At the end of last year I covered how Greenwich Council will be receiving millions of pounds from Transport for London this financial year to improve areas across the borough, like all local authorities in London. There’s some broad categories that spending must fall under but also a reasonably large degree of freedom within those boundaries. Some of this cash can improve shopping areas, cycle lanes, parks, estates and a fair bit more if the desire is there.
In Greenwich’s case, it’s £3.5 million of funding coming from April 2017.
Back in December, almost no details were public in Greenwich borough. Most other council’s plans were further advanced due to ongoing talks with local people through local wards meetings and the like. Greenwich don’t do that too well, so no details were out there, nor ideas given by locals to draw on.
Throughout this article there’s photos of run-down sites this money could improve. Let’s see if any get some.
TfL put out press releases a few months ago listing what most boroughs are planning. Much of it sounds fantastic, and a few are listed down the page. To no one’s surprise Greenwich borough was not listed in the list trumpeting improvements.
When the council and councillors were asked about the funding last autumn and winter, silence was often the norm and at one point they were confused where money was going, suggesting things would be covered that the fund cannot be used for. And in areas where it can, we heard it was not possible or would only be a secondary consideration at best.
It was a bit of a mess, and has been for a decade at least. Tens of millions have achieved relatively little across Greenwich borough because of this.
A couple of councillors did say they liked the idea of consulting with the public and also asking for feedback online. Sadly, but probably inevitably, nothing has happened in the four months since.
Now the financial year is here. Still no word from Greenwich Council. Other boroughs had schemes planned months ago – TfL put out a press release last December of various projects. Greenwich still havn’t put out any detailed information on where they will spend this money. Another squandered year coming then?
Based on what little we have seen, instead of creating attractive town centres and parks they’ll be much money for consultants and much new street clutter.
So what’s happening elsewhere? Last year I covered what Lewisham do. Below are some other examples from TfL, with much mention of how other councils, both Labour and Tory, work on better public realm, tree planting, new paving, and generally making spaces more attractive. This helps businesses and shops, fosters community pride, gets people out of cars and walking or cycling.
Croydon show exactly what can be done, and exactly what places like Plumstead need.
Out of Croydon’s total allocation of £2.9 million (Greenwich gets £3.5 million) Croydon will spend “£750,000 for public realm improvements in South Norwood town centre such as widening and decluttering footways and cycle paths to enhance pedestrian and cyclist accessibility and experience”.
Will Greenwich use TfL money to do this in Plumstead? So far the signs are no, for yet another year.
Over in Havering, out of a total £2.3m, “£250,000 for Romford Market Place and a new market building. This will involve public realm works, re-paving, tree planting and the introduction of play equipment for children”
In Westminster there’s £3.6m altogether, including “£200,000 to develop cycling, walking, bus and public realm proposals to transform the Strand and Aldwych area in partnership with the NorthBank BID”.
Another press release from TfL shows some other schemes.
In Hammersmith, there’s “£120,000 to develop Parklets and Pocket Parks – a green open space for people to relax in while taking in the activities of the local area.”
Greenwich borough has no shortage of scruffy or underused green spots that could be improved:
Over at Plumstead this spot at Lakedale Road could be improved:
The mess of different street furniture, colours used, materials and paving do not even show rudimentary design knowledge.
At Kensington, “£350,000 to design and implement pedestrian and cyclist improvements in the South Chelsea area. Works will include reducing street clutter and guard railing, tackling congestion hotspots, improving road safety, bus stop accessibility and servicing provision North / South cycle route linking Belmont Trail and the proposed Quietway route between Brent and Harrow Weald.”
Hillingdon will use “£535,000 to improve access to local shopping parades for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as installing a mix of wayfinding signs. The funds will also cover works to improve connectivity between Bakers Road bus station and the High Street in Uxbridge Town Centre.”
It goes on and on. All things needed in Greenwich borough but which aren’t happening it would seem.
Greenwich Council have almost no plans at a detailed stage in the public domain, have carried out no consultation or asked residents for ideas and so it appears as though they will once again not spend money on improving the heart and souls of many towns, the public space, the shopping parades, the parks and squares. They’ll spend it somewhere, but a year later how much will be achieved? Most places will still be a mess.
Councillors know there’s election in just over a year. It all seems bizarre to allow council departments to be so lethargic and deny many areas improvements that are sorely needed when the funding is there to improve them. Are they that complacent or is retirement in the offing for many?
There’s some good ones there but either they aren’t shouting loudly enough or being ignored.