A decision by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling on the Silvertown tunnel is expected imminently. If approved, construction could begin in 2018/19 for completion in 2022. Numerous residential towers are being planned both north and south of the Thames close to planned tunnel portals.
Newham Council’s arms-length property developer Red Door Ventures are now consulting on a new tower with 261 homes near the planned northern portal.
There’s very little mention of the tunnel in consultation material. This image excludes it entirely:
How many residents of these blocks are aware they’ll be beside a major tunnel and associated traffic and pollution? Not just from the tunnel itself but Silvertown Way which will see a large spike in traffic.
It also appears that the northern portal has numerous traffic lights close to the entrance and exit so traffic will not be free flowing out.
Head around the roundabout to meet traffic light number two:
No bus lane here.
And from the north heading south it’s the same story. Got to love TfL’s green light wonderland. This amount of traffic will never be the case. Two lights to get past.
Though Britain designs and builds infrastructure extremely slowly, it’s very optimistic to assume pollution levels will be much lower in five years even with the advent of hybrids and move away from diesels. Many, many cars will be idling in traffic.
South of the Thames
But it’s not only the northern tunnel entrance that will be surrounded by increased housing. Plans abound for sites at Greenwich Peninsula.
Recent consultation on further housing near the tunnel was undertaken in Greenwich, which was covered here. In fact, if the tunnel is built many hundreds fewer homes could be provided than would otherwise be the case.
It’s not just pollution and congestion the tunnel promises in years ahead. Wide motorway-like roads sever areas and make pedestrian permeability extremely difficult.
But let’s look at an alternative scenario and assume the planned tolls do moderate traffic levels at the now-tolled Blackwall tunnel. What will happen to traffic? Many drivers in south London will head west to use the free Rotherhithe tunnel. This will gridlock Greenwich town centre.
It’s amazing that Greenwich Council’s senior leaders still support a scheme which could cripple the jewel in its crown. Not great for tourists is it?
If Trafalgar Road, central Greenwich and Creek Road do become gridlocked then that simply shifts the pollution and congestion issue beside another whole bunch of new housing now going up (along with the existing homes of course). Developments such as this:
Greenwich Council seem to have been hoodwinked into agreeing to the tunnel as part of a package of crossings. As these have dropped away and become mere aspirations long in the distance they’ve stuck doggedly to this one scheme.
A scheme with no pedestrian or cyclist access. One where buses will be the only link, and good luck with them. Incredibly slow progress is likely as they meet traffic either side.
Some Greenwich councillors are against the scheme but are quiet about something that’ll have severe detrimental effects on the borough. Party discipline rules. Can’t be having dissent.
There’s councillors like Stephen Brain (Labour – Greenwich Peninsular) that have been quiet when asked by locals about this huge scheme on their doorstep.
The issue is what will be the electoral fallout for Labour in areas such as Greenwich Peninsular and West Greenwich. Not next year perhaps but the 2021 election. Construction could be well underway by then. Maybe some councillors will be more vocal by then, but it’ll be too late. The time for action would have passed.