Another bookies to open on Plumstead High Street as Greenwich screw up planning process

Oh dear. Dear oh dear. This is almost beyond belief. Incredibly, after all the flack Greenwich Council have received over chronic neglect of places in the east of the borough, with Plumstead High Street a prime example, they’ve gone and screwed up the planning process meaning William Hill WILL be opening a branch at the former Barclays Bank.

The inspector has written that they “have serious misgivings about the way the Council handled the planning application”.

A town centre report which Greenwich Council claimed was the basis behind the initial refusal was not presented despite three requests, and yet again at the appeal – which the inspector labelled “clear, abject and repeated failure”.

I was rather naive and didn’t delve into details when news broke yesterday that the Planning Inspector approved the plan after William Hill appealed. I assumed, wrongly, that Greenwich Council would at least be competent enough to be able to handle the process correctly. Wrong. Thanks to Stewart Christie for highlighting this on Twitter.

One bit that sticks out is the inspector revealing how William Hill emailed Greenwich Council on three separate occasions for information and never received a reply. Locals will know that feeling all too well. Plumstead Councillors like Matt Morrow claim they will not communicate on Twitter (putting out endless party propaganda is ok though) and residents should email instead. Yet no replies for 6 weeks isn’t unusual, and sometimes no reply arrives at all.

The conclusion is damning of the authority:

Taxpayers now have to pick up the tab for this. It’s one example of squandering money amongst a long list:


One reason I didn’t delve yesterday was that I was covering how Greenwich Council are using at least £9 million in funding to buy homes on the market at £400,000 a pop instead of using their arms-length management company or partnering with Housing Associations at a far lower cost (£106,000 a unit). Vast waste and buying existing homes means no net increases in the housing pool. Paying more for less.

Yesterday’s post also revealed how they’re missing targets by a large margin. Urgent repairs are only happening within target 75% of the time instead of 98%. They also have not been checking housing condition when tenants leave meaning its difficult to claim back money for damage.


A near £10 million whole in the budget over the past five years has meant tax rises or cuts elsewhere. Throughout this time parking issues are endemic due to a very small number of enforcement staff working limited hours.

Random bollard doing its usual job – £122k spent on these recently

TfL money

I wrote extensively about how TfL give Greenwich Council £3.5 million each year for various schemes to improve roads, cycle routes, paths and other elements of the public realm related to transport (which in reality gives a very wide scope with street projects – Greenwich seemed to think it only meant roads). Since this years allocation begun in April not one word of detail has been released on how it will be spent. No consultation at all. There’s been over 10 years of this. Tens of millions. What’s it achieved?

Other councils use it to improve estates, shopping areas and public spaces. In Greenwich borough it’s mostly money to consultants and yet more street clutter.

Developer cash

Around £50 million has come in in recent years. I covered it in January – £11.4 million last year alone came in. Neglected like Abbey Wood and Plumstead have seen money from local developments sent off to Greenwich. Very little has gone into improving very run-down areas. Maybe if some had gone to Plumstead High Street it would not be in such a state and businesses (other than betting shops) would give it a chance.

I’ve also been emailed about more millions possibly not being utilised due to council mistakes. I’m waiting to hear more. It would fit a pattern of mistakes in various departments.

So another bookies for poor old Plumstead. What it really needs is capable staff and councillors fighting for it. Greenwich Council stagger on with their £11.3 million library upgrade, which is probably the last place on the high street that needed urgent work. It’s far from most shops and will do nothing for most of the High Street. It’s all money coming from local taxpayers too – most authorities win external bids to help with expensive schemes but Greenwich rarely seem to win them. I wonder why?

Bexley Council has managed to gain about £10 external funds million for Erith – a similar town in terms of size and offerings over the border. No such luck for Greenwich residents.

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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.

16 thoughts on “Another bookies to open on Plumstead High Street as Greenwich screw up planning process

  • You are an absolute hero for your research efforts and writing on all this with such consistency and passion!

    • Cheers! I have lived in a fair few areas and I knew there were some things that are very wrong in this borough. No where’s perfect of course but the numbers of issues in Greenwich is rather long.

    • Agreed! If it wasn’t for this blog I would be unaware.

      These festering betting shops need to be stopped. They are spoiling our communities!!!!

      Around the perimeter of General Gordon Square in Woolwich there are at least 5 and it has blighted the area. The two on Brewery Road Plumstead has single handedly spoiled the whole parade of shops as both shops attract what I can only describe as riff raff who oscillate drunk between the neighbouring Off License and the betting shops.

  • The same happens in Abbey Wood, They congregate drink smoke without a care for anyone else around them. Surely, these people must be on benefits of some sort? No professional or even non professional worker will put their hard earned money into a betting shop. These shops attract the poorest and most vulnerable who have a false sense of hope they can make their financial better on a quick bet. I had an experience where i thought i was about to be mugged by this young couple who came storming out the betting shop cursing swearing and came a bit too close for comfort whilst i was at the ATM next door.
    Is there a way in which we can report these people do the dole office?

    • Agreed, but I doubt the dole office would care how they are spending their money. Most of the people I see loitering around the betting shops seem completely unemployable anyway.

      Once one betting shop arrives then another has a right to come along too. They are complete parasites and I can’t think of any other retailer that is such a menace as betting shops.

      What is the best way to take action? Write to the councillor or MP?

      • Yes and record every element of anti social behaviour seen. Also include local police / SNT in emails

  • I submitted my objections to the process AND written to Plumstead councillors on several occasions. Received absolutely nothing, nada, zilch back. What else can we do?!

    • You’re far from the only one. Matt Morrow is very poor at communication by many accounts (and doesn’t live in Plumstead) and Angela Cornforth is the same. As is Rajinder James. Plumstead doesn’t stand a chance with local cllrs who dont appear to care and senior cllrs and Council Officers who are not up to the job.

  • As I wrote on the other article resignations must follow surely? This is pubic money down the drain on many issues now. Reasonable grounds for central government to step in?

    Look at how silent the leader Denise Hyland is on twitter about all this along with Matt Morrow and Sizwe James with parking problems. Its self promotion and selfies only. No humility. Any respectable Labour member should deselect. I’m a Labour voter nationally but never locally now with this lot.

  • Perhaps Someone needs to contact News shopper or the press about this? usually Bad publicity creates more of an outcry and maybe they whole department will do. I do wonder who are these Councillors serving if they don’t serve the community? With betting shops around an area will always attract the vermin of our society and no one would want to live there so the area doesn’t improve.

    • Some councillors care but there’s many that have been in position for 10-20 years, live nowhere near where they are supposed to represent and regularly never reply to any attempt to make contact. In those cases money and ego must be the drivers

  • Ignore last comment, its already on Newsshopper!

  • Pingback: Greenwich council to pay consultants £45 an hour after numerous planning department failures – FromTheMurkyDepths

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  • Pingback: William Hill withdraws betting application for Plumstead High Street

  • Pingback: Greenwich Council bid for money to improve Plumstead High Street – have your say – FromTheMurkyDepths

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