Future uses of Greenwich gasholder sought by Greenwich Council

Greenwich Council are currently running a public consultation on possible uses of the gasholder at Greenwich Peninsula. The site states:

With the potential decommissioning of the existing gas holder, the site will be able to accommodate alternative, and more intensive uses. This Planning Brief sets out an overarching framework to guide any future development of the site

There’s some good examples of what to do with the site. The exterior frame of a gasholder in Kings Cross has been retained with flats built inside.

Another at Kings Cross has been turned into a park.

Greenwich’s plan is that:

The GP3 site will be redeveloped to address existing environmental constraints and create a high quality residential-led mixed use neighbourhood to provide for the community of Greenwich and play an integral role in the development of Greenwich Peninsula as a world class district for London.

Well considered and sensitive design will respond to the site context and ensure the delivery of a healthy new neighbourhood, which is appropriate to its setting and capitalises on the opportunities to connect to and support development across the peninsula, including the O2 Arena, cultural district and adjacent Developments.

Of course, one major issue is plans to build a bloody great tunnel next to the site supported by the same Greenwich Council that wants to build a “healthy” community directly beside. Plans for the Silvertown Tunnel have just been analysed at a planning inquiry, with results due later this year.

The approach road will not be altered despite another tunnel being built which will attract more traffic. Add in Ikea, large new schools and other new retail parks nearby and congestion looks like going only one way.

An associated document admits this:

Gasholder consultation 3

It mentions mitigating this but how effective will that be?

The consultation also mentions pedestrian and cycle links. They are badly needed all over Charlton and Greenwich. I’ll write another post on that soon, but millions have been flooding in to Greenwich Council from various large scale developments in the area and pedestrian routes are still often dire.

The Ikea plans will get final approval this week and there’s nothing definitive about new crossings to the north of the site across busy dual carriageways to new and existing housing. A large new school is underway nearby – 1600 students and as far I can tell no new crossings. More hotels or hotel expansions in the area and the same story. Pedestrians routes are similarly poor at the new Brocklebank Retail Park in Charlton.

Charlton Retail park public realm (5)

Charlton Retail park public realm (2)
Pedestrian desire line evident

Sydenham gasholders

An example of what not to do with gasholder is seen at Sydenham. Developers propose demolishing gasholders and instead building a retail shed and single level car park. A huge waste of land in London at the best of times, let alone resulting from demolition of a local asset.

Click here to fill in the consultation.

It runs until 17th July.


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J Smith

I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

8 thoughts on “Future uses of Greenwich gasholder sought by Greenwich Council

  • I hardly know where to start – this is a complex subject which I have been involved in, as specialist gas industry historian, for a long time. I have written (half) a biography of its designer (only copy is – I hope – in the John Harvard Library. I could produce a summary though, if not an MS).
    The holder is East Greenwich No.1. and when built was the largest holder ever built – only one other, in the US, has been built larger. It was built to revolutionary designs. I could explain at length – probably better elsewhere than here – that as well as its virtuoso engineering it embodies a number of more philosophical ideas and also in its deliberate austerity could be described as an early modern movement industrial building.
    Some years ago English Heritage commissioned a report on London holders. The consultant recommended Old Kent Road No.13 for listing – and did not recommend EG No.1. (nor, by the way the very interesting OkR No.10.) or any others. Very recently this report has been revisited and as a result OkR13 has been listed and EG1 consigned for demolition. Others listed have been the Kings Cross holders and that at Vauxhall – basically because they have been seen on TV and are ‘loved’, whatever that means.
    Very many holders have been preserved around Europe and elsewhere and there are many examples of good and revolutionary ideas. Can I suggest that the flats in the Dublin holder are rather closer to what could be done here than the ones at Kings Cross. Very many overseas industrial history enthusiasts are now coming to look at the remaining British holders (I am aware of people running tours!). What is happening with demolitions is a lack of imagination with hungry developers looking at sites. The gas industry with its tradition of secrecy does not help.
    I’m obviously happy to discuss this at length – and to talk to anyone interested. Overall I am concerned that we are junking examples of past excellence for flimsy short term reasons. I have also been very shocked that people can only describe these important structures in terms of pollution when there is so much more to them in terms of excellence and expertise of design and construction. We have thrown so much away that was good and which should have been things to make us proud of our heritage and replace it with misinformation and sentimentality.
    Thanks anyway for the post. Perhaps I could quote a long gone London Borough of Greenwich officer and Head of Regeneration – he said – ‘it is very dramatic in its setting’. And is that not another reason for retention and adaption?

    • Thanks for the background. I’m going to write a follow up post with some of this and other bits and pieces missing from this one, such as info that without Silvertown Tunnel hundreds more homes could be built on the site. Much needed with the housing crises.

  • Some short time ago a 20+ colleague asked me what that ‘thing’ was . I explained the concept and workings of the gas holder. He was amazed. Now, imagine there was no remnant of it there to prompt his question. All too often we sweep away the old in the name of progress, then discover our mistake too late. I completed the online consultation – I urge others to do the same. Make you voice heard.

  • I am putting some information here about gas holders and their reuse and the east greenwich holder
    this contains a fairly recent article on gas holder reuse in Europe http://industrial-archaeology.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/AIA-News-173-Summer-2015.pdf

    This article dates from the 1890s and is by George Livesey, who designed the East Greenwich holder – it is his spin on holder design, and, sorry a bit technical.

    even more technical historically is the consultant’s report on gas holders in London – which was an internal English Heritage document which was not circulated to people –
    like me – outside the industry. If anyone is aware of a web site which contains it please let me have it.

    There is a lot more stuff which I can send anyone interested – I have pdfs of an entire conference on gasholder retention and reuse held in London two or three years ago- and a great deal of historical material.

    I also have an enormous amount of material on George Livesey.

    I am posting this here because I think if it where most people will see it

  • Pingback: Greenwich gasholder plans part 2: Silvertown tunnel will mean large drop in possible homes – fromthemurkydepths

  • What is also interesting is the fact that the Horniman reserve collection is housed in the old Dreadnought school and the south end of the site (situated in this building as a result of the Horniman being ‘owned’ by the ILEA in the past). I wonder how the developers and/or the Horniman are going to handle that!

  • Pingback: Plans in to demolish Greenwich gasholder – FromTheMurkyDepths

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