Greenwich Council say its fine to paint your Progress Estate house green

A decision being made by Greenwich Council this week confirms that there will be no restrictions on the colour that Progress Estate houses can be painted in the future. The reason for this decision appears to be that the Council did not enforce the previous conditions as part of the conservation area and so are now choosing to allow Progress Estate residents to make their own decisions, hoping it will always be white or off-white.

In honesty this came as news to me as I had assumed that Progress Estate homes were expected to be maintained as white or near white because of the fact that this was a conservation area. However following further conversations with Officers, I have been informed that this was never the case:

“In terms of preventing the painting of brighter or darker colours, since painted properties have tended to be painted in white or off-white colours, with no planning control in place, then we have no reason to believe that this will not continue to be the case.”

So basically, the Council is going to withdraw the general requirement that properties retain the original unpainted render finish as they did not enforce it, so 90-95% of properties have now been over-painted in white of off-white colours.

The exact wording of the decision is as follows:

Progress Estate

It seems to me that this is wrong on several levels.

  • Firstly the Council should have actually enforced the conditions imposed by the Progress Estate Conservation Area in the first place. The Progress Residents’ Association has a pretty good record of reporting breaches of the requirements, but it seems that they rather than the Council are trying to ensure that the Estate retains its distinctive look.
  • Secondly, the Council should modify not withdraw this particular condition. Clearly, even with render painted white or off-white the Progress Estate retains a specific look and allowing any colour to be used in external decoration is a mistake. I fear that the situation will change very quickly once the first house is painted a different colour and the distinctive look of this Eltham landmark will be lost.

I know many Progress Estate residents who are really proud of living there and I fear that this Council decision will ruin something that they care deeply about.

From a political point of view, where there were three Conservative Councillors in Eltham North, I would have organised a call-in of the decision (which takes two signatures) to review it, but we now have 5 Labour Councillors and me covering the Estate so it will fall to them to see if they want to challenge this major change to the conditions of the Conservation Area.