woolwich-and-charlton
Looking towards a changing Charlton

Brocklebank Retail Park in Charlton is heading towards completion with a planned opening date in early 2017. The eventual retailers planned appear to be Next, Primark, Aldi and Mothercare. Earlier plans for a Homesense shop did not proceed. This site is opposite the large Asda.

Practical completion was due to be in Autumn of this year, according to former land owner LXB, but that has been missed.

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No developers money used to improve cycle lanes

LXB, who also developed other sites in Charlton such as Sainsbury’s, describe themselves as:

“a Jersey incorporated closed-ended real estate investment company, whose strategy is to invest in out-of-town and edge-of-town retail assets.”

Is the edge of zone 2 an out-of-town or edge-of-town site?

brocklebank

Whilst these shops will be of benefit to many people, it’s a shame that development did not comprise residential and placed car parking on multiple levels to use land more efficiently.

LXB sold the site which was purchased by the Charities Property Fund in December 2015.

I wonder how many backers of charities involved will be glad to know they are supporting a retail park that’ll increase traffic in an area with congestion and pollution problems?

Masterplan

This retail park displaced active industry sites, as proposed by the deeply flawed 2012 Charlton Masterplan. A replacement masterplan has been due for release ‘imminently’ for many months now. Nothing has appeared and now large swaths of other industrial land are seeing housing proposals come forward.

charlton-industry
Active industry in Charlton

I’ve said it before, but using inner city land so wastefully for giant retail barns and massive car parks with no residential element at a time of severe housing shortage whilst turning over active industrial land for residential is perhaps one of the most dated and discredited planning actions to emanate from Woolwich Town Hall in quite some time.

Any sort of modern plan would’ve combined retail and residential as one and then protected industrial land that was in use. It’s likely some would go, but not the levels now planned.

The area is also utter crap for those on foot or cyclists:

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There’s a fair amount of broken street furniture between this site and the new homes being built on the Peninsula. Many, many months ago Greenwich Council were informed about it. Nothing has been done. Few crossings exist for those wanting to head here from new-builds nearby such as the Greenwich Millenium Village.

Not many will want to walk that way. For all the developments underway and bringing in money, little cash coming in from developers is allocated to improve things like this.

Housing

A couple of big schemes are now underway near to this site. The Charlton Champion site covered them here.

They are Rockwell’s scheme off Anchor and Hope Lane, and there’s a U+I scheme working alongside Royal London.

U+I were formerly the Cathedral Group. They’ve owned the nearby Morden Wharf site on Greenwich Peninsula for years now and sadly done little to develop it.

Rockwell’s scheme contradicts the earlier 2012 Masterplan’s idea for a low-rise “garden city” and terraces. That sounds lovely but London will never accommodate the 120,000 extra people living in the city each and every year by doing that, even with a much needed crack down on empty homes bought as investments. And by allowing much nearby land to be used as retail parks the scope to house people grows smaller.

Charlton Masterplan

The city will have 10 million people in little over a decade. Pretty much everywhere up to at least Zone 3 will need to see high density. The number of homes currently built is not even half of what is needed. And further sprawl is not the answer.

There’s scope for some additional housing around the city perimeter and looking again at green belt rules, but having many more people commuting for 1, 2 or more hours to work in central London is not the answer. And that’s before we even look at finite capacity on transport networks.

Some local politicians appear to be calling for low rise, low density terraced housing whilst supporting high population growth. They’ll have to make their minds up. Even if they supported policies for a reduction in population growth there’s still a massive lag in housing provision that terraces will not provide. And if they don’t, then opposing high density has even less likelihood of being feasible.

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