greenwich Council have just launched a new propaganda newspaper at high cost after spending many thousands trying to fight off the closure of the old, despite being in breach of rules. Maybe that shows what they care about most.

Anyway, back to the new builds bringing many new homes, albeit not many very affordable to most. Charters Wharf has almost finished. This is by bptw architects, who were based in a former building on site. They will move back to the site once complete. This is the second stage of this development on Deptford Creek.

Greenwich walk (16)

The architects have moved to a building at the junction of Norman Road and Greenwich High Road. Just last week a screening option went in to demolish this and rebuild as housing. A block up to 12 storeys and 63 flats. The planning ref is 16/2376/EIA

norman street

Back to the Creekside block, and it’s all a bit drab and monotonous across the Creekside facade except parts where the two blocks merge which appear pretty cluttered and messy. A newly created waterside walk is a big boost to the area, but generally it’s a dull addition. when looking at the Creekside frontage.

It’s not too bad though from Norman Road, at least the northern half which is complete. Some decent brick detailing and the balconies don’t protrude too much, giving that tacked on at the last minute feel. Windows and balconies are of good proportion and the double height street frontage is good. However, given the very high cost of retail rents don’t expect many small businesses to be able to afford it. Maybe the majority will be taken over by bptw.

Greenwich walk (13)

Over the other side of the Creek we see that site preparation for a tower is proceeding. This will be a private rented tower from Essential Living. The river defences look pretty much complete.

Greenwich walk (37)

Here’s how it will look when complete in around two years.

creekside east lewisham

It’s the green tower that is imminent. The block behind is in Lewisham borough, where recently the council and Trinity Centre agreed to sell land to enable that to proceed.

Public realm again

Back to Greenwich borough, and the mess that is public spaces in council run estates. Yep, an old topic, but inexusable. Finding one bit of street furniture, wall or fence that isn’t falling apart is a challenge. They’ve been told many times of the issues. It’s a lawsuit waiting to happen. Here’s a wall at the very entrance that looks a bit like jenga.

Greenwich walk (7)

A beautiful welcome for all estate residents and visitors. It’s all so crap. And turn round from this spot and just ahead is New Capital Quay – a huge recent development comprising many hundreds of homes, a Waitrose, Costa, Fullers pub and more. Millions came into Greenwich council from it. Seemingly nothing went on these neglected areas. Then add in Charters Wharf above – same story. And the Essential Living tower two minutes away. All bring in money. None helps locals and long forgotten areas.

Greenwich walk (5)

Greenwich walk (9)

This is not usable space. Certainly not welcoming. This could become a nice play area for kids. A place to sit and meet. Instead it’s dead – even in the summer holidays. No kids are playing here. No residents are meeting. And to create a welcoming space where locals and visitors would want to meet or stay would make barely a dent in the cash coming in to the council. At the very least an attractive area would increase civic and community pride and sense of belonging. Some people stop caring if those in charge do.

The estate also exhibits some failed legacy design of trying to enclose areas with large walls. A few selective knocking down of some walls would open the estate up and greatly improve it. For example, lose the wall to the left to open up the site:

estate wall 2

That could be an interim measure, as the whole area above needs a big revamp really. But it’s cheap and easy to do, if the will is there. A bit further along Norman Road, opposite the new Charters Wharf blocks, is this apparently pointless bit of wall. Knock it down, plant a tree there and add in some cycle parking:

estate wall 3

To knock down would cost very little for a nice gain. Little things, cumulatively, make big differences.

None of this kind of thing is rocket science – there’s examples of similar kind of thing happening everywhere. 

Finally, and again just two minutes away, is a development of homes and retail along Creek Road, now called The Gramercy, again by bptw. Not much is visible yet, though completion is expected shortly.

the-gramercy

I really like the look of this in renders. Solid proportions. The one part that is visible so far is concerning – the materials used on the top floor are far more drab that shown above. They are a dreary grey.

I’ve uploaded a few more photos to the long-forgotten Flickr page. It can be seen here.

 

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9 Comments

  1. julian

    The visual lies and deliberately drawn obfuscation in the developer’s rendition of their overbearing and out of scale proposals is staggering, but depressingly, the norm it seems. Essential Living seem to think that their vista from Creek Road Bridge looks south over open green, (no doubt with herds of wildebeest sweeping majestically etc etc) . The reality is a view obstructed entirely by Charters Wharf and a Creek canyon-ized more than the Victorians ever managed with their dark and satanic mills !
    Every creek wharf, other than Priors, in the “Royal” (ugh!) borough of Greenwich has had the Environment Agency’s “intertidal terrace” treatment, not because any planner in the borough has a love of diversity but simply because it ensures that no vessel can ever moor, or is welcome in their borough. As to the two vessels illustrated in essential living’s rendition of reality? With the underwater hazards……about as likely as the wildebeest !

    • NorthWesterner

      I don’t know much about architectural training these days but I take it that aesthetics never figure at all?

  2. Creeksider

    Don’t get me started on those crumbling walls. The one opposite Charters on Norman Road has twice been reported by me over the last could of years. One wall is 6 foot and the crack running top to bottom is around 3cm wide in places – you can poke your fingers right through. I’ve told Greenwich of the risk of it falling on a child but they have not done anything….6 foot of brick wall coming down would cause serious damage to a kid.

  3. GreenwichSE10

    I often wonder if Greenwich Council’s Housing Department are even aware it is supposed to be managing these areas – greenery, walls, fences etc.

    I thought it was the parks department who did this until explained otherwise a year or two ago. I really wonder whether those in the Woolwich Centre even know!

    The complete lack of maintenance despite being told numerous times means there’s some serious flaws here in management and procedures. The MP and Councilors need to step up. Either Housing sort up their chronic problems or management moves to other departments such as Parks. The state of so many places is utterly shameful. Ugly and dangerous.

  4. Walt

    Ha ha, that specific area really ticks you off, you posted pictures of that before:) But I totally agree, unnecessary fixtures and half broken down walls that don’t get fixed; also people treat the charity box for clothes as a dumpster, which doesn’t get emptied in time.
    Actually now I think of it, they could replace the area lot with a small development, moving parking lot underneath it. Would provide the council with some income, produce some more affordable housing, and could potentially improve the look.

    To me the essential living tower is actually a great improvement (remember just some broken down buildings there). The green in the picture is some public space they will create, would be nice once it all finishes we would be able to walk along the creek the entire stretch.

    Proper mooring places somewhere around the creek would be nice indeed. (They also painted some nice boats mooring at New Capital Quay in the sales brochure..) Now it’s not allowed but nothing is done against illegal mooring, so it’s a bit a free for all.

  5. Ha yep I have covered that very spot before and did so again as it nicely symbolises the problems.

    1) It’s JUST outside central Greenwich which the council maintain well so it shows the stark division in giving a damn in select areas, and not outside. Though the Housing Dept aren’t involved in central Greenwich and their skills seem lacking, and that’s being nice.

    2) They have been told about it many times (eg see the comment about big cracks in the wall above) and it shows they pay little attention. Systemic problems.

    3) Since the last post, four substantial developments are underway or complete in a very small radius resulting in millions of pounds coming to the council from developers. And not a penny for places like this. The priority for where that money goers is completely wrong, and in contrast to many other councils.

    It would be ideal to build housing there to provide homes. That could well be an excuse rolled out. Something may happen one day so leave it. And then it rots, becomes dangerous and a blot for locals. See Abbey Wood village’s 20+ years of neglect, the roads and junctions around East Greenwich etc etc.

  6. NorthWesterner

    Councils are being viciously squeezed by a government that has made it clear that public housing is for losers. It’s enraging to see this attitude made clear in three dimensions and (crumbling) brickwork, a monument to greed and portent of problems to come if this attitude is not reversed – not least the apparent flight of foreign luxury flat “investors” after the Brexit vote which will probably mean lots of empty crumbling private flats too. I am a bit sorry for councils. Even if they often make the wrong choices, they are hamstrung all the way.

  7. Councils now have an obligation to consult with the local community about how 15% of the Community Infrastructure Levy(25% where there is a Neighbourhood Plan) is to be deployed in the area affected by the new developments. Apparently the RBG cabinet will be considering how this should be done after the August break.
    The Greenwich Society will do our best to work with other local groups to ensure that the consultation process is genuine and transparent. The dilapidated state of so much our public realm sitting close by shiny new blocks will surely be high on many peoples agenda when they know they should be able to influence how big sums of money are to be spent.
    Money is just one issue: getting some fresh thinking about quality and standards in the public realm away from the well looked after World Heritage Site is another matter.
    Richard Baglin
    Chair
    Greenwich Society

    • Fully agree with everything said. Fresh thinking is exactly what is needed across a number of Departments, or those Departments tasks merged or altered.

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