Greenwich pocket park threatened by council sale plan

Blackwall Lane green, 7 August 2014
“Pocket park” is an abused term, but the idea is that it’s a small open space looked after by the local community. It’s something that’s been championed by City Hall under Boris Johnson’s administration, and it’s been apparently been used to fund 100 projects across the capital.

As ever, it doesn’t appear that Greenwich Council has got involved in this scheme. But a good example would be the little patch of green at the Blackwall Lane/ Tunnel Avenue junction in east Greenwich.

Blackwall Lane,  August 2014

I’m guessing it probably dates back to the construction of the Blackwall Tunnel approach in the late 1960s. It’s almost a village green for this overlooked corner of SE10, helping soak up the high pollution levels and offsetting the effect of the ugly flats going up next door.

Overshadowed in recent years by a large ad hoarding, the green’s been looked after by council staff – not from the parks department, I gather, but from the Cleansweep streets operation. There’s potential here – but instead, the council wants to get rid of this little space…


Buried in back of this week’s edition of council propaganda sheet Greenwich Time is this public notice, stating the authority’s intention to sell the space. Presumably it thinks it’ll be attractive to property developers – even though the green itself is about the only appealling thing in this area.

In recent years, Greenwich has used spare plots of land for council housing – including wiping out a small green space on the borough boundary at Hambledown Road in Sidcup. But at least that land went to some public good – here, the council, which recently announced it has reserves of £1.2 billion, just wants to flog it and cash in.

And despite protestations that this is a “new era” of openness for the council, the first anyone knew of the plan was by looking at the back of Greenwich Time.

There are ways to fight this – getting it declared a village green, or an asset of community value – although these don’t offer much protection when it’s the council itself is the wrecking party. I wonder what the three new Peninsula ward councillors think of what’s being done in their name?


  1. whether or not its hypocrisy or greed or whatever – if you disagree with this sale you need to do what it says in the ad and write in to Russell Power ( and copy to the three ward councillors, which Darryl has helpfully given above – and to do it NOW. and while you are at it you might as well make a few points about the need for some seats and public access

  2. Darryl

    My partner and I saw this and have had a conversation with Mary Mills about it. We have emails going back about 10 years encouraging, cajoling and pleading with numerous persons to maintain and improve the space. Last we heard was that the new manager, Carey, was looking to fund some new rose plants and getting the payback team to repair and paint the railings. Nobody has bothered to contact us with the new ‘plan’.

    I don’t know if you remember the little ecology park that was around the back or Marlton Street a few years ago? Well, the council very quietly put that up for sale claiming that it was an under used resource. They omitted to mention that they had padlocked the park shut several years before and put up a ten foot fence stopping any use but that was a minor point. Suffice to say that the park is no and I reckon they will run rough shod over local opinion anyway.

    Peninsula councillors have been conspicuous by there (on line) absence.

  3. I don’t think I’ve ever been so just going by the pics but we see the usual – crappy, rusting and unpainted railings and a bloody great advert ruining the place. Greenwich public realm management at its finest. To be fair the grass and shrubs/flowers look alright which is more than most places.

    But indicative of the lack of pride in the space at all from the council, and thus likely to be little pride from some living nearby. Same story everywhere.

    Still, it is hard to look after places with a £1.2 billion reserve pot of cash, and millions flooding in from developers as part of planning permission to build.

  4. Many thanks for bring this to everyone’s attention. My letters (both physical and electronic formats) are on their way. Previously I would have never expected such a tiny plot of land to be at risk of development, but having seen the number of shoebox-sized flats they have crammed onto the (also small) adjoining old car wash site, nothing would surprise me now.

  5. living in Greenwich-Greenwich is becoming far too crowded; with all the latest high rise coming on stream (in addition to that already on stream), a possible IKEA and 3rd Blackwall Tunnel, I can see it all grinding to a halt. Our Council is still not happy now wanting any patch of green that might be a stray to sell for more house planning applications. We’ll soon be devoid of most birdlife as every odd little green space and skyline gradually disappear, save for the Greenwich Park that is jam-packed with coach loads and boat loads of tourists. Will the current transport facilities be sufficient? not to mention the sewage systems!

  6. This one and the little eco park which will make way for the Ikea store, plus the large fields lost to building behind the Ecology Park will leave much less to act as “green lungs” to filter the already harmful air pollution, not to mention its impact on what wildlife still clings on in the Penisula area. Plus, as Darryl points out, it is about the nicest spot in that area (or would be with a tiny bit of basic TLC) and could be used as a mini park by residents. When all the extra people and traffic really start to arrive Greenwich is going to need more of these kind of spaces to allow people any kind of quality of life. Greenwich Council seems stuck in a kind of ’80s time warp when it comes to the environment – all about massive building projects (not social housing, which would be more understandable, but for money) and increasing traffic and ignoring all the knowledge we now have about pollution and biodiversity as well as basic human needs such as green space and clean air.

    Paul – talk to me sometime about the Marlton Street plot, I had only been on the Council a few months then, did what I could which wasn’t much (partly due to my lack of experience).

  8. but doesn’t it require the locals (to this green space in question) to convince the Council they want it and would like to use it – isn’t Boris Johnson’s “Pocket Park” scheme also about the locals maintaining it? If we do write-in, it will need a request for the council to inform the locals of this chance to claim their pocket-park … and would they wish to/ action themselves to make a claim on it, tend it and use it?

  9. Letter on its way… Have to say I walked past that notice twice assuming it just related to the current shoe box development of the car park site.

    Having spent some time in Tokyo I’ve seen the end point of this kind of development… 20 storey blocks of flats put up right in front of existing ones to the point the balconies are almost touching. It really feels like the peninsula is the place to develop rather than this… While they are building up the riverfront with tower blocks at a fair rate there’s still acres of wasteland calling out for sensible low rise development

  10. So have I. Thanks to 853 for raising this and thanks to whoever maildropped homes in Tunnel Avenue.

  11. Gordon, what is happening? they have started chopping down our trees right this minute . . . and we haven’t been notified or informed . . . this is not good, they are getting away with it

  12. apparently it’s the trees that are very close to the flats, and not all of them, thankfully (well . . . for the time being)

Comments are closed.