Wednesday, March 24, 2010

New developments: Greenwich High Road part 2

Further to my post on Greenwich High Road last week, the Deptford Dame has commented to say she has just done some serious digging on the subject. Thanks, Dame, that's a great bit of research and the first time I've seen any pictures...At the risk of sending readers away from our own pages, you can see the Dame's post here where she has put up some pix of the development (which I am tempted to steal and post here – but I feel much too indebted to her to do that whoever the hell she is).

As one of the Dame's readers has commented, it all looks horribly bland, but I am relieved that the looming monster I can currently see from my window is not going to get much taller.

Whilst the Dame was making investigations of her own, I was having a word with Friends of the Creek Chair, Julian Kingston, who said:

"Mainly I see it as a battle lost. Friends of the Creek's only use now is to hold up (our campaign against this development) as an example of how vile all the upcoming developments have the potential to be when you strip away the developer bullshit. There is an ever-stronger argument for councillors on the planning committees to have some sort of training rather than just being bought and paid for. And, more importantly, a complete rethink of how the public have an input. 

"The Sustainable Communities Act already gives the powers to do this but the councils hate it as it started life as a private members bill sponsored by C.A.M.R.A. of all people ! As a result they're chucking up smoke and mirrors frantically whilst their chums in this rotten government table amendment after amendment to remove any balls it might have had."

I was intrigued that Julian mentioned CAMRA. I'd been doing some digging myself, looking at Jack Petchey who now has a 45% holding in Galliard Homes, responsible for many of the developments round here. Last year Petchey sold his overseas property investment portfolio in order to "make the most of opportunities in the UK" (cheap property prices in the recession) and bought into Galliard. Petchey's 'overseas property' business was in Timeshares. You probably don't remember John 'Goldfinger' Palmer, billionnaire timeshare fraudster, 105th on the Sunday Times Rich List in 2001 when he was arrested for timeshare fraud in Tenerife. (I won't say 'google him' cos Google is so useless these days, his story has been buried and it's not even clear if he's still in jail after being rearrested in 2007 after going free after the first conviction in 2001). Petchey has never been charged with fraud – he is a much lauded public benefactor, especially in youth sponsorship. I have had to stick his nasty logo on many a project I've worked with. If you Google him, you are blinded by his laundering of profits, oops, sorry, good deeds.

Foreign timeshare always looked like a dodgy proposal to me but it is not much different to being a leaseholder anywhere in the UK. In particular the Right To Buy given to council house tenants was sold in the same way as Time Share was sold to folk who wanted a guaranteed two weeks a year in the sun (ie Spain and Portugal) but couldn't afford to buy a property outright. They discovered sooner or later that their modest investment was going to cost them the same again in maintenance fees which would continue to increase beyond inflation anywhere except Zimbabwe.

For social housing leaseholders, the increase in maintenance fees was certainly not anticipated by the low income folk who took up the RTB, nor indeed, by the young first time buyers who have seen their service charges double in the past three years. Perhaps like the pensioners now held to ransom by major works charges, Petchey's Timeshare victims found that if they wanted out of escalating service charges, their only option was to release the property back to the management company (him) for nothing, which many of them did since the effort required to fight a legal battle was beyond them. The fact that a legal battle was quietly gathering force may have encouraged him to sell it off. Who knows, perhaps the new owners of Petchey's estates will finally capitulate, like the new owners of Thames Water did or had to (resulting in the renewal of our sewer pipes, after over 20 years of non-maintentance, but that's another subject)...

Now where is CAMRA in all this? Well it turns out timeshares ain't the only place Petchey has been making millions. In fact it was small fry. Apart from lending money to debt ridden football clubs with massive and severe penalty clauses that increased their debt, and God knows what else, he's been 'investing in pubs' in a big way. So has his not-so-new mate Galliard Homes' director Stephen Conway. Both have been buying up pubs and turning them into flats. When they're not doing that, they're taking advantage of the special tenant landlord relationship. CAMRA have been fighting back, not least because 39 pubs are closing down every week now.

It's quite a complicated subject but if you're interested go to CAMRA's site and download the campaign info. It's not a new story, but if you're new to it, get started with this from blogger JQP in his post 'Ties That Bind II' , written in July last year:

"In recent years the pub trade, for many of the major players, has not been about ale or lager. The game, which has attracted speculators such as Stephen Conway of Galliard Homes, and tycoons Jack Petchey and Robert Tchenguiz, was a lucrative property play, while the boom lasted, in which rents were unaffected by normal market forces and pub tenants were forced to pay ludicrous wholesale beer prices through the system known as “the tie”. — Private Eye, 1240

"The tie system is run to benefit the property speculator over the landlord in a cosy cartel of the kind one expects in a banana republic. Rents in the pub trade are not subject to market forces (we can’t have that when it might work in the favour of the employee, rather than the employer). They are set based on an assessment of potential turnover that is made by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, who have a department specifically for pubs. Until recently, this body was overseen by Rob May FRICS, who was also the national rent controller for … er … Enterprise Inns.
"New Labour encouraged, some might say over-inflated, both the property and City booms of the last 15 years, because they needed the money. They needed a very fluid, very active property market, and they encouraged it with tax breaks and other regulatory modifications designed to encourage business ownership of property as an asset (buy-to-let mortgages for example) as opposed to private ownership of property for personal residence and security...."

OK, that's one man's point of view, let's see what happens to this pub, possibly in one of the worst locations in Deptford you can imagine, but very close to Drake Apartments (2-bed £67K-£222K 30% share part buy/part rent with priority to keyworkers), the Galliard development on Evelyn Street (er...Greenwich SE8).

It's being marketed by Paramount Investments. I've lost the will to live to find out who they are.

Lord Clyde, Wotton Road. 3500sqft. £325,000 Freehold without planning permission.
Freehold public house for sale subject to occupational tenancy until 2014 at a current rent of £5,993pa. In addition the purchaser will have the benefit of substantial additional income from beer sales. The property represents excellent value for continued licensed use/owner occupation. There is also enormous potential for redevelopment (residential/commercial/mixed use) subject to gaining the appropriate Local Authority consents....Planning consent is not required for change to A1 (shops), A2 (financial and professional services) or A3 (restaurants and cafes).

Paramount Investments have a nice essay about investing in pubs here..."Freehold pubs and hotels are now prime targets for the savvy property investor as buying a pub is likely to work out cheaper on a pounds per sq ft basis than buying a house in the same street." 
TOO RIGHT, mate!

Quick Julia, get in there! New art gallery! Shipwrights, anyone? Council???? Community leaders???!!!


  1. Thanks Sue, all very interesting additions to the debate. There is certainly huge opportunity for corruption among councillors; my father was shocked by the blatant approaches he received from property developers when he took over as leader of a town council. He had only been in the position for a few days when he received his first lunch invitation apropos of nothing specific, and found himself having to turn down several similar invites as the weeks went on.

  2. Not to say all this isn't true and interesting, but I would worry about writing anything derogatory about Petchey. He has his henchmen (allegedly) and the finance to sue anybody in court and probably would win with great cost to the defendant. Also you would be up against the facts about his charitable work with the youth in the East End who benefit from his wealth.
    Better to leave it to Private Eye!

  3. Sounds tetchy, this Petchey....

  4. I wonder what will happen to Maloney's Famous Fight Factory if the pub is sold?!

  5. Maloney's Famous Fight Factory? Is that the old White Swan re-baptised as the Miller's Arms and currently terminal, or the Rose of Denmark, re-baptised as number neufty-neuf (Well, I don't know) which is still open? Having eaten there once, I add, AMAZINGLY....

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  7. Unhappy Galliards customersMonday, January 17, 2011

    Not connnected with this development. We bought a Galliards property and I can tell you we are having so many problems with them and their agents. All, I can say is don't buy a property from these people.

  8. Unhappy Galliards customers, do you want to write to us privately (and anonymously) with your story? Even though you say it's not this development, and may not even be in the area, we'd be's probably not so different to the problems other people have with new developments and their agents. Email if you think we can highlight your problem.