A look at Eltham High Street’s upgrade after the dust settles

Eltham High Street underwent a lengthy upgrade scheme over recent years with £6.5 million spent on apparently bringing the street into the 21st century. But now it’s complete, has it worked?

Eltham councillor Spencer Dury looked into the scheme on his blog with a breakdown of costs. Some of the spending does raise eyebrows. £40,000 on legible London signs alone?

Has it succeeded? Overall I’m in two minds. It’s one of the most clutterred de-clutterings I’ve seen. Excess street furniture still abounds which should have been further rationalised.

Little things irritate too. Why is the box seen below not painted black to match other street furniture, for example?

Also, they’ve gone big on raised planters. These are always hard to keep clean and take away precious paving space. Not great on busy, crowded paving. I had to wait a little while to find a clear time to capture this.

The choice of paving colour and stone benches doesn’t help either as they show dirt up extremely well.

Benches are showing much wear and tear after a few months.

Dirty days after a deep clean
Too much paving space wasted

Remember when Powis Street in Woolwich had raised planters installed in the 1980s? All ripped out 10 years later. They don’t generally work in cramped, busy environments.

Yes, keep the trees and some greenery but at ground level without the granite blocks. Or at least have less of them.

That ‘ol chestnut

Parking is sadly a joke on the new high street and not doing much for the expensive new paving. Pavement parking is common. Some have made excuses for this saying it’s hard to tell where to park. It’s not great design but I don’t buy that.

Anyone who travels a bit would’ve seen similar street layouts across London, the UK and the continent. It’s really not that unusual to have level paving and roads. I just don’t see the same level of bad parking in most places.

Either the people of Eltham are more stupid and can’t differentiate (I don’t buy that) or some are taking the pee knowing enforcement is so lax.

Greenwich Council just can’t get a grip on it and it’s costing them big. Well, it’s costing residents big, as the shortfall of more than £10 million in the parking department is money not being used elsewhere to improve streets and public spaces.

Similar poor parking happened days after the £1.2 million road upgrade from Plumstead to Woolwich. Cars blocking bus lanes, cycle lanes and driving onto expensive new paving. If millions are to be spent improving areas at least do the basics in keeping them looking good and usable.

Passey Place

Passey Place is another spot with frequent poor parking. It’s now pedestrianised but its use seems confused. It could be a buzzing place sometimes seems half empty with stalls flogging Sky TV.

Paving space has been increased along the street which is welcome. The road is still pretty wide. There’s been complaints of a reduction in parking spaces but car parking still abounds behind the High Street.

Given places like Eltham can’t compete with Bluewater and vast shopping centres with free parking should it be trying to attract more people from the local area and diversify what it offers?

More nightlife perhaps, with more people walking (with more homes built in the vicinity) as well as using public transport?

New homes by the High Street

That could well be the case, given the new cinema under construction and ever increasing range of good nightlife options. A promising new pub has just opened named Rusty Bucket in the former Crown to add to a number of good local watering holes.

Is the upgrade perfect? Not by a long shot – but it does lift up a High Street that already has a lot to commend it and features some attractive buildings. Many people seem down on it’s prospects. Things’s aren’t easy given the troubles High Streets are in but Eltham has a great chance to prosper.

A burgeoning night life will help. The Eltham Masterplan also offers a great chance to increase the number of people living in the immediate vicinity and adding custom and life.

And it now has some improved public spaces like Passey Place which could prove an attraction with bars, food stalls, music events and the like or continue to be an unofficial car park.

It’ll take careful management to realise that potential. Hopefully that is in place.

As a private renter with a young family, the cost of living is extremely high.

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Murky Depths

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.

12 thoughts on “A look at Eltham High Street’s upgrade after the dust settles

  • May 15, 2018 at 1:52 pm

    absolutely no reason given here why pavement parking is a good, only the point that it’s not working and obviously never was going to do from Day One, you didn’t a degree in town centre management to see that. It’s all about listening to local people and not imposing modish theories about what apparently works elsewhere but probably doesn’t in practice

    • May 15, 2018 at 1:56 pm

      In no part does it argue pavement parking is good. Similar street layouts aren’t great but do work in many places. Or at least don’t result in drivers going onto paving en masse.

  • May 15, 2018 at 5:15 pm

    I think the high street has been ruined, it may look ok but the parking is diabolical and I don’t like going to the high street because the bays are alway full and to try and park for a short while is ridiculous. God know what it’s going to be like when the cinema opens, whoever designed needs to look again.

  • May 15, 2018 at 9:32 pm

    The high street is dying out and because of the parking bring reduced smaller shops are now losing trade. A small bay for ten minutes outside used to suit popping to the cake shop for supplies – now you have to waste time parking in Sainsbury’s which has now moved me to other areas for ease.

    Pavement parking is dangerous as this now puts cars even closer to our children (with no barrier). I have seen many drivers coming up onto the pavement that have nearly hit children (and adults).

    It hasn’t changed for the better.

  • May 16, 2018 at 8:08 am

    They have also caused extra traffic (and pollution) by fitting a traffic island near to the Nissan garage in the part of the road where cars would use to drive up to the lights to turn right towards Mottingham. Result? Traffic now stretches past the old swimming pool at peak times as cars can’t get into the right turn lane until they are past the island. A pointless measure.
    The old parking bays outside Debenhams and M&S used to be used by many older shoppers/disabled/those with little time to pop in and do some shopping. Now there is a bus stand there and Debenhams has closed down.

  • May 16, 2018 at 9:53 am

    Pound place is a nightmare for parking on the pavements.
    At night you cant walk down the pavement as they blocked with parked cars.
    Its also tight to drive though the road with the way people are parked opposite each other.
    Never see a traffoc warden now

  • May 16, 2018 at 11:16 am

    Eltham high street is still a joke , with cars double parked and doing u turns in front of you at a moment’s notice , the parking pavement areas should have been laid with black tarmac as the areas are stained with oil drips from car engines , and already a stretch of paving has been dug up outside Gregg’s to maintain underground services, there is no enforcement on double yellow lines in well hall rd opposite macdonalds wich impedes traffic turning right, but I do like the plants and trees……

  • May 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    I do sometimes get the feeling that many would just like the clock turned back to 1978 rather than facing the challenges of 2018. I’d just settle for the eastbound bus stop to be moved back closer to Eltham Church.

    Less flippantly, some of the discontent with what has been a generous treatment of Eltham High Street could have been avoided with proper consultation and community involvement; I’m not sure who was on the “stakeholder forum” here but it doesn’t seem to have done a very good job.

  • May 16, 2018 at 12:51 pm

    Busy double bus stop outside Burger King. The narrowest pavement outside one of the busiest shops in the High Street. Makes you think about the planning incentives and the decision making objectives.

  • May 16, 2018 at 6:41 pm

    Why are they now digging up the newly laid pavement and why were the contractors allowed to stain the new pavement so we never had a clean paving slabs even when it was completed

  • May 17, 2018 at 11:42 pm

    A fair assessment. The High Street layout is definitely better and more inviting than it was. The removal of the railings around the pedestrian crossings, the broadening of the crossings and widening of the pavements is a success, and the increased sense of shared space between cars and pedestrians seems to make the environment calmer and more welcoming.

    The choice of the colour of the paving is questionable, as will be the longer term maintenance of the planters and benches, when simply planting some trees which would have matured over the years may have been preferable.

    Credit is due to the council bodies for trying. It may not be perfect, not necessarily easy to see where all the investment was made, but it is definitely an improvement, and will hopefully receive the continued funding required to maintain the improvements.

  • August 17, 2018 at 9:28 am

    Sorry to nag but all you adults moaning about the parking and saying eltham is dying down there are other options to just driving e.g. bus, walking etc I’m not an adult yet so don’t understand why adult just don’t walk. I go to a dance school and every year we perform in Passey Place and in eltham lights up so saying that Passey Place is only used for sky tv is rubbish. Also I still go to school and a lot of kids from my school are always up eltham after school, before school and even in the holidays not only to buy things but to just hang out with friends and use the space


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