Murky Depths

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Greenwich

Greenwich tower approved: adjacent neglected estate ignored

Greenwich’s Planning Board tonight approved a new 28-floor tower in Greenwich by five votes to three.

Back in September developers of the block at Ravensbourne Wharf alongside Deptford Creek revealed revised plans with an increase in flats from 111 to 129.

Interior

The approved scheme tonight will see an adjacent estate yet again ignored. Developers will pay large sums of money to Greenwich Council to mitigate development, yet the council have decided just £7,500 in Section 106 money should go towards the Thornham Street estate directly opposite. It’s been ignored time and again as new builds surround the site.

Estate. New block will almost directly opposite

If Greenwich Council want an “us and them” mentality to take hold they’re going the right way about it.

A stone’s thrown from a world heritage site. Public space is unused and unloved

Those living in long term neglect will be sick to see more money pour into council coffers as they’re ignored yet again. What does the authority have against looking after estates and good quality public space for communities?

Public space on estate

Greenwich Council have however managed to find another £129,550 for Greenwich Local Labour and Business (GLLaB).

Brickwork failing across estate. Residents fought for years for basic maintenance

Another contentious point is the low level of “affordable” housing which City Hall have criticised. Just 20 per cent of future housing is at that level, and even then costs for a 1 bedroom flat will be £1,109 per month.

A little flair

The new block is far removed from the standard London block seen rising. I’m rather keen on the design which breaks the Creekside monotony of box after box.

Creekside opened up

It should open up a new Creekside walk but the same was said of previous developments – and they’re still locked shut to the public years after completion.

New residents will also see a bus lane removed in this area during 2020 slowing journeys from Canada Water tube station to the site. On the plus side a new segregated cycle lane will be installed towards Tower Bridge.

New tower will rise between existing two blocks

Alongside S106 money the development will also bring in hundreds of thousands of Community Infrastructure Levy income. Last year Greenwich barely spent any aside from commitments they had to meet leaving £3,494,119.84 unspent.

Estate untouched in 30+ years – except bollards

It will also bring in large amounts relating to the New Homes Bonus scheme. For homes built last year Greenwich Council will receive £11.9 million from that fund over the coming year.

Anything for estates though? Don’t count on it. Residents, particularity those in unfashionable estates, don’t seem to matter. Just today I covered a new consultation for Thamesmead and Abbey Wood looking at changes over the next two decades.

Public space in Abbey Wood estate beside main shopping area.

Despite years of discussion, Greenwich Departments and Officers can’t have pushed hard to help the long deprived Abbey Wood estate during talks as it’s almost entirely ignored in plans covering the next 20 years. It’s another area where new towers have seen very little allocated towards an adjacent estate. £1.3 million of S106 income in one instance.

UPDATE:

Eltham Cllr Nigel Fletcher (Conservative) voted against and raised the issue of S106 allocation. He states they were told – again – that S106 can only be spent on the site itself and immediate area. “Site specific” they state. Well, the estate is directly opposite. New residents will walk through to reach transport connections.

This “site specific” line is one used for years both before and after S106 changes. Other councils do use S106 to assist estates beyond immediate sites of development.

Southwark

This site has numerous new builds on all sides. And looking at Greenwich’s S106 spending and allocations last year shows they use S106 income beyond the immediate site location.

Still though they persist in ignoring many estates, parks and public spaces.

14 Comments

  1. Paul SuperUnknown

    “Greenwich Council have however managed to find another £129,550 for Greenwich Local Labour and Business (GLLaB)“

    Unsurprising! (Has anyone had a gander at the vehicles the staff at GLLaB drive? What does these people actually do?)

  2. Joan

    Forget left v centrist arguments within labour, this council are more like various strands of the Tories. Somewhere between IDS and Thatcher when it comes to housing.

    How the hell can they justify ignoring estates with all this money coming in? My home is damp ridden, the outside is filthy and walls and flower beds falling apart. No flowers for years mind. It’s so much worse than in Lambeth where they half care. I’ve reported it to no avail so many times – and yet money from new projects going up near me is never ending.

    Greenwich Council do not care for estates or those in them. End of story. Shameful for Labour.

    • Local Resident

      When Labour misbehaves people say “oh that’s just then being like Tories”. No! These were and are Labour councillors who voted to approve this (the conservative ones voted against). They asked about the low level of affordable homes and the effects on local services but then approved the scheme because, and I quote, “it’s design is very nice”. People keep voting them in the area no matter what and nobody from the decrepit estates goes to the planning board to object so why should they care. Most were not even aware what the area looked like or was … this is not local politics but simply lack of interest (or hidden self interests we are not aware of).

      The report from the planning officer was a coot&paste, word by word, of the applicant document so it feels they are working for developers and not residents on these matters.

      • Ashley

        It’s shocking to see how these estates are left in a shabby state of disrepair, So much more could be done to revitalise and lift life back into them.

        Greenwich Council receives enough revenue from CIL/S106 to champion our Council housing, public spaces and Realm. But rather squander it on failing GLLAB than maintaining the needs of its residents and their surroundings.

        Shamefully nothing will change under this tired Labour administration. Isn’t it about time to vote in another party/administration which might show some vision, new ideas, visage a change and project a breath of fresh air throughout this borough?

  3. tony g

    Surely most of these estates are now no longer under direct control of RB Greenwich? Either outsourced to arms length vehicles or the majority are gone under Right to Buy or now run by HAs? I can’t speak for this estate in particular but presumably Greenwich don’t feel like their responsible any longer…a travesty but the state of Social Housing.

    • fromthemurkydepths

      The majority are still in house under the control of RBG housing

  4. ‘Estate untouched in 30+ years – except bollards’

    Not so. That high rise in the background was covered in scaffolding a couple of years ago. However, it looks exactly the same now as before.

  5. Graham

    I can now officially confirm that GLLAB are a complete waste of time as suspected for many years. So I do have to question the large sums of money given to them from section 106 money. As are they really getting people in to work? it seems not where the Council is concerned.

    A close friend of mine applied for a job with Greenwich Council via GLLAB and was told he had the job a few days later. He was feeling on top of the world as you would when getting a new job whether your unemployed or changing careers.

    After a cpuple of weeks wait for his Janaury 2020 Start date he was told he would have. He received a letter saying he as been placed on a waiting list for 12 to 18 months as their have to give priority to redeployed Council Staff or exisiting Agency staff.

    Redeployed staff already employed by the Council I can accept not necessarily Agency Staff as they are paid by the Agency rather than direct by the Council.

    So in real terms there are no jobs being offered to the public by GLLAB when it comes to Greenwich Council and there companies like GS Plus and GSS.

    As12 to 18 months is a very long time to wait espcially if claiming benefits flike Universal Credit or example. Exisiting staff and staff waiting to be redeployed should still be encourage to seek employment outside of the Council.

    As there is still no clear guarantee you will be offered a start date with in this time.

  6. Graham

    ** Couple of weeks ** Like Universal Credit ** Sorry more mispellings above..I am clearly not a typist or computer wizard.

    But do like to see fairness and open competition when applying for jobs etc.

  7. CDT

    I agree fairness and open competitionn should apply a cross the board whether applying for jobs in Private Sector, Civil Service Local Authorities or the NHS for example.

    What is important is that you get the right people for the jobs who are passioniate about the work they are applying for jobs in. So it is more than just a job

    I think than people give more to the role which can only be good for the companies and clients especially when dealing with vulnerable people.

    We live in a great Borough (Greenwich) let’s make it the best Boorugh in London too,

  8. EthicsGradient

    Agree with many points made here; yet also, just came across this…

    https://853.london/2019/12/24/overspending-greenwich-council-given-festive-financial-warning/

  9. Kevin

    I do honestly believe GLLAB should now be closed completely as no longer fit for purpose.

    GLLAB are unable to keep with in it’s annual financial budget. With hundreds of thousands of pounds being taken from other projects around the Borough that should be funded by section 106 money with this money being given to GLLAB. So in affect GLLAB’s budget as doubled or trebled over the last couple of years compared to other Council Departments.

    We are now seeing charges for Social Care being increased which will affect some of the Boroughs most vulnerable people and those reliant on benefits or low incomes.

    This situation cannot be allowed to continue and Greenwich Council need to accept that GLLAB is a dead duck and no longer financially viable.

    I do hope to see some of the section 106 money starting to be used to upgrade older housing estates like Thornham Street in Greenwich and Abbey Wood Estate in Abbey Wood to name only two older housing estates in need of upgrading around the Borough.

    • fromthemurkydepths

      GLLaB does good work. It’s not wise to close it down but it shouldn’t take vast sums at the expense of other crucial areas. A balance is needed as seen in other London authorities.

    • Ashley

      Kevin I totally agree, just wasteful money pits. Why duplicate services already administered by other organisations and charities. Money better spent on wellbeing and needs of its residents of the Royal Borough. Every part of this Borough looks tired and neglected.

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