Housing writer Owen Hatherley on the Greenwich Millennium Village, rather oddly trumped up 10 days or so ago as an example of The Way Housing Should Be In The Future by local MP Nick Raynsford…
Nick Raynsford happens to be my local MP, and his office is on my street. A few years ago, this street had a Post Office, a General Hospital and a Primary school. Now, all of these have gone, but it does have three blocks of tiny, speculative ‘luxury’ flats, one of which is a gated community. Because of this, and some issues about rubbish collection, I am not well disposed to the man.
Greenwich Millennium Village, held up as a great example of a ‘mixed community’ is a place I know very well.
It’s actually almost as isolated as Thamesmead, an impressive achievement on the edges of Zone 2 rather than the outer reaches of Zone 5 – the only way to get from GMV to Greenwich itself is by the notoriously infrequent 129 bus. It’s cut off from the surrounding Edwardian and Victorian areas by the Blackwall flyover, but it is very well connected to Canary Wharf, where most of its inhabitants work, creating horrendous early morning bottlenecks.
At its centre is the amusingly named ‘Oval Square’, the obligatory piazza, ostentatiously lacking any facilities other than an estate agent – not that it matters, as there are two huge strip malls with huge car parks just around the corner (and did I mention this was a ‘sustainable’ community?) You do sometimes see a handful of families in the area, but generally it’s a homogenously middle class young professional enclave set amongst wasteland, with absurd rents and flat prices to match. That this is considered a model for anything other than a prospective posthumous Ballard novel is absurd, but very telling about what ‘mixed communities’ really entail. (more)
The same author’s also recently written for Building Design about the tragedy of West Thamesmead – and the original development further away.