As the Nissan Car Dealership on Eltham High Street applies for planning permission to expand, the irrelevance of Greenwich Council’s plan for Eltham Town Centre has (once again) been made clear.
This week the owners of the Nissan Car Dealership on Eltham High Street applied to redevelop their site. The overview of the application is as follows:
“Demolition of motor vehicle dealership and workshop buildings and construction of a three storey car dealership for sale, servicing and MOT testing of motor vehicles together with the erection of a single storey valet building”
This looks to be a substantial improvement on an already successful business, which I fully support not least as it means another national firm remains on and invests in Eltham High Street. The pictures of the design are shown below and given the massive Grove Place development opposite, I think it is hard to object to.
Now aside from finding out a number of interesting but probably useless facts from the companies’ submission (including that there may have been mining for chalk on the site and at other points around Eltham and that there was a brewery on the neighbouring petrol station site) I was struck by the serious tone and detail of the application and accompanying paperwork. This investment combined with that by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson represent a real chance to improve Eltham Town Centre and you would hope that the Council is acting to bring all of these opportunities together. However, instead we are stuck with an irrelevant and poorly constructed ‘Eltham Masterplan’ which is simply not fit for purpose.
This is what the Eltham Masterplan (page 14) has to say about the Nissan car dealership on Eltham Hill:
So not only did the plan not like the car dealership, it has been rendered completely irrelevant by the Government’s decision to invest in the rebuilding of Eltham Church of England Primary School on Roper Street and now (despite the Council’s obvious dislike of its presence) by the car dealership to invest in its business. Now obviously the Council doesn’t like to publicise the Government’s investment in providing a better school for Eltham’s children unless it contributes extra places but the truth is that its own plans for more flats on the Roper Street site were only stopped when rejected by the admirable Eltham Church of England school governors, even when they were offered the bribe of being able to build on Eltham Park.
Now please don’t get me wrong, there are some useful sections of the Eltham Masterplan, including more pedestriatisation in Passey Place and the cinema for Eltham High Street, but essentially it was on the wrong track in too many areas. It plans to remove not just Nissan from Eltham High Street but also the Mecca Bingo, the Post Office and Argos – these are poor ideas which will damage Eltham’s Town Centre.
Given that the Council has already rewritten the plans for Woolwich and Charlton, why do they not do the same for Eltham? The current plan is clearly irrelevant now that the Mayor of London, Conservative Government and Nissan are all investing so heavily in Eltham – why not treat Eltham as equal with the north of the Borough, not just a source of Council Tax revenue? I would like to see a real plan for Eltham, which gave serious time to the vision of Eltham outlined by a private firm over a decade ago based on creating a pedestrian town square outside the Orangery.
It is time for a new Masterplan for Eltham – one which offers a real vision for our town centre’s future.
This post was initially published on Spencer Drury’s Your Councillor site in June 2015