This is one post I’ve been meaning to put up for a while now, as plans to demolish the former Post Office in Abbey Wood were approved last month by Greenwich Council’s Planning Board.
In its place will be a new residential block with 30 flats. There were originally plans for commercial space – shops in other words – at street level, but this was changed
after comments from Greenwich Council’s business engagement team.
Is office space really more likely to work than, say, a Tesco Express or restaurant once Crossrail is finally up and running?
Previous attempts at office space in outer London areas such as Abbey Wood haven’t exactly been a resounding success.
Very similar plans for the site were previously rejected. That would have seen new space for a Post Office. If it was approved would the Post Office still have left? Too late to know now. They vacated the site last year.
The authority has pushed for £30,000 from developers from this scheme to be spent on Greenwich Local Labour and Business (GLLaB) but nothing on other areas of Abbey Wood including a large estate and nearby parks in poor condition.
Greenwich Council continue to insist they cannot use Section 106 money to do so, despite most London authorities doing exactly that (click here to see how Southwark last month agreed £700k to improve an estate from Section 106 income). They also regularly state developer income must be used on the direct site or immediate surrounds.
Yet as this 853 story today shows, the council are using £123k of Section 106 income from developers to replace the big screen in Woolwich town centre. That is of course not directly on a development site.
Another favoured tactic, and mentioned in the 853 article, is the authority claiming they cannot use income in certain areas – for example parks. Well yes, but that’s after an agreement is made by the council who determine how they allocate funds. Agreements they chose to make in the first place.
The authority are instead opting not to use money from new developments to improve certain estates and neglected areas. Just why, and what they have against improving deprived and forgotten areas is a mystery.
Much as I covered earlier today with council reports passing the buck on how spending on improving streets is used (in that case it was amended as incorrect) should this be challenged with greater force by those in power?
UPDATE: 853 covered the approval. Abbey Wood Labour Cllr Ann-Marie Cousins did raise the point about removing shop space and how developer agreements and funding allocations are made.