Charlton's next retail park nears opening – will things improve for pedestrians?
It’s about six months behind schedule but it won’t take much to complete Charlton’s next retail park bringing four large stores alongside 450 additional car parking spaces.
Traffic congestion is a known issue in the area, and this development has understandably slipped under the radar compared with Ikea, the Silvertown tunnel, large new schools and 28,000 planned homes in the vicinity at Charlton Riverside and Greenwich Peninsula. But it will generate traffic with popular stores such as Aldi, Primark, Next and Mothercare.
When in the area last week it was evident that conditions for pedestrians are still pretty dire with no indication of imminent improvement works. Walking from Argos towards the Bugsby’s Way bus stops and new retail park meant walking in the road and car parks for part of the trip.
I contacted someone I know who works for Greenwich Council and asked whether anything was planned to improve paths and crossings and told no. I hope that’s a mistake and works just aren’t in the system yet as the whole environment leaves much to be desired.
Pedestrian desire lines were obvious on routes where no paving is provided to walk on:
People wanting to walk forward from this spot are expected to take the long way round, or more likely they’ll just follow what many people already do and traipse over grass and then jump the barriers or walk in the road.
Over the road and there’s no quick way to bus stops from Wickes. People clearly make their own way with another desire line evident in the grass.
Car is still king here. Greenwich Council have done almost nothing to encourage bus users, pedestrians and cyclists and make life easier for them. Despite new builds bringing in much cash through “planning gain”, aka money from developers to the council for infrastructure improvements, there’s no sign of any changes.
The location of crossings is not particularly convenient and the whole environment is run-down, poorly sign-posted and not particularly legible on foot. Most things – paving, signage etc – seem encased in dust and grime.
So much money is coming in from local developments and so little apparently being spent on improving walking and cycling conditions.
And this is despite much money being spent drawing up things such as a “Green Strategy”, which was implemented last year. And is seems a bit of a joke to have plans for a “Low Emission Neighbourhood” in west Greenwich and the Peninsula, also announced last year, when the most basic things aren’t being done in many parts of the local area to make walking and cycling appealing.
Greenwich Council’s website states that the Low Emission Neighbourhood, funded by TfL, will be:
“focused on improving air quality in the Greenwich West and Peninsula wards. It will use a mixture of ‘smart technology’ and tried-and-tested techniques to reduce transport emissions and make the area a more people-friendly neighbourhood.”
All sounds very nice. The reality for most of the area is much different. People on foot and bikes face a very difficult link between the Peninsula and Greenwich, as do those heading to and using the expanding retail parks. So far little has been done there despite a decade’s worth of money coming in from developers which should’ve improved the situation.