80 more flats near Abbey Wood Crossrail and £10m upgrade to Thamesmead-Abbey Wood link


car-wash-site

Another 80 flats look to be coming to Abbey Wood. Property consultants Kingsbury have tweeted about the sale of a car wash site a short distance from the rail station for £2.8 million, at the corner of Eynsham Drive and Harrow Manorway, which is itself in line for a major upgrade (more down the page).

kingsbury-tweet

There’s not much to go one at the moment, but discussions with Greenwich Council state that around 80 homes should be suitable here. A sizeable tower looks likely. Given the proximity to the station this seems about right.

It faces onto a roundabout which like many in Greenwich borough is not pedestrian friendly. Anyone heading east-west, or north-south, must take sizeable detours around barriers, as this image shows:

harrow-manorway-crossing-2

Want to head straight on? Take a big detour.

This is viewed from Yarnton Way, near where the new library, shops and amenities will be built. Over the roundabout is the site of this proposal.

The large roundabout also wastes land that could be better organised so more space is available for development. A junction instead of a roundabout would free up additional space around the perimeter alongside benefiting pedestrians.

Newham changes

Over in Newham at the Royal Docks, Newham Council have launched a program to replace large roundabouts with junctions to increase land availability and improve connections for those on foot. They’re also removing one by Maryland station as part of Crossrail related improvement work. Greenwich Council would do well to take this into account.

Harrow Manorway

Harrow Manorway is to see £10 million on an upgrade but unfortunately keeps the roundabout in these early renders (on the left below) seen on the YourAbbeyWood site:

harrow-manorway-render

The plans look promising in regards to widening the road to enable dedicated bus lanes in both directions. Much needed as this is the main route from Thamesmead to Abbey Wood station. Segregated cycle lanes are mentioned. There’s ample space for these.

harrow-manorway

It shows hard standing materials for the central reservation. Hopefully they do not make the the same mistakes as in Plumstead and Woolwich. Landscaping became clogged with crap in no time, and council cleaners (at a premium anyway) are prevented from these area due to safety restrictions. The new one in Woolwich became messy in weeks:

central reservation

woolwich-rubbish-strewn-central-reservation_30327818366_o

Bus Lanes

Unfortunately the bus lane from Thamesmead would possibly end at the Sainsbury’s supermarket, leaving one general traffic lane in each direction and a pinch point. The road could accommodate one bus lane but it seems feasible to make one in each direction here:

harrow-manorway-sainsburys

Allowing Sainsbury’s (opened summer 2015) to be built so close to the road edge seems a mistake. The petrol station on the right will go, and the render shows a grass verge here, so presumably that could instead provide a bus lane now Sainsbury’s prevents widening on that side.

Generally the plans look very good with just a few issues which should be possible to work through. Various developments will bring in much money to help. Next to the 80 flat site is a single storey vets. It serves a crucial service but can easily be accommodated in commercial space on the ground floor of a housing development. Next to that is a single storey Lidl and car park. Again, they can be included within a mixed use scheme with housing.

Lidl did try to rebuild recently with another low density building, wasting land close to a forthcoming Crossrail station, but Greenwich Council wisely objected.

This again raises the question of the Travellers Camp. With huge population growth, severe housing pressure and demand how long can it hang on, being located so close to a major station? Housing pressure is getting to the stage where radical action is needed in many areas. Is it wise to have such a low density site there?

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Charlton Retail Park almost open bringing Next, Primark, Aldi and Mothercare (but not Ikea)

woolwich-and-charlton

Looking towards a changing Charlton

Brocklebank Retail Park in Charlton is heading towards completion with a planned opening date in early 2017. The eventual retailers planned appear to be Next, Primark, Aldi and Mothercare. Earlier plans for a Homesense shop did not proceed. This site is opposite the large Asda.

Practical completion was due to be in Autumn of this year, according to former land owner LXB, but that has been missed.

brocklebank-5

No developers money used to improve cycle lanes

LXB, who also developed other sites in Charlton such as Sainsbury’s, describe themselves as:

“a Jersey incorporated closed-ended real estate investment company, whose strategy is to invest in out-of-town and edge-of-town retail assets.”

Is the edge of zone 2 an out-of-town or edge-of-town site?

brocklebank

Whilst these shops will be of benefit to many people, it’s a shame that development did not comprise residential and placed car parking on multiple levels to use land more efficiently.

LXB sold the site which was purchased by the Charities Property Fund in December 2015.

I wonder how many backers of charities involved will be glad to know they are supporting a retail park that’ll increase traffic in an area with congestion and pollution problems?

Masterplan

This retail park displaced active industry sites, as proposed by the deeply flawed 2012 Charlton Masterplan. A replacement masterplan has been due for release ‘imminently’ for many months now. Nothing has appeared and now large swaths of other industrial land are seeing housing proposals come forward.

charlton-industry

Active industry in Charlton

I’ve said it before, but using inner city land so wastefully for giant retail barns and massive car parks with no residential element at a time of severe housing shortage whilst turning over active industrial land for residential is perhaps one of the most dated and discredited planning actions to emanate from Woolwich Town Hall in quite some time.

Any sort of modern plan would’ve combined retail and residential as one and then protected industrial land that was in use. It’s likely some would go, but not the levels now planned.

The area is also utter crap for those on foot or cyclists:

brocklebank-2

There’s a fair amount of broken street furniture between this site and the new homes being built on the Peninsula. Many, many months ago Greenwich Council were informed about it. Nothing has been done. Few crossings exist for those wanting to head here from new-builds nearby such as the Greenwich Millenium Village.

Not many will want to walk that way. For all the developments underway and bringing in money, little cash coming in from developers is allocated to improve things like this.

Housing

A couple of big schemes are now underway near to this site. The Charlton Champion site covered them here.

They are Rockwell’s scheme off Anchor and Hope Lane, and there’s a U+I scheme working alongside Royal London.

U+I were formerly the Cathedral Group. They’ve owned the nearby Morden Wharf site on Greenwich Peninsula for years now and sadly done little to develop it.

Rockwell’s scheme contradicts the earlier 2012 Masterplan’s idea for a low-rise “garden city” and terraces. That sounds lovely but London will never accommodate the 120,000 extra people living in the city each and every year by doing that, even with a much needed crack down on empty homes bought as investments. And by allowing much nearby land to be used as retail parks the scope to house people grows smaller.

Charlton Masterplan

The city will have 10 million people in little over a decade. Pretty much everywhere up to at least Zone 3 will need to see high density. The number of homes currently built is not even half of what is needed. And further sprawl is not the answer.

There’s scope for some additional housing around the city perimeter and looking again at green belt rules, but having many more people commuting for 1, 2 or more hours to work in central London is not the answer. And that’s before we even look at finite capacity on transport networks.

Some local politicians appear to be calling for low rise, low density terraced housing whilst supporting high population growth. They’ll have to make their minds up. Even if they supported policies for a reduction in population growth there’s still a massive lag in housing provision that terraces will not provide. And if they don’t, then opposing high density has even less likelihood of being feasible.

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TfL takeover of Southeastern trains in doubt

southeasten-train

I wrote back in September about how TfL’s takeover of Southeastern was looking doubtful. Click here to read. The signs were starting to look bad as far back as the summer. It now looks even worse thanks to comments from Tory MP Gavin Barwell.

Unfortunately no media outlets really looked into it and raised the issue to greater prominence when the dangers signs were flashing. The Standard, BBC London, even local press like the News Shopper all overlooked the worrying signs. Greenwich Council and others also didn’t start to raise it publicly.

Approval is needed soon. TfL have long said they need about two years to prepare a takeover, and the franchise end date was likely to be extended to November 2018 from its original June 2018 end if they were to make it. That original June 2018 end date was itself a short-term extension from 2014 due to the DfT messing up awarding other franchises.

TfL submitted a business case recently, whereby ALL costs would be borne by them and not the DfT, who must approve it, and so it was looking likely that the Autumn Statement in November would be a big date to look for an announcement to meet the two year requirement. And none was made.

To his credit Tom Edwards at BBC London did enquire and received some worrying comments from Croydon MP Gavin Barwell:

tom-edwards-tweet

Clearly this is a nonsense by the DfT. To say this when its worked wonders all over London and won’t cost the DfT a penny? Passenger numbers after TfL took over Greater Anglia in 2015 went up 27%. New trains were ordered within weeks.

You can see the BBC London article here. “Joint working” seems to have been laughed at by many since this claim was made and is a proxy for the DfT retaining control (and we know what that means, and it isn’t good).

Chris Grayling

Is this Transport Secretary Chris Grayling playing silly political games against Mayor Sadiq Khan at the expense of south east London and parts of Kent? After years of opposition even Tory Kent County Council are on board. The previous Tory Transport Secretary and Mayor were also very supportive.

Local Tory MPs will also come out looking terrible after this. Giving more years to current operator GoVia, or another group like First, will not go down well to say the least. It’s very unlikely the Department for Transport, if they retain power over awarding a franchise, will adopt a TfL fare freeze (so ever greater rises than most of London until 2020), or staff stations from first to last train for safety and reducing fare evasion, nor will the DfT go as far in ordering new stock or upgrading existing trains given their record dating back 10 years.

Local Tory MPs will suffer if a takeover is blocked by a Tory Transport Minister. Their own colleague has stitched them up. MPs like Bob Neill and David Evenett, who have supported a takeover, are left looking very silly. They may feel that Labour is no danger right now. Who knows the situation in four years? Letting the current rail mess continue will hurt them. Their current silence on any questions asked is not looking good.

High Speed 1

One other potential factor is that High Speed 1 is a money sink. The franchise operator has to pay very high fees to operate on it. Removing suburban routes from Southeastern would make finances look even worse. But it does almost nothing for south east London and places like Dartford. It seems these areas may miss out on benefits enjoyed throughout much of London due to something that it gains nothing from.

It’s hard to see a whole swath of things happening if the DfT stay in charge. Issues such as ensuring a full 12-carriage capable network by procuring more stock, rebuilding Woolwich Dockyard or new technology on existing trains allowing them to stop. Or refurbishing grotty and tired 25 year old trains. Or making the railway safe and staffed to prevent widespread fare evasion and increasing safety. Or having fares the same as most of London and not far more expensive.

And that’s before we even get to utilising land around stations to help with the housing crises. Leaving the Department for Transport and Whitehall in charge of franchising will likely be a massive opportunity lost for south east London and Kent.

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Consultation today on Tesco Lewisham housing development

There is a consultation event taking place today in Lewisham covering the development by Meyer Homes on part of the Tesco site.

conington-road

The event is at Glass Mill leisure centre today (24th November) from 2-8pm.

It appears that most of the car park is due for development. Whether Tesco construct a multi-storey car park to accommodate parking remains to be seen.

Earlier this year some early renders of the site appeared online:

meyer 2

meyer 3

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Update on £3.5 million TfL money for Greenwich Council

Yet more time has rolled by and we seem no closer to any real details. Not just of where £3.5 million will be spent but even on any sort of consultation.

Has anyone received an email reply with any real details or where feedback will be sought yet? It seems not.

What has been said by one Plumstead Councillor is that he thinks the £150,000 for Plumstead High Street will go on a 20 mph zone. This raised an eyebrow, as the £150,000 for Plumstead High Street is listed separately to 20 mph zones, as seen below:

greenwich-lip

Given the limited level of information on this spending in a short report it’s difficult to see how Councillors can make statements like this. It doesn’t give much faith in them pushing hard if they aren’t aware of things like this. Either they havn’t properly looked at the (short) report or Departments and Officers have told them something that contradicts their own report.

If it is for a 20 mph zone then does it really cost £150,000 for signs and speed bumps? Is that the most important policy for a High Street that is so neglected?

As usual with Greenwich Council, if this spending focus is correct then it focuses on what’s between the kerbs. Yes, pedestrians may benefit from slower traffic (though the traffic in that area very rarely ever reach 20 mph) but better paths and public space are an afterthought, if even considered.

Lewisham Council managed to implement a 20mph policy AND focus on improving numerous shopping and town centre areas for pedestrians through better paving, lighting, street furniture, landscaping and simply creating places that are attractive and people want to visit and spend time in.

Personally, I’d like to see £150,000 go towards Lakedale Road, which is just off the High Street where the Fire Station is. It’s a mess. It isn’t covered by any other future other schemes such as Peabody money around the station, nor cash raised by selling off council buildings in Plumstead.

Highways Committee

Yet more silence is evident in next weeks Greenwich Council Highways Committee meeting. Details of the agenda are here.

See what’s missing? Any discussion of this £3.5 million and what it covers.

This happened with previous rounds of funds too, with little analysis of spending plans and where they go occurring all the way up to April 2016 where plans were waved through almost without question.

So the wait goes on. Still no plans revealed – even early ideas with which to consult on. No comment on where or how consultation and engagement will occur.

The Cabinet Member with overview of this scheme is Sizwe James (Transport, Economy and Smart Cities) who is Councillor for Thamesmead Moorings. His email is sizwe.james@royalgreenwich.gov.uk if residents wish to enquire when information and consultation will occur with these funds.

The Cabinet member for Regeneration, which is related to these funds, is Danny Thorpe, who represents Shooters Hill. He can be emailed at danny.thorpe@royalgreenwich.gov.uk

 

 

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When a fare freeze is not a freeze…in south east London of course

Southeastern train

As you may have heard, London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced a fares freeze for next year. Some may expect, or hope, that this cover Southeastern passengers. Don’t be silly, you’ll still be paying some of the highest fares in all of London, and now even higher.

The freeze applies to the Underground, London Overground, Trams, Buses, the DLR and also some National Rail services that operate under TfL fare zone prices, such as C2C trains over in east London and Great Western passengers in the west.

Southeastern, under Department for Transport policy, will put an extra 10p on every journey. A journey such as Abbey Wood to Woolwich Arsenal goes from £1.80 to £1.90 off-peak. Yet another near 5% annual rise.

In most of London a Tube or Overground trip is only £1.50 off-peak no matter what distance, providing it doesn’t go through Zone 1.

A TfL takeover of Southeastern really can’t come soon enough. Central Government, through the Department for Transport, still wont confirm as time ticks away.

Examples

To highlight the unfair system now in place, just over the river on C2C trains, a single Oyster trip from Zone 6 to Zone 2 is £2.80 in the peak or £1.50 off-peak. This is due to that franchise using TfL fare prices.

Cross the river, and Southeastern passengers pay £4.30 in the peak or £2.70 off-peak.

And to add insult to this injury these higher fares go up 10p, whilst the cheaper fares elsewhere are frozen.

Changing to the tube

Another way south east Londoners using trains are charged higher fares is when changing to the tube. Do so when you get to, say, London Bridge to head to St Pancras, and your off-peak £2.80 fare goes up to £4.10.

This £1.50 surcharge doesn’t apply to C2C passengers, nor Great Western, nor those on the DLR or Overground. Fortunately this doesn’t look like rising 10p, but the vast discrepancy remains and will do so until the Department for Transport aren’t in control of services.

Greater Anglia takeover

As I’ve said before, those lucky people in east London saw TfL takeover some Greater Anglia services in 2015. Almost immediately TfL set to work and ordered new trains. They also hired staff to supervise stations from first to last trains. Passenger numbers rose 27% in a year. Now they get a fare freeze.

Southeastern may have been in with a chance of TfL taking over in 2014, but our old friends at the Department for Transport messed up awarding the Virgin West Coast franchise, which meant all others were put on hold and delayed. This gave Southeastern three more years, which many are paying for day in and day out.

Will the DfT finally allow south east London rail users the perks enjoyed in many other places in London? Time is rapidly running out. It’s Autumn Statement day tomorrow. Let’s hope a takeover is approved, or many more years of higher fares and sub-standard services will be the case for many in this part of London.

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Recent approvals of housing developments in Thamesmead and Woolwich

Three reasonably large developments were recently approved by Greenwich Council. This post has been on the back burner for a couple of weeks so this isn’t exactly breaking news, but they’re worth highlighting.

Woolwich Ogilby site

ogilby 2

Starting in Woolwich and two developments were approved earlier this month, one of which at the Ogilby site near the Town Hall and Woolwich Centre at the second time of asking. The original application was refused given the low level of affordable housing (21%) which was revised up to 35%. A good success for the council Planning Board.

This development rises up to 13 storeys and contains 116 homes.

ogilby-overview

It has a solid form and seems ideal in height for a town centre site. The nearby Tesco site and 1960s high rise block ensure tall does not look out of place.

Albion tower

resturant-tower-render-3

40 flats were approved in a 13-storey tower in Woolwich, close to Charlton. You can see the listed chimney on the right in the above image, which is seen when heading from Woolwich towards Charlton. The towers outlined behind in the above image are replacements for those that’ll be demolished at Morris Walk estate, as part of the “One Woolwich” scheme to rebuild three estates.

resturant-tower-render-4

A commercial unit will be located at street level.

The Reach

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Over in Thamesmead and 66 flats were approved in the initial stage of development at Peabody’s Housing Zone sites in Greenwich borough. 1500 homes will be built in total.

This is 100% “affordable”, though only 21% are actually classified as social rent. The rest will still not be affordable to many.

One crucial issue to overcome here is poor walking links to Plumstead station which will also impact upon Peabody’s homes for nearly a 1000 just south of here by Plumstead bus garage.

Earlier this year it was envisaged that a design team would have been installed in late summer/early autumn and engagement would be underway with the public on improving pedestrian links from these Thamesmead developments to Plumstead station. Those plans seem behind schedule.

There are 37 car parking spaces planned. Slightly more than half the 66 flats planned, but those 37 spaces also include 4 for a commercial unit. With poor connections to stations, High Street shops and amenities this will be an issue unless links are improved in the near future.

Completion is planned for 2018.

Developer Contributions

The Albion tower in Woolwich should mean some money for improvements in the local area. An off-putting pedestrian underpass below the station will hopefully see some improvements, as will local parks. Unfortunately Greenwich Council seem once again to have neglected to use incoming developer monies to improve local areas at other sites. TfL will be doing so in Woolwich. Hopefully the tower improvements are a sign of change rather than a blip.

Greenwich Council not utilising money from developers to improve areas around new housing developments has been a common theme for many years. I’m working on a post which highlights the approach taken in Greenwich borough compared to other London boroughs.

It highlights how consultation with the public on spending this income lags far behind other councils, and how money is spent differs markedly too. Locals often see not benefit. The public realm around developments have too often seen little to no investment.

There’s some eye-opening examples to be highlighted.

 

 

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