The imminent arrival of Crossrail has led to a number of changes around Abbey Wood station. A large Sainsbury’s arrived a year ago alongside a controversial small tower which will soon house a library at street level.

Alongside this, developers HUB purchased some land and recently submitted a screening opinion for a 27-storey tower. A barely publicised consultation last week revealed just how the site will be developed. They’ll be 208 flats and a 90 room hotel. As for the tower, and it’s not too bad based on the limited information available.

hub tower 2

Sure, it’s a pretty generic London tower, but it could be worse. I like the cross-bracing on the section in front of the main tower and it includes active frontages at street level. A new public square is mentioned, as every new development seems to have these days. Whether it provides a pleasant space depends on whether the commercial space is occupied, and that depends on the rents being reasonable. The area could certainly do with a nice restaurant or pub.

However, where worries creep in is with the consultation’s information about the planned building’s cladding. Apparently: “elements of the scheme draw upon the architectural language of Abbey Wood’s existing industrial buildings and the Thamesmead estate beyond”

That’s right. Those elements now being demolished. Is this a way to say they are going for dreary grey cladding? If so, Greenwich planners needs to be on the ball at pre-application discussions. The architects are ShedKM.

View of development from Felixstowe Road station exit
View of development from Felixstowe Road station exit
Dull main tower
Dull main tower

Another issue is that the main tower seems to lack any sort of interest, particularly at its peak. Another dull, flat roof.

A hotel is also planned. No great surprise there either. When even places like Sidcup have two hotels, then a location 10 minutes from Canary Wharf is sure to follow.

Premier Inn could be likely. They are expanding across London right now.

Expanded public space
Expanded public space

Wider local improvements

This development will bring in substantial funds to the council. There’s a plethora of upgrades that long-neglected Abbey Wood badly needs. It’s essential developer contributions are spent locally and not siphoned off to Woolwich and other favoured spots. Much of Abbey Wood estate badly needs upgrading, with pretty awful public spaces quite common. Both shopping parades could do with a little TLC, for example.

It’s the same at Wilton Road by the station. Sticking plasters like £250k for paving are nowhere near enough. Towns nearby like Erith are seeing £20 million. As I often state, the £6 million public realm works from Crossrail mainly cover the flyover, which benefits people arriving on a bus from elsewhere and not Abbey Wood residents who arrive on foot.

Adding a second station entrance

Another local project this would greatly help is providing a second station entrance at the western end of the station at Mottisfont Road and Felixstowe Road. The council own a part of the land beside the western end of the station – garages and a disused council yard. Combine a sale of that land with developer contributions and a big improvement is possible.

If it can be shown to TfL and Crossrail that’ll be at no initial cost to them, and the council can loudly publicise benefits to more deprived areas located by the second entrance, plus also highlighting far better accessibility for the elderly, disabled and parents, then it’s more than possible. But the council are silent on it. Where are the campaigns to aid the town from them? I wrote a post about such a scheme, which can be seen here.

Network Rail even commissioned a study on the Greenwich line looking at delays and concluded that stations lacking entrances at both ends are a major factor. So why repeat past mistakes?

Area of land adjacent to western Crossrail platform
Area of land adjacent to western Crossrail platform

And a second entrance and exit would cut off a long walk for many in Abbey Wood and Plumstead, reducing reliance on cars and buses. I recently took a train from Cannon Street to Abbey Wood. Boarding at the rear of a 10-car Southeastern train in Cannon Street, I then had to walk a long way to exit the station upon arriving at Abbey Wood as the only exit is where the front of the train stops.

With 12-car trains likely in coming years, that’s a 240 metre walk, crossing a bridge, then exiting and looping back for another long walk. And the walk back is not even direct, as a development dating from around the millenium on Felixstowe Road is not permeable and means a further detour.

Further developments

This planned development is directly adjacent to Lyndean Industrial Estate. The estate has a number of vacant units, has seen a fair few dodgy events happen which culminated in a murder. Greenwich council are now looking to reclassify the area from industrial to residential in their Local Plan, and not before time. The small number of businesses still operating could move the new industrial units being built nearby at Thamesmead.

Also nearby is Peabody’s ‘Sedgemere’ site. This is the area off Harrow Manorway with a petrol station and MOT centre. Peabody are looking to build flats on this spot with an outline planning application currently being considered.

sedgemere early plans

So, lot’s going on. The area will see huge changes in coming years, as to be expected with Crossrail arriving. The question is will the developments be of sufficient quality and will the money they bring to the council be used to benefit the wider area, which has been long neglected?

Click here to visit HUB’s page which has links to consultation documents.

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