Thursday, September 15, 2005

Meopham Vineyard Visit

The Westcombe Society is arranging a visit to Meopham Vineyard near Gravesend, Kent on Sunday, September 25th, 2005.

Attendees will need to make their own way to the vineyard, where they will be able to take part in a tour of the vineyard and to taste the range of wines produced.

There will be a charge of £5. Anyone interested in attending should contact

The World's Biggest Coffee Morning

Ths event, in aid of Macmillan Cancer Relief, is to be held at venues country-wide from 10.00am to 12.00 midday on Friday, September 30th, 2005. You are cordially invited to the Westcombe Society's own 'morning' in the bar area of Mycenae House, Mycenae Road, Blackheath, London SE3.

In addition to your donation for coffee and cakes/biscuits, it is hoped to have some other items available to persuade you to contribute yet more money to this worthy cause.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Bus route changes

Proposals for changes to the routes of the 108 and 422 and the creation of a new route, the 129, have been made by London Buses. The 129 will initially run a short shuttle service from Greenwich Town Centre to North Greenwich Station via Sainsbury's etc.. It would later be extended to Peckham. The proposals for the 108 and 422 indicate both now exit from Westcombe Hil through a new link on to the A102/Woolwich Road slip road. It is not clear where the exit point will be or how it will be managed. The routes will then proceed via the East Greenwich Gyratory to Peartree Way. The original informant on the proposal from L.B. indicated they would then use Bugsby's Way and turn right on to the bus-way at the rear of Filmworks and proceed to North Greenwich Station.

London Buses have now confirmed that this information was in error and that all routes will service Sainsburys, Comet, B&Q and Filmworks via the dedicated bus lane that runs in front, rather than reach North Greenwich Station via Bugsby's Way to the rear, as stated on L.B's original letter of notification.

Although these changes provide a much-needed connection from Greenwich Town, Lewisham, Blackheath and Charlton Village to the superstores and cinema, residents of Woolwich Road will have no service to North Greenwich and Blackwall Lane would now be served only by the 188.

Brenton's Coaches site, Invicta Road

Two new blocks of flats are proposed for 55-57 Invicta Road (05/1945/F), the site of Brenton's Coach & Van Hire.

Three storey at one end and four storey at the other, with access from the roadway, they also feature parking for 13 cars between the blocks. There is little landscaping evident and the plans look very bare. An application in 2000 was given consent, but this was at a lower density and expired on 31/8/05. Although outside the Blackheath and Westcombe Park Conservation Areas the boundary runs along part of the south side of the site, so is very much on the fringe. Local residents are concerned and the Westcombe Society's Environment Commitee also consider an objection should be lodged on the grounds of a lack of green space, the fact that there are too many parking places for this kind of development and that the number of habitable rooms on the basis of the site area is higher than Council norms.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Westcombe Park Station office hours

Proposals by S.E. Trains for changes to local Station Office opening times were raised at a recent Greenwich Council meeting with South East Trains boss, Mike Gibson. Details of the outcome are posted below:

1. The total hours to be covered at Maze Hill and Westcombe Park stations by the booking office or the new platform staff at each station will be at least as many as the booking office is now open. The specific hours will probably be different as South East Trains are anxious to ensure that 'sensitive' times are covered - e.g. school finishing times and late evening.

2. Platform staff will be trained for a number of functions - assisting disabled passengers, ensuring that ticket machines are working, answering the public's queries, dealing with anti-social behaviour. Some will be trained as Police Support Officers with the power to detain. South East Trains are keen that platform staff are more flexible in the duties they undertake than present booking office staff.

3. South East Trains will check the ticket machine at Westcombe Park station following complaints from a number of passengers that it is frequently malfunctioning.

4. If the SRA agrees the proposal, the new arrangements are likely to come in on September/October. South East Trains are clearly intent upon the changes whatever representations they receive as they believe booking office personnel are under-used at many stations and staff will be better employed. They seem to have reached an accommodation with trade unions and recognise that not all present booking office staff will want to change their jobs or will be suitable for the new responsibilities. The company believes that sufficient internal staff can be found for these duties to ensure full staffing from the beginning.

5. It was accepted that booking office staff often fail to keep the offices open at appointed times and that there is therefore a question as to whether or not platform staff will be on duty when they are supposed to be. He believes that unannounced checks by 'flying' managers will be sufficient to deter staff tempted to desert their posts.

6. South East Trains plan to provide both platform and on-train staff with portable ticket machines to overcome the difficulties many passengers have with station machines. However, this is a medium-term plan and it was stated that they cannot put a timetable to its introduction although some idea of the time scale will be given in due course.

Old Greenwich District Hospital update

Here are some further details of the demolition scheme for the old Greenwich District Hospital site at the botton of Vanbrugh Hill, SE10.

In brief, the plans involve the erection of hoarding - August weeks 1-2, internal works and asbestos removal - weeks 3-13 (October), demolition of structure - weeks 14-25 (December) and site re-profiling - weeks 26-32 (March 2006). Hours of work are Monday -Friday, 8am-6pm and Saturday, 8am-1pm. The mosaic located on the Woolwich Road fascia is to be preserved with advice from its creator and will be restored to a site available for public view once the location of this is decided upon.

As to the future of the site itself, further meetings with local residents and stakeholders will take place and English Partnerships will appoint their own consultants to explore the options relating to existing Greenwich Council services and the transfer of a number of them to this site. There is no longer any obvious indication that housing will comprise a major component of the developed site, but a replacement for the Arches Leisure Centre, a new Library and a primary health care facility are currently proposed.

Updated September 10th 2005...

Local residents have expressed concern at the proposed number of lorry movements during the demolition phase. The contractors have promised a maximum of six per hour. A liaison group has been set up to look at issues if and when they arise. It is reported that Rick Mather Architects have been commissioned to look at the future of the site and would be engaging with local residents to produce a 'development framework'. It is not clear how this relates to the existing 'A New Heart for East Greenwich' proposals.

The Strategic Planning Directorate of Greenwich Council is currently undertaking an infrastructure review that will look at schools, healthcare provision and transport in relation to the fact that plans for the future of these services do not appear to be keeping pace with the rate of proposed developments such as this in the Thames Corridor. The review will report by next year.

East Greenwich 'Liveability Fund' Update

The East Greenwich Management Agency has sent the Society details of the latest proposals for works in East Greenwich. The timescale for this is 6 months, starting in July 2005.

Approximately £800,000 is to be spent on works in Woolwich Road, Glenister Green, East Greenwich Pleasaunce and Westcombe Park Station + environs. These will include improvements to footways, new tree planting and to the appearance of shops in Woolwich Road, improved pedestrian access and amenities at Glenister Green opposite the old Annandale School.

New lighting is planned for Westcombe Park Station Crescent (if S.E. Trains pay the energy bill!), together with improvements to paving at all road entrances, better disabled access and graffiti deterrents on the rail bridge over Westcombe Hill. There is also to be improved lighting to the Ormiston Road passage and deterrents to fly-tipping at its junction with Station Yard.

The Pleasaunce will receive better definition for the Royal Naval Hospital graves with an area for secular contemplation, improved play facilities with dog-free grass play area and although there is no current commitment, the hope that there is a possibility erecting a cafĂ© in place of the existing toilets and park ‘bothy’ if a tenant can be secured willing to provide management of the area and check-cleaning of a limited-hours toilet facility.