Travellers set up camp at Greenwich’s Ikea site

If you’re the kind of odd person who writes about local issues, and then you suffer a broken ankle, it means you miss some things. It means that you miss the complete disappearance of one of the area’s best-known buildings while you’re propped up not able to do very much.

So, where the “eco” Sainsbury’s in Greenwich once sat, there’s now an empty plot of land. Ikea took ownership last year, ahead of submitting its full planning application for a new store, and demolished the old store in the spring.

Instead of doing some landscaping to protect the land and make look a bit nicer (think of the green mounds outside Woolwich Tesco, awaiting redevelopment; or the green mounds that sat on what’s now the Lewisham Gateway building site), or even finding some ingenious use for the redundant store, Ikea left it empty. And we all know what happens with empty plots of land in this part of town.

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Still, at least the travellers are making use of the site – as Ikea wasn’t – and might be able to keep an eye on the motorcyclists that recently started to race around the site.

None of this will be of any comfort to the site’s neighbours. Nor will this weekend’s news of four-hour delays around the new Ikea in Reading.

But never fear – despite this, despite the Silvertown Tunnel, despite the cruise liner terminal, despite the creation of new retail warehouses on the Charlton riverside – there is money for “the Town Centre and Trafalgar Road Low Emissions Neighbourhood proposal, [which] includes a series of car-free days in the town centre, an incentive scheme to encourage walking and cycling and an extensive series of mini parks throughout the area”.

Too little, too late feels an understatement. It’s like locking the gates once the travellers have moved their vans in…

20 comments

  1. I suspect they have just moved down the road from the longstanding traveller site between the latest phase in the Greenwich Millennium Village development and the aggregate works off Peartree Way. Ikea do look like they have perfectly prepared it for caravans! Their early stewardship of this site does not bode well for the future!

  2. Nature abhors a vacuum….

    A word of caution: some travellers were and still are sited behind the new residential buildings by the aggregate works opposite. I recently made the mistake of walking down there and was bitten by two of their yappy dogs. One a piece on each calf. They drew blood but didn’t go thru my trousers. I had bruises for many days. I found a policeman cruising and reported it. They were unaware of the site and failed to find it subsequently, even though I gave them detailed directions! Moral of the story: A dogs bite is worse than its bark.

  3. Are the travellers the same ones that have been at the end of Horn Lane for 15+ years? I didn’t see their dog yesterday, though they’d got their washing hanging on the line…

  4. Looks like Larry answered my question before I could press “post comment”. Sorry to hear about the dog bites – the only one I’ve come across was a complete wimp of a lurcher that barked a lot then ran away.

  5. The travellers have been on the Horn Lane area for years. GMV Phase 3 & 4 is probably not helping. My friend tells me some travellers had taken over Begbie field Kidbrooke in recent weeks and have just been moved on – perhaps they have come from there.

    It is a shame that IKEA have not made the area more attractive. Millennium Leisure Park is in a right old state. B&Q must be feeling very unloved!

  6. Two or three things. One is that this retail site was once a large and successful sports ground plus some allotments. Another facility lost there – although meant people assume it was part of the gas production area
    . Two is the Horrn Land travellers have been there at least 20 years and before that were in commerell street. They have children in local schools and attend local churches. I don’t believe the police don’t know them. Three -Shane before development really took off we used to get huge numbers of vans some allegedly from Scotland with alleged links in east London. These were not nice people and nothing to do with the people in Horn
    Lane. An old fellow in rAthmore road once explained the differences between the groups – the trouble with the council is, he said, that they don’t understand all that

  7. This is just the latest in the sorry Ikea saga since Sainsbury’s moved to the enormous warehouse down the road – it’s also not the worst by far. Not just a few motorbikes. The car park, bus-only lanes and surrounding roads are now used on a regular basis by up to 500 noisy, back-firing, tyre screeching cars and quad bikes racing and, now it seems, betting on races. All accompanied by loud thudding music, refreshment stalls and bushes for toilets. For local residents – especially Tunnel Avenue, Fearon and Aldeburgh Streets it’s been a nightmare. The Police have done little to nothing despite numerous calls from residents and businesses, representations by the MP and Councillors. The Council’s noise pollution team, the police and the site management company all pass the buck. How can a car park and surrounding roads be a race venue? Last Saturday was the fourth large meet so far this year and there are smaller meets every Wednesday (also sometimes in the McDonald/ASDA car park). It is so bad sometimes you can smell the burning rubber in our living room. Does someone have to be killed or badly injured before something is done?

  8. There were some kicked out from convoys wharf and then the creekside developments last year, maybe it’s them.
    What a policy, going through all the procedures keeping cops and judges busy to literally kick the can 100 m further down the road..
    @janice maybe just drop some nails/spikes on the ground..

  9. With the car racing – I understand that they are on private land and that means the police and the council can only do a limited amount. Is the site freehold still owned by the GLA?? Who is it leased to – there are probably two or three underleases between the GLA and who ever it is leased to for management. However there is some sort of management agreement in one of the earlier planning consents. Someone needs to do a bit of research

  10. Does anyone know if the woman who was hit by a joyrider on the Woolwich Road late last night, was a victim of one of the travellers camping on the old Sainsbury’s site? I hope she recovers and the 19 year old youth is brought to task swiftly.

    The site is an absolute eye-sore, especially since the old Comet/Matalan has now been demolished as well. The problem with these so-called travellers is that they rarely do any travelling whatsoever – they are a blight on the communities and neighbourhoods that they infiltrate. They know they are a nuisance and thrive off the very fact they are not legally allowed to pitch their caravans on these open spaces. The police either turn a blind eye, or are too under-resourced to do anything proactive to protect residents that pay their taxes.

    I reckon they must be the same group that were moved on from a patch of open space at the bottom of Victoria Way that is often used as an over-spill car park for Charlton Athletic. The mess and destruction left behind is terrible, and I feel for residents living in proximity to these people.

    Either IKEA or the building contractor should take responsibility for these vagrants trespassing on their newly acquired site. If not, I wonder if Boris’ old water cannon could be put to some proper use?

  11. There are no nice green mounds at Lewisham Gateway, just a pile of mess. It’s a complete embarrassment and would put anyone off coming to Lewisham ever again encountering that on their first visit. There is nothing good about the way that redevelopment has been managed so far.

  12. The big issue has been the ‘car meets’ over there. The worst was last Saturday night with some 500 vehicles in attendance and was clearly very well organised. The sound of backfiring engines, tyres screeching and booming bass speakers could be heard over the eight lanes of traffic over here in Tunnel Ave. I’m surprised you hadn’t picked up on before Darryl because it has been a big topic of chatter round these parts since March. I know we and other residents have been in touch with the police and council on numerous occasions only to be told it’s ‘private land’ and there is little that can be done – what utter nonsense. Luckily someone local has stepped forward and is leading the campaign to raise the issue at perhaps a higher level. I really don’t know what is happening here in East Greenwich. Everything seems to be getting worse around here particularly the standard of street cleaning – it is just dreadful. I seem to be constantly on fix my street trying to get routine issues sorted. Our local councillors really need to step forward.

  13. It’s odd that this thread just kind of saddens me. It seems nowadays that so many look to generalise and target a particular section of society. We see this with race when a government neglects an area such as Medway dumps a load of immigrants there and the locals blame the immigrants for the poor environment. Here we see an eyesore of a development, and it has been for years neglected by both local authority and big business so let’s lash out at the travellers. The car meets aren’t attended by 500 travellers and pose a far bigger threat to both your safety and your sanity these are ‘ordinary’ 20-30’s with money to literally burn and yet let’s lash out at the travellers who none of us know yet all feel informed enough about to judge. I give up on us as a society we haven’t the brains we were born with as my old nan used to say

  14. @Vieoras – I don’t see the analogy. Of course you can’t blame a whole group of people (such as migrants) on what a minority might have done. But it’s hardly the same “to lash out on the whole group” to point out what they are in fact doing: trespassing someone else’s property. It is costly to everybody and keeps valuable community resources busy that could have been spent elsewhere. Yes house prices etc etc but the rest of us need to pay as well.

  15. Just to be clear, the “car meets” have nothing whatsoever to do with the travellers. They are organised on social media by clubs such as Dirtee South and Cruzin Crew and are attended by people of all ages, including families with young children and older people who for some reason love parading and racing in souped up noisy cars/vehicles at totally unsuitable venues.

  16. Ahh, pleased to get an update on where the planning application for Ikea has got to. I emailed one of our local councillors for this information and didn’t get a response. Ho hum.

    I am heartily sick of the noise of motorbikes and quad bikes and I am very glad I was on holiday over the weekend of the 22nd as I think I would have exploded with rage…

  17. Ahh, I emailed one of our local councillors for an update on the status of the Ikea planning application but got no reply. I guess the inertia around dealing with the bike meets ultimately helps Ikea’s cause.

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