Emails and messages often come in from readers stating its worth visiting this or that location and another came in this week mentioning an estate in Woolwich.
The estate in question is Maryon Grove which is part of the very long running One Woolwich project to replace homes at three council sites in a partnership between Greenwich Council and developer Lovells.
Off I popped to the site that featured 172 predominantly council homes. Blimey.
I’m rarely left as surprised as I was visiting the area, and for two main reasons. It wasn’t so much the general condition though it is in dire shape. That may be expected at condemned estates due for imminent demolition.
No, firstly, it was as this estate is completely open to the public. There was a couple of pieces of fencing strewn about but the vast majority of the site lays completely open.
I’d recommend go visiting. You won’t believe this is London in 2023 just left wide open beside Woodhill Primary School and existing homes.
Most homes have had metal plates ripped off doors and windows. Whether this is an attempt by homeless people to move in, an attempt by some to strip homes of anything that may hold value or the mixture of the two, who knows.
It brings to mind post-war bomb sites. The thing economic development and safety laws long condemned to a distant memory. Except here.
A video showing just a small part of the site has been uploaded to my new Youtube page here.
A number of homes have been broken into and fires have taken place in a number. I really hope desperate homeless people aren’t living in homes on site.
Given so many are easily accessible it would be easy to get in.
Second, the condition may be less inexcusable if demolition was imminent with new homes set to begin rising.
But that isn’t the case.
At a time when the borough’s homeless household population has more than doubled since 2018 to 1,611 in 2022 (including 855 in Emergency Overnight Accommodation EOA) residents have been evicted with no committed plan for new builds here.
There’s been no recent detailed consultation on future development at the Maryon Grove estate site let alone any detailed plans drawn up, let alone submitted.
The one Woolwich project sees three estate demolished (Maryon Grove, Connaught and Morris Walk) that featured just over mainly council 1,000 homes. In their place will be 1,500-homes with just 35 per cent “affordable”.
The substantial reduction in truly affordable homes will be partially – though not fully – compensated after a recent decision to pay Lovells £87.5 million.
Making things worse is glacial progress. After 15 years of talk and 10 years after an agreement signed between Greenwich Council and Lovells, only one estate is fully rebuilt. Two out of three estates have already seen all residents evicted.
Straying away from the estate itself for a moment and surrounding streets are in a sorry state. Dumped rubbish is seen in a number of areas here.
There’s no dropped kerbs at convenient places for pedestrians to cross.
Guardrail lines residential streets showing vehicle-dominated design
How Greenwich won an award for clean streets and flytipping remains a mystery to anyone who visits or lives in much of the borough – aside from select areas.
It’s all so very poor even away from the mess of the estate.
This is a council that loves to bang on about it’s “Royal” status and how millions are being spent in Woolwich, yet stray just a little beyond favoured areas and the whole landscape changes.
Greenwich will blame cuts. And that’s valid. In part. But Greenwich have been one of the more fortunate boroughs given huge levels of development bringing millions. Since austerity it’s one of the few sources of substantial funding for local authorities to mitigate cuts.
Greenwich have squandered much of that.
For those in certain areas , such as those living next door overlooking the Maryon Grove estate and parents taking children to school next to this site, there’s nothing Royal about this area. There’s no sign any care let alone money is doing the basic despite huge development across the borough.
Even worse is that homes for 172 people are now empty when people desperately need a place to call home.
Figures for those who are homeless are shocking in the borough. Thousands of people have been moved into temporary accommodation often miles from family, work and schools due to a lack of social housing.
Awful for those in such a position and costing taxpayers huge sums. Temporary accommodation is not cheap.
Yet in Woolwich social homes are being left to rot with no plan for replacement housing for years to come.
And when it does arrive, they’ll be less f them than previously existed.
Maryon Grove is symbolic of so much of what is wrong with housing in 2023.
I’m sure now this has come to light fencing will be erected. Why it already wasn’t says much.
Let’s just hope plans to rebuild here now do come along quickly rather than in another decade. There’s thousands of people who need – and deserve – good quality housing and an environment they can be proud to live in.