Cross Quarter abbey wood 2

The application to build a new Sainsbury’s superstore, hotel, and housing in Abbey Wood was approved by Greenwich Council’s Planning Committee last Thursday. Detailed permission was granted for the Sainsbury’s, a hotel, and 31 flats, whilst outline permission was granted for the rest of the scheme, which is mostly the main housing element comprising a couple of hundreds homes adjacent to the supermarket.

Sainsburys Abbey Wood

The scheme looks to be decent, though I would prefer to see flats above the large supermarket. I’m dubious of how the hotel will turn out with randomised brightly coloured cladding and small windows. Also I’m not sure who will take on the hotel site initially. If it is built alongside Sainsbury’s during the initial stage then it will be a few years before Crossrail arrives, and Travelodge (the most likely candidates) are going through a period of rationalisation and selling some hotels after ownership changes. It has recently opened hotels by Deptford Bridge DLR station, Sidcup, Woolwich, and is supposed to be opening one at the site of the ‘movement’ development next to Greenwich station, along with one in Charlton near to the new Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencer site on Woolwich Road.

Another intriguing element of the scheme is Greenwich council’s desire for a library to be included. This has now appeared on the website. This would in all likelihood mean the existing Abbey Wood library closing, and it moving a fair walk away to a site close to Bexley Library’s new Thamesmead library, which is replacing the existing Newacres library which is being demolished and replaced on almost the same site.

The design and access statement in the planning documents for Cross Quarter also show images of the planned Crossrail station.

Abbey Wood crossrail renders

I have not seen these images before and presumably they are the most recent designs. There has been years of back room negotiation on the station plans. Both Bexley and Greenwich council’s have been reportedly unhappy with the plans that have previously been drawn up. Dates for planning applications have come and gone. It is crucial that a good design is implemented, as it will connect the major bus interchange on the dual carriageway alongside, as well as integrating with the existing parade of shops one side and Sainsbury’s the other, and facilitate crossing the railway. The existing station is a good design dating from the 1980s, with a heavily slanted roof and much glazing. The web of walkways crossing the railway and dual carriageway alongside however are a mess. They are a result of previous station costcutting and are a blot on the environment.

The image above is not too clear but it could show the current road on the flyover, with two lanes in each direction, reduced to one. Hopefully not, as with the number of buses stopping there, what is currently a free flowing road will become grid locked. In future there will be more buses serving the station as Crossrail arrives, along with new developments and infrastructure. There is already a bus lane so it would be unnecessary.

Ideally, the two lane section of Harrow Manorway from the flyover next to the station, to the roundabout by the redeveloped Tavy Bridge (where the new Bexley Council library and more homes will be) would be widened to two lanes in each direction, with a new lane each way exclusively for buses with segregated cycle paths alongside. This could be achieved with minimal demolition as the road is mostly lined with grassland which will in all probability disappear as redevelopment of Thamesmead moves south. It is the only single lane section in the miles of road from Thamesmead to Abbey Wood station and could become a real bottle neck.

Map - Abbey Wood roads

Without it traffic problems will surely increase, with greater bus numbers in future, and hopefully some cross river routes serving Crossrail heading to Thamesmead. Long term a tram could be a possibility. The large Sainsburys’ car park and hundreds of homes will be accessed via the single lane section as things stand. Widening roads is difficult politically, but this would benefit public transport by providing a dedicated lane on an increasingly busy stretch.

Demolition of the former Siemens factory starts on site soon, and the buildings are scheduled for completion in 2014-15.