Plans to rebuild North Greenwich tube station with designs by world renowned architect Santiago Calatrava were unveiled today. 800 homes are included in three linked towers.

There’s some staple elements of Calatrava design to be seen here – the extensive use of white, swooping forms, an interior with organic columns and the cantilevered bridge is straight out of any number of other schemes.


What is interesting is that this is being labelled as a transport interchange project but there’s very little news about what transport improvements will occur in terms of added capacity.

There’s 15,720 homes coming at various plots from developer Knight Dragon across the Peninsula. When looking at other sites owned by AEG, the Millenium Village plots and places like Enderby, Precision and other plots then there’s at least 20,000 more homes in total coming  to Greenwich.

Then there’s Charlton Riverside just along the river and at least 5,000 coming there. And just yesterday I covered another 350 homes proposed in Charlton outside the masterplan site. It’s a constant drip drip of pressure. Many residents will work at Canary Wharf and a river bus isn’t going to cut it with so many people. A bridge from Greenwich Peninsula to the Isle of Dogs and Canary Wharf needs serious analysis.

Ferries lack capacity, stop running when fog rolls in and it’s very unlikely they’ll be 24/7. And how much space for cyclists will there be?

The proximity of Peninsula homes to Canary Wharf is evident
The proximity of Peninsula homes to Canary Wharf is evident

There’s also the issue of buses and how those in the east reach the Peninsula. TfL have had £1 billion cut from their budget as a result of previous budgets from George Osbourne. He loved to turn up in hi-viz at building sites and preach about infrastructure but never wanted to fund operating costs.

It wouldn’t be so bad if central government didn’t hamper London’s ability to raise cash to fund its own services but the UK is one of the most centralised nations in the entire planet and London authorities have far less power than most major world cities. Westminster and Whitehall may be in London but they block numerous plans for the Greater London Authority to run and fund various services.

Jubilee Line

There’s plans for 2 more trains an hour in peak times on the Jubilee which increases trains from 34 to 36 per hour. That’s the limit the line can run at. The hope is Crossrail alleviates people changing onto the Jubilee at Stratford.

There’s no doubt it will but how long until that space is filled? There’s a huge number of developments in Stratford itself – along the High Street, the Olympic Park and the old shopping centre.

Then one stop down at West Ham is a large amount of vacant land. Plans have been slow to come to fruition here but now there are plans for 3,500 homes with more vacant land nearby.cala-bridge-2

One stop along is Canning Town. Again, huge numbers of homes in close proximity. Here’s “London City Island”:

Taken in January 2017 from Canning Town station
Taken in January 2017 from Canning Town station

And here’s Hallsville Quarter:


These nearby have just completed or will do soon:


And then the line reaches North Greenwich, or Greenwich Peninsular as it will be renamed. A tad busy with many more people hoping to get on.

Greenwich Waterfront Transit

There’s some plans to resurrect this scheme. Here’s how it looked before being scrapped:


It’s badly needed. Not the over-expensive and over-engineered plans that were cancelled by Boris in 2009 but as a low cost scheme in the short to mid term with express buses. Keep it reasonably simple to protect against exorbitant costs for a simple bus route. High costs would only delay or kill it in these budget suppressed days. For example, in its earlier incarnation it was extremely over engineered along Thamesmead’s dual carriageways where congestion is almost always absent.

The separate £10 million plan to upgrade Harrow Manorway from Abbey Wood Crossrail station to Thamesmead would do much of what’s needed to provide congestion free running until it reaches the one way system by Plumstead bus garage. Though this plan still leaves a single lane pinch point:

Harrow Manorway widening for bus and cycle lanes
Harrow Manorway widening for bus and cycle lanes

In time, when budgets are less stretched and ridership is high a tram could be considered. Ideally it’d be from day one but its very unlikely so play the cards you have.

Then it will run through the new Charlton Riverside area before meeting the homes to the south of the Peninsula, such as future stages of Greenwich Millenium Village and these Knight Dragon developed towers I covered last week:


So it’s a bit disappointing today to see that only the station itself is seeing an upgrade, good though that is and with a fantastic architect, and there was no firm commitment in ensuring many more people can reach the station from the south and east, and also how people get over to Canary Wharf apart from the Jubilee line and an inadequate and outdated plan for ferries.

On the bright side Calatrava is a wonderful architect whose buildings and bridges often work wonders in lifting up places they’re located. It’s a wonderful thing to have him working on the Peninsula and the swooping lines are a great antidote to boxes. His recent work in New York, at the World Trade Center station, looks spectacular. Closer to home and the complex of Arts and Sciences in Valencia should be on everyone’s to-do list.