Save Our Village Action Plan (SOVAP) 2023

The (Charlton) Village Action Plan was first published in October 2017 as the result of the Society’s Planning Group pulling together concerns about the state of Charlton Village and followed on from our participation with Royal Greenwich Council developing the Charlton Conservation Strategy Management Plan and the development of the Charlton Riverside Masterplan.

Since 2017 the Society has realised that Charlton is not just about the Village, although it remains committed to maintaining the Village as an operative Village, with its own particular character as distinct from London’s urban sprawl. There are not many of these remaining.

In small ways the Society has tried to enact elements of the Action Plan, including organising regular Have Your Say days in
2020 and 2022 to ensure the widest community involvement as possible.

The lockdown restrictions of Covid-19 paused work on this plan but not before the Society celebrated its 50th anniversary
with a garden party at Woolwich Garrison Church and a Village High Street shopfront exhibition, giving people a chance
to come together.

In the UK we quickly remembered that community is more about people than postcodes. We rediscovered what strengths we have when we come together to care for one another. With online meetings and working from home, we discovered new ways of living and recognised that ‘sleeping at the office’ was not a long-term option unless homes could accommodate space for work. At the same time as online shopping and home delivery became commonplace, we recognised the need for space for recreation, relaxation and relationships. We also recognised just how much Charlton has to offer local residents, for visitors and for business.

Throughout the past 3 years, The Charlton Society has continued to be ambitious not only for the Village, but for Charlton as a whole. In 2020, the Society joined forces with other Charlton organisations to form CHarlton Together with a specific remit to monitor, assess and, where, possible, support developers interested in the Charlton Riverside. However, while still a bold and enterprising vision, little headway has been made to progress the 2017 Masterplan for the Charlton Riverside Opportunity Area. Save for the infamous “Rockwell” reversal, a number of applications of varying merit have been approved by Greenwich Council but nothing has been delivered save for the new and very wonderful Charlton Workstack on the Woolwich Road.

But there is much to celebrate, not least of all in progress made under the Save Our Village Action Plan.

On the site of what was Fred Styles House, Peter Barber Architects have designed Woodmore Mews, an award-winning brick-built estate of 37 affordable homes which incorporates reinstating the historic passage between Fletching Road and Charlton Church Lane and developed by a Meridian Home Start Greenwich Council subsidiary.

There are a number of new shops; the International Store, the Filipino takeaway, a second Turkish barbers, Truepenny’s estate agents and Andrew Johnson Funeral Directors. After seven years of darkness, the old shoe shop, Bowes, recently came back as a pop-up Christmas shop. It would be wonderful to see some of the other vacant premises come back into business
use and we remain ever hopeful that the White Swan might re-open as a community-friendly pub.

Traffic in the Village remains a challenge, even with the speed limit having been reduced to 20mph and the pedestrian link between Cemetery Lane and Blackheath Standard along the northern pavement.

Although the area in front of Earle House has not formally been renamed Earle Place, it is ever more frequently referred to as such and is well used. Not least through the efforts of The Baguette and The Greengrocer in developing it as a meeting place.

Another of the ambitions for the SOVAP was to work more closely with St Luke’s and Charlton House. We continue to engage with Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust in its endeavours to renovate and bring new life to Charlton House.

Across the road, St Luke’s churchyard has been enhanced with a grant from the Greenwich Neighbourhood Growth Fund and as a result there are many developments in addition to what has been achieved by the dedicated team of volunteers who make up the gardening team. The Memorial Garden to the rear is an oasis of peace, enhanced by two new benches, replanting and bramble having been cleared away. Two granite & teak benches in the churchyard have proved to be attractive and well-used additions. The main path has been levelled to remove trip hazards and long-standing gaps in the cobbles alongside the path to The Village have been filled in. Two battered litter bins have been replaced with shiny new ones. The old red wooden noticeboards have been replaced with aluminium boards and are now better sited. The words ‘welcome’ and ‘Charlton’ are prominent. Potential use of the churchyard for outdoor events has been enhanced by the removal of the old wooden flag pole and its concrete base. Like the old noticeboards, the flagpole was suffering from rot and was not only no longer fit for purpose but was beginning to be dangerous. It would be lovely to see a modern flag-pole reinstated on the tower, especially given that St Luke’s has permission to fly a historic flag (the Red Ensign of the period 1707-1801) on special occasions. The main door has been repainted. The historic sundial has been repaired and is ready to be re-hung on the south wall.

This is just a taster of the extensive work The Charlton Society is involved to maintain and engage with the Charlton Village community. Please click here for the latest updates of ongoing work with the SOVAP action plan.