Planners poised to take pie off menu

Chips are down in battle to save historic shop
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The Independent Online
Time is running out to enjoy a last shepherd's pie and peas (price pounds 2) at Goddard's in Greenwich Church Street, reputedly the second oldest pie and mash shop in London.

If the business closes, it will be the victim of the borough council's insistence on an extra "Cutty Sark" station on the Docklands Light Railway and speculative forces unleashed when Greenwich was chosen for the Millennium celebrations.

Along with Goddard's will go other small businesses, including a second- hand bookshop, a newsagent's and an Indian restaurant, in a block of mainly 19th-century buildings.

Heritage groups are outraged. The Georgian Group has warned that clearance of the site would "severely harm Greenwich's historic and architectural character". And English Heritage (EH) has indicated that it might withdraw its funding for restoration work in the borough.

The tale of the Cutty Sark station is complex, the players are numerous and not everybody's motive is clear. A station close to the famous tea clipper was dropped from the original plan for extending the DLR under the Thames to Lewisham after it was decided the project must be privately funded.

As the only below ground station on the line it would be expensive - more than pounds 14m. The council successfully argued for its retention, but has to deliver up the site as its contribution to the development. The pie shop and its neighbours were only added to the land package after the switch to private financing.

The council has issued compulsory purchase orders for the buildings. Objections have to be lodged with the Secretary of State for the Environment by 8 November, but if they are overruled, the businesses could close within three months.

Nearby buildings are already being demolished and City Greenwich and Lewisham Rail Link Ltd, the concessionaire for the DLR extension, has applied for permission to knock down three buildings in Church Street for a station entrance.

Shopkeepers and heritage campaigners want John Gummer to order a public inquiry. Architect Ptolemy Dean of SAVE Britain's Heritage, said it was the contrast between the "grand and magnificent and the honest and vernacular rubbing shoulders" that made Greenwich special.

Edward Hill, secretary of the DLR Monitoring Group, said the council appeared to be acting as a speculator, picking off the small shops to maximise the value of the site.

Talks had taken place between council officers and retail chains attracted to Greenwich by the "Millennium wave effect", said Mr Hill, a designer with an office opposite the proposed station.

"Two or three years after the Millennium these stores would find Greenwich could not support them, but the little businesses which have survived for years would have been destroyed.."

But Pamela Goddard and her two sons intend to fight on.Some 6,000 people have signed a petition demanding a public inquiry. "Everybody wants to keep Greenwich as it is," said Mrs Goddard.

"For businesses like ours, the Millennium was the worst thing that could have happened to Greenwich."