I’ve been delving some more into Greenwich council’s ‘detailed’ plans about where the £2.5 million funds will be spent this coming year.
In this year’s plan under ‘stated local objectives’ there is scarce mention of making streets attractive through better design. There’s nothing mentioned regarding rejuvenating grim areas, this year or next. The few mentions of the appeal of streets is in stark contrast to Lewisham and Bexley, where the terms ‘design’ and ‘public realm’ come up throughout documents. Secondary shopping areas and spaces around stations in Lewisham such as Sydenham, Ladywell, Deptford and Brockley have all received cash to smarten up, or will be very soon. Greenwich priorities are elsewhere. It could be a focus but isn’t. It’s a choice. They are seemingly happy with the state of places. One of the only mentions is this -
‘A significant number of our streets have been renewed under the previous 3 year LIP programme. This has included major improvements in parts of Woolwich town centre with the regeneration of the squares and surrounding areas’.
Yet that scheme was mainly funded from money out of a different pot – the Mayor of London and the Greater London Authority’s 100 public squares project. And ‘significant number of streets renewed’? Where are those? Renewed clearly doesn’t mean visual or usability improvements. There’s precious little evidence out there of that.
So then, onto some of the various sections of the report.
‘Schemes have been completed in the following principal roads over the last 4 year period: Bugsby’s Way, Carlyle Road, Kidbrooke Park Road, Woolwich High Street, Woolwich Road, Trafalgar Road, Court Road, Woolwich Church Street, Harrow Manor Way, Shooters Hill and Eastern way.’
This must have just been laying new tarmac. Little has been done to make these streets less ugly.
There is mention of completion of the ‘Ridgeway’ Greenways scheme. Assuming this is the ridgeway running from Plumstead station to the sewage works in Thamesmead, then this is a stretch I wrote about in a previous blog post. It would be nice to improve the link from Plumstead station which is currently awful. This is the first impression of Plumstead (a busy station with a million users a year) when leaving the station -
One of the most promising sections of the entire report is ‘ We are proposing to introduce ‘light’ segregation where funding for full separation is not available. This will include ‘armadillos’, traffic ‘wands’, splitter islands or similar on identified routes. Locations where this could be trialled ‘principal cycle routes’ funding include Rochester Way and the A206 (Woolwich Road/Plumstead Road). Studies are taking place during 2013/14 to inform the detailed 2014/15 programme at present under these areas’.
I previously wrote about how Plumstead Road is a perfect place for a segregated lane, after the bodge job that was carried out 10 years ago at a cost of millions (very possibly funded by Local Implementation Funds whilst neighbouring estate areas in Plumstead/Woolwich were in a very sorry state).
Greenwich’s plans for Crossrail related improvements in Abbey Wood are mentioned less in Greenwich’s document than Bexley’s. This despite the station being in Greenwich borough and it being a great chance to regenerate Abbey Wood.
‘A range of schemes will also look to support and strengthen access to our new Crossrail stations at Woolwich and Abbey Wood. These include a number of walking and cycling initiatives, the Plumstead Road Major Schemes bid, and a discrete budget each year for Crossrail complimentary measures studies to augment the wider, separate funding opportunities available’.
One of the only times Abbey Wood is mentioned throughout, whether relating to Crossrail or not. Despite pretty much the whole place being in dire need of investment. I don’t think many in the council even knows it is under their control, such is the sense of abandonment.
There is also £230k for controlled parking zones. No mention of where though? Bizarre. Maybe Abbey Wood. Ignore all the crap everywhere and stick in a load of parking metres and signs in their own inimitable way.
A decent chunk of money -£450k – is for local schemes. More guardrails and clutter? That’s usually the case. The safety plan actually has the roads where money will be spent, but nothing on what exactly the money is to go towards. They are Plumstead Common Road, Beresford Street and a section of Shooters Hill Rd.
Here’s some pics of Plumstead Common Road. You can tell it’s in Greenwich by the masses of railings lining the road. Unpainted and the cheapest possible of course. Below that is an image of the shopping parade on the road.
This is a fine building. Big fail at street level though with ground floor units and their frontages not matching the quality of the building above. Plus the expanse of tarmac outside. Maybe use money to plant trees and have better lights? A few more of the road below
Then there are the 20mph zones. One is Broadwater Road in Thamesmead. It has newly installed, pointless railings, that impede wheelchairs.
They randomly put in wooden bollards scattered along the road. Note that further along to these there are none so they do nothing. Also by double yellows so why would people park there anyway? Also spot the large amount of weeds.
Then there’s Begbie Road down for 20mph, which already has speed bumps.
Next up is Calderwood Street in Woolwich for the 20mph treatment. Yet it is heavily used by buses. Unless they make the same mistake they did with the 469 route in Abbey Wood/Plumstead where Greenwich Council installed some, they damaged buses, so had to remove then re-do at a cost of thousands.
Calderwood Street is actually one of the best streets in Woolwich so why is it a priority? Pleasingly devoid of visual intrusions through excess mess and clutter. Always had a better feel to it than other areas of Woolwich due to that. Also had some relatively recent work.
So where isn’t mentioned at all? Abbey Wood’s four shopping parades get no mention. They are the ‘village’ area around the station, McLeod Road parade, Eynsham Drive parade, and Grovebury Road parade, along with with just about every street which needs improvements. All in dire need. Yet nothing. Look at these pics
Ugly, dangerous, sharp spikes, common place everywhere in Abbey Wood. Illegal parking blocking pedestrians. Same thing – common all over.
Other areas in need that won’t see better streets -
New Eltham – nothing.
Area around Coldharbour library – nothing
Plumstead Corner, High Street & station area – nothing
Charlton station – nothing
Removing the railings is such an easy win. This is an area with a library, major bus stops, quite a few shops, near a station, and with a reasonably large amount of people walking by each day and it’s left to get like that. Ample funds have been available to sort it and nothing has happened. Just 20k from that £2.5m to cut some down would bring about a big improvement, improving the crossing for pedestrians.
And the many, many run down estates – nothing.
The thing is, they would never get away with installing crap, or the mass neglect, in Greenwich town centre. There is good paving there, nice lighting, and few railings. On the road on the right in the image below, lights are attached to buildings and strung over the road, so less lighting poles providing visual clutter and pedestrian obstruction. Elsewhere there are attractive lamps.
If they can do it there they can adopt those same principles everywhere. Perhaps with less of a budget, but then with so many millions each year from various funds the standards should still be high. As soon as you pass the Naval College site it’s immediate that interest and care towards quality public realm disappears.
There needs to be a shift so that all areas of the borough enjoy improvements, not just the favoured three spots. There also needs to be a culture shift inside the council before improvements are realised, as they seem to be following the same old path as most of the borough declines, along with the reputation it has amongst residents and visitors.
Maybe there’s hope. It does say ‘We will be producing a new Streetscape Design Guide over the coming financial year to ensure a standardised and high quality specification for all forthcoming street renewal programmes’.
This is welcome and I hope there is fresh thinking in the council, but why has it taken so long? They are years behind.
In the next post I will look at future plans mentioned within the report. Money will be heavily focused upon Woolwich, Eltham and Greenwich. I will also show some examples of public realm improvements that would be great to see across Greenwich.