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.
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 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?
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.