So, it’s done and dusted. There’s going to be a new cruise liner terminal at Enderby’s Wharf, on the west side of Greenwich Peninsula. What do you mean, you didn’t know? Didn’t you watch BBC London News last night?
(You can watch it on iPlayer until 11 June – 10 mins, 6 seconds in.)
Nope, not the Mercury; not the News Shopper; certainly not greenwich.co.uk, so disliked by the Great Leader. After all, why would anyone want to tell local news outlets when you can go straight on the telly and announce another Great Project, out of the blue? And you can be sure it’ll be in Greenwich Time next week.
It’s typical council media planning – deal with regional media who won’t ask any awkward questions, give the rest as an exclusive to your own propaganda rag, and bypass the people who whose job it is to ask difficult questions – the local press. Thankfully The Greenwich Phantom spotted Chris Roberts’ appearance on a news programme which generally ignores south-east London.
Plans to build a cruise terminal in Greenwich have been around for years – in the 1990s there was a proposal to build one by Deptford Creek, while Convoys Wharf has also been mooted as a site. The Port of London Authority already owns a floating terminal which can be moved up and down the Thames; cruise liners on the river aren’t as rare a sight as BBC London News made out.
But plans for a terminal on at Enderby’s Wharf – where the STC/Alcatel cable works are – haven’t really made it above the surface, being reported in passing in this News Shopper story from last year about regeneration work. When I stood for election I heard a little bit by word of mouth about the proposals, but very little tangible evidence of these plans ever existed. Peninsula councillor Mary Mills says there has been some discussions involving local groups, but there’s very little in the public domain.
What little we do know is that Manchester-based West Properties is pushing a scheme to include “a four star hotel, retail and leisure, residential units and public space”, with marine engineers Beckett Rankine commissioned to design the cruise terminal and a river boat pier. Indeed, BR’s website claims there’ll be two hotels there.
And where there’s a Great Project in the offing – the Great Leader can’t be far behind, bowing down and offering our obedient service. I wonder who paid for him to take a journalist out on the river? The developer, or us, the Greenwich council taxpayers? (UPDATE: TUESDAY 8 JUNE – Greenwich Council says the boat was provided by the Port of London Authority in response to a request from ITV, and the whole event was paid for the owners of the Seabourn Sojourn cruise liner berthed at Greenwich Reach.)
Of course, a cruise liner terminal may actually be a good thing, providing jobs and investment at a time when both things are needed. But wouldn’t it be a great idea if Chris Roberts actually got off his backside and talked to local people about what they thought of the scheme before announcing it on TV? But sadly, that’s not the Greenwich Council way – as ever, local people are left feeling like they’re some kind of incovenience in the way of the great march of progress.
So how the hell is the local area going to cope with the traffic a huge residential, commercial and hotel development is going to create? The whole area is surrounded by side streets, and is already going to struggle when the Lovell’s Wharf residents move in any day now. The cruise liner terminal won’t actually be the thing that has an impact on Greenwich.
What about the riverside path? Greenwich Council has already acquiesed in the long closure of a long stretch of our riverside path, and watched helplessly as the Lovell’s Wharf developers rerouted it into their sales office – and then grovelled to those developers in its propaganda rag. Will access to our river be protected?
And sadly – yes, it’s the 2012 deadline once again. Perhaps if we didn’t make such a fetish of getting things ready for the Olympics, the standard of Greenwich’s new developments might be just a bit a better?
So many questions, but too few answers. All these concerns about a Great Project, dismissed with a wave of the Great Leader’s arm. Was there ever any intention to ask the people of Greenwich what they’d like to see happen on their riverside?
West Properties is due to submit a planning application soon. Hopefully other councillors won’t take the same attitude as their council’s leader.