Councillors blast Greenwich Pier restaurant signs

July 6, 2012 by  

COUNCILLORS have thrown out a planning application for signs and advertising already installed at the new Zizzi restaurant at the Greenwich Pier development.

Greenwich West councillor, Maureen O'Mara, blasted the restaurant for not having have the "guts" or "courage" to be at the meeting of the Greenwich Area Planning Committee on Wednesday night.

She said: "What I wanted to ask them if they had the guts to turn up is, 'Why did you do this without any planning permission at all?'"

The clearly furious councillor added, "This is a World Heritage Site. It's one of the most precious sites in London. I've heard that they say, 'this is what we do wherever we open up places'. Well, this is Greenwich and we do not do this in Greenwich. This horrible application needs to be turned down."

Councillor Dick Quibell (Peninsula, Labour) said the plans were "violently out of keeping with the tone of a World Heritage Site." Councillor Hayley Fletcher (Hornfair with Kidbrooke, Labour), who was earlier elected as Vice Chair of the committee, commented that the signs looked "hideous."

Conservative councillor Geoff Brighty, representing Blackheath Westcombe, said he had found the Pier development "disappointing" and that the signs were "trashy."

The committee unanimously voted against the restaurant's lettering, menu box and window signs, despite council officers recommending the plans be approved.

Councillors also had the chance to determine the signs, and proposed parasols, at Frankie and Benny's.

Claims were made by the applicant that advice had been sought from the council before their signs were initially put up but this was disputed by council officers and councillors decided to investigate that point and reconsider the applications at September's meeting of the committee.

Commenting to the day after the committee meeting, Paul Mitchell from The Restaurant Group, said they would "proceed with the current application" which they believe is "appropriate for the area", but added that they would "continue to liaise with the Planning Officer who has been dealing with our application and take advice."

Asked whether the company had experience of opening branches in sensitive heritage sites, Mr Mitchell commented:

"As a Group we do have a number of sites in our portfolio in sensitive areas where we always work with the Local Authorities and other relevant bodies to achieve a signage scheme which is mutually acceptable to all parties.

"We always seek dialogue and guidance before an Application is submitted to ensure a successful and speedy decision and that our Advertisement Applications take into account the needs of the community in which we are operating."


16 Responses to “Councillors blast Greenwich Pier restaurant signs”

  1. Darryl on July 6th, 2012 3:16 pm

    “Well, this is Greenwich and we do not do this in Greenwich”


    So why were the buildings allowed in the first place? Why have so many poor quality buildings been approved in Greenwich and elsewhere in the borough?

    The signs were awful, but a bit of humility from the good councillor would be welcome.

    Shezara Reply:

    I agree. Was this the one about the lights on the sign? I don’t see why they’re making such a huge fuss of lighted letters when they let them stick huge restaurants there in the first place. I dont see why lights IN Frankie and Benny’s don’t seem to bother them. Sounds a bit self-righteous to me :/

  2. J on July 6th, 2012 5:25 pm

    That line is pretty amusing. Must have been said in the heat of the moment as it’s clearly rubbish. Does she never walk east for 5 minutes past the Naval College and see how drab and ugly much of East Greenwich is? How little has ever been done to improve the streetscape and urban realm? How much ugly shop fronts and street furniture there is?

    The council put their arms up and say we can’t do anything in places like that as it’s not a conservation zone etc etc. But things can be done. Where’s the application for funds to improve areas? From sources such as the GLA and it’s Local Implementation Fund, the EU, or funds from other sources such as Central Government. Yes, there have been projects but nowhere near enough.

    Reasonably simple things such as using s106 money for better paving and lighting, and removing guardrails and clutter has not been done in East Greenwich. Why? It wouldn’t cost much and would achieve a lot. Is it because there’s not enough drive from councillors and the council officers are stuck in their dated ways? The country’s moved on in terms of planning and urban design. TfL’s design principles guide shows they have moved forward. The council is stuck in the 1970s when it comes to design, except when prompted by outside help such as the Woolwich squares.

    Maybe they are aware, but the council does not really care about east Greenwich, and most of the rest of the borough? It seems they have their pet projects in West Greenwich and Woolwich and that’s about it where outside parties are in charge. On a day to days level, across most of the borough, they are pretty rubbish.

    Mary Reply:

    oh J but East Greenwich IS a conservation area – J PLEASE contact me – PLEASE
    – always interested in people who want to move east Greenwich on ==

    Nelson's Left Eye Reply:

    Mary and J,

    There was a superb articles in (braced yourself) the Daily Mail about improvements being made to shop fronts around the Olympic Park:

    As you can see, not much effort and expense has led to a dramatically improved streetscape.

    Trafalgar Road and Woolwich Road would benefit massively from a similar facelift, such as replacing cheap back-lit plastic signs with spotlit crafted boards, moving ugly metal shutters inside the shop window so window displays can remain lit and visible, and jet-washing building frontages, among other simple changes.

  3. Gordon on July 6th, 2012 5:59 pm

    I’m glad that the decision was no, not because the signs are hideous or over-bearing but because the application was submitted retrospectively. However I’m still left wondering how planning permission for those hideous buildings was given in the first place! They are completely out of keeping with Greenwich and are monstrosities!

  4. Joe Fonebone on July 6th, 2012 7:21 pm

    Regarding General Gordon / Woolwich Square; it’s a disgrace. Try dumping your old 26″ TV in the park and you’d get a fine, place a great big f*ck off TV in the middle of Woolwich though and you get plaudits, especially from the Local Tennants Association who now treat the square as their very own living room / bin. Delightful.

  5. Paul on July 7th, 2012 12:12 pm

    Why was planning permission given for the horrible pier buildings?

    Because not enough people objected!

    The councillors are pressured by their own officers, who like to wave schemes through, but if you lobby them, they nearly always listen. They cannot turn down schemes willy-nilly, because developers will appeal, and often award costs against the council. I’ve sat in on several meetings with Maureen O’Mara and she’s been great. But you have to do your bit – remember, the developers are making thousands, so they’re well-motivated – and only we can fight them.

    It’s up to all of us to keep our eyes on the developers who want to exploit Greenwich. For instance, check out this horrible scheme to knock down one othe first Victorian blocks you come to as you enter Greenwich, and replace them with insipid modern identikit buildings you could see in any new development anywhere. They would like to get rid of the last vestige of old buildings in Greenwich High Road, simply to make a quick buck. It’s application 12/1413/F

    Rob, it would be great if you could post photos, before another bit of old Greenwich is gone forever.

    Rob Powell Reply:

    Thanks Paul, took a pic today and will put this up on the site tomorrow!

  6. Bob on July 7th, 2012 4:11 pm

    Whilst I actually agree with the decision this kind of issue can easily be avoided by better communication between the planning officers and the Councillors. However with the systematic bullying culture that runs right through Greenwich Council most officers are too scared to have an open discussion with Councillors and so you have the issue described in the story above.

    The normal default position on most things is dont make a decision as then you cant be blamed for making the wrong decision. Makes you wonder what else goes on behind the Iron Curtain.

  7. Darryl on July 7th, 2012 5:08 pm

    “Why was planning permission given for the horrible pier buildings?
    Because not enough people objected!”

    The problem is that keeping track of what Greenwich Council does is almost a full-time job – and with a local press that’s historically been useless and is being squeezed by the council’s propaganda rag, it’s only really through sites like and the Greenwich Phantom that things get out.

    When the planning permission was given for the pier buildings, Greenwich didn’t even have the documents online. I wonder if they’d have got away with it if sites like this had been around then.

  8. 16" East on July 8th, 2012 12:41 pm

    Sadly ‘J’s post about East Greenwich is absolutely correct.

    The pretty side streets and river front are in complete contrast to the shocking lack of effort made on Trafalgar Road. Some local businesses have improved their lot, but many have appallingly maintained shop fronts and buildings that the council should do something about!

    The completely unnecessary railings and tatty wooden benches are an ugly embarassment, particularly right before the Olympics, and there are too many overgrown abandoned grass patches all across the ‘royal’
    borough too. Really very sad indeed.

    The only improvement I have noticed are the flowers installed along the road: a very welcome addition, but they don’t forgive everything else.

    Mary, this is a poor state of affairs.

  9. Rob on July 8th, 2012 9:36 pm

    Something relevant to improving East Greenwich came out of the written questions at the last council meeting.

    In response to a question from Cllr Eileen Glover about the Mary Portas intiative, Cllr Denise Hyland said:

    The council did not submit a proposal under the Portas pilot round 1 scheme. The council has since been approached to support a round 2 bid in respect of East Greenwich and supports this in principle subject to a review of the final drafts submission.

  10. Mary on July 9th, 2012 9:12 am

    Yes I know – and I chase things up all the time. A lot of money was spent on Trafalgar Road shops some 10-12 years ago by the then Greenwich Development Agency – and more money came 7-8 years ago and was spent in Woolwich Road through the then Government’s Liveability Scheme. While some people have put a lot of effort in there have been some problems since, which I hope will be overcome.
    What would be really good would be if people got in touch with detailed complaints and/or proposals – and I really mean that – it is much easier to take effective action if it is clear that local residents are behind you on issues.
    – and I am trying to find out what that Mary Portas bid includes.

  11. Paul Green on July 9th, 2012 11:29 pm

    Avant-Gardening is a local artist-led collective and we are currently developing a programme that will look at the relationship between residents, environment and regeneration in East Greenwich and on the Peninsula. In recent weeks we have hosted a number of walks with residents talking about what changes they would like to see in the area and these have informed some of the projects we will be seeking funding for in the coming months.
    We have also met with the schools cluster and have some ideas for working with the schools and local community to improve the built and green environment. One of our first local projects will be a programme of workshops and activities called the Greenwich Garden which will be showcased as part of the Peninsula Festival. The programme of activities will be on our website soon but in the meantime if you are interested in getting involved in our ongoing programme please drop me a line to be added to the mailing list

  12. Greenwich Council admits Run To The Beat ‘errors’ « 853 on November 1st, 2012 8:35 am

    […] hey, as she told a planning meeting in the summer: “This is Greenwich, and we do not do this in Greenwich.” Share […]