woolwich road new paving 5

A nice annual sum is coming to Greenwich Council again next year from TfL. £2.6 million from the Local Implementation Plan fund to be precise. But where will it be spent?

Well, no one knows yet. In customary fashion no details are public. Secrecy is the way as usual. Last year was the same. A very basic overview of barely four pages with little detail was the best that was on offer, and Councillors only saw that after the financial year begun. No time for scrutiny or changes. It was waved through with barely a question asked.

Over the boundary

Compare this to Lewisham Council. Their Officers have just drawn up a 24 page report listing all the planned schemes for their cash next year. And a hell of a lot of positives can be seen that will improve areas and links for pedestrians and cyclists, boost shopping parades and high streets plus spaces around transport interchanges. This also benefits local businesses and public health, helping get people out of cars and improving community pride.

The schemes include:

  • Coulgate Street, Brockley. £360k spent around the station. The area is vastly improving and the area is now a great destination with many attractive businesses.
  • Dartmouth Road North, Forest Hill. £1.5 million over two years as:

“The public realm environment in the northern section of Dartmouth Road is poor with illegal night time footway parking, unsightly street furniture, a number of vacant shops, a perception of inadequate lighting and anti-social behaviour”

  • Crofton Park Corridor. £1.7 million over three years:

“Road safety and air quality were the key issues to be investigated, alongside public realm improvements which would support local places.”

  • 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.

A lot of the language seen in Lewisham’s report would appear alien to many at Greenwich Council. Improving public realm, supporting local places, unsightly street furniture etc. What’s that then? Lets spend some cash on making things worse for pedestrians and making areas uglier and less appealing often seems to be the plan.

Major Schemes

Away from the ‘routine’ pot of cash given to boroughs, LIP funds also pay for Major Schemes. It’s normally one per borough every two to three years. This is paying for Eltham’s current upgrade in Greenwich Borough and will pay for Deptford High Street’s upgrade next year in Lewisham.

Greenwich Council aren’t doing a bad job on the major scheme front but when it comes to the regular pot of £2.6 million, transparency, information and priorities seem off. With Lewisham managing to improve busy public areas and meeting places to provide attractive and safe focal points for communities and local businesses, it’s hard to think of any area in Greenwich, especially local parades, that have seen improvements funded by TfL’s LIP millions. And the scheme has been going for over a decade. So much scope for improvements gone begging.

Smaller town centre hubs like these could really benefit from this money:

Nightingale Vale, Woolwich Common

nightingale-vale

The site of Woolwich Common Community Centre. Far from inviting.

Eynsham Drive, Abbey Wood

eynsham-drive

The main shopping parade for an estate of 3000 homes. Also the site of the main community centre. A few quid on trees and making this look less like the worst of 1960s design would help attract locals instead of jumping in their cars to get away. Surely RBG can do so with £2.6 million to play with?

They really should have been spending money from nearby developments here too, but decided last week to take £200,000 and give it to Charlton.

East Greenwich

east greenwich library

East Greenwich library

Grim old spot.

Middle Park

middle-park

Main shopping centre for estate. Tired and unappealing.

Charlton station

charlton-station

Too much clutter, crappy paving (can the Highways Department stop using this particular type like the rest of the world did 15 years ago? They’ve just put in more around the corner) and generally a bit of a shit introduction.

And larger areas could see incremental schemes:

Plumstead High Street and Lakedale Road:

lakedale-road

In a dire state for years along almost its whole length.

Up there with the worst High Street in all of London in terms of the conditions pedestrians are placed in.

But really, will it happen? A major problem is that Greenwich Highways Department, in contrast to neighbouring boroughs, is so often stuck in the past and seems to think that it’s only remit is what is between the kerbs. Tarmac only. It’s not – it’s entire streets including pavements and parades; stations and bus stops.

Improve them and you improve community pride, lessen other related crime which occurs in run-down areas, encourage people to get about on foot and bike rather than drive (with associated health benefits) and boost local businesses. It’s a winner all round and the money’s there to do it.

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