FromTheMurkyDepths

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Where the Greenwich Gyratory Money Will Go Instead

Earlier this year TfL rejected Greenwich’s expensive proposal to turn central Greenwich into a one way gyratory system. But Greenwich didn’t lose the money it gets from TfL. So what will it spend the £2.5 million earmarked for a gyratory on? See here for a PDF file of the proposals for this years Local Implementation Plan which totals £3.9 million, and outline plans for the next couple of years.

Some of the big money schemes are –

  • £274000 in Greenwich on the A206 / Trafalgar Road, SE10 ( from Lassell St to Armitage Rd incl. Blackwall Lane Junction) This is the stretch by the old hospital, and where the ‘Heart of East Greenwich’ site is, and the big junction there. This comes under the heading ‘principle roads’. That may mean its simply resurfacing or maybe they’ll be some other tweaks.
  • £75000 this year and £300000 the following two years on ‘Evaluation, initial design and implementation of bus priority schemes which would have been done as part of GWT’. The Greenwich Waterfront Transit was a scheme drawn up under Ken Livingstone to run buses from Abbey Wood station via Thamesmead through the Royal Arsenal development towards Greenwich. It would have ran on segregated roads through parts of Thamesmead and Woolwich. It was scrapped by Boris, and was one of the only cancellations (possibly the only one) I agreed with. In the end it was nothing more than a glorifed bus route having started as a tram scheme, and would have replaced another bus route but with no added frequency, and the cost had risen into the tens of millions. It will be interesting to see if that money can get some buses through shortcuts such as the Arsenal for a fraction of the cost of the GWT.
  • 100 grand is to be spent at the Woolwich Road/Blackwall tunnel approach. Hopefully the awful roundabout there which has claimed cyclists lives will be improved and the guardrails removed.
  • 200 grand on a 20mph zone on Mcloed road in Abbey Wood. The streetscape is parts of Abbey Wood has gone downhill and much of the urban environment there is a disgrace. The upkeep of much of the area seems to have gone down the drain. Whether £200000 spent on road humps and additional street signs and clutter, on a busy road that serves double decker buses is the wisest decision, I’m not sure.
  • 215000 on footway and cycling improvements in Thamesmead. PLEASE make the cycling improvements coherent and actually worthwhile in the real world.

I’m wondering just how much thought the replacement schemes have been given. Greenwich Council were working on the gyratory plan right until TfL threw it out. When it was cancelled it was announced some money would instead go to the Woolwich Square project. That scheme, however, is almost finished and paid for. Only £220000 of the £2.5 million is going towards it.

The cancellation of the gyratory was of no real surprise, given that gyratories are a pretty dated 1970s idea that would have been detrimental to pedestrians, cyclists, and buses, and went against TfL policy. Gyratories have been removed across the capital in the past few years by TfL, including at Aldgate, Tottenham, Brixton, and just up the road at New Cross.

Now you and I probably have a thousand things we see that could be improved across the borough. My eye tends to focus upon the dire streetscapes as I travel across the borough. Crap lighting, crap paving, and messy street clutter clog up the environment all over, and could be vastly improved. The Woolwich Square improvements are a good example of getting rid of council installed guardrails, signage, and other rubbish and creating a cleaner, sparser environment to the benefit of people, streets, and buildings. Sadly, unless it’s a flagship project costing millions and with outside help Greenwich are often hopeless. Bread and butter projects and routine maintainence reveal a council fixated with putting signage up everywhere they can, along with cheap lighting and street furniture. And they love a guardrail and still stick them up anywhere they can. Why people need to be shepherded constantly to approved crossings I’m not sure. There’s a select few places it’s useful but it’s often nannying in the extreme. No you cannot cross here you’re not responsible enough! London has a huge number of barriers and obstacles on pavements and roadsides, and Greenwich Council are particularly bad at it. TfL however have been removing miles of them on their managed roads, to their credit. Guardrails cost thousands and makes streets uglier. Not to mention the danger to cyclists if forced against them by traffic moving too close.

So with the late cancellation of the gyratory we will have to see if just under £4million will be well spent. I’ve seen a few big wastages of money to have some scepticism. There was the million pound plus spent a few years ago on changing the road between Plumstead and Woolwich from a three lane road (two for cars and one for buses) into a two lane road (one bus and one car) by making the central reservation far wider. It caused huge tailbacks approaching the road from Plumstead High Street, which made my bus journey far slower. They immediately suspended the bus lane one day after opening, thus allowing cars to use it to ease the approaching queues, such was the uselessness of it. The queues from Plumstead High Street could stretch for over a mile during months of construction and after its disastrous opening. Before the scheme there were only queues of a few vehicles by Plumstead station at the lights before the dual carriageway, and often none at all.

Then more money was spent turning half of it back to a three lane road.  The whole thing led to my bus journey doubling, or even tripling in length at times, despite the scheme supposedely helping buses. It didn’t and I stopped using buses shortly after. I do hope the schemes over the next year turn grim streets into attractive places.

6 Comments

  1. I can only really comment on where I live – Abbey Wood. Neglect in this area (whether it be roads, housing, social care, general transport links – or even areas which are becoming run down) are mainly due to the fact that both Abbey Wood and Thamesmead are split between the boroughs of Bexley and Greenwich, consequently there are no cohesive plans about anything. It is rather like living in a ‘no man’s land’ – Council interest only occurring if there is any beneficial publicity to be gained.

    • That’s a good point. Would you say council neglect has got quite a bit worse or am I looking through rose tinted glasses? I read that for a few years in the late 80s and early 90s Abbey Wood had SDLP/Lib Dem councillors. I wonder if they were more successful at getting things done, or maybe the council was just better across the board? Maybe it being a competitive seat spured on councillors to get things done and go the extra mile.

      The cohesive plans, or lack of, is most apparent I think by the station. It’s a mess. As it is almost on the border, though is in Greenwich, both councils seem to overlook it, except to mess around with road layouts. Nothing is done to make it more attractive and provide decent pedestrian and cycling facilities. I do wish the 200 grand to be spent on Mcloed Rd would go towards improving the station area with better lighting, trees etc.

  2. There’s a very handy cycle route from Erith/Belvedere through to Plumstead – you wouldn’t guess it, though, since it vanishes as you cross the borough boundary at Abbey Wood.

    The Woolwich Road roundabout will be interesting – that doesn’t seem a lot of money for what seems a difficult junction to make safe. That’ll be on a cycle superhighway by 2015 as well.

  3. To Fromthemurkydepths
    However well intentioned, I’m not sure individual councilors have ever made much of a difference to the centre of Abbey Wood – and things have definitely got worse. We moved here at the beginning of the seventies when – despite nearby stage one of Thamesmead – the village area was pleasant and the station, although Victorian, was in keeping with the surrounding buildings. The train and bus services were adequate – and for those unable to travel far, or lacking the money for fares, the village shops sold a full range of goods including clothes and shoes. This probably sounds very boring to anyone young who is used to travelling about to many towns – but it was adequate for that time period and I think the isolation brought local people closer together. They were certainly more concerned about changes when they did begin to occur (But, oh the heartfelt joy of the cessation of the Lead factory and that later being demolished!)

    However, as the border of Bexley and Greenwich runs down Harrow Manorway and up Knee Hill, I can’t pretend that even then the two councils were unified in plans about the place – rather they ignored it! Until the awful flyover – which needed mutual co-operation – was built that is… Demolishing houses – grey concrete pillars towering over buildings – and still each side of the village shops were swept by different councils! No Christmas decorations for our village either!

    When the station was rebuilt – obviously on the Greenwich side – we weren’t consulted about the design – which was so out of keeping. We used to know all the porters, and the chap on the level crossing, but after the rebuild things seemed to change. For many years we did travel back and forth to London (but not during rush hour) and I don’t think we thought of things like saving ten minutes on a journey – more that we hoped we would get a seat – a clean seat!

    Until I read what you wrote, I had no idea about the money about to spent on Mcloud Road. Lack of information really is a big problem here. Now… I know all the bad bits about The Harrow Inn ( the tram workers once loved it – but that was definitely another era altogether) but that was demolished without anyone around where I am, knowing it was about to happen. I have since looked online and seen that planning for flats was once attempted, but I rather think that Crossrail will use that area for a lot of its machinery.

    Will they demolish The Village? You are far better informed than I am. Abbey Wood really consists of three different areas: the Co-op estate, Abbey Wood estate and the Village area. Greenwich obviously controls the largest swathe and being in Bexley (with no free newspapers delivered) we are often left in the dark. Regarding Crossrail… They have cut down trees along the track side of Alsike Road (Bexley side) and the workers told one of our friends that it was for Crossrail. As the station is to be further up track we wonder what on earth will be happening there.

    Crossrail information – for here – seem to be very hard to obtain in detail. It all seems to be a very fluid plan at this end of the track – guarded jealously by the powers that be. If you ring the appropriate body, they say you have to write in to make a request for information – and documents I have seen for here are very vague indeed.

    Sorry if all this is a very boring response to your informative Post.

  4. No it wasn’t boring at all – it was interesting thanks for the response. As for Crossrail – I think there will be a turn back facility further down the line for trains to switch tracks which could explain the work. The line is also safeguarded down to Gravesend where it may one day be extended.

    I doubt the village will be extended any time soon, though I could see it happening one day. There’s currently a lot of land around to build on such as the big disused industrial estates and Gallions site. Plus the old Harrow Pub site. You’re right about it being demolished without anyone having knowledge. There’s not many places a prominent building can just be demolished with barely a word said. Still, if someone was to buy the pub next door and then demolish it and build flats I could easily see that going through sadly.

    The problem is that there is no decent local press that covers much in the way of new developments. Even if there was it wouldn’t be widely circulated. I left SE London and lived in Bristol for 5 years. It was a complete contrast. There was good local papers which did cover new buildings and plans in depth. People were engaged and fought for better. I remember seeing people campaigning often, and it really did work. It helped that the council elections were competitive and many seats would change hands regularly so councillors had to listen more. The greens were a big force as well. Having said that there are big problems with the political structure but that’s another issue. But it was inspiring to be somewhere where things were in the open, people were aware, and cared enough to fight for change.

    Darryl – I’m guessing the guard rails will go along with the high curbs. It’s such a confined site that it would take a lot more to sort properly. And such an eyesore that would look a lot better being painted, and having some interesting LED lights added, or even some adverts or banners for the olympics, just to relieve the drabness and overbearing nature of it.

  5. Mr B Wade

    The 20mph safety zone proposals for McLeod Road Abbey Wood are welcomed by residents in the eastern half of SE2 as the western half already enjoys the benefits of a safety controlled zone with all the added benefits that brings. There will be a reduction in the amount of speeding vehicles and injuries to pedestrians, drivers and cyclists.
    Greenwich Council is to be congratulated on gaining funds from Tfl for this project which is an excellent plan and long overdue.

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