Greenwich’s Peninsula Square wakes up as golf balls set to fly

Greenwich Kitchen

It’s been a long-running moan on this site – the sad waste of space between North Greenwich station and the Dome. Well, it’s being wasted no more.

Joining Meantime Brewing’s temporary Beer Box (due for a three-year stay) is a full-time bar/restaurant, Greenwich Kitchen, that’s billing itself as a “New York-style coffee shop”. It’s even open for breakfast, should you fancy a bacon sarnie on the way into work. There’s another unit being fitted out behind it too – we’ll have to wait and see what that turns out to be.

Gateway Pavillions, Greenwich

Next door is the Now Gallery and the new, plush marketing suite for Greenwich Peninsula owner Knight Dragon containing a champagne bar on the roof – which would explain the three bouncers who seem to be on permanent duty outside the building.

Of course, Knight Dragon has twigged that you’re not going to shift luxury pads if the surrounding area’s as empty and miserable as it has been for the past seven years. It’s a shame that it’s all come too late for the summer – but finally Peninsula Square looks like becoming a decent spot for delaying your journey home. Hooray.

The Jetty Greenwich

In addition to all this action on the square, the old power station coaling jetty’s been taken over by immersive theatre company Shunt, whose show The Boy Who Climed Out Of His Face has another week left to run. It’s been poorly-promoted locally, but you can also pop onto The Jetty Greenwich for a drink in its bar. £4.50 for a pint of Tuborg in a plastic cup ain’t great, but it’s a lovely space and one with potential. Again, it’s all about making the place a but more lively than it was under the previous developers.

Driving range at Greenwich Peninsula

It doesn’t end there, though – there are plans to build a golf driving range at Delta Wharf, which long-suffering readers will remember was once due to be turned into an urban beach. There’s more about the Greenwich Peninsula golf range plan here, and on Greenwich’s planning website, reference 14/2161F. Again, this would be temporary, in place for 10 years before Knight Dragon gets around to developing the site.

Meanwhile, the actual business of selling property has begun, with queues of potential buyers outside the new marketing suite on Saturday. Of course, the property developers’ best friend, Greenwich Council, has chipped in this week with a handy plug in its propaganda weekly, Greenwich Time:

Greenwich Time, 23 September 2014

What Greenwich Time isn’t telling you is what “affordable” actually means, or that the phase after that – where the golf course is set to occupy for now – won’t contain any “affordable” housing at all

10.30am update: See also today’s Evening Standard on the housing issue.

25 comments

  1. Daryl

    Do you think they are pushing pedestrians away from the river? That is my interpretation of their words on page 8:

    “The existing public footpath, which currently traverses the site, will be re-routed to the southern edge to allow for continued free access of movement.”

    The late Barry Mason campaigned hard to get/maintain public access to the river here. I’m going to have to raise this with Greenwich Cyclists if anyone thinks they can jeopardise that riverside footpath.

    Thanks for bringing it to public attention.

    Teri

  2. Teri, that’s a worry – I think developers basically try to get away with whatever they can until they are stopped, so best to start raising this issue now (and if we’re wrong, then no harm done). I expect their aim is that the riverside will become more exclusive/access-only so the scruffy plebs don’t get in the way of the luxury views.

  3. I think the point is to make it accessible to everyone as I cant see where it says anywhere that they will make this for residents only. As a resident just across the river, I for one can’t wait for this piece of land to be developed as right now its not that pretty!

  4. Darryl, why the constant sneer about the Peninsula? Many who live there don’t agree or recognise your description as ’empty and miserable.’ We actually quite enjoy the vast surrounding space, cleanliness and quietness. We really enjoy the parks, the Pilot and the Ecology Park. Its nice to live somewhere in London that isn’t dirty, overcrowded and littered with fried chicken boxes. What is exactly is your problem? As someone previously noted on your Beer Box post, its boring (and petty).

    As for the path, everything on the Peninsula is open. From what I understand, the developer wants people to go to the river. Why there are Shunt performances on ‘The Jetty’ which they are heavily marketing, alongside the ‘5km running track’ which I assume they mean the Thames Path. So I’m not sure what there is to follow up?

  5. Have read the ES article (thanks Darryl). If Shane Brownie wants to describe himself as ‘poor’ living on the south side of the Peninsula then so be it! But I hardly think living in 300-800k+ flat really fits that description. As a GMV resident, I wouldn’t describe myself as such and don’t feel at all inferior or insulted by plans for swanky towers near Canary Wharf and the O2. It would be odd and a regeneration failure if that doesn’t happen. We will always have the Ecology Park and Southern Park on our doorstep, and peace & quiet as well as a local – and still within 10-15mins walk from entertainment, and tube and clipper services. A storm in a teacup perhaps…..

  6. Shivanee – I’ve been talking about Peninsula Square being empty. It even says so in the headline – “Peninsula Square wakes up”.

  7. Sounds like the peninsula area is really starting to liven up – there’s bags of untapped potential with all the space they have there. Now all we need is an easy way for maritime Greenwich residents to get there (that doesn’t involve crawling through the never ending traffic) and it might actually start to feel like a proper, joined up borough.

    I don’t suppose anyone is aware of any plans to improve the public transport links ?

  8. Darryl, thanks for the reply. Though you know what I am referring to, your references to the Peninsula have always been negative and commentators have acknowledged that you have made some disparaging comments about GMV and presumptions (I still have never seen any porsches zooming around by the way). As someone previously commentated, it comes across as bitter.

    As for Peninsula Square being empty, yes it has taken time but in case you didn’t notice, there was quite a deep recession and subsequent austerity, in between. Though judging by the queues of people who have slapped down offplan deposits on un-constructed buildings, the money has well and truly rolled back in….though I suppose there will be a few opinions about that?

  9. @Shivanee: follow up the proposed re-routing of the footpath away from the riverside edge as mentioned by Teri in the first comment.

  10. I may well be missing something, but according to my reading of the planning application (Greenwich Planning Reference 14/2161/F, details of which are freely available at the following location http://publicaccess.royalgreenwich.gov.uk:81/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=_GRNW_DCAPR_78374) the intention is not to “re-route the footpath away from the riverside edge” but rather to re-route it around the proposed driving range. There is no mention of any desire to close off the riverside pathway.

    From a quick read of the Design and Access Statement posted with the application (see Section 4: Site Analysis) it is apparent that the current pathway runs through the middle of the driving range, which is obviously untenable. Section 6: Site Strategies of this document states that “The existing public footpath, which currently traverses the site, will be re-routed to the southern edge to allow for continued free access of movement.”

    Hence, this would appear to be a non-issue.

    I don’t play golf myself and therefore will probably never use the facility, but I do think that it should be applauded that a brownfield site is being brought into a positive use during the period before it is redeveloped.

  11. Thank you, BobH – I had a quick look last night and it looked okay enough to me, but hadn’t seen the line about the riverside edge that confirms it.

  12. Thanks BobH – facts are good! It’s good to know people are willing to put up a fight if someone does try it, though.

  13. 10 year to build?! That’s what happens when one developer gets a whole site and drip feeds building over many years to maintain high prices.

    Shivanee – The tube station opened in ’99 and the recession was in 2008. there’s no excuse for so little action around peninsula square for so long both before and after 2008. The problem, as ever in London, is very high rents prevent businesses from opening. With lower rents it would have thrived with cafes, bars etc. London is very bad at this. New developments have half empty commercial space for years – far worse than many other UK & Euro cities.

    Now time for my customary public realm moan – why is the approach to the Peninsula so bloody grim and miserable from east Greenwich? Walking from Westcombe Park station to GMV and up to the o2 means passing some utterly miserable areas. Improvements are badly needed around the awful flyover – not just TfL managed parts but also Greenwich run bits. Look at what Southwark did to brighten up all the rail bridges with section 106 money – led lighting etc. I’ve heard that TfL aren’t great to work with but network Rail aren’t known for cooperation either. Then there’s all the stained concrete, dirty pavements, scruffy grass etc. For christ’s sake it wouldn’t be too hard to improve parts of it – use s106 money & TfL cash.

  14. I would make plans to remove the flyover as it approaches the end of its useful life. That would completely change the game. Of course it will never happen with the car-obsessed people we currently have in power.

  15. “We will always have the Ecology Park”

    I’m genuinely worried that this will not be the case if some of the development on the Peninsula continues 😦

  16. “Shivanee – The tube station opened in ’99 and the recession was in 2008. there’s no excuse for so little action around peninsula square for so long both before and after 2008. The problem, as ever in London, is very high rents prevent businesses from opening. With lower rents it would have thrived with cafes, bars etc. London is very bad at this. New developments have half empty commercial space for years – far worse than many other UK & Euro cities.”

    I have no specific information on the Peninsula, but it makes no sense for a developer to leave commercial space unlet for 10 years simply because of a demand for high rents. It’s clearly part of a strategy. I know it’s fun to pretend profit-making corporations function based on irrational evil, but it’s unlikely to be the case.

    The O2 only opened in its current form in 2007. What restaurant or commercial renter would want to move in front of a venue with an unknown future prior to that? It seems that for the next few years after this the focus was on expanding restaurants and services inside of the O2. In the meantime the local population expanded enormously as GMV residents moved in. Now that it’s all well-established it can get in commercial renters who will fit in with the area as it is now.

    Low rents would have attracted fried chicken shops, Chariots, and Poundland, which would have deterred many people from moving there and/or going to the O2 for non-concert events.

  17. The flyover, sprawling car park and grubby concrete are awful, but the scruffy grass opposite the Odeon is actually some of the best wildife habitat. Although I belive it’s doomed to be covered in luxury flats, to make it seem tidier a hedgerow could be planted along the edges. Once these big meadows are gone, the Eco Park will be quite an isolated fragment and will no longer form part of a wider mosaic of habitats and wildlife corridor, with nowhere for animals to move to/from to replenish populations, and we may well see it become more impoverished in terms of biodiversity. The loss of the little green park to IKEA will further degrade the look and biodiversity of the site.

  18. Annie – couldn’t have put it better myself. Was referring to the O2 being the major milestone in my comment about the recession. Though yes, why development across the Peninsula was allowed to stall during the 00’s boom years is in imho indicative of the former mayor’s disinterest (who I consistently voted for twice regrettably) and the real interests of the developers. Agree better waited longer for decent entertainment offerings rather than fried chicken shops and because.

  19. Annie – It’s called land banking, and it’s what Lend Lease did on the peninsula. Sit on the land for years as values increase rather than utilise it. Another tactic is price commercial so high it is not used and then paply for residential use.

    The station was still very heavily used up to 2007 with thousands passing by. It’s not as if the only alternative to high end establishments is a poundland or chicken place is it? Plenty of other places find a middle ground and attract start ups and attractive businesses that cater to a similar demographic. The difference at North Greenwich was the landlowner, how they became the sole landowner, how they operated, and what actions they took for many years.

  20. Plus there’s those developers that simply lack innovation and the spark to try new things. For example, at Kings Cross they worked hard to get a food market and various stalls. N Greenwich is/was a different case but new ideas could have been tried, and partnerships formed with restaurants, breweries, market traders etc trading elsewhere.

    The peninsula seemed to have the worse of all of it – existing units were left empty and the acres of empty land was not developed as sitting on it was deemed preferable by lend lease than building or selling.

  21. Incidentally, the peninsula was in the hands of central government – English Partnerships/ Homes & Communities Agency – until April 2012 when it was transferred to City Hall, so there was little Livingstone (or Johnson) could do until then.

  22. Really enjoyed breakfast at Greenwich Kitchen this morning, by 10:30 most of the outside tables were taken. Friendly staff, decent food, and sunshine. Will be back for an evening meal. CRAFT next door will also be a welcome addition.

Comments are closed.