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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Greenwich cruise terminal up for planning as on-site housing blocks complete

Enderby stage 2 2

Some interesting stats were reported yesterday by Estates Gazette showing Greenwich borough had the second highest number of planning approvals for new homes in London in the first half of this year. 3450 homes were approved. Now, these figures are prone to spikes as large scale plans gain approval, such as estate renewals. But interestingly this period did not cover many of the big schemes, which either precede it (eg ‘One Woolwich‘) or plans up tonight.

Ideas of a cruise terminal on the west side of Greenwich Peninsula at Enderby Wharf have been rumbling around for years. Tonight sees the latest incarnation before Greenwich Council’s Planning Board. Earlier plans for a hotel have been altered and much more housing is now proposed. 477 homes to be precise, replacing March 2012 plans for 93 residential units and a 251 room hotel. Much controversy surrounds the pollution that large docked cruise liners will bring, with power for the ships coming from on-board engines whilst at dock, as opposed to on-shore generators. Pollution is hardly my forte, and this issue is already very well covered on 853 and the News Shopper.

This is the second phase of the wider Enderby Wharf scheme. It hasn’t had a great deal of coverage, but stage one has been progressing quickly and the first blocks are now pretty much complete:

Enderby development is orange block in background. Latest River Gardens at forefront

Enderby development is orange block in background. Latest River Gardens at forefront

The newest block at River Gardens is located on the left. This is the third of five planned blocks blocks in the development. The first two are far from great with poor quality attention to detail and an excessive amount of grey cladding. The orange block is a welcome splash of colour compared to it.

The construction schedule covering earlier phases of Enderby Wharf is here:

enderby building schedule

To cross means a LONG detour to the right. Completely anti pedestrian

To cross means a LONG detour to the right. Completely anti-pedestrian

So, the increase in homes and population grows ever greater. Infrastructure lags behind. Many newcomers to these blocks now completing will probably use Maze Hill station for commuting and East Greenwich for shopping, but a fair few will no doubt want to head to north Greenwich for the attractions at the o2 and the tube. The same can be said of people moving into the new block on Blackwall Lane and the hotel now being built on Tunnel Avenue. But pedestrian and cycle connections are absolutely awful crossing under the Blackwall Tunnel approach road, as I reported here with many photos to prove it.

Some of the endless guardrail lining and other pedestrian obstacles lining the roads were actually installed after 2010. Pedestrians are forced on long detours as railings block crossing. If you’re disabled forget it. An alternative route between areas north and south of the dual carriageways is a footbridge to the north over Blackwall Approach, which is barely any better:

Surrounded by industry and dereliction

Surrounded by industry and dereliction

Who is actually going to use this to reach the o2? New residents, hotel guests and future cruise ship passengers? Nope. If they’re walking they’ll use the similarly rubbish, but slightly more obvious, crossing on Blackwall Lane, which is where Greenwich Council need to focus effort and resources to greatly improve the environment. Foresight is sorely lacking here. Both sides of the great Blackwall approach divide have exponential growth but scant evidence of improved links.

Charlton and the poor door

charlton valley houseAlso before planners tonight is the 71 flat block close to Charlton station. It was previously deferred as affordable housing was via a separate door. This has now changed. The height, at nine-storeys, was also questioned, but remains the same. I have little objection there though I have sympathy with calls for a slight reduction to six or seven-storeys. Calls for two-storey terraces are ludicrous on such a site. It’s very close to a station, and London needs to build densely by stations to reduce car use as the population rises sharply. The road it faces is pretty broad too, so better for accommodating taller buildings. London needs a huge increase in housing so density has to increase. What is objectionable is the meagre 19% ‘affordable’ housing level, and on a wider level that so much land has been wasted with retail sheds and car parks for miles around.

Other news round-up

woolwich junction 2Construction of towers over Woolwich Crossrail station are continuing nicely. The last tower has topped out at 20-storeys in height. The road junction beside, where Plumstead Road meets Burrage Road, will see comprehensive roadworks lasting from August until December. Lane closures will occur so expect long tailbacks. Well, even longer than already exist. At least when complete this stretch should match redeveloped sections to the west, where guardrail and clutter were ripped out, resulting in a far more attractive and pedestrian-friendly environment.

Over at Abbey Wood Crossrail station and two bridges will be installed in August. One is a pedestrian bridge on the western end of the platforms. The other is another pedestrian bridge at Bostall Manorway. Let’s hope it’s better than the horror show Crossrail inflicted on Church Manorway which looks like it should’ve gone to Belmarsh.

DSCF2347

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402 new homes, a hotel and pub arrive at Belvedere

I tend not to cover developments in Bexley borough too often. However, a sizable development has been going up the past couple of years, and a recent trip to Belvedere has revealed that a great deal is now complete, with the latter stages having apparently sped up. The impact is already being felt at Belvedere station on the Woolwich & Greenwich line: usage is up 11.4% on the year.

402 homes here in total

402 homes in total

Housing located on 'imperial gateway'. Other areas to see industry

Housing located on ‘imperial gateway’. Other areas to see industry

The development is called ‘Belvedere Park’, and is just over the border from Thamesmead in an awkward patch of land, surrounded by major roads on two sides. It comprises 402 homes, a new pub/restaurant by Marstons plus a 52 bed Travelodge was approved earlier this year. There are also currently plans for two fast food places. Despite the dual carriageways, Belvedere station is just 5-10 minutes walk away, and doesn’t involve crossing them.

None of it is particularly architecturally inspiring, but the pub provides an option for people in the wider area, and the area badly needed it. The blocks of flats are straight from page number one of the average, volume house builders textbook. Boxy, tacked on balconies, a bit of brick and a bit of render to break up the facades, and flat roofed.

A close look seems to show many aren't occupied yet

A close look seems to show many aren’t occupied yet

There are retail units on the ground floor but none appeared to be taken up. It could be that they aren’t ready yet, as many flats appeared to be in the final stages of construction. Whether they are occupied makes the difference in such a development. With them there’s a bit of life and the blocks appearance broken up with street frontages. Without them, the area can appear pretty windswept and lifeless, with dull blank walls at street level. Aside from the blocks, and separate hotel plans are extremely basic. Cheap materials and those meagre, small, cost-saving square windows so often seen on budget hotels.

The pub was doing a good trade, and there was a fair bit of outside seating which was well used. The food was decent and the place is definitely an asset to the area. Being a Marston’s pub it looked like they had a decent range of beer. Carvery’s seem to be one of the main selling points.

Site history

I scrolled back on google streetview to view the recent history of the area. This part of the world is where built-up London begins to meet Kent, and marshes and large industrial estates increasingly predominate the further east you travel. Google streetview shows just how much it’d changed. The development is located on what was a pretty rural area, apparently used by nothing but grazing horses, as this 2008 streetview shows:

Belvedere Park pre-development

Some will lament the loss of greenery. I take the view that housing in London is now so badly needed that sites within the M25 such as this, located five minutes from a railway station with frequent trains to central London in 30 minutes, must have some very compelling reasons not to be developed. This wasn’t agricultural land, and the horses can be accommodated in a large expanse of protected land only a couple of hundred metres away. As far as I could work out it wasn’t previously accessible to the public, but I’m no expert on this part of the world and some locals will no doubt have other ideas.

Elsewhere in Belvedere

To the south of the railway line there’s also scope for much needed housing in coming years. Areas beside the station are either unused or contain low rise buildings. A Tesco Express recently closed, as it failed to compete with the large Asda that opened a year of two back. The Tesco was in a single storey shopping parade just two minutes from the station. A prime site for increased housing density.

Two minutes from station. Underused land.

Two minutes from station. Underused land.

To the rear of the parade it’s the same. There’s a quite extensive patch of fenced-off greenery there, directly beside the platforms. It could well be Network Rail owned land.

Sizable patch of land behind fence on left to platforms

Sizable patch of land behind fence on left to platforms

Taken as a whole, this area could see a couple of hundred homes built, along with a more appealing station entrance better integrated in the area. If some of the land is owned by Network Rail, it would add a lengthy list of station sites that could provide housing but are currently underused. They have an important role in helping to alleviate London’s housing shortage. Along with TfL, it seems the possibilities are far from being realised. Many DLR and Jubilee Line stations still lack over-station developments, years after opening. As I often point out, it’s now six years since Woolwich Arsenal DLR station opened, and even stage 1 of plans above the station have yet to begin.

Directly next to a high frequency railway line. Build housing!

Directly next to a high frequency railway line. Build housing!

Also in the area of Belevdere station, and I’ve not even mentioned the Asda and B&Q site. Though no doubt popular, it’s another huge retail shed and car park that wastes swaths of land yet is located very close to a station. It gets more of a pass some some (*cough* Charlton *cough*) as the site was developed around 10 years ago (originally solely as B&Q) when the planning system was amenable to retail parks, and population growth and housing problems were not as acute. I’m being pretty fair though, as even 10 years ago this was hardly ideal. Even placing parking on two levels would’ve freed up space for housing. Perhaps that should’ve been insisted upon when Asda took on a large expanse a couple of years ago. Click here for an aerial view.

With some imagination, sites like these by the station, have a crucial role in helping halt the failure to build enough new homes, and it wouldn’t require anyone to be displaced. The shopping parade would also greatly benefit from additional customers. I asked a local Bexley councillor about it, and whilst he was keen to see a masterplan drawn up for the area, those in charge at Bexley seemed to dragging their feet. But some of the land appears to belong to them, so alongside Network Rail it’s possible that redevelopment and increasing density could generate some much needed revenue. Any raised revenue could even allow the locally threatened splash park to stay open?

Erith

One station along the line is Erith, and there’s a multitude of development there. Firstly, we have Erith Quarry, where 514 homes are planned. Stage 1 will see 86 homes and a 630 place school by 2017. There’s also the former Bexley College site where Barratts are building 192 homes, and Erith Park, which is a huge scheme on the site of Larner Road estate. The town centre is also seeing a number of developments. When combined, Erith is witnessing building levels not seen in a very long time, and it has all been a bit under the radar, for me at least. Arthur Pewty’s Maggot Sandwich, an Erith based blog, has been doing a great job of recording progress. I hope to do a post covering all these in a bit more depth in the near future.

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Passenger growth figures & developments on the Hayes line

My last post looked at increased development at Catford, both under construction and proposed, and how recent station passenger numbers had increased over the past year – 12.4% at Thameslink’s Catford station and 6.8% at Southeastern’s Catford Bridge, on the Hayes line. All stations on the Hayes line saw growth:

Catford line train figures

I wrote posts covering Dartford lines previously. Figures for the Greenwich line can be seen here, the Eltham line here and Sidcup line numbers can be seen here. Whilst there is no stand out such as the 12% increase in just one year seen at Deptford, or 19% seen at Kidbrooke, half the stations are seeing numbers up above 6.5%.

Recently completed beside Ladywell station

Recently completed beside Ladywell station

Growth at the three stations closest to central London, at the very least, can be expected to continue. Catford is seeing large scale development, and Ladywell has 14 new flats recently completed next door to the station at the Rivoli development. 24 homes are planned at the former Ladywell leisure centre in an innovative, temporary scheme, lasting up to four years. Peabody Homes are also consulting on a development two minutes away at the junction of Ladywell Road and Wearside Road.

Temporary homes planned on site of former leisure centre

Temporary homes planned on site of former leisure centre

At Lower Sydenham station there is a far larger planning application for 519 homes, directly adjacent to the station on the site of the former Dylon factory. Stage one was rejected by Bromley council but developers won an appeal earlier this year.

Rylan factory site

The whole Hayes line has been mooted as being a part of any Bakerloo line extension which would head from Elephant and Castle to Lewisham via either the Old Kent Road or Camberwell, then heading to Hayes. The plan has been around in different forms since the 1930s, when World War two put the brakes on, and nothing but talk has happened since. The earliest it is now planned is 2030. Bromley Council are however opposed.

Something will have to give. These developments will place a great deal of additional strain on what is already a half-forgotten line. People living in leafier parts of Bromley borough may not see development by stations such as Eden Park, but they’ll struggle to board trains without a change in approach to the line. Fifteen years until a Bakerloo extension is pushing it, and that’s if Bromley council even agrees.

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Catford tower proposed as strong rail growth continues

Catford tower plan

Catford Green housing development, located between Catford’s two stations, will potentially see a new tower under revised plans from Barratt Homes. The existing scheme, approved in 2009, includes 589 homes in 13 mid-rise blocks. Stage 1 has now almost completed and will be occupied soon. Like many Barratt developments, they seem to have found some of the dreariest colours imaginable for the facades and balconies.

The wider site, formally home to a greyhound track, is wedged between two railway lines, and the tower would be at the southern tip where Catford and Catford Bridge stations are located. Initial plans were for a 21-storey tower. This has now reduced to 18-storeys. Barratt are also proposing ‘improved public realm’, and improved ‘architectural quality’. It doesn’t look too impressive in early render. A bog standard block appears the order of the day. Additional public space at the towers base, between the two stations, does look better:

Catford tower base public realm

As I continually point out, increases in homes must be matched by better transport. The location is perfect, less than a minute walk from the tower to two stations, but it will add to strong passenger growth. Catford Bridge saw passenger numbers up 7% on the year in 2013/14, and Catford was up 12%. There is an easy way to accommodate growth on Southeastern lines, who run through Catford Bridge, and that is to go for 12-car running with additional trains.

Entire site

Entire site

The line through Catford Bridge was supposed to have 12-car trains by the early 1990s. That needs additional trains, and Southeastern are still waiting for the Department for Transport and the Treasury to agree to it. Catford station is served by Thameslink. It only sees 2 trains an hour, and I believe that doesn’t increase even after 2018 and Thameslink improvement work, which adds many more services for south and north London. The lack of additional trains means much growth in passenger numbers will have to be accommodated on Southeastern’s line, as going 12-car is much easier and cheaper than extra services through Thameslink.

Barratts are also proposing some smaller changes at the north of the development, facing onto Ladywell Fields.

More Widely in Catford

This plan is just one of many in Catford. Lewisham Council hope to replace Wickes and Halfords big sheds opposite the planned tower and stations. This is a much needed step. Lewisham council are moving away from the wasteful model of giant sheds and brocklebankcar parking towards mixed-use and residential components, like much of London, whilst Greenwich council actively encourages big barns in inner London. At next weeks planning meeting developers LXB, behind the forthcoming Brocklebank retail park in Charlton are proposing an increase of 30 parking spaces in the next stage of the estate, from 252 to 282 spaces. The parking spaces are naturally located beside the road and bus stops, so anyone arriving by bus or train has to walk through the car park to reach the shops.

Other plans in Catford see a complete reworking of the crap one-way system and civic offices. This is a long running drama and isn’t imminent. The post-war, prefab Excalibur housing estate is also seeing demolition and replacement. 186 prefabs will become 371 new homes under the London and Quadrant scheme.

I’m an infrequent visitor to the area, but I don’t see too much with tall buildings at Catford Green, providing the design is good, and early renders don’t exactly promise that. London’s huge housing shortage isn’t going away. The retail park site over the road could also see tall buildings given its location next to a railway line, and potential for light loss and visual intrusion seems minimal if towers are well positioned. Locals may have other opinions there, as I’m not too familiar with the area. Catford isn’t an area I’ve covered much in the past, but will keep a close eye on in future.

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Cross Quarter and Sainsbury’s near completion at Abbey Wood

Abbey Wood Cross Quarter

Sainsburys leaflet with details of new store

Sainsburys leaflet with details of new store

Scaffolding surrounding the housing element has come down at Abbey Wood’s Cross Quarter development. The adjacent Sainsbury’s is also being fitted out, with an opening date in just over two weeks on 29th July.

The shop is 48,000 sq. ft. and offers a wider range than I expected, along with a 305 space car park. It will stock clothing and homeware, and also includes a cafe. The leaflet on the left highlights that it will also exclusively stock a new clothing range designed by Gok Wan for the first week. I’m guessing some people care about that, and seems to be a sign that Sainsbury’s are putting a fair bit of emphasis behind this branch? There will also be meat, fish and hot food counters, and it provides 250 jobs.

Abbey Wood has been so deprived of basic things for quite some time so this will all be very welcome in the local area. The long neglected ‘village’ shopping parade lost its greengrocers quite a while ago. Even something simple like being able to grab a coffee is something that couldn’t be done for miles around, at least at certain times of the week.

The housing element

DSCF3728Gold colouring on the housing blocks’ balconies and western facade appears pretty garish. The colour looks particularly ‘striking’ on its western facade. It’s not great from this angle. The horizontal bands also look pretty cheap. As a whole though, it appears better than it does in these photographs, at least from the south.

Also, in its defence, a hotel is planned to be built lining the road so the worst elements will barely be visible from street level. However, work on the hotel seems non-existent and I expect residential plans to replace a hotel. The eastern facade is more reserved.

Eastern tower facade

Eastern tower facade

As to be expected, the Sainsbury’s box looks very similar to the recently opened Charlton store. Charlton uses more timbre and looks slightly better, whereas Abbey Wood uses gold coloured, perforated metal cladding. It also wastes land by not including housing above the shop space, despite being two minutes from Abbey Wood station, which will be 10 minutes from Canary Wharf in 2018.

Employment levels at Canary Wharf will continue to rise hugely in coming decades, as will entertainment and cultural options, and thus it would make a huge amount of sense to build high levels of housing at stations which serve it. Forward planning is sorely lacking.

This model is now being widely adopted for new superstores across London, and is seen at Waitrose in Greenwich, the forthcoming Asda at Lewisham as well as Lee, plus Sainsburys at Nine Elms and Whitechapel, to name just some.

At least the Abbey Wood branch places car parking at ground floor level with the shop floor located above, which the Charlton store neglected to do. There’s a small ‘square’ outside the new store. No word on the library that is supposed to open in one of the units:

Sainsurys Square

A library should be opening hereA cycle lane has been installed on paving at the front of the shop. It seems to abruptly end at a new roundabout constructed for cars entering the supermarket car park.

Cycle lane appears to halt

Cycle lane appears to halt at car park entrance

As mentioned, the car park has space for 305 cars. I can see commuters making the most of that if Sainsbury’s aren’t on the ball. To encourage cyclists from Thamesmead, the cycle lane needs Sainsbury's Cycle Laneextending the full length of the road past the roundabout. In the other direction, earlier renders showed this lane extending down to Felixstowe Road and the northern entrance to the railway station. I didn’t see sign of this and it’s important it’s installed.

The alternative is cyclists struggling up the flyover, dicing with buses, and then swinging all the way back around. A long, tiring and potentially dangerous detour. It’ll just put many off trying.

The 305 space car park will of course add to traffic pressure. Add in a new set of traffic lights, and bus journeys for Thamesmead residents to their nearest station wont get any easier. Road widening with bus lanes and segregated lanes is important to cope with traffic increases over the coming decade.

Cycle lane shown linking station & main road to Thamesmead

Early render showing cycle lane linking station with main road to Thamesmead

Greenwich council’s Highways Department again show a lack of attention to detail at the development. They’ve installed new signs, but instead of attaching them to existing lamp posts they’ve installed more poles just a metre or two away. Nothing major, but its more money spent, more street furniture and clutter, and again highlights flaws in their working practices.

So then, taken as a whole, the new shop is definitely a step forward for the area. Abbey Wood has lacked many simple things other areas take for granted, for a long time now. The development is not without problems, of course, and the housing element is infamous for being sold abroad with developers prominently stating they’ll be no affordable housing included, at least in stage one. Stage two plans envisage 190 more homes and the 80-100 bed hotel. I expect some changes on that front in coming years, with housing numbers bumped up.

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