The newsshopper this week reported that £6 million to be spent at Abbey Wood on much needed public realm improvements in the immediate vicinity of Abbey Wood station, in advance of Crossrail opening in 2018. There’s not many details in the story, and it looks like an announcement of what was already widely known. Crossrail, Network Rail, TfL and the councils will be working together to spruce up some areas.

Crucially it doesn’t seem to cover almost all the shopping parade at Abbey Wood ‘village’, which is the towns heart and currently far from attractive. I will be more impressed when both Greenwich and Bexley councils secure cash to improve this area, and do so from funds that aren’t being given to just about every station. Once again more millions will be coming around in April from the Mayor of London’s Local Implementation Plans. How about a bid for major projects works, as many other areas across London have seen?

Trees? Attractive lighting and paving?

Trees? Attractive lighting and paving?

Something often forgotten is that there is a large caravan and camping park in Abbey Wood, which attracts tourists from all over Europe. There’s a total of 156 pitches there. The grim state of the ‘village’ seen above (you know the drill – poor paving, crap lighting, signage and other street furniture, no trees etc) creates a very poor first impression for many people visiting London and the UK.

Many come and pitch up, then use the train (a 5 minute walk) to visit London’s attractions. Hearing Spanish, French, Dutch, German etc voices is quite common, particularly in the summer months. The site gets very good reviews, but it is often remarked online that some people do not feel very safe, and they are not complimentary about the area of the ‘village’ they walk through to reach the train. The safety issue is probably more to do with how the place looks than any genuine threat. They also don’t tend to stop and use the shops due to the feel of the place.

Improving this stretch is vital. It deserves it having been abandoned for so long. Locals deserve it, as do visitors. It would give a far better impression of the town and London to tourists. It’s a poor first impression now.

Worse for bus passengers?

Back to changes that are happening, and it looks as though the bus lane on the flyover by Abbey Wood station could be gone for good, as has been expected. Two lanes each way over the flyover become one. Bus journeys from Thamesmead could take far longer than at present with the addition in 2015 of Sainsbury’s and their car park on the approach to the station, plus hundreds of new homes. There’s also at least two new traffic light crossings to be installed. I wouldn’t be surprised if Harrow Manorway is gridlocked daily. Many buses stop on the flyover, and more will in future as services alter before 2018. Until recently cars and other buses could overtake stopping buses. With less scope to do this the chances of queues increase.

People using the station will find their journeys to Canary Wharf and central London far quicker from 2018. Unfortunately for those in Thamesmead, their bus journeys to get to the station could take two or three times as long with the removal of the bus lane on the final approach to the station stops. Rather than remove this, the entire stretch of Harrow Manorway needs doubling, with dedicated bus lanes and segregated cycle lanes the whole length.

If gridlock ensues there will be even more demand for a quick London Overground train journey from Thamesmead to Abbey Wood station on any extension across the river from Barking.