Back in March I looked at plans for Brocklebank Retail Park in Charlton and wondered if conditions would improve for pedestrians and public transport users by the time it completes.
Five months on, and with work near completion, Darryl from 853 sent me photos showing how it looks. The shops are due to open in September.
Apart from some new paint on the road it appears little has been done to rectify the poor quality of public realm and inadequate conditions for those on foot.
Unless work begins very shortly, little of the money that came in from developers LXB through Section 106 and Section 278 payments appears to have been spent improving the area around the development. £52,000 was given for Highways and Public Realm work:
If no more improvements appear, it makes a bit of a sham of schemes such as “Greener Greenwich“. It cost a fair sum of money to create but what does influence does it have? Lots of Green schemes are announced and see cash going to consultants and then this happens.
EDIT: Literally minutes after this was posted Greenwich Council put out a press release regarding “a new scheme encouraging people to switch from cars to walking and cycling to help tackle local air pollution”. Errr…
Actions speak louder than words.
What has already appeared at the retail park doesn’t give much confidence. Much knee-high fencing has been installed around the site. This forces pedestrians on long detours to reach shops.
Tracks on grass from previous stages of development show pedestrians want direct routes:
It would have been easy to install more paths and pedestrian access points between the car park and Bugsby’s Way. These could link to those walking from nearby shops, bus stops, Charlton railway station and the road crossing thus avoiding long detours. They could have been placed at intervals such as those shown in red below:
The hinterland between Bugsby’s Way and the car park is a waste of land too. Why not build flats along here with commercial space at street level? Do something productive with it.
A success or failure?
If things aren’t changed in the short amount of time before the new retail park opens then it appears the focus of this development is almost entirely those arriving by car.
It seems pretty mad not to use incoming cash and planning leverage to both push for better conditions for non-car users within the development and better conditions on public roads and paving.
More cars visiting these shops will meet extra traffic in coming years with Ikea, the possible Silvertown tunnel, large new schools such as the 1,600-pupil St Mary Magdalene opening nearby in 2018 and 28,000 planned homes in the vicinity at Charlton Riverside and Greenwich Peninsula.
But the litany of recent Planning Department mistakes give the impression the department is dysfunctional in a range of areas, and tasks such as encouraging sustainable development isn’t working too well.
Couple that to a Highways Department that seems stuck in outdated working methods and the result is a 1980s-style development appearing near Zone 2 London in 2017.
The new owners of this site are a Charity Investment Board. I wonder if any health related charities invested in this?