Protected Prospects

Snippet from Draft Core Strategy showing local views
Snippet from Draft Core Strategy showing local views

The Greenwich Draft Core Strategy policy protecting local views has been inherited almost unchanged from its predecessor, the Unitary Development Plan. As well as the two “strategic views” of St. Paul’s Cathedral from Greenwich Park and Blackheath Point it provides protection for 11 specified local views, listed below, which are deemed essential to the character of the borough, especially where they include the River Thames and its banks.

Policy DH(g) Local Views
Planning permission will be given for development which would not have a materially adverse effect on the overall perspective and essential quality of the Local Views as listed below and as identified on Map 1:
1. Shooter’s Hill to Central London;
2. Shrewsbury Park towards the Lower Thames;
3. Castlewood towards S.E. London;
4. Eaglesfield Recreation Ground towards Bexley and the Lower Thames;
5. Eltham Park (North) to Central London;
6. Winns Common to the Lower Thames;
7. Thames side panorama from the Thames Barrier open space;
8. St. Mary’s Churchyard towards Mast Pond Wharf and beyond;
9. Docklands panorama from the Wolfe Monument;
10. King John’s Walk to Central London;
11. Millennium Dome from Central Park.
12. Others as set out in the Conservation Area Appraisals

Number 12 is the only addition to the list in the Unitary Development Plan.

The first four views on the list are from various points on Shooters Hill. Number 1, Shooters Hill to Central London, is the breathtaking view,  now dominated by the distant Shard, towards the iconic skyline of London.  I think the panorama is best seen as  it is gradually revealed  from the upper deck of a number 89 bus, with the Shard and BT Tower first, followed by the emerging Walkie-Talkie and Cheese Grater as you go down the hill.

A similar view, and one I find more impressive even though it isn’t listed in the Core Strategy, is that from the top of Occupation Lane towards Central London. Here the horizon stretches from the Strata SE1 building via the London Eye, Guys, the Shard, BT Tower, City of London buildings such as the Walkie-Talkie, Cheese Grater, and Gherkin round to Canary Wharf’s ever multiplying set of towers. I’m looking forward to the reopening of Severndroog Castle, the panoramic view from the top is just amazing.

View from Shooters Hill to Central London
View from Shooters Hill to Central London

There are several views from Shrewsbury Park towards the Lower Thames (number 2 on the list). Up at the top of the hill, looking north-west-ish there is a long view over towards Abbey Wood, Dagenham and the rolling hills of Essex beyond. Further round, on the Rowton Road side just up the hill from the allotments there’s the prospect of Woolwich shown below. Over to the left the new, strangely decorated, Tesco-fronted monolith of Woolwich Central has started to spoil the view. To the mid-right the towers over the Crossrail station box are growing, and someday approximately in the centre of the view will be the 21-storey towers of the Berkeley Homes’ Royal Arsenal development.

Will this have a “materially adverse effect on the overall perspective and essential quality” of the view? Clearly the Council Planning Committee don’t think so.

View from Shrewsbury Park towards Woolwich and the Thames
View from Shrewsbury Park towards Woolwich and the Thames

From the map I think Local View number 3, Castlewood towards S.E. London, is the superb wide-open misty vista, pictured below,  from the Oxleas Cafe over a wide area of south-east London and Kent, towards Sidcup and Orpington. Then there’s the fourth protected view, Eaglesfield Recreation Ground towards Bexley and the Lower Thames, eastwards in the direction of the Dartford Crossing.

View from Oxleas Cafe towards South-east London and Kent
View from Oxleas Cafe towards South-east London and Kent
View from Eaglesfield Park towards Bexley and the Lower Thames
View from Eaglesfield Park towards Bexley and the Lower Thames

Should more local views be protected? Does the policy condition that a development should not have a  “materially adverse effect on the overall perspective and essential quality” of a view make it clear what’s acceptable?  We have until midnight on the 14th May to comment on the Greenwich Draft Core Strategy, which will guide all planning decisions until 2027. This can be done through the council’s consultation portal, or by e-mail to (ensure you add “in response to Royal Greenwich Core Strategy and Development Management Policies”  in the subject section), or by using the council’s representation form.

My favourite views from Shooters Hill are the those I can see from my bedroom window, especially the dramatically colourful sunsets over the city such as the one shown below, and the different but equally dramatic colours when the sunrise catches canary wharf’s towers. I don’t think the Planning Inspectorate will allow that in the Core Strategy.

Sunset from Shooters Hill
Sunset from Shooters Hill

Changing Views

I’ve been a fan of e-shootershill for several years, so it’s a little bit daunting to be taking on the job of chronicling happenings on the hill and the surrounding areas. Producing a repository of “Hilliana” as my predecessor so succinctly expressed it.

Learning the technology involved in blogging is also a little daunting, and my initial posts may not be as technically sophisticated as some previous ones!

Why did I offer to take on e-shootershill? Well, I agree wholeheartedly with the aim of maintaining a journal of record of Shooters Hill – and there’s plenty to record. One of the many things I love about living here is the tremendous sense of community and local involvement. For example there are so many volunteer-led events and activities. Volunteers run the friends of Eaglesfield and Shrewsbury parks organisations. The latter organise the fabulous dog-show at the Shrewsbury Park Summer Festival which has become an essential item in the calendar. And then there are all the people who help at Woodlands Farm – from managing the charity through to mucking out the pigs, not to mention organising large-scale events such as Apple Day (coming up next Sunday, 23rd October). And many more that I haven’t come across, yet, though I’ve seen hints of their activities.

View from top of Brent Road towards Olympic Stadium and O2 Dome
View from top of Brent Road towards Olympic Shooting and Archery Stadium on Woolwich Common and O2 Dome

I was also seduced by the unexpected and sometimes uncelebrated architectural gems that ornament the hill and its surroundings, and the intriguing glimpses into history that comes with them. There aren’t many places in London where you come across a Bronze Age burial mound as you walk down the street. Blogging about the area will be a strong motivation to find out more about local history.

Of course the stunning views from the hill, over Kent, Essex and the panoramic London horizon from Wembley’s arch to the London Eye justify the inclusion of topics slightly further away from home, and give me an opportunity to experiment with including some pictures in this first blog. For the view isn’t static, for example the 2012 Olympics have imposed themselves, with the shooting and archery stadium rapidly rising on Woolwich Common.

View towards the (incomplete) Shard in August 2011
The Shard at sunset from Shooters Hill

And the Shard has also been rapidly rising, further away on the horizon. The Shard has come in for criticism from some commenters, but I feel a kind of affinity that started when I used to walk past the building site on my way to work, often pausing to watch the long, slow work of boring and excavating the foundations and then, later, astounded at how quickly it grew.

Like previous bloggers on this site I welcome comments and suggestions.

Views of and from the hill

Twilight on Shooters Hill
Twilight on Shooters Hill

There’s been some interesting hill related action on flickr lately, but unfortunately it’s of the look but don’t touch variety, so instead of being added to the site header, here are some links – i hope they stay up.

Shooters Hill (with tower bridge in the foreground)
Shooters Hill (with tower bridge in the foreground)