This evening a drop-in consultation was held at the Old Laundry Room on the Strongbow Estate to seek residents views on the plans to build an extra five houses on garage sites around the area. The turnout was fantastic, with lots of residents quizzing Officers about the plans and asking pertinent questions, although there was a fair amount of fatalism about whether this was a genuine consultation or just window dressing a decision that had already been taken.
In the conversations I had with residents, there were a number of themes in the comments which I will pass back to the Council so that Officers can make sure that they are addressed as the plans move forwards.
- Parking on the Estate: As a local Councillor this is one of the biggest causes of complaints around the Estate – there simply isn’t enough parking already. As a result of this lack of parking, the removal of existing garages while adding further homes is a cause of real concern. I have said from the very beginning of these plans that an application to build these homes simply must include some effort to deal with the existing parking problems which will be exacerbated by these proposals.
In addition to this major issue, there were a number of questions and comments which I think are worthy of serious consideration and comment:
- Privacy Issues: In both cases, the blocks of houses will mean nearby properties will be overlooked. The Strongbow Road development appears to be three stories high with balconies at the back which the Strongbow Crescent one is only two stories but will overlook neighbouring homes (including some on Well Hall Road). This will undoubtedly change the way in which existing residents live their lives and needs to be a consideration in the plans.
- Buildings not in keeping with the local area: Officers took a fair amount of time to describe the way in which modular builds will cause less disruption during the building process, but the side effect of this is that they look nothing like the homes which are in the Estate already. This is quite an issue as I am not sure a private developer would be able to build this kind of building in Greenwich.
- Lack of health/education provision being expanded with the extra houses: Clearly a developer would have to consider the way in which extra homes (including those in the nearby Orangery Road development) would impact on local services like schools, doctors and hospitals but the Council does not seem to have done that. Can the plans include a serious attempt to establish how extra social infrastructure would be created to support their needs? In addition, how would emergency services access the houses tucked away in the corner of Strongbow Crescent?
Lastly there were a number of questions worthy of repeat:
- These homes look pretty small – do they meet all of the relevant standard?
- When will the final version of the proposals be published?
- If there is a waiting list for garages currently, why does the Council claim only 50% of these garages are occupied?
Overall, I think it was a really useful consultation exercise and I am pleased we pushed for it. The Officers who were present went to great lengths to try and provide the detail local residents wanted and while they could not answer all the questions they did try. Similarly, the way residents attended suggested real engagement with the process which I hope is rewarded by a proper response to their comments in future reports.