Greenwich Peninsula Partnership Forum 19/10/04

Meeting held at The Dome…

Attendees heard presentations from Michael Squire, architect for the proposed development at Lovell’s/Granite/Babcock Wharf, Greenwich, from Lawrence Robertson and Alistair Barr on Millennium Square, the proposed major new ‘square’ for London which will link the North Greenwich Underground station to the Dome entrance, from Alistair Wood of the Anshutz Entertainment Group on the Dome Arena and associated facilities, from Andrew Parry on the latest transport infrastructure developments and from Chris Roberts, Leader of Greenwich Council on the latest deliberations of the Thames Gateway Partnership involving the Mayor of London, Keith Hill, Minister responsible and the Leaders of all Boroughs in the Gateway region.

Proceedings were introduced by Sir Bob Scott who announced that the planned presentation on the A New Heart for East Greenwich proposals would not be given at the meeting owing to the fact that the Greenwich District Hospital site purchase was not yet complete and that negotiations were at a delicate stage. He assured everyone that the proposals would be discussed at the next meeting in early 2005.

Lovell’s/Granite/Babcock Wharf

Michael Squire, for Squire & Partners, Architects, presented the proposals for the Lovell’s/Granite/Babcock Wharf site adjacent to the Cutty Sark P.H. and Ballast Quay. Currently largely derelict and unoccupied except by Council-owned offices occupied by the Partnership themselves and parts of Greenwich Education Authority as well as by a working boat yard, the plans envisage a mixed-use development with a number of residential blocks arranged at right-angles to the shore line with a significant amount of public open space (50% of the site area) between the blocks to improve access to the river.

The open spaces would include a widening of the river path to around 16 metres together with four distinct open ‘zones’. One would see a fully ‘managed’ all-weather football/basketball pitch with associated changing rooms, one would be a ‘relaxation area’ of gardens, etc, the largest would be a bustling ‘square’ with food outlets and suitable for holding events for the Greenwich and Docklands Festival, etc., and another would form a section of semi-naturalised river terracing on a number of different levels staggered from the river that would fill as the tide rose.

There would be a total of around 750 new homes, both private and affordable (around 35% in this latter category) along with environmental improvements. These flats would be located mainly in three-four storey blocks, but two large tower blocks were also included. They will be designed with the narrow side parallel to the river bank and with the long axis at right-angles. Flats would be arranged such that views would be maximised by orienting windows at angles down the ‘long’ faces of the structures. The blocks would also not be ‘square’, but appear dagger-like at the top.

The Banning Street ‘interface’ with the existing East Greenwich community would aim to provide new employment opportunities by continuing the light industrial or warehousing use to which the area has been the home for many years. The proposals also aim to secure a route for the possible Waterfront Transit, although there are no formal plans on the table for this phase of the Transit at this time.

Questions were posed relating to the need for a quality of design to match the location on the edge of the Greenwich World Heritage site and the issue of access to the site bearing in mind that there are no public bus services to the area at present.

Millennium Square Proposals

Lawrence Robertson for Meridian Delta began by specifying the area under discussion. It forms the ‘L-shaped’ area from the Dome-side entrance to the North Greenwich Station to the ‘main’ entrance to the Dome as it was for the MEX. The plan is for the area to eventually be surrounded on its three sides by buildings, but at most, only one of these is likely to be built before the Dome Arena opens in Spring 2007. The design of the Square aimed to see it develop an international recognition on a par with Trafalgar Square, Somerset House, etc..

Alistair Barr for the Architects Barr-Gazitas then took over to describe the proposals in detail. These will go to Greenwich Planning Department in November 2004. The key elements will be in place for the Arena opening in Spring 2007. The design envisages building on the fact that the ‘Square’ lies just a few minutes Latitude east of the Greenwich meridian which passes through the N.W. of the Peninsula. The plans therefore revolve (sic) around using this theme, combined with the ‘watery’ local environment of mudflats and ripples, etc, to develop a ground pattern of concentric, but logarithmically spaced granite and quartz setts with lights that radiate out from the perimeter of the Dome, together with lines of Latitude marked out with further setts and lights. All floor materials to be smooth and easy to maintain. The focal point of the Square, nestling in the angle of the ‘L’ shape, originally known as the ‘Bandstand’ is to be a slender conical spire built to a naturalistic ‘shell’ form with triangular elements in front of a copper patina ‘wall’ that will cover the existing emergency exits and air vents to the Station. The spire and wall will be elaborately lit, as will the entire square, with a series of multi-coloured LEDs to provide various lighting effects to match the seasons and associated events. There would also be a 12 metre wide canopy sweeping to the left from the Station exit to the Dome which will be protected to its left by a Story Wall. The right-hand side of the area would be planted with semi-mature English lime trees. These would front a substantial, but nevertheless temporary Living Wall comprising a series of waterfalls designed to mask the noise of the Station which then become more sparse towards the River, interspersed with greenery including seasonal bulbs and under-planting. At the river end, leading towards the Millennium Pier it is proposed to provide space for artists to develop ideas for the surface of the wall. The outer (southern) side of this wall would also be covered by plants. The third side of the square will be planted with flowering pear trees.

Questions were posed regarding the ability of the space to cope with the possible volumes of pedestrians leaving a major event. Tests have been conducted which indicate that there should be no problem, and in any case it is hoped that the attractions offered by the facilities under cover of the Dome would encourage both a phased arrival and dispersal of crowds.

Dome Arena Proposals

Alistair Wood, Planning & Development Manager, Anshutz Entertainment Group described the current plans. There would be car parking for just 2,200. A ‘C1’ hotel of 60,000 sq.m. would be built adjacent to the Dome on the N.W. side although there are no definite plans for this at present. The 26,000 seat Arena was expected to initially host some 150 events/year. It would be primarily music-focussed, but would also be host to ice-hockey, basketball, gymnastics and possibly indoor athletics. It was already slated as an arena for the 2012 Olympic bid.

In addition to the multi-functional Arena, the Phase I plans include 20-30,000 square foot exhibition area, a 60,000 sq. ft. live music theatre on three levels with a 2,000 audience capacity for more ‘intimate’ music events, dining and night clubs and a food court area. In addition, the area around the Dome ventilation shaft would provide a service area for the Arena, but this would receive a mezzanine floor where it is proposed to locate a Casino.

The proposed timetable for the build is as follows:

November 2004, contractors move on-site

January 2005, Enabling work begins

November 2005, Phase I of the ‘Waterfront’ development within the Dome begins

Spring 2007, Millennium Square and car-parking complete in readiness for the ‘First Date Event’

250,000 sq ft of space remains within the Dome with no formal plans attached at present.

Transport Update

Andrew Parry reported on behalf of Dave Jessup on the latest announcements regarding transport links.

The plans for the new Thames Gateway Bridge are to go to Greenwich’s Planning Board in late November or early December. TfL have published the Highway Orders and these will go before a Public Enquiry set for early 2005.

Works on the DLR Woolwich Extension are to begin in 2005 with expected completion in 2008. The planned enhancement of the extremely busy Lewisham Extension to allow three-car train operation will be completed by 2009.

Following on the Mayor’s bid for funding of public transport in London, £3.3 billion has been allocated. Within this budget there is no mention of the Silvertown Link (Third Blackwall) crossing which would impact the Peninsula. There is a suggstion that if the bridge (?) is tolled, then the Blackwall Tunnel would also have to become a tolled crossing.

The Greenwich Waterfront Transit Phase I has received funding for the design stage. All the route options through Thamesmead have been safeguarded. There is no news whatever on Phases II and III. Bus improvement details have not been announced.

TfL’s Business Plan is due to be published on 27/10/04.

With all the proposed developments on the Peninsula and the possibility of the Olympics in 2012, there is clearly an urgent need for TfL to re-think access to the site from north of the river. With increasing numbers of private sector players being involved with the development, more pressure is likely to be brought to bear to deal with the issues.

Chris Roberts – Leader of Greenwich Council

Gambling Bill announcement. What impact will this have on the proposals for the Dome site?

It was planned to double the housing densities in the final Phase III and IV of the Greenwich Millennium Village.

Thames Gateway Partnership meeting held that afternoon. Greenwich has gone out of its way to meet the Mayor’s targets with respect to both density and the percentage of affordable homes in recent proposed developments. Questions raised as how best to deal with the severe housing crisis in London, particularly with respect to the need for family ‘affordable’ homes for key workers

Next Meeting: Early 2005