In a brief introduction by the Chair, Sir Bob Scott to this third meeting of the Forum, reference was made to the fact that with Lord Falconer’s departure in the recent Cabinet reshuffle, responsibility for the Dome has now moved to the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office. It is as yet unclear as to which Minister will take on responsibility for the Project. It is, however, unlikely to be local MP, Nick Raynsford!
There followed presentations from Cllr. Chris Roberts, Leader of Greenwich Council, two of the three main stakeholders in the future of the Peninsula, Nick Shattock of Quintain Estates and Detlev Korneff of AEG and by Dave Jessup, Transportation Manager at Greenwich Council.
The Council’s Vision, Chris Roberts
Cllr. Roberts began by asking the question “Where are we?” in the context of the Mayor’s wider view for London outlined in his weighty plans for the Thames Gateway. This goes some way to meeting the Council’s own ambitions for Greenwich. In brief, it proposes that a city the size of Leeds, some 5-600,000 people, will be housed within the ‘Gateway’ area to the east of London. This will require ‘urban’ rather than ‘suburban’ style occupancy levels, with even the Council’s figures in this area likely to come under pressure. It is also likely to occur mainly in brownfield sites rather than on any land currently defined as ‘Green Belt’.
CrossRail was essential to the development of the Peninsula in the Council’s view. Debate on the link ends on July 28th 2002, so the Council are keen to receive any input from community groups or from individuals on the idea of a Charlton link ASAP. At present an extension from Liverpool Street to Canary Wharf seems almost certain, but the options relate to whether there is then a further extension to Woolwich via the Royal Docks or via Charlton. Additional crossings must be built as the existing infrastructure cannot possibly cope. There is clearly debate over road v. rail, but both are needed, one cannot ignore the car.
Further the Council would like to progress the idea of at the very least, off-peak closure of Greenwich Town Centre to all but PSVs.
In answer to a question from the floor it was considered that there was no chance that both a ‘north’ and ‘south’ route to Woolwich could be considered.
Meridian Delta Ltd
Nick Shattock, Quintain Estates
Mr. Shattock reported that the scheme involved a £200 million investment in the Dome itself. The Consortium recognised their responsibility to the people of Greenwich and to London as a whole, to consult as widely as sensible time scales permitted. They recognised and apologised for the fact that there had only been limited interaction to date, but this was owing to the legal issues associated with the contractual negotiations. The Master Plan was likely to be the largest planning application since WWII. It would encompass a full mix of residential, commercial and entertainment facilities along with a huge increase in public open space, some of which was already in place (Central Park and the Dome Waterfront reed beds). A Meridian Delta Business Centre would open on site shortly within the existing Media Suite where this meeting was held.
Who are the players?
Quintain are now in the FTSE 250. They have multiple property interests and bring 18.5 acres of their own land immediately adjoining the Dome site into the frame (largely the old Delta Metals site). They also have interests in healthcare and special needs provision.
Lend Lease are an Australian-based multinational. They have been responsible for a number of major UK developments including Bluewater Retail Park and are currently rebuilding the Town Centre in Scunthorpe.
AEG (Anshutz Entertainment Group) are the owners of Madison Square Garden and the Staples Centre in Los Angeles (recently voted the World’s Best Entertainment Centre) as well as the owners of several U.S. basketball, baseball and ice hockey teams. They also own the London Knights.
The consortium offered a comprehensive redevelopment package for the Dome and its immediate surroundings. There is a sense that there may well be the need for a new name for the area as opposed to the existing North Greenwich or Greenwich Peninsula. The associated areas are as follows;
Civic and Public Open Space
The area to the east of the entrance to North Greenwich Station, currently the old approach and entry booths to the MEX would be developed as a new ‘London ‘square’. Roughly the size of Hanover Square, this area would feature some iconic architecture and aim to rival Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus. It could handle up to 20,000 people. Central Park would be enhanced with spaces for music and other events. It would be open and accessible to all its new local residents.
This would be the smallest housing zone with 500 homes. It comprises the area previously occupied by the ‘Red Boot’ Dome pub, Macdonalds, Skyscape Cinema and various Dome support and corporate entertainment buildings. Designed for the ‘active urban dweller’ i.e. couples, this section faces the new square to the west and the river to the east. It would include a significant proportion of ‘affordable housing’, primarily aimed at ‘key workers’. It would be accompanied by retail and leisure facilities to provide a community asset.
Bugsby’s Reach (three sections)
1700 homes, and ‘family’ oriented. Will incorporate a large secondary school (a relocated and enlarged John Roan School) as well as a commercial/industrial area.
Area round the Station will have some high-rise (around 15-storey) buildings. Office space will probably be aimed at media and marketing companies. Much work is planned matching the required skills of this area with what is on offer in local Colleges and Universities. Greenwich University got a plug.. why not Goldsmiths College?
Sheltered from the wind, and occupying the west side of the Peninsula, this currently largely Quintain-owned land will feature 2,500 homes. It would also make a feature out of the Meridian Line which passes through the site and be another area with a potentially vibrant night life. Whatever is put in place will have to compete with the other nightlife spots of London, so will have to be better than what there is elsewhere to entice people out to Greenwich. There would also be a large hotel located here with Dome-related facilities.
The significant area to the north of the Dome would feature an enhanced area of wetlands and redeemed mudflats and would be of significant ecological interest. The space may be sufficient to create a small (1000-1500 seat) venue as well as having the potential to be another centre for the area’s nightlife.
Detlev Korneff, Anschultz Entertainment Group
Detlev began by stating that, as a major city, what London lacked most was a prestige entertainment venue. As operators of Madison Square Garden, the Staples Centre and the recently opened Kodak Centre in L.A. among others, AEG are ideally equipped to create such a venue for London. AEG’s plans for the Dome involved the construction, entirely within the canopy of the existing Dome structure with the associated engineering issues of such work, of a 40m high, 650,000 sq.m arena that would be self-contained, sound and weatherproof. It would facilitate a ‘guest experience’ with unparalleled facilities and totally unobstructed sight-lines. The construction phase would last 24 months. It would be capable of housing music events, shows and sports. The Arena would seat 20,000 in concert and sport event mode, but could be made more informal and house smaller events as well. The arena would be up to Olympic standard for certain sporting events. It would host the London Knights Ice Hockey Team (who would move from their current venue at the London Arena). There would hopefully be around 150 events/year at the venue. There would also be a wide range
of ancillary usage of the Dome Waterfront area to the north of the main Dome complex. The whole development of the Dome itself was aimed to bring benefits to local businesses and provide many jobs for local workers. Investment is planned at £135 million for the Dome itself with a further £200 million on the table to the concept as a whole.
Q & A
There would be moves to try and plan some events at the Dome between now and ‘groundbreaking’ for the construction phase. Even while building work is under way, Health & Safety issues permitting, it may still be possible to hold certain events at the Dome, or in the surrounding Dome Waterfront area. It is hoped to open the new venue in early 2005.
There was a question about whether the Dome would be retained indefinitely, or might it be removed once its life ‘ran out’. The proposal is to retain the Dome at least for its planned 20 year lifetime. The author’s perception was that the unspoken hope was that if the concept had proved itself in that time, that the Dome would, by that time, hopefully have become an ‘icon’ that would have to be retained.
Bert Martin for MDL answered several questions about numbers, time scale and ‘percentage’ figures for ‘affordable housing’. A total of 7000 homes is the target and the whole project is likely to span a phased 15 year period. A Job and ‘Skilling’ Centre will be created on site with the same purpose as that at Bluewater, one of Lend Lease’s earlier developments. A ‘Business Register’ will also be created for local businesses and tradespeople to post their skills. This had been set up during the Dome construction phase, but few local businesses apparently considered they had benefited. There is currently an overall architect appointed, but ‘quality design and build on sustainable principles’ is key. However, this is not another GMV (Greenwich Millennium Village) being built adjoining the Dome site, so things will be different. Since GMV is not, as it turns out, over endowed on that front, this statement was a little disappointing.
The question arose as to what would happen if one of the partners started to get cold feet. Ralph Luck for English Partnerships replied that he had been involved in 5 months of hard negotiations over the deal. It would be delivered. There was to be an extensive consultation process and two exhibitions over the next four months. The first exhibition is likely to be at the end of July/early August, and the second in the autumn around the time of the publication of the Master Plan.
Transport options for the Peninsula
Dave Jessup provided an update in the absence of a representative from TfL
DLR Extension to Woolwich
This seems quite likely to be approved. Work could begin in 2003-4 and should be open by 2007. This would offer a major boost to Woolwich with 20 minute journey times to Canary Wharf, and direct access to any CrossRail link, no matter what extensions might be additionally forthcoming.
There are now two possible extensions likely to the planned CrossRail link direct to Heathrow via Tottenham Court Road. One proposal is a line via the ‘Royals’ and LCA to Woolwich. The other is a link to the existing Charlton station and then on to Woolwich. Either way, Woolwich would be served, and development opportunities opened up in both Charlton and Kidbrooke. The Charlton route would be cheaper, and although ‘the North’ have the initiative currently in lobbying, this factor and others (such as the proximity of the Peninsula and the need to increase capacity to any new future development there to relieve the already up-to-capacity Jubilee Line) make the Charlton direction supposedly more likely. There would be an almost immediate public consultation on this proposal with an opening date of 2010 being indicated.
Greenwich Waterfront Transit
The Mayor has made a decision to support a bus-based Transit running initially from North Greenwich to Thamesmead/Abbey Wood. Later extension to Greenwich Town Centre was possible, but clearly more difficult to achieve with dedicated bus lanes. Greenwich Council are not dismayed by this decision as there is the option to convert to a tram at a later date if usage dictates. The service would be on dedicated roadway for the most part. Features would be ‘soft-ticketing’ from newsagents, etc., state-of-the-art ‘bendy’ buses and electronic ‘next arrival’ indicators at all stops. The Mayor has indicated a 2008 completion for this rather than the Council’s plan of 2005, but it is hoped that completion can be brought forward.
Silvertown Crossing (Third Blackwall Crossing)
Not much was said about this apart from a completion date of 2009, but questions were asked about the nature of the crossing and how it integrated with the outline plans for the development of the Dome and associated land. A ‘reserved desire line’ was in place across the Peninsula, along with the necessary interchange (and toll booths?) with the A102(M), although this had not been clear from the plans. Almost certainly to be a tunnel as the Mayor has previously rejected the idea of a bridge.
Thames Gateway Bridge (East London River Crossing)
No details. 2011 completion date if it goes ahead.
Sir Bob Scott then drew the meeting to a close by thanking everyone for attending and announced that the next Forum is likely to concentrate on transport issues.
Last updated, July 9th, 2002
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