What happened to £400k street improvements?

Last year I wrote a post praising a Greenwich Council scheme to spend £400k on improving some of the uglier and more dangerous street across the borough.

streets for de-cluttering

I was reminded of it again when the Bexley is Bonkers site revealed that the grotty area of shops on Wilton Road by Abbey Wood station was due to receive some funding from this scheme. When reading the site I vaguely recalled some of the streets that were due to be improved, and I didn’t think any of them actually had been. With the financial year end fast approaching, could it have been scrapped? Fortunately not, as council documents this week show.

However, they do state that all the schemes are due to be complete by April. A tall order in just two months perhaps? But then again, a lot of it is blindingly obvious improvements that can be done quickly and cheaply.

As can be seen in the list above, Wilton Road in Abbey Wood is not mentioned. Is it’s inclusion now possibly a bit of a panic move after realising that most investment from Crossrail and other funds doesn’t actually cover 95% of Abbey Wood’s main street beside the forthcoming Crossrail station.

Long neglected high street in Abbey Wood. £150k won't go far.
Long neglected high street in Abbey Wood. £150k won’t go far.

£300k from a separate High Street fund will go on this street, but that will never achieve much. Half of that is simply going on reports and design guides anyway.  A separate £2m award last week to Bexley council could well completely miss out this area again and be spent up the road creating a rival High Street, in an area where homes are now being vacated for imminent demolition. All very odd.

Some seem to think that the £6m award from Crossrail and councils will improve this stretch. Not so, except a small slither outside the station. It mainly goes towards the flyover and land to the north of the station. No benefit to most Abbey Wood residents who reach the station from the south and this parade of shops. The entire area below is not covered by the £6m Crossrail award.

Abbey Wood bollards
Far better with trees, better lighting, new paving, street furniture rationalised / upgraded etc

One thing I did read in the latest council update on the scheme was that new lights were installed on the Greenwich side of Wilton Road. Previously they were utilitarian and not very attractive. It’s simple things like attractive lighting, along with greenery, paving, painting etc that can make a big difference for not that much cost.

So I checked out Google street view and asked around. Apparently the new lights installed are just as utilitarian as before. Not a great start to public realm improvements.

Many other small town centres have had improved street furniture installed in recent years.

Attractive lamp, tree planted, new paving & clutter removal
Ladywell. Attractive lamps, trees planted, new paving & clutter removal

Off the top of my head there’s Sydenham and Ladywell over in Lewisham, with Sidcup and Erith in Bexley borough. Northumberland Heath is to soon see improvements. There’s many more. Abbey Wood’s main street, despite promises and awards in the near vicinity, is hardly getting anything. Plumstead’s the same.

Though apparently new paving is to come soon. If the lighting replacement is anything to go by don’t expect much.

Anyway, back to the wider scheme. It’s named HILL – Highways Improvement and Local Labour project. It’s pretty commendable – giving local unemployed people experience and training whilst improving the many run down streets and public spaces across the borough.

But will wide-ranging street upgrades improvements continue into 2016/17, or will it revert to new tarmac only? Public realm plans are still under consideration. The council certainly has enough money from developer contributions to keep it going. And will the work in the next two months stack up? It’ll be interesting to see what happens.

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Many thanks

J Smith

I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

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