Goodbye Woolwich Free Ferry? A further look into Silvertown Tunnel plans

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Yesterday I covered initial reaction to the Silvertown Tunnel approval report and Chris Graylings response to the inquiry. Today I’ll look into some of the statements included within and expand upon them a little bit.

Firstly, there’s this little bit of info slipped in the report that could have huge ramifications:

“Tunnel Avenue – including the removal of the bus-only gate, thereby
allowing access for all vehicles between Blackwall Lane and Ordnance

This could essentially create two new approach lanes resulting in some traffic diverting from other Blackwall approaches through east Greenwich to here:

Courtesy Google

To the left of this vantage point is Morden Wharf where many thousands of homes are planned.

I covered plans in December 2017 showing aspirations for 2,000 homes on the site from developer U&I.

Opening up the bus-only entrance will funnel more traffic through east Greenwich, up Blackwall Lane then onto Tunnel Avenue as a way to bypass the Angerstein roundabout on Woolwich Road, which is likely to become busier yet with Ikea traffic.

Home numbers

The report underestimates homes to be built in the Peninsula Masterplan. Approved numbers increased three years ago but the report appears to use old data. It mentions 12,000 homes.

the consented GreenwichPeninsula Masterplan, which is a major high-density residential-led (approximately 12,000 homes).

Knight Dragon now plan 15,720, and that was approved almost three years ago on 8th September 2015.

Add in other schemes such as Morden Wharf and AEG towers, alongside Enderby Wharf and the figure tops 20,000 homes.

The Department for Transport managed to get planned housebuilding wrong with the Southeastern franchise process now underway.

I spotted that the numbers were well out and Teresa Pearce (Labour – Erith and Thamesmead) chased up the DfT. They had included 36,000 new homes in SE London in coming years whilst the GLA’s City in the East report, based on actual Local Plans, was 66,500. And now even the 66,500 has been revised upwards.

Paul Maynard MP wrote back to state an error had been made.

The DfT seem to make a lot of errors. Have they made another? if so does that affect foretasted traffic and congestion data?


Greenwich Council have sought to allow the ferry to be tolled:

In addition they (RBG) would wish to see the implementation of user charges at adjacent crossings if required, including the Woolwich Ferry

That’ll go down well. The “if required” part is based upon congestion increasing in Woolwich. With a free alternative to a tolled Blackwall some traffic will clearly head to Woolwich instead. Congestion would then increase (it’s often near capacity now) and voila, tolling is then required.

Local funds

Some in Greenwich have long said the tunnel will bring in ample cash to improve some of the worst junctions and streets in the area. A fig leaf to locals if you like.

Areas like Angerstein roundabout.

Yet figures revealed to the public so far show very small sums coming to Greenwich Council.

A separate “sustainable transport fund” they pushed for has been denied in the approval document by Chris Grayling.

However, the Secretary of State also notes the Panel’s view that a sustainable transport fund appears to be desirable rather than essential (PR 9.10.13). He agrees with the Panel that the mitigation secured through requirement 7, together with the MMS is sufficient to mitigate

Given Greenwich Council were one of the only authorities to still support the project have they been left looking a bit silly? The rug’s been pulled?

2020 elections

All these issues threaten to cause a big stink. Many won’t know about them until further down the line – by the way spread the world about this site 😉 – and will do so right around the time of the next Mayoral election, in less than two years.

TfL still have to arrange PFI funding for the scheme. It’s a long shot but should it not be agreed by 2020 could a winning candidate scrap the scheme?

Local discounts

Discounts are mentioned but details are vague. One thing that’s clear is free travel for cabs and private hire vehicles such as Uber. There’s been an explosion in private hire licenses in London in recent years fuelled by Uber. There were 65,000 licensed drivers in 2013/14 which increased to 116,000 in 2017. Vehicles increased from 50,000 to 88,000 in the same period. TfL have announced an increase in license fees to limit numbers.

As weeks and months pass more issues will inevitably arise and controversy increase as issues seem into the public conscious. If the tunnel does move ahead on schedule and open around 2023/4, Greenwich will have seen many thousands of new homes built, the new Ikea, another music venue by the o2, vast new schools, a possible cruise liner terminal and a brand new shopping centre in the o2.

Can the road network cope with tunnel construction disruption let alone the issues it’ll bring once complete? Brace yourselves.

Researching these issues takes time. I do it unpaid. You can support the site by donating at my Patreon page here

Or buy me a coffee using the new Ko-Fi service



Running a site alone takes time and a fair bit of money. Adverts are far from enough to cover it and my living costs as a private renter.

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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.

    2 thoughts on “Goodbye Woolwich Free Ferry? A further look into Silvertown Tunnel plans

    • It’s almost as if the Dft are deliberately playing down the figures.I wonder why?Umm…
      You do a great job with this site and will certainly support you with the occasional coffee.

    • Well said Robert, I agree with our comments on Dft. I will also support this website it is a fantastic website full of useful local information we do not get from anywhere else.


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