853 has today done a wonderful job looking at how some Greenwich politicians have now changed their minds and approve the Silvertown Tunnel despite previous public opposition after leaks emerged from a private Greenwich Cabinet meeting.
Alongside this news comes new information on extra mitigation measures Greenwich Council have won as compensation for potentially greater traffic and pollution – and five years of disruptive work.
When the green light was given by the Department for Transport in May 2018 for the tunnel, a package of local work covering Greenwich town centre that Greenwich Council sought was absent. Despite that the leadership were keen to proceed yet some backbench councillors called in the decision and sought changes.
A report released at the time by Chris Grayling and the DfT also underestimated new homes in the Greenwich Masterplan area by 4,000 (15,000 if you include a wider look at the Peninsula and nearby Charlton Riverside).
JULY 2019 UPDATE: Housing numbers now revised up further.
Greenwich Council have since been campaigning for greater funds from TfL after that backbench call-in and a new agreement reveals has secured four School Crossing Patrols and £350,000 in extra Neighbourhood Enhancement funds.
This is less than they originally hoped for despite the tone of the council’s document and does not cover other parts of Greenwich. Back in May 2018 this was in the Silvertown decision report:
The Panel considered whether risks to the World Heritage Site (“WHS”) at Greenwich would arise from traffic congestion, as a result of the scheme. The RBG did not agree with the Applicant that the impact on Greenwich Town centre would be minimal and explained that the preferred method of mitigation for the WHS would be a sustainable transport fund
Since then Greenwich Council have advanced plans for removing the one way system in Greenwich town centre funded by TfL but additional funds for some of the worst parts of east Greenwich are not forthcoming.
The Greenwich town centre scheme is money the authority would have received anyway through a rebranded Major Scheme: Local Implementation Plan fund which now goes by the name Liveable Neighbourhoods. The previous round funded Eltham High Street’s £6.5 million upgrade and each borough receives funds around every three years for similar major work. It’s not a Silvertown “win”.
Elsewhere the agreement shows that noise barriers will line further sections of the A102 though are not part of new funds.
In east Greenwich a commitment to include Angerstein roundabout work is also not included in the local legal agreement. This is due to a separate commitment from TfL and the Mayor. Let’s hope that isn’t scrapped again. More jam tomorrow?
Back to the new agreement and it must be remembered that this is separate (or sometimes in addition to) Ikea Section 106 income (along with many other S106 funds in the area), TfL’s Low Emission Neighbourhood scheme and an imminent Local Implementation Plan scheme which is still not available in the public domain whatsoever.
So what can we expect from new funds?
Firstly, upgrades to the bridge from Westcombe Park station. £50,000 for “Lighting along the entirety of the bridge. Resurface with buff anti-skid surfacing. Repaint railings. Planting where appropriate & minor bridge repairs.”
I walked along here a week ago and of all the things wrong with the local area this was probably near the bottom.
Next up is Farmdale Road – £235,000 for:
- Public realm improvements to the approach to the Westcombe Park bridge.
- Footway improvements, decluttering and planting on Farmdale Rd.
Resurfacing of Farmdale Road.
- Continuous footways on both Farmdale Rd and Alderburgh St.
- Toucan/parallel crossing shifted to ped/cyclist desire line into Alderburgh Street.
- Greening on both sides of the railway bridge
Public realm improvements on the other side of the bridge are welcome.
I’ve also long advocated paving along the entirety of Peartree Way to improve visibility and legibility. Pedestrians are currently sent on a meandering path when heading north or south which new visitors will find tricky to navigate. Again though, I’m unsure why Ikea income (or one of the other many developments) havn’t already funded that instead of waiting years longer. Here’s one such example of S106 income that could have improved the area (click to enlarge):
It’s not even clear if they will install paving along all of Peartree Way as the document only mentions Alderburgh Street which is the road leading off to the right. £150k for a Pocket Park in the same spot is mentioned.
After that we have £75k for “Farmdale Rd pocket park/screening”.
One issue with Pocket Parks is how suitable they are for children to play in. This is also the case with Low Emission Neighbourhood plans on Trafalgar Road in Greenwich where table tennis tables are proposed next to a busy junction.
Next up is another Pocket Park and £100k for this green spot though it was previously reported it had been sold – and is already pretty pleasant:
And finally £50k for “Siebert Road link” which includes:
Lighting improvements to the entrances and within the underpass itself. Planting on ramp approach to tunnel to enhance public realm and slow cycles. Planting and environmental improvements on Siebert road side to make link more appealing to users.
So then, are these schemes enough mitigation for such a huge scheme? An extra £350k is small change. One development in the area’s Section 106 and CIL income alone would easily cover all that if the council chose to do so. Are major problem areas in the locality covered? One issue is Greenwich Council are so reticent on spending through some other funds we have no idea what work is coming – or not.
No one still knows what hundreds of thousands due to be spent imminently around Woolwich Road will cover.
The council still also talk of “downgrading of the section of A206 between the Angerstein roundabout and the junction by Charlton Station in the medium term. This would serve to make Anchor & Hope Lane – Bugsby Way corridor the primary route for traffic to Blackwall tunnel.”
Yet Bugsby’s Way is already often at capacity due to retail park expansion in the area. Add Woolwich Road traffic and it’s overwhelmed. There is only a partial bus lane and shops plus the Angerstein rail line bridge makes it difficult to widen.
A Lidl is also opening here shortly which will increase traffic numbers.
Adding a bus lane and removing one general traffic lane could see congestion spread far wider – which then clogs up roads such as Charlton Church lane on approaches blocking buses further afield.
Will this small package of work placate many critics – or offer insight into why some Greenwich borough councillors have apparently changed their mind on the scheme?
Pretty much every scheme listed could, and should have, already seen similar improvements already undertaken with tens of millions in Section 106 and Community Infrastructure Levy income flowing in. Add in mini TfL schemes and public realm should be far better than it is.
Many then expected Silvertown mitigation to be truly substantive. This isn’t it.
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