Deptford High Street to see major changes from 2017

high-street

Lewisham Council plan more extensive alterations to Deptford High Street from 2017. This time it’ll be the north end that’s worked on with £2.42 million spent over the next couple of years.

It follows on from various large-scale projects along the street in recent years including revamping the southern end, creating a new square and associated Deptford Lounge plus a rebuilt station with adjacent Deptford Market Yard development, which has just completed.

Plans are shown in Lewisham Council’s 2017/18 Local Implementation Plan proposals. This is money that all London Councils receive to spend on transport and streets across the capital. Lewisham will receive £2.8 million next year from TfL.

In addition to this annual amount, more money can be allocated to Major Schemes. Deptford has been designated as such.

Why spend there?

A reason given for focusing on the north end are the numerous large housing developments which will increase the number of pedestrian walking to the station. These include:

  • Convoys Wharf. 3500 homes.
  • Timberyard. 1100 homes.
  • Marine Wharf. 700 homes.
  • Greenland Place. 679 homes.
  • Former Deptford Green school. 120 homes. In for planning on 29th September.

“The Convoys Wharf and other major developments such as Marine Wharf will substantially increase pedestrian movements in the area both for commuting and leisure. The northern end of Deptford High Street will form an important pedestrian link to Deptford Station, Wavelengths Swimming/Leisure Pools and Library as well as the shops, restaurants and street market.”

Ideas floated include making the north end of the High Street one-way. Blogs such as Deptford Dame have previously highlighted how the north end have become traffic clogged rat runs with numerous examples of cars parking and driving over pavements. Deptford Dame commented on previous consultation here and hopefully many points will be re-considered from that event.

The report states:

“The northern section also contains a large number of shops but remains a busy two-way traffic route with some kerbside limited time parking. Although the footway paving itself is relatively new the footways are narrow and offer a poor pedestrian environment that is exacerbated by the effects of a large amount of passing traffic. The passing traffic is particularly heavy in the peak periods where the road forms part of an east-west cut through from Deptford Church Street to the Rotherhithe area, and a one-way scheme for the high street will be considered through consultation.”

There were also many good proposals though from the earlier consultation, including:

  • Removing unnecessary street furniture
  • Improving the crossing with Evelyn Street and excessive street furniture there
  • Improved pavements by using quality paving materials and providing level crossing areas at junctions
  • Improved lighting under the railway

All this activity in the area does make it appear silly that Southeastern still regard the station as the backwater it used to be, rather than the busy place it now is. Passenger numbers have grown from 300k a year in 2004/5 to 1.2 million in 2014/15.

Will station staff levels change? Well, if TfL takeover almost certainly. They would staff from first to last train at the very least. Another reason to campaign for it as the Government looks like going cold on the idea.

Church Street

Work is also being considered on nearby Deptford Church Street. This is a four lane road with two dedicated bus lanes. It has previously been suggested that it becomes two lanes. This would slow down buses and not be a wise move. A better option is to remove the central reservation and fencing, use the reclaimed space to widen paving or add in segregated cycle lanes, and possibly add in additional crossings.

church-street

church-street-2

Across Lewisham borough

A whole bunch of other local town centres and shopping parades across Lewisham borough will also see smaller improvement next year across Lewisham borough, including:

  • Coulgate Street, Brockley. £360k.
  • Dartmouth Road North, Forest Hill. £1.5 million over two years.
  • Crofton Park Corridor. £1.7 million over three years.
  • Sangley Road / Sandhurst Road Improvements, Catford. £618k over two years.
  • Manor Lane Neighbourhood Improvements,  Hither Green. The shopping parade is seeing £430k spent on improvements.
  • Grove Park. £160k, with focus on:

“Baring Road, including the train station, bus interchange, local shopping parade and the Baring Hall Hotel. The current layout is highly dominated by vehicular traffic, and the existing footways and forecourts are marred by unsightly high containment kerbs and railings.”

  • Hither Green Local Traffic Corridor. £50k.

 

Lewisham v Greenwich

The detail shown in the Lewisham Council documents on funding and spending is a mile away from what happens in Greenwich Council. In case you were wondering if Greenwich Council have publicly revealed their intentions for 2017/18? Nope. Any sign it will be shown soon? Nope.

Here’s Lewisham: 24 pages broken down by projects, aims and the thinking behind funding.

Here’s Greenwich’s from last year. Compare and contrast. Just 3 pages and little detail.

Despite the amount running into millions, Greenwich’s LIP spending in 2016/17 was authorised by Councillors with barely any questions asked after being placed before Highway’s Committee shortly before the start of the financial year.

Will that change this year? Will transparency increase and Councillors ask for more information? It’s clear that 10 years of funding have not improved a great deal of busy public areas, such as shopping parades, across the length of the borough. Lewisham have plans to improve at least seven alone in 2017/18. It will be interesting to see how many Greenwich Council decides to improve.

Posted in Brockley, Crofton Park, Deptford, Hither Green | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New ASDA in Lewisham to open on 17th October

asda-lewisham

Passing by the new developments in Lewisham I spotted lots of green stickers revealing the opening date for ASDA on Loampit Vale. 17th October is the day.

What caught my eye was the sign for a 100-place car park. Perhaps not the best in such a congested location. The queue on the road was stretching back about half a mile from this point. You’ll have to excuse the poor quality phone pics in this post:

lewisham-walk-5

Traffic queuing towards Lewisham Town Centre and forthcoming ASDA site

It’s a sizable store – bigger than smaller supermarket blueprints of a Tesco Metro or Sainsburys Local which it may appear when looking at the entrance.

They’ll be no shortage of punters arriving on foot though. The student block over the road, which has 410 rooms, has completed and was bringing life to the area, though this pic doesn’t exactly show it.

lewisham-walk-11

Whilst many of the new developments looked pretty sterile and lacking in life, there was a steady stream of people coming and going and using the facilities.

Next door to this is the Flora Villa development:

lewisham-walk-10

A few more stories to go I believe.

And just the other side of the railway bridge, demolition was ongoing for a new Family Mosaic block:

lewisham-walk-2

I wrote a post on what will be constructed on this spot which can be seen here.

87-89 Loampit Vale

 

Posted in Lewisham | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Another update on Plumstead to Woolwich £1.2m road upgrade

I passed by this TfL funded project again, which I covered recently. Here’s a few pics showing progress on the scheme which widens the road to extend the bus lane a few hundred metres as well as introduce a segregated cycle lane.

cycle-lane

Some mentioned that the lane in previous updates appeared narrow. It does, and I thought it could have been to slow down cyclists around the bus stops, but the lane at another bus stop further down appears a bit wider:

bus-stop-island-plumstead

Work has yet to begin further down by the Mosque and row of shops beside Plumstead station. Apologies for the poor quality photo:

plumstead-car-parking

The parking outside the shops was as atrocious as ever at evening rush hour. Cars were parked in such a way as to make the existing cycle lane unusable and buses were obstructed.

If there isn’t a change in parking enforcement then any new lane will likely see cars blocking it, kerb or no kerb. Maybe some ‘wands’ will be installed.

The street furniture has seen a lick of paint. But not all oddly:

painted-guardrail

And much is still a mess but this area should see £3 million spent next spring. However, absolutely no public information has been revealed by Greenwich Council.

It’s in a poor state currently:

cycle-lane-mess

Further along and the High Street was absolutely filthy. Greenwich Council stated they had cleaned it with their jet washers finally brought out of Woolwich. Hard to see much evidence of it:

pavements-unclean

But still, it was good to see some short term improvements around the station and the area around the shops should be better. Something will have to be done about awful parking there if the cycle lane is to attract people.

Next up are the £3 million improvements around the station itself. Surprisingly there has been no consultation or even information from the council about it. If it starts in six months then letting people know what is coming would be nice.

This is what local councillors should be doing. The ones representing Plumstead seem some of the least communicative around. Almost no engagement online – nothing on popular local Facebook groups with thousands of members, nor on Twitter and the idea of a blog or website seem alien to them. Lots will happen – they should be letting people know what and when.

Posted in Plumstead | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Are the Government blocking TfL’s takeover of Southeastern commuter trains?

london_overground

It was all looking so promising back in January. Both London Mayor Boris Johnson and Transport Minister Patrick McLoughlin put out a document which suggested just how keen they were for TfL to takeover further London commuter services, starting in 2018 with the beleaguered and long-overlooked services serving south-east London.

And why shouldn’t TfL takeover the services many wondered, including those with power across the political spectrum. Wherever TfL have taken over we have seen passenger numbers sky-rocket. Passenger number rise sharply, satisfaction increases as does staffing providing a safer railway, and fare evasion plummets.

southeastern-train

Yet things now look a bit more worrying. Boris has gone and so has Patrick Patrick McLoughlin from the Department for Transport. They never did much for Southeastern, and the promise of an announcement of additional trains made back in January in the Commons by his deputy Claire Perry still hasn’t happened.

But the TfL takeover was something. Now Chris Grayling is in the role. And people are worried. Will some silly dogma now stop a transfer that could bring massive benefits to the population and businesses of London?

TfL state in this month’s board papers that when they’ve previously took over routes they spent around two years preparing. They worked with the DfT and existing operators to ensure the handover was smooth. Southeastern’s franchise ends in June 2018. Less than two years and the ball isn’t rolling as the DfT are feet dragging. Alarm bells are ringing.

Unless politicians and people in the area fight hard on this, and quickly, a great chance for improvement could go begging as south east London misses out on benefits much of the rest of London receive.

BENEFITS

So why the clamour for TfL? Well, just look at changes since they took over routes in east and north-east London from Greater Anglia in 2015, as seen in the newest meeting papers:

tfl-takeover-ga

This is the results of independent Passenger Focus surveys. That’s a big jump in satisfaction with staff, cleanliness and information. Fare evasion has plummeted now staff are present from first to last trains, and a 27% increase in journeys is just a year is huge. They’ve even seen less delayed trains. Network Rail are normally responsible here, but even in this regard closer working pays dividends.

They also wasted no time in ordering new trains in 2015. Now, this is perhaps unlikely for Southeastern Metro given they are 10 years younger than what trundle around over the river (though are as shabby inside) but shows how pro-active TfL often are in comparison to the DfT. From the TfL press release:

“Thousands of customers on London Overground routes in East and North East London will travel on new air-conditioned trains from 2018, after TfL today announced that a contract with a capital value of around £260m will be awarded to Bombardier Transportation to build a new fleet of trains.”

Another benefit of TfL becoming the authority with control over services and standards is that fares have risen at a slower rate or been held. That will continue for four years under new mayor Sadiq Khan’s TfL only fares freeze. Not so for Southeastern passengers.

Staffing

If these improvements happened with Southeastern then passengers could at long last could look forward to staffing at stations that didn’t knock off at 8pm at the busiest places like Greenwich, which would help locals and the numerous visiting tourists.

Places like Deptford, where passenger numbers have quadrupled from 300k a year to 1.2 million in just a decade, still have barely any staff presence. And just this month many shop units are opening beside the station along with a block of flats, as Deptford Market Yard finally completes. TfL would capitalise on this. The DfT are distant and ignorant of these changes. Franchise operators aren’t exactly pro-active either, and normally just do the bare minimumof what the DfT specify.

A TfL takeover would ensure barriers are manned and paying punters wouldn’t see people without tickets travelling with impunity.

Southeastern Metro fare evasion levels are likely to be above 15% that existed on Greater Anglia routes, what with no guards on trains and 90% of stations lacking barriers or left open. You just have to see how many people get up and rush off when inspectors rarely appear. Half the carriage did that on a recent journey travelling from Charlton to Westcombe Park. It was pretty comedic but showed the scale. It’s far from the only time seen.

Fares

And the Southeastern fare premium would go. Currently, if you use London Overground and switch to the tube or DLR en route, you don’t pay more. With Southeastern you pay an extra £1.50 when switching from the train in central London to a tube.

Admittedly, other areas get this benefit even without TfL running their services. c2c passengers in east London don’t pay this premium, nor do people using Great Western train. It’s more of a south of the river thing, except for many Southern passengers who now have the London Overground option. However, despite it not being solely a TfL benefit, the Department for Transport isn’t going to extend that to people in south-east London. TfL very likely would.

Southeastern passengers also get a 5-10% increase on pay as you go fares each and every year without fail, regardless of the cost of regulated season tickets. TfL passengers will not have this for four years with Sadiq Khan’s fares freeze. At least a 2018 takeover should prevent two years of that for SE passengers. Without it, SE passengers will likely be paying at least 20% more by 2020 above and beyond most of the rest of London. As it is, they’ll probably be lumped with ‘just’ 10%+ rises.

Then there’s the “little” things, such as promotion and advertising, like installing large and brightly illuminated signage to attract passengers. The amount of half-hidden stations that currently exist is ridiculous.

And TfL have once again stated they would transfer services with no cost at all to the Department for Transport, and even pay transition costs, as shown here in the latest TfL board papers:

tfl-funding

Dogma returns?

So what’s happening? The change in Prime Minister, Chancellor and Transport Minister has disrupted events. Are the newcomers too stuck in dogma that they wont authorise a policy that has been proven to work and won’t cost the Treasury or DfT a penny? Has power-hungry and centralising instincts taken hold again? The UK is the most centralised developed country in the world. Whitecall calls the shots in many areas regardless of whether it knows best. It almost never does.

TfL have contacted the DfT on this issue but are still waiting to hear back. In Parliament questions to Chris Grayling go unanswered. Will he throw the area under just to make a silly point? If he does then Tories in the area, many of whom support a TfL takeover, will suffer from angry commuters.

This week the Tory GLA member representing Bexley and Bromley, Gareth Bacon, only mentioned Southern rail in a written question to the Mayor and ignored Southeastern passengers difficulties. It seems as though making silly political points comes above advancing what’s best for who he represents. I bet the many people commuting from Bexley and Bromley boroughs loved that. It might be worth emailing him here – gareth.bacon@london.gov.uk

TfL finances

One issue is that TfL finances are stretched. This should not impact upon a transfer but could be at the back of some minds.  TfL are trying to make up for this by selling land around stations, such as Kidbrooke as I covered here, but will that come close to maintaining funds let alone increase as the population shoots up?

TfL Kidbrooke letter 2

TfL proposal with Network Rail at Kidbrooke

Projections are for 1.4 million more people in London over the next 15 years. That’s conservative and it already looks very possible that the 1.4 million extra people will be here closer to a decade and not 15 years.

In their wisdom the Government announced they are cutting funding by almost £200m a year for TfL despite huge population increases. Nationally they deemed that transport was worthy of the biggest cuts of any department – 37%. Absolute stupidity at a time of such rapid rises in the population.

Additionally, central Government makes it very difficult for the Mayor of London to raise revenue locally to fund transport in contrast to most cities in the developed world.

So is a takeover affordable for TfL? Well, they’re likely well aware of the large amount of ticketless travel on Southeastern. Couple that to far greater visibility and publicity and there’s still scope for more passengers and income, particularly off-peak. Though there’s also scope for more peak capacity.

Relatively simple things like altering the internal layout of tired Networker trains to replace bays of three seats with bays of two would help. In fact, the entire interior really needs a refurbishment after 25 years of service, but of course the DfT never bothered specifying that in previous franchise awards and extensions.

The evidence is clear that TfL taking over suburban services has resulted in massively increased passenger numbers, or paying passengers as any rate. Frequencies go up, though mainly off-peak as peak time train paths are limited. This was one objection Kent County Council had, but even they have been assured that TFL takeovers will only see off-peak increases which do not impact upon Kent services.

When off-peak frequencies are only, say, 50% of peak levels, they can be boosted by 10-20% and still have more than enough spare capacity for longer distance off-peak increases.

What to do?

This issue is of critical importance to south east London and areas in Kent such as Dartford. I’ve written quite a few posts in the past with the intention of alerting people to issues. This is well up there in importance. A takeover would be transformative in a whole range of areas. It being blocked will hold many things back. People clearly do not want another 6 year or more with Southeastern. With the DfT calling the shots that’s likely, when it’s been shown time and time again they couldn’t care less.

It’s time that Southeastern passengers contacted MPs and GLA members en masse. Local groups have a role to play to eg click here to find details of a group campaigning for Dartford passengers. You can find your MP and GLA member here to contact them asking to push hard on this before the window for change closes.

Other areas of the country have organised and gained results quickly. c2c over the Thames already have lower fares and fare higher punctuality stats. They were also due more trains in 2019.

Earlier this year timetable and crowding issues occurred. Passengers protested at Fenchurch Street, ensured the media covered it and what happened? Almost immediately the DfT agreed to provide six trains from early 2017 until the 2019 order arrives.

For Southeastern passengers time is of the essence and if local Tories in particular get the message that people want change they will hopefully be banging on the door of their colleagues at the Department for Transport. MPs like James Brokenshire (Old Bexley and Sidcup), David Evenett (Bexleyheath and Crayford) and Gareth Johnson (Dartford) are in the spotlight.

They may think that Corbyn’s Labour renders them safe. Well, things can change quickly and who knows what other parties will look like in years to come or how boundary changes affect things. If people in 2020 are stuck on a neglected Southeastern franchised train day in and day out they may think twice about voting Tory knowing they’ve inflicted it on them.

Posted in Transport | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Will Erith, Belvedere and Woolwich see rail service cuts due to Thameslink?

southeastern-train

The appearance of the Woolwich line in forthcoming Thameslink plans has raised a number of questions about wider changes to the rail service in south east London. The 853 blog has done a great job rounding up plans, which can be seen here. Trains are planned to run from Rainham in Kent to Luton. Two an hour will run from Medway through to Abbey Wood, Woolwich, Charlton and Greenwich and then call at numerous other destinations in London.

thameslink-map

However the consultation documents reveal that they won’t call at Woolwich Dockyard due to short platforms. A perennial problem that really needs sorting, but what’s odd is that trains with Selective Door Opening will operate on Thameslink, thus long trains can stop at short platforms.

Woolwich Dockyard is the least used station on the line, but the demolition and rebuilding of Morris Walk estate plus emerging plans for thousands of homes at Charlton Riverside will cause a spike in demand.

The plans also reveal that Belvedere and Erith could be skipped. Erith has imminent plans for 2000 homes and Belvedere is the area designated to have more homes that any other part of Bexley Borough over the next decade.

thameslink-frequencies

The consultation then makes a worrying statement. Despite being in line for many thousands of new homes Erith and Belvedere, they will be served by “up to four trains an hour”. Both stations currently see six trains an hour off-peak and had more in the peaks before the whole London Bridge rebuild begun. Last year Belvedere had an increase of 11% to almost a million annual passengers, and Erith saw 9% growth.

greenwich-line-2015

The odd thing is the service will stop at stations like Stone Crossing, which has 165k passengers a year in 2013/14, and Northfleet with just 71k.

It also doesn’t mention whether it will replace the trains from Gillingham to Charing Cross. The fact the planned service does stop at places like Northfleet does suggest it will be axed. If they do go then the link from Charlton to Blackheath and Lewisham would go and the chance to then change to services to Victoria.

It would also mean that the entire line loses direct trains to Waterloo East for connections with South West Trains and Charing Cross in the west end. Currently only stations from Westcombe Park to Deptford permanently lose this link.

So, lots to consider. The consultation can be viewed and comments made here.

 

 

Posted in Transport | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Marks and Spencer return to Woolwich alongside a Mini showroom

woolwich-marks-and-spencer-site

It’s not exactly a secret but Marks and Spencer are returning to Woolwich after departing the town a couple of years ago for Charlton. A planning application has been formally submitted.

They are taking on Blocks A and B below newly built towers. The exact spot is closest to the forthcoming Crossrail station.

ms-site-plan

Unlike the former department store in the town centre this new branch is simply a food store. The planning ref is 16/2927/F.

Also submitting plans for the new parade of commercial units is a Mini showroom. This will occupy a unit underneath the last tower to complete. The reference is 16/2928/F.

The final tower on this stretch is now almost complete. Here’s a pic from this past week:

berkeley-last-tower

A Sainsbury’s is also likely to occupy a unit. Plans have also been submitted last week for another 150 odd homes around the corner. I’ll cover those in an imminent post.

Posted in Woolwich | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Thousands of homes coming to Charlton Riverside as industry waves goodbye

 

Numerous plans appear to be moving forward in demolishing much industrial land in Charlton to become housing. One such sign could be that Greenwich Council are looking to purchase a warehouse by the Thames Barrier for over £500k, located at 95-105 Eastmoor Street in Charlton. The site has been advertised for sale recently, as can be seen here. It is a site no longer listed as industrial in the last Charlton Masterplan.

eastmoor-street

If this area is in line for alteration to residential it matches other schemes being taken forward. Rockwell Residential has purchased some plots of land totalling 15 acres and have a site here with preliminary info. They state:

“Rockwell and its partners have acquired approximately 15 acres of brownfield land at Charlton Riverside.

This strategic waterfront location offers great potential for a new residential district and an integrated community. Leading architects Simpson Haugh and Partners have been appointed to explore the visions and aspirations, integrate the masterplan guiding principles and improve the riverfront and transport infrastructure.”

 

Rockwell also mention a new park:

“Greenwich (surely Charlton?!) can look forward to a new Barrier Park running from the Thames Barrier to Maryon Wilson Park. Opening up views of the Thames and the barrier, it would be about twice the size of today’s open space.”

Here is a map of the sites they are consulting on:

location-plan-3

But is this the right decision? Charlton is one of the few areas where industry is still in reasonable health. Many industrial estates are now half-empty or full of churches (many operating without any planning permission causing issues for remaining businesses) but Charlton continues to provide much valuable employment.

2012 Masterplan

Greenwich Council commissioned a masterplan for the area in 2012. It’s fair to say it’s not the finest work. Very dated concepts abound of pushing retail parks without any residential elements above, which is madness with the current housing shortage and population growth.

Instead of residential located above huge retail boxes and expansive single level car parks, which have expanded since 2012 with Sainsbury’s, Marks and Spencer, Brocklebank (opening this winter) and the Millenium Retail Park expansion with some of the worst architecture seen this side of a 1990s service station in Slough, the masterplan also encouraged the demolition of much industry for residential.

Charlton Masterplan

Pretty much from day one this was seen as a nonsense and 20 years behind the times. Barely four years later and a new masterplan is being drawn up at high cost but the damage has been done. Much land has been grossly under-utilised.

So we wait to see what the second masterplan in just four years can achieve.

Consultation on Rockwell’s plans are being held at the Yacht Club in Greenwich on:

Saturday 24th September 10am – 4pm

Wednesday 28th September 6.30pm – 9pm

Thursday 29th September 4pm – 8pm

Developers U&I (formally Cathedral Group) have also purchased 10 acres of land in the area.

Within a decade it’s feasible that the entire stretch of riverside from Thamesmead to Greenwich will have high density residential lining the Thames. Much is now going up or in planning, from Peabody’s plans for housing at West Thamesmead where the old Arsenal canal is, five towers planned for Woolwich and then schemes further west that have been approved but yet to start such as Mast Quay 2 and of course many now underway around the Peninsula.

Time to dust off those plans for Greenwich Millenium Transit, but a tram this time and not a diverted 472 bus?

Posted in Charlton | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments