What happened to Greenwich’s Olympic cruise liner terminal?

So the Queen rocked up in Greenwich on Wednesday to reopen the Cutty Sark. The’s terrific pictures from greenwich.co.uk, and more from The Greenwich Phantom. No walkabout from Mrs Queen, though – rather a shame, since as we’re paying to be a royal borough, it’d be nice to be able to press some regal flesh once in a while…

The day before, though, saw a press tour around the ship, whose restoration was helped by £3m from Greenwich Council. At the same time, journalists were taken out on a boat to Enderby Wharf, so they could be chatted up about plans for a cruise liner terminal.

Cruise liner terminal? Remember that? Yup, the one first announced by council leader Chris Roberts taking journalists, er, out on a boat, in June 2010, before most locals knew a thing about it.

The cruise liner terminal received planning permission in January 2011. Planning documents said: “It is the applicant’s intention to deliver the cruise liner terminal and pier in time for 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games bringing a major piece of new infrastructure to London,” adding that an independent study had found this was “realistic and achievable”. No wonder why it got unanimous approval. The following week’s edition of propaganda weekly Greenwich Time said it was “anticipated” the terminal would be open for the Games. Exciting stuff.

By April 2011, though, nothing had happened on site apart from the vandalism of historic Enderby House. In June 2011, Greenwich Time said the terminal would be open “in 2012”, and mega-liner The World would be docking there in 2013.

By April 2012? Er… nothing.

This was Enderby House earlier this month, looking in a right state. Still, Greenwich Council’s website remained optimistic.

Indeed, it’s still remaining optimistic, since those words are still there, on a page two clicks from the council’s homepage.

But as is blindingly obvious to the cruise liner terminal won’t be open for the Olympics. It won’t even be open this year. To the Orpington-based News Shopper!

“Preliminary work on the landmark development, approved last summer [sic] is now due to start at Enderby’s Wharf in November, with the facility’s first phase open 12 to 18 months after that.”

So, all being well, the first visitors be able to dock in Greenwich and watch the Olympics. Yes, the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, on the telly in the nearby Pelton Arms, if the guv’nor can be persuaded. Excellent.

But did anyone on the boat trip ask why the project will be delivered up to two years late? It appears not.

Not the News Shopper, whose reporter seems to be covering both Greenwich and Lewisham boroughs single-handedly at present, not the Docklands & East London Advertiser (which reported it as if it’d just been announced), and certainly not the Evening Boris Standard, which bizarrely managed to squeeze a plug for the mayor into the story, breathlessly reporting the project had been “given the go-ahead by Boris Johnson”. Indeed, he gave it the nod in February 2011.

Does all this matter? Well, yes. This is a prestige project for the area, one which is meant to create employment and kick-start the regeneration of the west side of the Greenwich Peninsula. It’ll affect the Thames Path, and also one of the area’s historic sites at Enderby House, and even sparked a plan for a “cultural corridor” scheme to link it to east Greenwich proper.

It’s also a project the council’s intimately involved in, even inviting a representative from developer West Properties along to a £10,000 celebration at the Queen’s House in February to mark royal borough status. It also sponsored a cruise industry conference on Wednesday. (Scroll down the page for some staggering porkies about how easy it is to get in and out of Enderby Wharf, incidentally.)

So, yes, it does matter that we get timely and honest information about this. But, predictably, we have a council that’s not up to the job, and an under-resourced local press that’s also failing to do its work. And nearly two years after I first posted on it, I never thought I’d still be posting about a lack of information about a project that’ll completely change the east Greenwich. But that’s what happens when you have a council that’s more interested in dealing with developers, and local press barons that have stopped caring.


  1. Apart from the graphics making this look like the usual OTT unimaginative developer trophy ( with scant regard for Enderby House or a pier) why is it always this kind of thing that escapes democratic scrutiny and publicity? Yes, it’s the kind of development people like me loathe but if the developers and council are proud of it then scrutiny should be no problem.

    Don’t know about you, but I am sick to death of this approach to the local environment, built and natural. Where is CABE when you need them?

  2. Just up the river in Deptford there’s a huge row brewing about John Evelyn’s gardens and the old royal dockyard. In its way, this site in Greenwich is just as important — perhaps more so. As a telecoms journalist, I’m biased, but this site is where the first submarine cables were built that from the 1860s allowed us to know what’s going on around the world in minutes, not weeks.

    Read Tom Standage’s book, The Victorian Internet, for more about how this changed the world. Enderby’s Wharf was where it all happened.

    Alcatel-Lucent, a telecoms equipment company that after many stages inherited the old business, still has a factory at the back of the site. I’m mildly reassured to see the old loading gantry (used to take the cables onto the cable ships) is shown in the picture. But is there anything else to show that this site is as important to how Greenwich changed the world as the Royal Observatory?

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  4. It’s a sad day when the Torygraph has to rely on the News Shopper for quotes.

    Disgusted of SE7.

  5. Well I imagine plans did not work out as quickly as they hoped. Getting finance is not easy these days. You count on an project happening even in the best of times. Until the last coat of paint has been applied no project is 100% guaranteed.

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