Greenwich from sea and air

I’ve recently had a little foray onto both Thames Clipper boats and the Cable Car. And better still, it was just before sunset on a beautifully sunny, early autumn day. As I took a few photos, I thought I will stick some up to show how some developments are coming along.

First up is Enderby Wharf. Pretty swift progress has been made so far on the first stage:


This is phase 1. Phase 2 includes towers and the cruise liner terminal, and will be located in the foreground. A closer look at phase 1:


There’s one more riverside block to come which commences in 2017.

Beside Enderby is “River Gardens“. The third large block has just been completed here, as seen on the left in this shot:river-gardens-2

The remaining plots have recently been purchased by Bellway Homes who are proposing some relatively small changes including an increase in flats, which I’ll cover in a future post.


The future stages of “River Gardens” will sit in the gap seen above.

Greenwich Millenium Village’s next stage is well under construction, as seen below:


The river frontage is awful on those parts already completed. The areas facing in-land are far better.

This (poor) shot below shows the orange and yellow blocks of Enderby, the fantastic new energy centre tower/chimney and also looks like work has begun on “Precision“.precision

This is a development that will comprise a green tower. There’s certainly a lot of colour appearing in the area. Despite expectations I’m not minding the colours of Enderby. It relieves the tedium of too many drab shades, as seen as River Gardens for example. Here’s how Precision will appear:



Beside these sites is the vast Morden Wharf plot. U&I purchased this years ago and have done very little since. No public plans, no consultations. Just a lick of paint on an old building.

It’s worth noting that none of these developments are part of the 16,000 home Knight Dragon plan. When infrastructure needs for the Peninsula are discussed the 16k homes figure is often referenced as if that’s the entire total. The actual total number of homes coming is higher.

Over the other side of the Peninsula we can see Knight Dragon developments:



Here’s how the blocks beside the o2 will appear when complete:


The first two are well underway and site preparation underway for the third. The view when leaving the ferry terminal:


There’s more photos on my Flickr page here


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The rest of Abbey Wood town centre improvements revealed

Last week a consultation was held about Crossrail related improvements around Abbey Wood station. Around £6 million is to be spent but it does not cover 90% of the shopping parade beside the station. However today plans have been revealed:



Here’s how it currently looks:

Abbey Wood village

AW village (2)

Clearly a big need for improvement. I covered last weeks consultation here but noted that the scheme to improve most of Wilton Road (the 90% of the street not touched by Crossrail work) was absent, despite work starting soon. The boundary between Bexley and Greenwich borough’s runs right along the middle.


Area covered in last weeks consulation

Fortunately plans for the rest of Wilton Road look very good. High quality paving and street furniture are to be used. Here’s the link to Greenwich Council’s press release where it states these improvements will be made:

  • New high-specification York stone footway paving
  • Rationalised street furniture and de-cluttering
  • Improved energy efficient street lighting
  • New tree planting
  • New carriageway surface
  • New seating areas and cycle parking
  • Creation of more space for pedestrians than the current through-road provides.

Greenwich Council are taking the lead and have done a very good job. Credit where credit’s due – I often criticise the design of pedestrian infrastructure, public space and streets across the borough, but this looks to be of a good standard. It appears there are none of those rubbish wooden bollards, for example, that are seen all over that can’t withstand a slight knock, discolour quickly and look a bit cheap even though they are more expensive than a lot of sturdier and more attractive types.

The council press release states plans are on display at:

  • The Abbey Arms Public House, Wilton Road SE2 9RH
  • The Abbey Wood Community Centre, 4 Knee Hill, Abbey Wood SE2 0YS.

However no times are mentioned. Work will begin in early 2017 and complete in March 2017.

The area has long needed a big improvement. £300,000 has been spent (£150k from the GLA with £75k from both boroughs) on improving some shop exteriors but the impact has been pretty limited. It’s dominated by chains with garish and poor quality shop fronts and so far no work has happened there.

One other spot that needs work is the alley leading off the street. It’s a popular access route to the shops and station for many but is dingy and off-putting.

Hopefully BT, whose exchange pens in the pedestrian route, will allow widening or even vacate in years to come to enable large scale development to open up the space. It’s directly beside the station, and developers would pay a healthy sum for it. There’s not many spots left in London directly beside stations that are 10 minutes to Canary Wharf.



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Greenwich car park to become housing and shops


Plans are in to build a commercial unit and flats on a car park opposite the former Arches Leisure Centre in Greenwich.

The plans appear to suggest the commercial space will be one unit. A supermarket perhaps? It’s a pretty conservative design, as may be expected close to the World Heritage site.


Car park site on left

I’m a bit surprised they havn’t tried to push the roofline up another level.

The car park site is pretty small. Further up is another car park. Is this council owned?



It’s a large site and I’m surprised it hasn’t been sold for housing. It shouldn’t be beyond the realms of possibility to incorporate a basement and ground floor car park behind commercial units, to mitigate against a loss of parking space, with housing above.

There’s also a petrol station in between the two car parks which accommodates a large area of land. I wonder how long that will last.

The planning reference is: 16/2555/F. Click here to see.

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Abbey Wood street improvements on display


Plans to improve the area around the station in Abbey Wood are now on display at Sainsbury’s Abbey Wood – until 5pm on Sunday. Much of the work is focused on the flyover over the station but a small section is covered to the south in the area up to the Abbey Arms pub (as seen above) and a larger stretch on Felixstowe Road to the north. The work is due to kick off next month.

A separate scheme to upgrade the rest of Abbey Wood’s main shopping street beside the station, Wilton Road, is noticeably absent from this consultation. With work there due to begin before the end of the month, just what is going to happen? Greenwich and Bexley borough’s have revealed no information whatsoever to the public.

If Greenwich Highways Department have a big influence I’m wary. Will the project use poor and dated paving as seen elsewhere, and cheap and ugly street furniture and lighting? I hope not, but revealing nothing so late in the day, coupled with a very poor record doesn’t perhaps bode well.

Back to the Crossrail scheme, and much is very good and will be a huge boost. Here’s how Felixstowe Road will look:


There’s some potential issues. The extensive paving will become a car park in no time unless bollards are installed and Greenwich Council enforce parking rules. The mass of paving on the left is in Greenwich borough. The area on the right is Bexley borough.

Just before current work begun one bollard was removed on the Greenwich side. Almost immediately up to half a dozen cars at a time drove up on the pavement at times and blocked pedestrian access to the northern station entrance. You’d be hard pressed to find worse driving and parking than in this area. If they think some of the more selfish and idiotic drivers will obey the road and not drive on paving they are mistaken.


There’s a two-way cycle lane installed last year as part of Sainsbury’s-related road changes which runs almost to the point above. There’s space here for many more cycle racks. Some are located on the flyover but why many would pedal up a hill to reach them and end up sweating if you could park here is beyond me.


The area under the flyover needs improving too. LED lights could improve this dark and dingy spot:


This has happened under a number of Network Rail bridges in Southwark. Here’s one example. Southwark Council had a whole program to improve areas under bridge called “art under the arches”. The website states:

“The regeneration projects were delivered to improve the safety of the routes beneath the viaducts in Bankside, and since completion, the number of people passing through the arches has increased substantially. The four bridges are located at Dolben Street, Treveris Street, Burrell Street, and Gambia Street.”

Here’s the planned timeline for Crossrail work:


Bus hold ups?

Another possible issue is altering some stretches of road to single lane on the flyover. It’s currently two lanes each way. Reducing the number of lanes down to one will increase traffic, possibly holding up buses heading to the station:


It should be ok, though they’ll very likely be a large increase in buses serving the station as TfL adjust routes up to 2018. The advent of Crossrail will likely see more cars heading here too. Add in Peabody’s development of thousands of new homes just to the north, and things like Abbey Wood’s proposed tower, and car use is likely to rise. Many more people (and at least 11k homes could be coming to Thamesmead) also means more heading to the Sainsbury’s just north of here too.

Unless buses have a dedicated lane all along Harrow Manorway and the flyover they could be slowed down substantially. Which in turn will make more turn to cars.

A website for these schemes is here. It may still be in preview mode in which case the password is Bexley1617

Bexley is Bonkers has also covered this as well as issues such as a potential extension of Crossrail east to Belvedere, Erith, and Slade Green. Bexley Council now plan on 22,000 new homes around Erith and Belvedere stations. This from TfL’s report into taking over Southeastern:


Unfortunately the design of the station has just seen a massive lump of concrete installed where any eastbound track would run.

On the whole this improvement project around Abbey Wood will be a huge boost for the area. There’s a few issues that could have a big negative impact if they aren’t picked up. Location and number of cycle racks, prevention of poor parking, congestion blocking buses hampering usage and the like.

And aside from that, how can no information be made public just days before a large scheme kicks off that has the potential to transform a main street in a large town? The fact no public information is out there about Wilton Road’s £400k public realm upgrade is a sign of a council that isn’t functioning well. Or certainly one that lacks a culture of transparency.

It’s great that money was found for the area (though £400k to cover 90% of the main street verses £6 million for the immediate environment around the station may not be enough) but they have to engage with people.

It’s not the only example. £3million is to be spent around Plumstead station next spring. Where’s the information, where’s the consultation? Trying to get information from Plumstead Councillors draws no response.


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TfL submit proposal for Southeastern rail takeover – will the Government agree?


TfL have submitted their case for taking over Southeastern rail services. They are Metro services to Dartford, Hayes, and Orpington but also Gravesend and Sevenoaks. They’d take over specifying rolling stock, fares, staffing, and certain service levels from the Department for Transport.

Since taking over West Anglia lines in 2015 they have seen a 27% increase in passengers. Fare evasion has reduced from 15% to 2%. They predict a 14% increase with Southeastern.

Recently it has appeared as though the Government and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has been luke-warm at best. I covered this and how damaging it could be to the whole area here.

TfL are looking to takeover on 10th November 2018. The delay in approving the changeover means six months longer with SE which will please many I’m sure. The danger there, aside from their usual weak service provision, is that extra time could see a winding down on maintenance and staff hiring and retention as seen elsewhere. Southeastern’s parent company is GoVia, who complained recently when taking over Thameslink that the previous incumbent (First Group) had let driver numbers decline.

Here’s a list of possible improvements that TfL could provide:


It also mentions an interchange at Brockley between London Overground and routes such as Dartford to Victoria.

Lewisham could do with an upgrade and general clean up:


Sadly there’s no mention of upgrading Woolwich Dockyard station to take 12-carriage trains or relocating the station closer to the thousands of new homes coming as Morris Walk estate is redeveloped, and Charlton Riverside plans which bring 5,000 more homes. Other towers are also proposed in the area.

The plans would not cost the Department for Transport a penny. Any additional costs would be borne by TfL:


Some previous sticking points such as objections from Kent have been overcome.

The report mentions Erith and Belvedere homes. 2000 being built now is just the start. I covered new housing in the area here.


There seems some confusion as to whether Thameslink plans would see cuts at those stations from six to four trains an hour. I’d expect that TfL in charge would do a lot more to prevent that.

Housing boost

The report mentions a lack of joined-up thinking at the moment with the DfT specifying rail services with minimal knowledge of house building plans. Bringing transport and housing plans under one organisation would do much to speed up delivery.

They mention the number of homes built around the DLR and underground. However they claim 15,000 are being built on the Peninsula. It’s actually 21,000. Let’s hope they aren’t basing Jubilee Line future demand on that 15,000 number. It’s this very high number that means a ferry to Canary Wharf, as proposed last week, is not enough to supplement the Jubilee Line. A bridge is needed.

Greenwich Millenium Village

However, if walking and cycling links between the southern end of the Peninsula and Southeastern (or TfL) stations at Westcombe Park and Maze Hill were to be improved, more people at the Greenwich Millenium Village, Morden Wharf, Enderby Wharf etc. developments would use trains. Many are around 10 minutes walk away.

Kidbrooke tower

There’s much scope to build high density housing beside lines and around stations. Plans at Kidbrooke are one such scheme. This land is split between Network Rail and TfL. I covered this proposal here.

Prime spots such as Greenwich also have underused Network Rail land directly beside the station:


Development could fund the installation of barriers at this station and others, which would reduce fare evasion as levels are very high on Southeastern London routes. Over the river it reduced from 15% to 2-3% in a year with lines out of Liverpool Street as TfL staff stations from first to last train.


With capacity at London terminals already at capacity additional peak time services would be a long way off. However off-peak can be worked on. TfL mention how things like extra staffing can help dispatch quicker. Other things to increase capacity include additional trains to utilise infrastructure such as 12-carriage platforms and refurbishing trains.

One odd thing is their map of current SE London services is flat out wrong:


It suggests three trains an hour go via Lewisham on the Woolwich line with three going to Cannon Street. It’s six an hour to Cannon Street and two via Lewisham to Charing Cross.

A big boost is suggested for services to Victoria. The current two an hour via Bexleyheath would rise to six – three via Bexleyheath and three via Sidcup.



All day staffing also means disabled people can be assisted on to trains as and when they arrive rather than needing to book 24 hours in advance.

Older people get free travel for longer, though I will annoy some here and say I’m really not sure about that. Should, say, a wealthy 61 year old on 50k a year, plus a home rising by 10% a year for a decade or two, get free travel whilst a 25 year old on 25k, where pay rises look like a distant dream, pay over a grand a year in transport?

They’ll likely have a £20k student loan repayment taking 9% more out of their wages each month and for whom owning their own home is an impossibility. Where even renting anything but a tiny room in a flat share way out past zone 5 takes up a large bulk of their wages. I’m not sure it’s fair to deprive them of the chance of seat for people who are far wealthier to then get free transport.

Cheaper fares

Another benefit TfL claime is integrating into TfL’s fares structure which would save people a fair amount. Some non-TfL franchises serving London do already do this (such as First Great Western and c2c) meaning passengers do not pay more when they switch from train to tube, for example. SE passengers pay £1.50 extra each time they do in central London. However, I very much doubt the DfT would push this on any franchise so a TfL takeover would be beneficial.

The report comprehensively sets out the benefits that can be brought to South East London and the positive record of TfL elsewhere. The only reason this wont happen is if ideological stupidity or petty games block it. And if that happens you’ll have Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to blame. The ball is now in the Department for Transport’s court.

EDIT: Another snippet of info I didn’t mention is an extension of Oyster to  Stone Crossing, Greenhithe, Swanscombe and Northfleet.

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Problems with Greenwich Council’s Housing Department

Greenwich walk (7)

Greenwich Council held a meeting last week looking at housing. Well, scrutinising the Housing Department to be precise and the Cabinet member responsible, Averil Lekau. And it looks like they aren’t scrutinising well enough.

For a long time it’s been obvious that council maintained spaces surrounding blocks of flats are generally in poor condition. Greenwich Council’s Housing Department is often the responsible body. Yet talking to some staff as I’ve done in the past, they sometimes give the impression that they don’t seem to know that, which explains the state of many areas of greenery, landscaping, walls, paths, fences and the like. They think only the building is their responsibility. It explains much.

Scrutiny and questions

So when a meeting is held which scrutinises the Housing Department and its work, you’d hope that this element of their function would be covered and questions asked of poor performance. After all it was the first meeting in three months. Well, it wasn’t looking at the agenda.

Go to pretty much any estate or public space across the borough and it’s in poor condition. Often dangerous. Often un-safe and enough to prevent parent letting their kids play. Or such a mess it attracts other issues (fly tipping etc) or even bad enough to put people off walking or cycling. The effects go a lot further than it looking a mess. If it stops kids playing or people walking then there’s health impacts.

Much like Highways Department, who sometimes give the impression that only what’s between kerbs and not the entire street (including paving and other spaces) is their domain, the Housing Department only seem concerned about the buildings themselves and not the space around them they should be managing (and even then that’s debatable).

And the failure of scrutiny panels means this isn’t being tackled.

But it does help explain the crap management of so many areas around estates and housing. Areas like this in Greenwich in the shadow of large new developments:

A mess

Broken bricks and masonry are widespread

Greenwich walk (5)

This patch above is a direct link from the new Creekside flats to Cutty Sark DLR and Greenwich Town Centre station. It should be appealing and attractive to use. It’s dead land as things stand.

Many walls and fences are falling apart. Pop a few hundred metres west into Lewisham Borough and maintenance and environmental quality is far higher. Here’s Crossfields estate:


Decent quality materials and street furniture are evident. Most is in decent condition – the broken walls, fences seen all over Greenwich are generally absent. Landcaping is good. There’s evidence of some design knowledge. It’s not perfect of course but standards are generally much higher and you get the impression whoever designed this has half a clue.


An appealing play park is located here with well maintained hedges and fencing. Even the simple things like bollards aren’t the nasty wooden ones Greenwich are obsessed with. Incidentally, the crap ones Greenwich use are actually more expensive than 90% on the market and they do love them:

Abbey Wood bollards

Back to crap Housing Department maintained land, and this is Plumstead/Woolwich:

polthorne estate

Abbey Wood:


Plumstead. Google shows the fence was broken for at least three years with no work done. Presumably they aren’t doing basic audits of their assets:


The entrance to the buildings and external environment is bleak and dated. How about using some of the Section 106 millions from developers to improve this like other boroughs have?




But really, you don’t need more pics. Pass many estates and the mess and neglect of open spaces and street furniture is obvious.

This oversight, if that’s what it is, is condemning many of the poorest to conditions that are pretty shameful. And the usual disclaimer before some mention cuts; yes they have happened but this neglect long pre-dates them and Greenwich Council have a hell of a lot more coming in from large-scale housing developments than most Local Authorities to help mitigate. Unfortunately that money is not going to these areas and the spending process is hidden away.

A few other snippets did come out from the meeting:

One Woolwich

The first homes built as part of the ‘One Woolwich’ scheme will be ready by February 2017. This is a scheme to demolish estates (Connaught, Morris Walk and Maryon Road/Grove Estates) replacing 1064 mainly council units with at least 1637 homes, of which 35% are affordable. So that’s 573 homes. Quite a reduction.


  • The Housing Department are failing a few targets:
  • Urgent repairs are fixed within 67% of the expected time against a 98% target.
  • Non-urgent repairs are 89% within target against a 96% target.
  • The service charge collected from leaseholders compared to amount due is just 50% versus a target of 95% (Revenue)
  • Service charge collected from leaseholders compared to amount due: 18% versus a 65% target (Capital)

Council building

36 new council houses were built last year. A very low number but central government makes it very hard for the council to build.

400 ‘affordable’ homes were built. As affordable is pretty meaningless as a term these days, and the figure wasn’t broken down by type, this doesn’t reveal much.

Pattern of failure

I wrote in my last post about how other Greenwich Council Scrutiny Panels are not holding Departments and Officers to account, especially when compared to other boroughs in the area. The question is why and will this change anytime soon?

It’s something that seems to afflict various panels and panels. Just yesterday I wrote about how the Regeneration, Culture and Transport Committee had an almost empty agenda for their meeting. The only thing they were planning to cover before the meeting was cancelled was access to the Council’s private box at the o2 arena.

Instead of covering numerous issues and providing updates, as Bexley Council Meetings are doing in their equivalent to the Regeneration Committee, the Greenwich meeting wasn’t looking into these issues. And this was the first meeting in three months. Bexley’s meeting provides a lengthy report on regeneration with a breakdown by town and transport scheme, such as:


Why wasn’t this on the Greenwich Regeneration agenda, along with much else?

Click here to see updates on Erith (bids for TfL funding etc), Sidcup, Welling, Blackfen and Bexleyheath. Lots of updates for Councillors and the public on developments, public realm work, shops and restaurants planned etc.

It’s totally different to how Greenwich council are operating at the moment. Minimum oversight, minimum scrutiny and minimal public updates for Councillors and residents.


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Have your say on Southeastern trains tonight


A new group has been established in Charlton which is looking to campaign for improvements in transport in the area, which will also impact upon the wider area and the Greenwich/Woolwich rail line.

It is meeting tonight at 6:30pm at Charlton Liberal Club.

This is about a minutes walk from the station. Turn right when exiting, walk up Charlton Church Lane and it’s on the left.

There will be a broad range of relevant bodies – Southeastern, Transport for London and other local campaign groups will be there. No mention of Greenwich Council though. The Council’s Regeneration, Transport and Culture committee was supposed to meet tonight but has been cancelled. Maybe some councillors will go instead.

Who scrutinises the scrutinisers?

Despite the plethora of things going on in Greenwich the Council’s meeting wasn’t planning to look into them. You can click here to see the entirety of its committee agenda tonight. As ever, compare this to other boroughs similar meetings which look into these issues with far more depth.

For example, here’s Bexley Council’s meeting agenda tomorrow covering some similar ground. Far, far more comprehensive. If you didn’t click on it above then it’s worth doing so here to see Greenwich’s threadbare meeting agenda to compare. It really is night and day.

Look at item number 9 alone in Bexley’s link (the Regeneration and Growth update) for far more information than Greenwich Council meetings have discussed in many, many months. It even covers areas where Greenwich Council are involved, such as the street upgrade by Abbey Wood station and Thamesmead Housing Zones. Surely Greenwich’s Regeneration Panel should look at these issues too.

It’s similar to when I recently covered how Lewisham Council look into how millions from TfL is to be spent across the borough, and how that process came about. The difference is stark. A 24 page in-depth document at Lewisham for councillors publicly available six months before spending commences. In Greenwich it’s a 2-page document after the spending round has already commenced. All so opaque and hidden away.

It’s the same with millions coming from developers and where it goes. Other borough’s councillors and residents are given far more information by Council staff.

Are Greenwich Council scrutiny panels doing the job of looking into these issues for residents?

Are they more interested in propoganda newspapers than giving relevant, accurate information to the public in contrast to Lewisham and Bexley boroughs, to name just two?

There’s no shortage of things to discuss:

  • Reduction of train services. Since late August there has been cuts of up to 40% at some stations, which impacts Deptford to Westcombe Park particularly hard. Service frequency has reduced in the evening peak to one train every 20 minutes or more. Alongside this many trains have been shortened to 6-carriages from 8 or 10. The capacity cuts are therefore at least 50% with numerous complaints of not being able to board.


  • Thameslink consultation. This looked like a great addition to the area with trains across London but the consultation raises some worries. It’s possible Southeastern services on the line could be cut. This would see a permanent reduction in services at some stations along the line. Services on the line to Blackheath and Lewisham could also be axed. It’s pretty much impossible to comment on Thameslink proposals when Southeastern plans are hidden.
  • TfL takeover. Are the Department for Transport dragging their feet which could put a whole swath of improvements at risk? The meeting will likely cover this, and I also really do hope the council are fighting hard for this behind the scenes. The new Transport Secretary doesn’t look keen even though Tory Kent County Council are now supportive. No takeover means fewer services, fewer staff, higher fares and in all likelihood fewer new trains or refurbished existing stock.
  • Extra trains. Promises were made of an imminent announcement in January by the then Rail Minister. Only the DfT can sign this off. Many people think Southeastern have power to get more – they don’t. Only over allocation of overall stock not expanding that fleet. They submitted an application for more stock a long time ago but still no confirmation nor information of where any extra trains will go. Exactly why central Goverment and the DfT need to be given the boot and TfL put in charge.
  • Night tube. The Jubilee Line has just had its first ever all-night Friday and Saturday night running. A look at how that changes demand and future expectations of 24 hour running of the DLR and Crossrail.
  • Charlton Riverside Masterplan. Looking at the creation of a new transport route as industrial land converts to residential with up to 5,000 new homes. A resurrection of the ill-fated Greenwich Waterfront Transit from Abbey Wood to Thamesmead then Woolwich, Charlton and terminating at the o2?
  • DLR to Thamesmead. Announced last week but apparently no connection to Abbey Wood with its Crossrail and Southeastern station (hopefully soon to be London Overground).
  • Links from 20,000 new homes on the Peninsula to Greenwich – both east Greenwich and the town centre, plus Charlton too. They’re dire. How will this be improved?

The new Transport for Charlton group also have a Facebook page which is here.

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