Blimey. I’m really taken aback by news of Greenwich Council suddenly developing a backbone and rejecting the plans to redevelop Greenwich Market…
The rejection comes despite Greenwich Council planning officers recommending acceptance of the plans.
The council leader, Cllr Chris Roberts, a member of the planning board, said at the meeting: “I simply don’t believe the design is good enough for the World Heritage Site. I am not convinced it would create a place I would want to spend time in.”
The council’s cabinet member for regeneration, Cllr Peter Brooks, also a board member, said he had “grave concerns” about the quality of the design and said: “I’ve not been convinced by anything I’ve heard” from the developers and landowners, Greenwich Hospital.
Tory councillor Dermot Poston said the scheme could be anywhere: “Those shops might be in Brazil, or Canada, or Manchester – not Greenwich.”
Election coming soon, do you reckon? I’d expected the council to roll over for the developers, as they’ve done in countless circumstances in recent years – and the planning officers seemed to think it was business as usual too, recommending a flawed scheme get the green light. I remember when Greenwich Hospital, the charity which runs the market, first unveiled its plans, and its representatives seemed completely oblivious to the fact that anyone might think they were wrong. I wonder if the recent spate of roadworks which have blighted the centre of SE10 with traffic queues helped concentrate the councillors’ minds – central Greenwich is arguably becoming overdeveloped, and has definitely lost some of its character in the past years.
Finally, finally, action has been taken to halt this. The world of the local amenity societies has always been a mystery to me, but it’s staggering that Greenwich Council can now paint itself as a more doughty defender of the town centre’s heritage than the Greenwich Society, which backed the scheme. As for local MP Nick Raynsford, who allowed his face to appear in Greenwich Hospital’s leaflets plugging the proposals, it’s a serious blow to his credibility, with time running out ahead of the general election.
With planning proposals for the Olympics in Greenwich Park waiting to be submitted, many people will hope the council applies its new-found level of scrutiny to those proposals – already, too much of the Olympics “consultation” has taken place behind closed doors. As for the market… it’s anyone’s guess what happens next, but the shadow of redevelopment has been seen off for now, and for that, Greenwich Council deserves our thanks.
Blimey – climate camp on the heath, Greenwich Council doing the right thing… strange day!