Thursday, April 05, 2007

Elm Grove House
Was whiling away the hours yesterday, looking up what's new on
when I came across this
The Plumster said...

'Yes, they're building a new tower block of luxury flats next to 'The Rad' (hideous yellow building to those ex Claphamites)...........'

some what intrigued I resolved to find out more, for several reasons, partly because I am obviously in need of friends and a social life, but also because I think everyone else had gone off on their hols early, leaving me with time on my hands at work.

What I discovered was an interesting little spat between the council and the GLA (Greater London Authority) over what to do with the site of the former Elmley Old Peoples Home next to Plumstead Radical Club and opposite the Station. (see Photo above, nipped out from work with camera to take pic)

The plan for the site is a 20 storey block, comprising 119 flats and commercial floorspace. Artist impressions are also above, taken from the architect's website
The developer is a housing association called ASRA (ASRA is not an acronym but means shelter in Hindi and Urdu) More information about them can be found here

I am not sure what my opinions of the development are, as I have more questions than answers. What I did find out was that there are two very conflicting views of the project.

The GLA, which has endorsed the project feels that it is a high quality scheme, which will aid regeneration in the Plumstead area and that despite it being a very high density scheme its proximity to transport links make this acceptable. Full details of their view can be found here

On the other hand the scheme has bee rejected by Greenwich Council, the reasons were the scale/bulk of the building was to big, there were too many starter homes (1 & 2 bed flats were about 80% of the total), insufficient parking, and that the proposed density was excessive. You can find full details of their views here
Woolwich and Thamesmead Planning and Environment Committee Minutes 06/12/06

Now I have to say I don't feel that I am a NIMBY kind of guy, and I am certainly not in principle against high rise buildings, in the appropriate setting, which are lived in by people who want to be there. I want Plumstead to benefit from regeneration and that inevitable means change.

The particular location and height of this block I have no issues with as it will not cast a shadow over anyone's home and it is not as tall as 'River Heights' (25 floors) nearby. Neither am I worried about the issues of density, parking etc. as it is a very accessible site, in a CPZ (controlled Parking Zone), which when I have driven past, always seems to have plenty of free spaces. In addition the density seems to be less than the council is proposing to put on top of the Crossrail box in Woolwich, as part of their agreement with Berkley Homes.

My concerns are with the developer and the nature of the scheme and what the end result will be. I am all for an ethnically diverse community otherwise I would not have lived happily in Plumstead for the last 20 years, and would long ago have taken the 'white flight' option. My question is, are ASRA, a housing Association which actively targets the housing needs of BME's the most appropriate group to bring about regeneration in the area. Their stated intention is to provide as high a % as possible of social housing, the minimum being 50% but if their finances allow they would like this to be higher. This sounds to me like a de facto council block of flats, which is not something which will bring about regeneration, and the area has 5 other council blocks of flats nearby. So it would hardly be adding to the diversity of the area.

In addition the high % of 1 & 2 beds flats means that a good % will be bought by buy-to-let investors, many of which will, if Councillor Barwick is correct will be sub-let to those on low incomes, who have their rent paid by housing benefit, further increasing the % of social housing in the scheme.

If my fears are correct we will end up with a development which people are forced to live in because they are in housing need, rather than choose to be in because they like great views and don't like gardening! with a focus on housing particular ethnic groups rather than the whole community, repeating all the mistakes of high-rise living and social housing from the 60's.

What do you think?

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At 11:22 pm, Anonymous your local pedant said...

It's de facto mate - Latin for "in fact" [whether by right or not].
Sounds like a dodgy housing scheme to me.

At 9:29 am, Blogger sibonetic said...

have edited post, don't want to confuse Plumstead's Roman community

At 1:01 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great so Woolwich and Abbey Wood get regenerated and Plumstead I suppose gets squeezed in the middle with all the new infux of regeneration heading either side of us pushing all the riff raff towards us. Can't wait.
Plumstead has some prime spots for new builds and regeneration of old buildings that could be turned into great flats - a la Royal Arsenal - but instead has plans for a hideous high rise, nice...


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