I’ve been on a few jaunts around SE London over the Christmas period, and I actually had a half decent camera with me for once. Much of the latter part of this post is focused on Lewisham town centre but let’s start with Crossrail work at Abbey Wood. The temporary station opened a couple of months ago. Half the walkways have come down, as shown in red below.
The southern half is still in place, though the ramps are fenced off and cannot be used to reach the bus stops. A lengthy detour over the flyover is needed for that. I had hoped the remainder would quickly follow but it seems a couple of months gap between demolition will occur. Below is a pic taken from the station. It’s not the most revealing…
You can see many more better quality pictures of Abbey Wood Crossrail work at Bexley is Bonkers’ Crossrail page by clicking here.
Just by the station, Greenwich Council have bid for 300k of funding from the Mayor’s ‘High Street Fund’ for improvements to the parade of shops. This is badly needed to improve this busy yet run-down area. This really should be the town’s heart but it’s in a sorry state. As I wrote in an older post, there is a caravan / campsite used heavily by tourists visiting London close by. Many pitch up and then must walk through this shopping parade to reach the train station. It presents a very poor first impression of the town, the borough and London. With nearly 200 pitches in peak season there could be 400-500 people staying there at a time. This is a big opportunity for the town that is not being utilised.
As for the bid, the council states:
“The Abbey Wood proposal is for £300,000 to provide additional improvements alongside those already coming as part of the Crossrail regeneration of the area. The extra funds would go towards shop-front improvements for the parade of restaurants and retail outlets along Wilton Road and some internal upgrades to attract new business opportunities. Local independent traders would also receive expert business support to help identify areas for future growth, so that they can benefit from the significant regeneration coming to the area.”
It’s a welcome change from the council to bid for these pots of cash after often missing out during Chris Robert’s time as leader, when the council did not receive cash that other boroughs received, by adopting a confrontational attitude to the Mayors office. This does come though after it was recently announced that £6m was to be spent on improvements around the station but bizarrely avoiding the main parade of shops, which sees large levels of footfall, and presents a very poor impression. The 300k also does not mention public realm improvements which could be done reasonably cheaply.
One issue with these bids is that they often rely on local community groups and shop owners working together as a group. What happens in a town so neglected as Abbey Wood where there are almost no community groups and the population is steeped in apathy? If community groups are needed to win funding bids then deprived and neglected areas will always suffer as they tend to lack the community cohesion and fight seen in more prosperous areas. That simply reinforces the cycle of ‘better’ areas receiving more for improvements. In such a scenario politicians and the local authority must take the lead, alongside creating and fostering local groups.
In Abbey Wood you encounter apathy and cynicism everywhere. Many years of neglect by authority have achieved that. There’s a certain hopelessness of improvements from many. A few people I know there have stopped caring on the whole. Civic pride has evaporated. The population has become more transient as buy to let and ‘slumlords’ are ever more apparent. A lot of people who cared gave up as it declined and moved away. To rely on strong local groups to win funding will only ensure it misses out or doesn’t fully utilise money it does receive.
The council have also bid for 400k for Eltham for “improvements to redevelop the site of the former public toilets and tram shelter at the junction of Well Hall Road and Eltham High Street”.
Plumstead & New Eltham also see bids. A great project for 20k to create a public cafe and space on Plumstead high street is an admirable project. It’s a shame the council couldn’t bid for more for Plumstead, another neglected area, either this year or in previous funding rounds. The public realm across much of the town is terrible, including the station area. As in Abbey Wood it presents a very poor impression when arriving on the train.
The development by the station has broken ground. It is now up to the second floor and can just about be made out below on the right. Behind it on the left is the new Premier Inn hotel. It’s a pretty basic brick clad building, but materials and proportions seem decent, and given the state of many budget hotels this isn’t bad at all.
An example of terrible hotel proposals is this at New Eltham. Now this is cheap and nasty. It hasn’t passed Greenwich’s planning yet, so perhaps there’s hope it will be altered.
Elsewhere in Lewisham the final buildings of Barrett Homes’ ‘Renaissance’ is going up. I like this development on the whole. The towers look fine and the proportions are good. If London is to deal with a population of 9 million soon it needs many more towers around stations alongside transport improvements. The usual problems apply – very high prices, too much buy to let, too many foreign investors buying and not occupying, but the concept of high density is needed. It’s a shame London’s ridiculous rents prevent many of the ground floor retail units from being occupied. They are essential to bring life to new developments. The public realm is also sparse.
Another problem is the complete lack of a segregated cycle path, even though there’s more than enough space on the wide paving running along this development. It looks as though they just didn’t know what to do with the wide pavement.
“What do we put here? A segregated cycle lane to avoid this traffic clogged road and buses pulling into a busy bus stop?”
“Nah, lets put some ‘benches’ and bushes down. Everyone likes looking at Carpet Right and traffic don’t they?”.
You could have a cycle lane here hundreds of metres long. Below the traffic levels can be seen, and this was not at peak time.
Cycling through that? It’s not tempting. To the right ‘Thurston Central’ can be seen. This is a development of 406 flats by Ashford developments. Asda have signed up for the retail space.
Earlier renders had showed B&Q as the retail store. Changes have also has seen the numbers of flats bumped up from 280 to 406. The building is definitely taller than the early render shown below.
Finally, just over the other side of the railway bridge from the Barretts’ development and Thurston Central is a proposal for 49 flats in an 11 storey block. Brockley Central has covered it here. Planning documents can be seen here. It seems a good use of under-utilised land. One possible issue though is blocking light for a smaller block nearby from Family Mosaic, who are also behind this proposal.
There is some interest in the facade with alternating balconies every two levels. The use of too much grey brick is could make it appear drab. Smaller blocks are to the rear of the tower near the houses on Bertrand Street.