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Construction at Abbey Wood Crossrail station is picking up speed. Some new dates have been revealed regarding forthcoming changes. The existing tracks on the line from Kent to London will be realigned, beginning in May. Construction on an interim station is starting now and will be open in October 2014, when the current station will be demolished. Access to the station from the north will be blocked whilst this happens, with access reinstated when building works are complete by Autumn 2017.

Abbey Wood station rampThe tangle of ugly, concrete 1970s ramps seen above are to be demolished. This picture also shows the amount of land by the station that is currently used for car parking and low rise industrial purposes. I would expect all that to be become high density housing in the near future. Below is an image of the new temporary station building, constructed on the former station car park.

Abbey Wood temporary station

Bexley and Greenwich boroughs, along with Crossrail, have been working with Urban Movement to develop public realm proposals to enhance the station approaches and Harrow Manor Way.

Abbey wood 244 combinedThis shows the current bin store for shops removed. A recent post on the Bexley is Bonkers blog highlights the difficulties shops are having with the bins so a new location will need to be found for them, if possible. More car parking is proposed. This will make up for the loss of spaces in the station car park, and no doubt Bexley council are salivating at the charges they hope to levy. No images are shown of the main shopping parade which is in long term decline. That should be the priority for street improvements.

Abbey Wood FelixstoweTo the north of the station the car park will be reduced. Better quality, lighter, more attractive paving will be installed. The pillars of the bridge are shown painted. Not sure about the blue. These are very early designs however. Bridges and flyovers are blots on many streets but the issues they present to pedestrians below can be fixed quite easily. With painting, planting, and better lighting the dark, gloomy oppressiveness can be Abbey Wood Felixstowe newalleviated. There’s many successful examples of that around SE1 in central London.

If the street was be be rebuilt in the style shown on the left then it shows a rather optimistic view of future parking and driving standards given current behaviour. Shared surfaces often seem to be an Cross Quarter abbey wood 2invitation to drive off the road and onto the pavement locally. The whole pedestrian area would be covered in cars, some parked, some double parked, and some waiting.

There’s also no sign of a cycle lane from the station to join the lane planned by Sainsbury’s about 100 metres away, though there’s ample space for one. The spot where the Sainsbury’s lane begins is behind the trees on the middle image above. There’s also no cycle stands shown. With buses from Thamesmead slow and busy it’s an ideal cycle route to invest in. A segregated lane from the station, past Sainsbury’s, then along the road to Thamesmead should be an absolute priority.

Thamesmead back street cycle lane

Abbey Wood cycle lane mapBexley council have plans for a cycle route through back streets in Thamesmead heading to the station, on the passage seen above. That would require a cyclist heading from the station to leave the segregated stretch, turn right crossing a very busy road, then turn left crossing another busy road, to join the uninviting back street shown above. Not gonna happen.

The map shows what is confirmed, and also what Bexley hopes to install. A better idea is to continue the segregated stretch straight past Sainsbury’s, along Harrow Manorway continuing to Thamesmead, on the ample space available to the left of the road as shown below. This would mean one less busy road to cross and offer a more direct route. Problem is, left of the road is Greenwich borough, and right is Bexley.

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Cross Quarter Progress

In other semi-related news, the new Sainsbury’s, hotel, and flats development named ‘Cross Quarter’ has recently secured funding to begin construction. Demolition of the former Siemen’s factory is now complete. The first stage is projected to be finished by mid 2015.

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Funding For Public Realm Improvements

In total there’s £90 million available from Crossrail specifically for public realm improvements. Other sources of revenue to imprve the local area are future Local Implementation Fund money from the Mayor and GLA, along with Section 106 payments from developers. As more proposals inevitably arrive in coming years so will millions more to both councils coffers.

Hopefully Bexley and Greenwich council, working together (eek!), will submit ambitious plans to secure a good chunk of the initial Crossrail cash to make improvements soon to an area long neglected. Following those initial stages immediately around the station, a plan should be devised to fundamentally improve the Harrow Manorway corridor, cycle lanes, Abbey Wood estate, the co-op estate, Thamesmead Stage 1 and other housing areas nearby. All are within walking distance of the station and all have been neglected for far too long. The cash will soon be available to do so. Hopefully the desire is there too.

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