RiverWatch returns May 4th 2013

Changing Greenwich

My gosh hasn’t Greenwich changed…

Looking back to when we first arrived, some 40 years ago, to this rather ‘down at heel’ river town to set up home on the heath – Hyde Vale had an inspiring view of St Pauls Cathedral – now somewhat belittled by the high rise developments in the City, South Bank and Docklands and even closer to home,  historic Greenwich is under attack.

The new University School of Architecture now being built has an extraordinary heavy foot print on its Georgian neighbours. Likewise the Creek Road New Capital Quay riverside residential scheme is nearly the same size in area as the town centre – the high rise 12 storey tower at the peak of the scheme dwarfs even the massive cruise ship ‘The World’ anchored just off shore.

Meanwhile closer to our riverside home, East Greenwich’s Lovell Wharf residential scheme covers a whole slice of an old industrial wharf site. ( I hope the recent discovery of a tidal water mill site will be respected).

The old General hospital site is of remarkable scale as viewed from my GP’s Vanbrugh Hill clinic. The bold design humbles the low rise Trafalgar Road shop frontages and the cosy surrounding neighbourhood.

The sole remaining power station used by London Transport has a majestic scale together with its river landing stage giving us a hint of yesteryear tall masted shipping.

From my Crane Street riverside house (named after the crane site of the Palace of Placentia) I can today count at least 15 cranes operating along the riverside or in Canary Wharf. Recession or not, construction still goes on. Canary Wharf led the way in high rise schemes – it is not everybody that can say they witnessed a birth of a city!!

Even Deptford Creek is gaining stature. Laban has led the way – Creek Road has changed beyond recognition on that historic Thameside where ships were built and engineed old factories and victualling yards have been earmarked for even more dense high rise developments. While on the Peninsular the O2 has mushroomed and the nearby Millennium Village has been occupied by a growing population.

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About RiverWatch returns

Peter Kent shares his Thames riverside studio viewpoint

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