Greenwich Millennium Eco-Village

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Properties in Phase 1A are due for completion in September 2001.

Phase 1B is currently being built in the area behind this site.The Ecology Park will be formally opened on February 20th 2002.

Visits can be made at any time from 10am – 5pm Wednesday – Sunday inclusive.

Phase 1A Apartment Block, 14/7/01

It has been hoped that the first houses would be ready for
occupation by late summer 2000, with the whole scheme being complete
by 2002, but delays have meant that, in fact, a small number of
Phase II houses, the new Millennium School and
Health Centre have been completed in advance of Phase IB and
that only Phases I and II will be completed in this time frame.
Phases III and IV will probably not begin until 2003.

Phase 2 ‘Affordable Rent’ Apartments, 14/7/01

Millennium Primary School, 14/7/01

Work on new premises for the Greenwich Yacht Club, the
Millennium Village Vistor Centre and the Ecology Park
Warden’s Hut were completed early in 2000.

Greenwich Yacht Club & Ecology Park, 14/7/01

Delays were caused partly by Government holding back on final
approval for the scheme, as well as by the fact that in early July
1999 one of the key partners in the first phase of this scheme walked
out at a time when Ralph Erskine was away on holiday! There were
apparently major disputes at that time over changes to the original
plans for the scheme relating to the provision of ‘community’
buildings and the tenure mix.


Background

Work began in early December 1999 on Phase 1A of the Village. A
visit to the site on July 3rd 1999 revealed that road infrastructure
and much of the basic planting of roadsides and the Central
Park
area had been completed, but there was no sign of any
building work whatever except at the site of the Greenwich Yacht
Club, located at the extreme S.E. tip of the site on the river bank
at the old Peartree Wharf. A new slipway had also been constructed at
this point.

The Site

The Millennium Eco-Village, at the southern end of the
Greenwich Peninsula, was the subject of a design competition
initiated by English Partnerhips, the owners of the previously
British Gas-owned site. It is located opposite the Bardons/St. Albans
Sand and Gravel complex, and the roundabout at the Bugsby’s Way-end
of Horn Lane, which has undergone a major replacement/widening
scheme.

The Village is just part of the overall redevelopment taking place
on this enormous 300 acre expanse. To give a feeling for its total
north-south length, a comparison is often made with the distance from
the Embankment near Charing Cross through to the Euston Road.

The residential development in the Millennium Village
occupies around 32 acres of land. The architect of the winning
scheme, Ralph Erskine, will work with Countryside Properties
and Taylor Woodrow on a development that originally comprised some
1377 mixed-tenure houses, including 172 for rent, 54 for shared
ownership and 40 available to local people on a flexible tenure
basis. Highest quality urban design and innovation will be the
hallmarks of the entire project, with all homes being linked with IT
terminals to a system providing information on transport, health and
community services. There will also be computer-controlled security,
heating, lighting, entertainment, metering and communications systems
in each dwelling. All dwellings be set amongst a new continuous
Ecology Park which originally consisted of a canals and lakes feeding
out to a ‘beach’ area on the eastern edge of the site. The links
through to the river and linking canals have now been scratched from
the plan. There will be ready access for all sustainable transport;
pedestrian, cycle and public transport, with only limited road and
parking provision.

E-W Spine Road, March 1999

4500 square metres of speciality retail outlets, cultural
workshops, restaurants, commercial offices, a school, health clinic,
a visitors centre and a community teleservices centre will combine to
make the Village a showcase for British urban regeneration.

Infrastructure work began in the autumn of 1998 with the first
homes originally planned to become available in late 1999, with the
entire development programme continuing until 2004.

An unfortunate side affect of the preliminary works for the
scheme, which at night before the clocks went forward in March 1998,
seemed to involve hundreds of scurrying diggers, graders, scrapers,
bulldozers and JCBs, all with wildly flashing orange warning beacons,
has been the almost total stripping of any kind of surface
vegetation. This had been a veritable wildlife haven in recent years
providing cover for numerous birds including finches and tits as well
as the larger kestrels, herons and owls, as well as many foxes that
were helping to keep down the population of rats in the area.
However, this should be just a temporary ‘glitch’ with the overall
development calling for a major artificial watercourse emerging into
a large pond and wetland area before naturally exiting the site
direct to the river through a saltmarsh ‘estuary’ and reconstructed
river terrace. At the time of original writing, almost all that could
be seen of this was a scoured outline of the waterway with numerous
survey posts and markers. By November 1998, major parts of the
utility network and the feeder roads to what is, after all, a totally
brown-field site, were well advanced.

An ‘environmentally friendly’ Sainsburys
store was opened in early September 1999 at the S.W. corner of the
Peninsula site nearest to the A102 flyover. Now the proud winner of
multiple awards, the use of refrigeration coolant within an
underfloor heating system, extensive use of earth banking to
retain/conserve heat at relevant times of the year, together with a
pond for water recycling and an Internet ordering and home delivery
service using battery-powered vehicles have all been included in the
development. This latter idea was the subject of a letter from the
Westcombe Society’s Environment Committee Chair to English
Partnerships in 1998, so it is nice to think local residents might
have had some impact on the scheme.

Associated, and extensive, ‘non-food retail’ premises for
Comet, Jewsons and Homebase are located to the
north of the Sainsbury’s store. All these were complete and open for
business by the end of November 1999. Unfortunately, owing to
Sainsbury’s sale of their Homebase division, this store closed
in February after just over a year. The premises have been purchased
by B&Q for yet another of their huge DIY superstores.

A new Holiday Inn Express has been completed near the
Ellis & Everhard Chemical Works at the upgraded Bugsby’s
Way/Blackwall Lane roundabout roughly on the site of the old ILEA
coach depot. The first guests were due on December 13th 1999,
although it appeared very quiet on December 19th. On the same
roundabout, despite only being planted up in the summer, planning
permission was given in late November for a ‘high quality, winged,
stainless steel advertisement structure. The structure and renewed
planting was nearing completion on December 19th 1999. Following the
closure of the Dome on 31/12/00, this was rapidly removed and the
roundabout replanted yet again.

A planning application was made in October 1998 for an
‘innovative’ circular, 20-screen multiplex cinema, including
an IMAX. The application was subsequently rejected by
Greenwich Council, since it flew full in the face of a new Council
ruling that aims to locate multi-screen cinemas in local town centres
such as Eltham, Greenwich, Thamesmead or Woolwich. However, an appeal
against this decision resulted in a revised application being
eventually passed with a restriction on floor area resulting in a
reduction to just 14-screens and no IMAX. Work finally began
on this in spring 2000, and it opened on April 7th 2001.

It is hard to believe that more imaginative uses that might have
included something like a full-blown indoor, Center-Parc-style
leisure complex including an ice-skating or roller-skating/blading
rink were not considered for this important site.


Last updated, February 19th, 2002

Web’d by David Riddle
e-mail: dpreeyore@gmail.com

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