Greenwich Council still messing about with our river

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?

Greenwich Council leader Chris Roberts on BBC London News, 4 June 2009
Proposed cruise terminal in Greenwich - BBC London News

(You can watch it on iPlayer until 11 June – 10 mins, 6 seconds in.)

(London Tonight was also invited, see its report via ITN Source.)

Nope, not the Mercury; not the News Shopper; certainly not, 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.

Enderbys Wharf, February 2010

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.

Enderbys Wharf, February 2010

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.


  1. I love this blog. Whenever I need to read some over hyped sensationalist diatribe I come here.

    Daryl – yet again your story is full of holes.

    You suggest this story was leaked out last night on BBC – but go on to admit it has been an idea that has been around from the 90s.

    Why you even state it has been in the Shopper last year – all be it a small bit – I’m sure that’s a council conspiracy as well, not the fact the Shopper decided not to make a larger story out of it.

    If you also researched your story you would find that it has been covered by the Mercury and the Kentish Times before. Why let facts get in the way of a story.

    Worse still you seem to suggest that it was slipped into regional media to keep it quiet. Yes that’s BBC London news viewed by how many 100s of 1000s compared to the 40,000 households covered by the Shopper.

    And as a former BBC bod – lets be honest – did you ever ask council PR people if they had broken the local news story you were working on to local papers first. Did you turn down stories if they hadn’t. Of course you didnt that would be just dumb. Broadcast can cover stories fast than print media for the reasons we both know.

    As for local residents having a say – why did you overlook the bit where the council leader clearly states that the plans will be subject to planning permission. Yes just like the Greenwich Market application, the 2012 application and a whole host of others – you can have your say. If you dont like the plans – make your view known. You know that – you were at both the previously mentioned meetings.

    Finally – if you heard about this when you were a candidate in the council elections, why did YOU not tell local people about it. Why didnt you campaign on it.

    The green campaign faltered badly as your party failed to concentrate on core local issues – prefering instead to campaign on personal pet peeves. What about housing? Education? Transport? These issues were barely mentioned in your campaign as you focussed on the issue you wrongly felt most people cared about – Greenwich Time. D’oh.

    That’s why the Greens went from 2nd to fourth in the ward you stood in. Your party lacked a vision and local people lacked faith in your party.

  2. Surely if ‘whispers’ had been heard by any of ‘Our Councillors’ it would have moved them to at least ‘float’ the idea around the locals? Oh, but wait, when was the last time you saw your local councillor to be able to ‘Chat’ about local issues and upcoming events/projects?
    Do we really need to track them down and ask them to tell us about these sorts of things or should they actively be looking to speak to us?
    Maybe we should look at Greenwich Time as being our Councils ‘Consultation’ after all we pay for the waste of paper.

  3. Hello Les.

    “Worse still you seem to suggest that it was slipped into regional media to keep it quiet.” Did I? I actually said it was given to regional media to avoid scrutiny – a Londonwide outlet is not going to ask the same questions as a local newspaper which knows the area well.

    “Broadcast can cover stories fast than print media for the reasons we both know.” TV’s actually quite a slow medium – the News Shopper can get something up on its website in 10 minutes.

    One question – if the plan is big enough for Chris Roberts to go on TV about, don’t you think that some wider consultation about this scheme is in order, rather than a simple planning application? For example, the Convoys Wharf developers in Deptford recently held a public exhibition of their plans. Where’s the chance for locals to ask questions and find out more?

  4. Daryl – I don’t think you read my post.

    There will be wider consultation when planning permission is sought.

    Plans will be produced by the developers for the public to give their views on. Councillors will listen to those views and make a decision. You know how the system works – so why pretend you don’t.

    No planning application has been logged yet – a quick check on the council’s website shows that.

    You failed to explain why you did not tell local residents about the plans for this during your election campaign – seeing as you admitted you heard about them. Why not – if it is such a big deal now?

    And I say again – this story has appeared in all 3 local papers.

    The council declared it wanted Greenwich to be the base of a cruise terminal ages ago:

    It was also mentioned again at the time of funding being secured for the Cutty Sark:

    Here in the News Shopper last year:

    And so on…

    Google is great like that – so what exactly is your story here? And why did you not bring it up during your campaign?

  5. Les, this isn’t a post about me. It’s a post about the council. And that News Shopper story is linked to in the story. If the Enderbys Wharf cruise terminal plans are so public, can you use Google to find me a complete set of proposals?

    That council link refers to the original Greenwich Reach plans. Not Enderbys Wharf.

    By the way, your IP address,, suggests you’re in Switzerland. Having a nice holiday?

  6. I don’t profess to be anything but a cynic when it comes to our Council but is there anyone else who thinks it strange that they seem to be able to find the time and effort to get this proposal done and dusted within 18-24 months? How long has there been a hole in the Heart Of East Greenwich? What is happening too East Greenwich Library? Let alone the appallingly ‘derelict’ feel to Trafalgar Road with its rows of abandoned shops? Would the money used for this new terminal not be better used for projects that benefit locals? After all, don’t we already have cruise ships docking in Greenwich or was that a figment of my imagination I saw last night?

  7. Darryl – how petty. I am enjoying my holiday in Switzerland as it happens.

    Technology is wonderful like that as you would know posting from America and various contries on your hols too.

    Shame you have to try this petty game when people disagree with you. Just like your Twitter posts that I am a Labour/Greenwich Council plant.

    For the record I’m a Tory voter – and Nigel Fletcher who re-tweeted your post should know better. He knew about these plans already too.

    I’m not defending the council here – just fed up with misinformation being spread by people, even as you have shown in this case, people who knew about the scheme months ago.

    Anyway – back to the story.

    I’ve shown you this old news.

    I’ve shown you that the council has promoted it’s desire to see a cruise liner terminal at Enderby’s Wharf.

    I’ve shown you that the local media have been told about this story BEFORE the BBC.

    So all your main points in your “story” have been discredited.

    Seems like the only person who kept his prior knowledge of this scheme quiet was you…

    Shouldn’t that be your story?

  8. Cllr Roberts announces cruise liner port project:

    Today is a day of great historical significance for London. Our country isn’t an island anymore, we’re a leading European state, and I believe that this is the decade when London will become Europe’s capital, having cleared away the outdated, we’ve got mile after mile and acre after acre of land for our future prosperity, no other city in the world has got right in its centre such an opportunity for profitable progress.

    So it’s important that the right people mastermind the new London, proven people, with nerve, knowledge and expertise.

  9. Chris Roberts/Harold Shand. Neat. But memory fails; is the quote Roberts or Shand? Could be either.

    To detail: there was a report to the London Development Agency last June which identified Enderby’s Wharf as one of the two most suitable sites for a terminal. As far as I can remember, the major governing factors were related more to river depth, shipping movements etc than anything else. The link to the report seems to have gone down but in case it will be restored here it is:

    At the time I read this, October last, I was told no decision had been made as to final location but Enderby’s was strong because it could be rolled in with an existing development proposal for commercial, residential and hotel accommodation. This was the West Properties proposal. Their web site still makes no mention of the cruise liner terminal. Odd. It does indicate that the area of their development will be fairly small; most of the site, back from the waterfront will remain with Alcatel.

    Concerns would be a) land-side transport links and traffic generation, (b) the architecture and sheer built size of the beast (no knowledge yet of who will design – Beckett Rankine appear to be marine engineers working on the floating bits), (c) the speed of development (d) preservation of important relics.

    The preservation of the Enderby house alone will not be enough. The first transatlantic cable was made here and shipped out from the Enderby’s Wharf. So first moves towards globalism (like it or not) were made here. Making that evident should appeal to developers?

    By the way, developers consulting before they put in a planning application is indeed quite normal for anything of large significance. I think this site and intent justifies a rather more open approach than talks with unnamed local organisations. It would be very helpful if they could identify themselves and say what they talked about.

  10. Sorry, this is coming out in bits:

    Add to the above that there appears to be no information about this on the GLA or LDA web-sites. Also odd.

    And to the concerns add an (e) what effect will this have on the future development of the Syral site?

    The Syral site is both a preferred industrial aite and a Safeguarded Wharf under the London Plan which should ensure a continued industrial river-oriented use. But the use of the wharf could be made more difficult by the presence of large ships at Enderby’s.

    The really annoying thing here is that the Primrose pier at the north of the Syral site and well clear of the terminal is not a safeguarded wharf and I believe that under the terms of their lease from Morden College Syral are obliged to demolish it. The gantries adjoining the Syral silos have already come down and the silos themselves will follow very shortly. According to the PLAs Notice to Mariners M11 of 2010 the demolition from barges of both the silo pier and Primrose Pier are due to be completed this month.

    Up to two weeks ago I had seen no evident action on Primrose Pier but will now have to see whether this exercise in gratuitous vandalism is yet in progress.
    I doubt if it can be stopped. It should have been.

  11. I have desperately been trying to keep quiet while all these posts are going on.

    Otter – who are you?? I need to talk to you. I have been making a fuss about Primrose Pier for months (and the other jetties, including the old Greenwich tip jetty) and I am still waiting for a report. I am also trying to keep abreast of the Syrol site generally. You clearly actually know the scenario.
    You are right about the historic importance of the Enderby site (if a bit wrong on detail) – I just wish some of the mainstream historians would take it more seriously. However as well as being the home of communication and the site of a ropewalk, before, 1770 it was the site of the Goverment gunpowder depot, with a massive jetty in the river and a testing station for all the nation’s explosives. (Perhaps I’ll write that up for Rob next).
    – and – while I’m writing – Dazza – if you live in Peninsula Ward I’m always happy to chat – but I can’t seek everyone out because there are too many people and not enough time, so you will have to come to me.
    – and – Darryl, sorry again, while I might agree with the concept of ‘our’ river – I suspect that organisations like Morden College (and the PLA) might also think they have some ownership too.
    ps email

  12. While I might agree with the concept of ‘our’ river – I suspect that organisations like Morden College (and the PLA) might also think they have some ownership too.

    This is true, but does Chris Roberts represent the people of Greenwich or does he represent landowners?

    This Labour video from the general election rings sadly hollow around here 🙁

  13. Thanks, Otter. Unfortunately, that’s not working for me either – looks like a casualty of the GLA website revamp…

  14. Indeed, thanks Otter – it’s something I’ll have to return to soon, I think.

  15. […] (9 November) (South-east London’s loopiest local paper provokes more head-scratching.) 8. Greenwich Council still messing about with our river (5 June) (Democracy Greenwich-style – don’t consult with local people, Great Plans get […]

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