Oh dear. This is a good way to ruin a recent street upgrade. Days after local councils were publicising a jet wash and saying “it is vital that our local small businesses look welcoming and appealing to residents and commuters“, a load of tarmac has been laid on barely a year-old public realm upgrade:
But firstly, let’s backtrack. Abbey Wood’s shopping parade by the station, Wilton Road, didn’t see a penny in investment for decades. Then with Crossrail approaching and TfL and Network Rail planning public realm upgrades in the immediate area around the new station, it became clear 90% of the street would remain tatty.
And so a £300,000 upgrade was planned, with £75,000 from both Bexley and Greenwich Council match funded by £150,000 from the Greater London Authority.
It generally looked much better once complete though not without flaws. Seating was installed which looks like concrete lumps and the infamous Greenwich wooden bollards appeared which didn’t match other street furniture and still left big enough gaps for cars to get onto paving.
But y’know, they can’t do anything without sticking a few up for no apparent reason.
One other poor design choice was gravel all along the road between car parking and the main paving area. Inevitably gravel was soon being kicked all over paving, cigarette butts snagged in the gravel and weeds started to grow.
A bonded surface was the obvious choice. And should have replaced gravel. Bexley is Bonkers reported this was to happen, according to what has been said in meetings as far back as May 2017. Here’s an example of what was supposed to have been installed:
In their wisdom Greenwich Council have finally replaced the gravel…with tarmac instead of bonded resin.
It looks shit.
I just *knew* this would happen. That incredible lack of basic design knowledge would rear its head.
I’m sure some are thinking, well it’s nothing major. But if you extrapolate poor design out over a wide area it not only costs large sums (making mistakes that then need rectifying or installing clutter) but drags down areas, perpetuates the already negative impression some areas have and leads to ugly streets and towns.
And ugly streets and towns are not places people want to visit or live.
So what happens now? Either it stays and an area that is seeing one-in-a-lifetime investment is affected for many years to come, or replaced (as it should be) at more expense.
Yet the underlying issue of departments not knowing, or seeming to care, about quality street design goes on and manifests itself in numerous ways. Cultural change is badly needed.