Greenwich Peninsula Partnership Forum (GPPF)

Report of First Meeting, 30/10/01

After a brief introduction by the Chair, Sir Bob Scott, who
had been asked by the Government to set up this Forum as an
adjunct to the business-oriented Greenwich Peninsula
Partnership
, there were a series of presentations by the three
main stakeholders in the future of the Peninsula. He hoped that Lord
Falconer would be able to some along to the Forum at some stage in
the future once the winning bidder for the Dome was known.

Greenwich Council view:

Cllr. Chris Roberts, the Council Leader, made a
particularly strong plea for ‘jobs for the boys’ in the specific
context of suitable work for the currently disaffected youth who
would never ever consider working somewhere like Canary Wharf. These
are the ‘apprentices’ of yesteryear who achieve little by way of
formal academic qualifications in school. It was suggested that
certain ‘new media’ jobs might be appropriate if openings were
created for this type of youngster, or if less formal training
opportunities were to become available before leaving school. Cllr.
Roberts also ruminated on the fact that Canary Wharf had managed to
bring wealth to the Isle of Dogs, yet was located within Tower
Hamlets, one of the most deprived areas of the country. He pledged to
ensure that this would not be allowed to happen to the Peninsula, and
that by contrast it should become an exemplar of how the rich should
support the less well off. This was a clear reference to the success
Greenwich Council have had imposing Section 106 agreements on many
developers in recent years.

Dome futures:

Ralph Luck spoke both for English Partnerships, the Dome
land owners, and the Government. He stated that the Dome was now
virtually empty and that for someone with a long-term involvement in
the Project it had been very sad to see through the decommissioning
process. However there was now a plan in place to use the Dome in the
short term for one-off events, and a Planning proposal would be
coming before the Council to allow the Ministry of Sound to put on a
‘rave’ event for 40,000 on New Year’s Eve 2001/2002. As to the
long-term future, unlike the situation during the previous
competition and bidding process for the Dome, this time there would
be no media circus and semi-public debate on the various proposals
that were before the Government. A number of proposals were currently
on the table, but he couldn’t give even the Forum any details of the
bidders. An announcement would be made at the end of December or
beginning of January on the ‘winner’.

TfL View:

Sam Richards for TfL stated that the main success of what
had occurred to date was the establishment of a superb facility in
the transport interchange at North Greenwich Station. There were
recognised shortcomings in relation to the services handled by the
interchange, but it was currently operating way below capacity, and
the future was bright. Additional bus services were planned,
particularly from the south of the Borough, and there was the
possibility of the Waterfront Transit system being built through to
Thamesmead and possibly beyond. It was very much hoped that this
would be a tram rather than a guided bus. Cllr. Roberts had earlier
indicated that the desired route of the Transit was almost 100%
secure, so there should be little delay in going ahead if the Mayor
approves this particular scheme. The main problem is that the
proposal is just one of three possible routes to be funded, so it is
not certain that it will be built. The Mayor is believed to favour it
in the context of the East London Gateway and the gradual move of
‘London’ to the east. More concerning to all concerned was the
performance of the Jubilee Line tube and the fact that far more
passengers were arriving at Canary Wharf from the west as opposed to
the east, where it had been planned the majority would originate. The
line was therefore already running to capacity on its western
section, and with further massive building at Canary Wharf, and the
possibility of similar style office development at North Greenwich
there were grounds for looking to increase capacity. To this end the
Mayor was strongly supporting an extension of the Cross-Rail
initiative to feed Canary Wharf. Late News: Only the next day there
was an Evening Standard report that the Cross Rail consultants,
Halcrow, had apparently rejected the possibility of such a
‘diversion’ as it would almost double the cost of the Project.

Mr. Richards also referred to the proposed additional river
crossing. The three ideas on the table are for a Third Blackwall
Crossing, either in the form of a tunnel or a high level bridge, a
DLR tunnel at Woolwich, or a ‘multi-mode’ crossing at Gallions Reach,
Thamesmead. This would comprise a local road crossing (i.e. not
linking through to the A2 as originally envisaged) and a rail
crossing. He added that the prospect of a bridge at Blackwall was now
considered highly unlikely.

Open Forum Q & A

Associated Peninsula developments:

There were a number of questions regarding how much adjacent land
would be up for grabs in any development of the Dome. There is
currently no constant here, since the winning bid has not been
announced, and all have different associated developments. Nick
Shattock
speaking on behalf of Quintain Estates, who already own
the 14 acres of river-front immediately to the west of Peninsula,
indicated that all their land was potentially open to development.
Cllr. Roberts emphasised that the Dome should certainly not be seen
on its own and that large-scale developments in the area would be
encouraged, although there would be resistance to any proposals for a
Canary Wharf look-alike, or any notion of the area being used as
high-density Canary Wharf dormitory accommodation for use only during
the week. A vibrant, 18-hour, economy was desirable, and a wide
variety of occupancy was an absolute requirement. Late News: It was
recently noted that one of the announced bidding consortia,
Meridian Delta Ltd. comprising Grosvenor Properties, owned by
the Duke of Westminster, Stanhope plc (Broadgate), Lend Lease
Corporation (who built Bluewater) and Quintain recently had two
members pull out, leaving Quintain and Lend Lease on their own.

River Crossing:

Sam Richards was asked whether consideration had been given to the
effect that any approach road to either a new tunnel or bridge would
have on proposed developments and to the divisive effect, this time
in a N/S context as opposed to the E/W problem created by the current
A102, this would have for the Peninsula.

Bus services:

The Greenwich Association for the Disabled (GAD)
representative spoke on behalf of the Head of the new Millennium
School
to voice continued dissatisfaction with TfL’s response to
a requirement for additional bus services to serve the school. Others
voiced support and asked whether issues such as this might be
something that could addressed immediately, especially following
earlier comments on the fact that the Forum had nothing concrete to
discuss/deal with at this time pending any concrete issues to debate
or react to regarding future proposals for the Dome. TfL repeated
that a number of options for improved services both from the west and
south were currently under discussion.

Disabled:

The GAD rep referred to major problems with low floor
buses. Some 50% of buses were now of the ‘low floor’ variety, and
this was due to increase to around 85% in the near future. There
were, however, still issues regarding driver training since either
buses were not being pulled in close enough to the kerb, or the
drivers simply did not know how to operate them. On other occasions
the lowering mechanisms don’t work. A recent incident had even
resulted in a chair-bound passenger being effectively stuck on a bus
by a defective step, demanding to be let off, and subsequently being
tipped out of his chair on to the pavement by the driver!

Schools:

No formal mention was made of schools, either in the context of
overall secondary provision, or in relation to the possible move of
the existing John Roan Lower and Senior Schools to the GDH site.

In summary, this first meeting held great promise of a real
involvement for the various interested parties in what the future of
the Dome and the Peninsula as a whole has to offer the local
community. Only time will tell whether any of the desires that will
be expressed are noted and acted upon.

Report on the second meeting


Last updated, November 12th, 2001

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

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