Greenwich Council stick down tarmac on recent £300,000 street upgrade

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:

Courtesy Bexley is Bonkers. Immediately negating deep clean.

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:

Bonded gravel surface. Obvious choice in busy areas

In their wisdom Greenwich Council have finally replaced the gravel…with tarmac instead of bonded resin.

It looks shit.

Courtesy Craig Jenkins

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.

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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.

    14 thoughts on “Greenwich Council stick down tarmac on recent £300,000 street upgrade

    • Goodness, how stupidly useless are they?! They should replace it with bonded gravel asap.

    • greenwich council has a history of doing this .. and also the council seems powerless or unwilling to challenge the service companies when they dont replace the stone they have just laid down

      • Many councils are poor at forcing service companies to do like for like replacements. Though at least in those instances essential work is done. That can’t even be used as an excuse here.

    • “It looks shit”. Yes, exactly. What is the point of it? it looks like a patch job when something is broken. It should either be grass or pavement, not a short bit of road. The only use is as a bachgrlund to someone writing “it looks shit” or “the people who laid this obviously dont give a shit” on it… At least that would be up front and honest.

      Someone got paid well, for doing the minimum possible.

      • That reminds me of when people draw cocks around pot holes to get work done 😀

    • Greenwich Council can’t seem to do anything related to public realm improvement without first firmly inserting their foot into their mouth. What a disaster. Let’s make sure to tag local councillors (and MP Teresa Pearce) on Twitter etc. to let them know how awful it looks.

    • Is this just a cock up? Westminster council recently repainted it’s cycle stands with a textured paint which is a bit like sandpaper for your frame. I doubt it was a conscious choice: more likely it was just what was on hand, no thought given to the consequences. Buy who is in charge and how do we hold them to account?

    • Whoever made this decision should be called in for a meeting without biscuits. And given a bollocking.

      I reckon when the top honchos were in town for the deep clean and photoshoot, someone who had never set foot in Abbey Wood (most of the management, officers and councillors then) thought we better do something about the messy strip and signed off this awful job instead of doing what should have been done in the first place and used good quality materials.

      Way to go if you want to keep areas looking like dumps. Give it some investment then barely a year later screw it up!! Does ANYBODY in the department have an ounce of knowledge about design?

      They clearly do, as it wouldn’t happen in Greenwich, so why here, Plumstead, Woolwich and the rest? It’s not about money as they waste so much on things like this job, cleaning immediately before so it needs doing twice and sticking signs, railings and bollards up everywhere. If only all that cash went into improvements NOT the complete opposite.

      Please Mr Thorpe, sack the no hopers in charge of some departments and get capable managers in.

      • Not sure about that. Greenwich town centre sure, but a 2 minute walk to Norman Road shows even there a complete lack of care or effort. Agree none of this is down to lack of funds as making such a mess is actually *costing* money.

        • It happens all over the borough. I used to live in the Westcombe Park Road area and reported a broken paving slab in Vanbrugh Park. It was filled in with tarmac.

    • This post does not surprise me. I have often wondered who in God name signs off on such shoddy workmanship.

      Having worked for a number of infrastructure/construction companies (employed to do work on behalf of local authorities), it is well known that local government is seen as a source of free money.

      In my experience the people employed by the councils to assess that the work is completed to the appropriate standard, or that the work is done at all, are either on annual leave, long term sick or claim not to have time to do the job they are employed to do.

      In which case both the private sector and council workers have no reason not to rip the arse out any budget set aside to improve the boroughs infrastructure.

      You only have to look at the number of times Plumstead Road has been renovated and it still looks like a dump. Be assured a large amount of money has been spent to renovate that road time and time again (likely with the same contractor) and still the council does not appear to review its procurement strategy.

    • Even if they managed to ‘get it right’, the shops are an excruciating eyesore.

      • The shops are the responsibility of the freeholders. They allow the buildings to fall into near decay rather than spend the money required to bring them up to a decent standard. There is also the problem of what tenants can afford as many of them are operating on quite a thin margin. It is thus a vicious circle of landlords not doing the work because they cannot recoup the cost from their tenants.

    • regarding the differing surfaces applied to this pavement area, which I flagged up to the scrutiny cttee back in Feb, RBG say: ‘The asphalt that was laid on Wilton Road between the shops and the parking bays was a base for the resin bonded gravel which was subsequently applied and finished in 2018.’ And I was thinking the previously laid tarmac was level with surrounding slabs, so are they pulling a fast one here


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