New 22-storey tower planned for Deptford

arklow road

A former industrial estate at Arklow Road is to be the site of another large Deptford development. A tower up to 22 storeys is planned for the development, designed by Rolf Judd architects, and will feature a total of 336 new homes.

Site of the proposed development

Site of the proposed development

The site is surrounded by railway lines, and issues of intrusion from new towers seem minimal. With the housing shortage and population growth this sort of height is needed in zone 2.

Almost adjacent to Arklow Road is the former site of Deptford Green school. There are plans proceeding for 316 new homes, both there and at the former Tidemill school site in Deptford town centre. Details can be seen here. Family Mosaic, Mulalley and Sherrygreen Homes were appointed as the preferred development partner in February 2014.

The ‘Deptford project’ development beside the station is nearing completion, which is due before the end of the year. Work on the carriage ramp, housing block and retail units continues to come along well.

Though badly needed, the question as ever is whether services are keeping pace. In terms of transport, an issue is large increases in the numbers using Deptford station in recent years. It saw 11.7% growth last year and 300% over the past ten. Services and capacity will be further reduced in August 2016 due to London Bridge rebuilding work, and a failure to procure extra carriages to lengthen the remaining trains to 12-car, nor fix the Woolwich Dockyard problem which will cause additional problems. Staffing at Deptford has also failed to keep up, with ticket office opening hours based on lower user numbers. New Cross station also saw an increase of 6% on the year.

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Greenwich council – continual inaction when informed of problems

With the advent of social media it has become increasingly clear that Greenwich council are being informed of numerous problems across the borough, yet aren’t acting on them. The rise of local Facebook groups, Twitter, Fixmystreet and more have revealed just how broken some departments within the council are. Despite being informed on numerous occasions of various issues within their power, they appear either unable or unwilling to act. This causes minor issues to spiral. A lot of these things arent too serious in isolation, but the message given out by constant failure to act is one of acceptance, with knock-on effects felt more widely.

Let’s start with parking. In Abbey Wood, some drivers have been parking pretty much anywhere they can – often going off-road and blocking paving or parking on communal grass areas. I’ve seen it pretty much every time I visit. I’ve been told about many times. On Twitter I’ve seen people contacting the council almost daily with photos showing it. In addition, the consultation website on the limited regeneration scheme highlights it. The photographer turned up, and as is typical, snapped a car parked on the pavement by the shops, and others blocking crossings and parked in loading zones.

The council claim they have acted. Nothing seems to altered. For example, by the station one or two cars started parking on paving all day, every day. As no enforcement occured it ended up with about eight cars at a time on a small patch of paving by the station entrance blocking pedestrian access. Dozens of photos and messages were sent on Fixmystreet and Twitter. Nothing seemed to happen for months. Same cars, same issues. Day after day. The department and its procedures seems broken. I’ve been told they are hiring more staff. Have they lacked staff for years? So few they cannot drive five minutes to visit?

The area where a lot of it happens is within a newly extended Controlled Parking Zone. It was extended recently at a cost of tens of thousands of pounds. As an aside, to show how crap the Highways Department is, a few more signs and street clutter went up alongside. On a pre-existing stretch there were signs up every 10 metres. The extension saw Greenwich council spend thousands putting new signs up in between, so now every 5 metres. Not neccesary at all, and they didn’t match of course. But no worries, a few more grand spent in an area where other things under the same departments control are falling apart – fences, paving and the like. The Highways Department seems to be one that is devoid of any sort of common sense, or indeed, any sense of design.

So, as mentioned, locals now have to now pay a fee to park locally. Yet some don’t and so just park on any available off-road area – grassed areas, parks, paving – you name it, some will do it. The council are provided with proof. Nothing ever seems to happen. If it did most people would stop, right? The fact so many don’t, and any trip there shows numerous examples, is a bit of a hint that any visit by Parking Services that does occur is extremely irregular and ineffective. Short staffed or not, it seems like they turn up for half hour a month.

Then there’s planning permission breaches. Also in Abbey Wood is the Lyndean Industrial Estate. It was used illegally since 2004, by the users own admission. As time went on things got worse. The council were informed many times of all night parties, parking problems, rubbish and a whole bunch of issues. Very little happened, until three people were stabbed and one died a few months back. It should never have got to that stage. Another Greenwich council failing, and another example of ignoring problems going back years. Starts small but spirals as very little happens.

The same old pattern is seen in many areas and many places. Small things are left. They then get worse until it’s a real blight. Problems within numerous council departments are contributing to this. Fly tipping is a big thing at the moment. Plumstead has it terribly. And it’s the same story. Failure to crack down has caused it to get far worse. Greenwich are great at clearing it, but what about preventative measures or going after the people doing it constantly. There’s areas where it happens almost daily. Surely a bit of investigative work is needed in these areas. And when people are contacting them through email, twitter and fixmystreet about the exact same spot it happens, then investigate and crack down as often it’s a professional job. Not just belatedly ‘warn’ offenders if they chance upon someone. Too little, too late, and the processes adopted caused the issue to spread. Eventually a small group within the council have been set up to look into it. So far little seems to have happened. Probably as the horse has long bolted.

The next issue I can see being a big problem is houses advertised as ‘holiday homes’. This has been cropping up in a few areas. Residential houses are being let out as holiday places. No problems with that, except the often dodgy owners appear to own numerous places, do not live there or seemingly visit, and over-occupy them with noise and parking problems. Not to mention taking badly needed family homes off the market. Like most of the issues I’ve mentioned, although illegal it’s not really a big deal if people didn’t start taking the piss pretty quickly, as is now happening. Will the council look into this and nip it in the bud, or will they turn the other check until it’s rife?

Time and time again issues have not been acted upon, even when the council cannot be told any more clearly. Have a look on social media. It’s all there, and pretty revealing of systemic failings. Some Councillors are chasing departments up but often seem to be fobbed off as much as the public. Time for a bit more than the odd bi-monthly scrutiny commitee where department leaders can sweet talk about all their supposed action? The reality is quite a bit different.

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New towers at Woolwich now underway (and not only at the Arsenal)

Down by the ferry at Woolwich a new tower is soon to rise, with work now underway with a change of owner. I covered proposals in 2014 for 152 homes opposite Waterfront leisure centre and the area formerly occupied by Greenwich council’s depot at Callis Yard.

Callis Yard 3Inland Homes took forward proposals to planning, and after winning approval in 2014 sold it to Cordea Savills in May, who have now re-branded as Savills Investment Management. Their ‘Prime London Residential Property Fund II’ entered into a joint venture with Urbanwise to purchase and develop the site. Demolition of the Callis Yard council depot has already commenced with completion planned for 2017/18. Photos of the demolition can be seen at Chris Mansfield’s excellent site here.

Callis Yard was around for decades as a depot for cleaners and their equipment, located just off the main shopping streets. Is there still a cleaning depot in Woolwich or is it now  all centralised in Thamesmead? Another local (and far smaller) depot that closed was in Abbey Wood, which is to become housing and which I recently argued should become another entrance to the forthcoming Crossrail station, cutting a fair time off passengers’ walks from the east. I do wonder though if these closures played a part in the large, on-going neglect of cleaning and public realm management in some areas?

The tower joins an emerging cluster of tall buildings in the area. Preliminary work on Berkeley’s three riverside towers has been ongoing in recent months, and sales have begun of flats in this stage of the Arsenal masterplan.

Riverside Berkeley Towers now underway

Riverside Berkeley Towers now underway

Slightly further west is the Mast Quay site. The first two stages went up around a decade ago but the tallest tower has stalled for many years. It includes a fourth, smaller building, slightly obscured in the render below. 162 flats are planned here.

mast quayThere has been some recent some activity with further planning applications so this could be on the move. Waterfront leisure centre is sandwiched between this site and Berkeley’s Towers, and will be moving to the Wilkinson’s site on General Gordon Square.

The ferry is also expected to cease operations in the near future, with various contentious fixed crossings on the agenda. Though that’s been the case for many years, the ferry’s are increasingly unreliable. Work has been carried out but it’s common for only one boat to be operating due to mechanical faults. Once gone, the site will inevitably be sold for more towers.

 

 

 

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New consultations on plans for Abbey Wood and Eltham

Abbey Wood village

A tent has been set up on the shopping parade by Abbey Wood station to garner feedback on plans for some limited improvements. You can visit until 7pm on Saturday or Monday from 8am to 7pm, or fill out feedback online here: https://abbeywood.stickyworld.com/home#

Unfortunately the grim High Street on Wilton Road is not seeing much money at all, and it seems to mainly go on reports, consultants, guides and shop fronts. Improving the very poor public realm seems to be an afterthought. I can only assume a bigger funding bid is being drawn up (possibly a major scheme bid to the Mayor and GLA’s Local Implementation Fund) as this is the crucial area to improve. And after 20 years of Greenwich Council saying Crossrail would lead to High Street improvements along Wilton Road, it’s a bit rich to do so little for the entire area shown in the photo above, which is the main town parade and sees high levels of footfall.

New shop fronts are great, but there isn’t that many units where I can see it making a difference. Do national bookmakers need public cash, and will they be keen on changing their garish shop fronts anyway? The takeaways aren’t going to magically transform the area with new fronts. What will is new business drawn in by attractive streets, which will also help more people visit or spend time there. There’s around 200 plots at the caravan holiday site by the woods up the road, with possibly 400+ visitors at any one time. The majority will be passing through to the station. New paving, street furniture (i.e. not those weathered, bent-up old wooden bollards they stick up everywhere) and trees will help create a place that they, along with residents, may want to stay.

How many bollards are needed? Use fewer but better

How many bollards are needed? Use fewer but better

Better signage to the park, woods and Abbey Ruins is a must too. And when it’s done Greenwich Council must be better at maintaining any improvements. £300k isn’t too much, but if focused on the right areas could have some solid short term improvements.

Eltham

Over at Eltham there is a larger £6m scheme to completely reshape public space along the High Street, and areas off it such as Passey Place. Details are here. A feedback website is here. It’s the same as the Abbey Wood site above, and both are great examples of how to present ideas and generate replies. Well done to the council for setting them up.

Funding is coming from the aforementioned Local Implementation Fund. Every council in London is awarded funding for large schemes above £1m in one area each year. This is Eltham’s turn. Next will be Greenwich town centre again, and I believe not the area to the east that badly needs it, but the area of the borough that’s needs it least – West Greenwich. Hopefully in future more deserving candidates gain – such as Plumstead and Abbey Wood.

Passey Place

Passey Place sees plans for big improvements

Most elements of the Eltham scheme look very promising, but as ever, will Greenwich council maintain it? Will the Highways Department learn from outside knowledge and skills coming in to design and implement the scheme? Previously we have seen fantastic externally funded and designed schemes like Woolwich Squares but it seems to have had no impact on subsequent behaviour on street and junction designs in the borough, which still adopt anti-pedestrian and cycling design straight from the ’70s, such as that seen outside Waitrose in Greenwich.

The crucial issue in Greenwich council is changing internal cultures which are unable or unwilling to deal with various issues, and so often seem rooted in the past. Big money schemes need to be in the right areas, then maintained post-completion. In the meantime carry out simple things that are easy wins. At Abbey Wood they could have removed street clutter years ago for next to nothing, and unified what remains with decent quality street furniture.

Instead of implementing twice as many cheap bollards installed as needed  (which are pointless when they allow paving to become car parks without any action) why not have one row of good quality, stainless silver or black metal ones that look smart? There’s loads of small scale stuff that could’ve been done, and even more so with £300k. We will have to wait and see what improvements happen, and what the council learns.

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Crossrail at Abbey Wood & Woolwich – the case for more station entrances

Crossrail work at Abbey Wood station is proceeding well with new platforms now visible, and the stretch down to Plumstead’s tunnel entrance reveals the large new maintenance yard taking shape. A recent comment on a new Facebook community group established in Abbey Wood got me thinking about the station, and access to parts of Abbey Wood and Plumstead, which is sandwiched between two stations. There are currently no plans for second entrance/exits at the two stations south of the Thames. Is this a missed opportunity, particularly at Abbey Wood?

Abbey Wood station construction

New platforms visible on the right

The western end of Abbey Wood station has sufficient space for another entrance at Mottisfont Road. There’s a large, open space beside the platform end. This area housed about a dozen council owned garages until Crossrail took over the site to use as a temporary yard. So the space would appear to be there for another entrance to be built, even with a widened rail corridor.

Abbey Wood station west

Expanse of space for entrance/exit to rear of platform on the right, around area where the tree is located

An entrance here should be cheap to implement. No land to purchase, no buildings to demolish. One sticking point would be additional staffing costs for barriers, but it could be a part time entrance. Say, peak time only. It would greatly help the more deprived parts of Abbey Wood, and eastern areas of Plumstead, and cut up to 20 minutes walking time as the early 2000s development by Abbey Wood station is gated, forcing people around it.

The disabled and parents would particularly gain by cutting off a hefty distance. An aerial view of the site is below. The section in red is believed to be council owned land. This is directly north of the western platform end:

council land abbey wood station

This aerial image shows the garages, and to the north of that a former council storage yard. It’s very likely that this entire site will become housing in coming years. Being directly beside the station it would be pretty valuable. As such, it could help fund the very modest costs of an additional entrance. The yard at the top had planning permission for housing a few years ago but the applicant took it no further and it’s likely lapsed. Could Greenwich council now pressure Crossrail for passive provision here for another entrance, which could proceed when the site is no longer needed as a construction base and housing plans proceed?

Second station entrance here? Platform to the right.

Second station entrance here? Platform to the right with a decent sized plot behind trees

Crossrail have made a big point about how stations are so long that each entrance will serve completely different areas in central London. This thinking could apply to suburban stations. A Plumstead resident would save some substantial walking distance and time given just how long stations are, and both Abbey Wood and Woolwich station entrances are located furthest away from Plumstead. If at the wrong end of a long Crossrail train, or even Southeastern, as there should be more 12-car trains in future, then under current plans you get off the train before a long walk to the one station exit, then double back, to head to Plumstead.

At Abbey Wood it may also help slightly with diffusing passenger loads. A new footbridge is due to be installed in August at the western end of Abbey Wood’s platforms. This is presumably to avoid forcing all people onto just one footbridge, saving passengers at one end of a train having a long walk to the current bridge when changing trains. Design alterations mean everyone arriving at the station from Kent (projected to be a very large number of people) will now have to go up the stairs from platform 1 and cross over to platform 3 when heading into London. Earlier plans had people alighting from a Southeastern train before transferring to Crossrail on the other side of the same platform. No longer. The same will happen when people are heading to Kent in the evening peak. Those wishing to leave at Abbey Wood will only have one exit, sharing platforms and bridges with those transferring, adding to possible passenger congestion. Another exit would help avoid that.

Woolwich

Armorers Court development above eastern end of station

Armorers Court development above eastern end of station

It’s tougher to implement at Woolwich. The station is below ground, and it was an arduous struggle even getting a station approved there, let alone now altering plans for an eastern entrance. Emergency stairs are to be located at the Plumstead end of the station, and above that towers have gained approval, as seen above. If there is scope for an entrance it would surely be worth pursuing. The extra housing now proposed could help fund it.

Second entrances at stations will not make a huge difference to many passengers, but it could make a real difference to some deprived areas and particularly those passengers who struggle most, such as the disabled. If it can be done cheaply and easily, as it seems at Abbey Wood, then why not? It would cut walking time for thousands of people in Abbey Wood estate and eastern Plumstead. That could change behavior away driving or taking buses, which are near capacity.

The land is there, funding too with land sales and/or developers contributions, but is the will? Greenwich council did a great job in obtaining a Crossrail station at Woolwich, but they’ve hardly gone all-out in calling for the London Overground to Abbey Wood via Thamesmead. Will they push for a study into what seems an easy win to improve transport access for many people?

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As well as the new Abbey Wood Facebook group ‘What’s New In SE2’ mentioned above which has begun organising meetings, it is well worth looking at ‘Plumstead People’, who have been pushing for improvements in the area and have succeeded in organising meetings with local MPs and councillors. You may need to be logged into facebook for those links to work.

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Two new pubs and restaurants to open at Woolwich’s Royal Arsenal site

The vast redevelopment of the Royal Arsenal site hasn’t yielded much in the way of decent nightlife so far. Young’s opened the Dial Arch a few years ago, and whilst in a lovely building, I find it all a bit uninspiring and corporate. The beer choice is often poor, with five pumps all offering very similar types of beer. Food is patchy – sometimes good and sometimes very average. They also lack much initiative with evening entertainment. Music played is often middle-of-the-road dreariness at best (Coldplay, U2 kind of stuff), and is far behind what Antic’s Woolwich Equitable offer. Recently the Equitable have had some great live music on Friday and Saturday nights, and DJs on afterwards playing a wide range of music until 1am. Beer and cider offerings are more varied too, and food very good so far.

New Geronimo Inn at Woolwich

New Geronimo Inn at Woolwich

But now two more options are coming to Woolwich on the Arsenal site. One is a Geronimo Inn‘s outfit, who are a gastro-pub chain from Youngs, who as mentioned are the same owners of the Dial Arch. A curious choice to have two outfits from the same business next to each other, seemingly offering very similar things. I suppose Geronimo will offer slightly more formal dining options.

Far more exciting is the news that Hop Stuff Brewery, who have had evening brewery openings on the odd Friday night the past year, will now be opening a pub called The Tap Room this Autumn. It’ll be on 15 Major Draper Street, which is a bit further into the site when coming from the station, just past Dial Arch. With this new pub joining the Woolwich Equitable in expanding choice, hopefully it’s the first of many more. Woolwich has thousands of homes under construction within 10 minutes walk.

Another possible new pub is another Antic outfit next door to the refurbished art deco co-op. Work is now finally completing on the buildings reconstruction, and 74 flats are contained within. The building was within a whisker of being demolished with Greenwich Council’s approval, before the 2008 crash halted plans.

Arsenal Park

Back on the Arsenal site, and the car park to the west of the site has been converted to a park by Berkeley, as the former park by the river becomes three new towers.

New park

New park

It all looks really quite nice, with attractive landscaping in evidence. The newest completed block can be seen in the background. This is not one of the three to go up mentioned above, which are all far taller.

The street has been further de-cluttered, though its still frustrating to see Greenwich Council often only permit this, or carry it out, when huge schemes are ongoing beside. It’s cheap and easy to do with immediate environmental improvements. It doesn’t require millions to be spent. By only waiting for huge schemes to happen they are condemning poorer or more established area to ugly and dangerous streets. Many other authorities have carried out audits, seen much street furniture is dated and derived from abolished or altered standards, and removed. It would be good to see councillors leaning on the Highways Department to carry out such a program. It’s an easy win.

As ever, much is changing in Woolwich. Housing is proceeding across the town and entertainment options are finally catching up. Who knows, one day soon some proper music venues and a cinema, as it used to have?

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Greenwich towers approved – green light for more next door?

Alongside the contentious Cruise liner terminal in Greenwich, the council approved three towers last night at the Enderby Wharf development in Greenwich. Could this decision to permit a 31-storey tower now have wider repercussions on developments surrounding the site? Directly adjacent to the towers is the first stage of Enderby Wharf, below that ‘The River Gardens’, to the east is ‘Telegraph Works’, and the north is Morden Wharf.

Low rise stage one beside three towers in stage two

Three towers in the newly approved phase

Build schedule - stage one

Build schedule – stage one

Stage one of Enderby Wharf is already well underway, with two mid-rise blocks, located furthest away from the riverside, pretty much complete.

Two others are now well under construction for completion in 2016. The plan is then for two riverside blocks to begin in 2016 and then 2017. All blocks are roughly the same height in existing plans, but with tall towers directly next to the two riverside blocks now looks likely they will be in for revision, particularly the block closest to the towers, which starts construction last.

River Gardens

Directly south of those is ‘River Gardens’. Two riverside blocks are complete. Another is now approaching completion, and followed a planning battle in which developers London & Regional wanted to build higher. Depending on what planning document you look at, there are one or two more blocks on this site to be built. Expect further plans for them to rise in height, the further north and closer to the river the building is.

River Gardens

Greater height of newest River Gardens block can be seen. This stepped effect to continue?

Telegraph Works

telegraph worksFurther inland is Cathedral and Development Securities’ ‘Telegraph Works’. 272 homes are planned here on the existing site of an Alcatel factory, which is being downsized.

It incorporates one tall building ,which was approved in 2014. Could we now see revisions upwards?

Morden Wharf

Finally, to the north over the three approved towers is Morden Wharf. This site is the least advanced. No planning application has been made. You won’t see much on site except the old train carriage/cafe that resided beside Deptford station. That’s because both sites are owned by developers Cathedral Group and Development Securities, who also own the adjacent Telegraph Works.

This site will be beside the three Enderby towers and doesn’t have to worry about any low rise residential in the area, so the skies the limit (or rather London City Airport approach restrictions).

With all these people the wrong side of the road from the o2 and Jubilee, will Greenwich now finally focus on improving connections to them?

To the east of the Peninsula

At Greenwich Millenium Village’s stage three site, ‘parcel 1’ is now just about complete. The snappily titled ‘parcel 2’ will in all likelihood start soon. Detailed planning permissions have been submitted recently and developers Countryside Properties are expected to begin sales this summer.

Taken a few months back. This block will stretch further south soon

Taken a few months back. This block will stretch further south soon

GMV to stationsThis imminent ‘parcel’ will be even closer to Westcombe Park station and East Greenwich. Do Greenwich want to attract the thousands of new residents to East Greenwich businesses? If so then comprehensive improvements to walking and cycling links are a must.

Like the northern Blackwall crossing on Blackwall Lane, which all the developments at the top of this post will need to use to head north, this development’s residents also have atrocious connections across the road when heading south. Pedestrians are currently actively discouraged from walking south by a complete lack of crossings and physical barriers installed by Greenwich Council, to the detriment of East Greenwich’s businesses.

Also on the east of the Peninsula are the first towers of Knight Dragons’ development. The concrete cores of towers have been racing up. This is how they will look:

Greenwich_Peninsula Knight Dragon devTransport?

So what public transport will there be to accommodate these developments? Well, the Jubilee will get an extra 6 trains an hour in 2019, raising frequency from 30 to 36 tph. Southeastern metro routes have no confirmed additional trains whatsoever – almost alone for any operator serving London. Most of these developments are closer to train stations than North Greenwich tube station.

Considering the government is now asking unprotected departments such as Transport for budget cuts up to 40%, who knows what will happen. It’s not like all these people need to get around is it? Maybe they’ll all just drive through a new Silvertown road tunnel, which will definitely cope with approach roads the same width as now…

Hopefully many will take to the river boat services alleviating pressure on rail.

Charlton’s new retail park

454 car parking spaces

454 car parking spaces

Oh, one last thing to add more traffic to the roads. The Brocklebank retail park is also progressing, with an increase in car parking spaces approved last night. 454 in total, and some stores with no presence in most of East or South London will attract more traffic to the area.

brocklebank plan

I want to make clear I don’t disagree with tall buildings in most of these areas. It’s just that infrastructure plans are so lacking in dealing with it, and the developments include such pitiful amounts of ‘affordable’ housing. A road tunnel wont fix the transport problems, and central government seem unconcerned about investing in the necessary infrastructure and public transport, whilst the Treasury and central government clings onto power and refuses to allow cities like London the power they need to deal with it. London desperately needs housing, and proliferating retail parks in 2015 with such a need is beyond foolish. It also needs infrastructure to deal with it. Currently it’s getting both very wrong.

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