Murky Depths

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Charlton, Hither Green

Bad Greenwich Council street design and comparisons with Lewisham borough

Courtesy Google

After my last post about Greenwich Council spending £75,000 on guidance for street design I said I’d highlight some examples. Here’s one – and it was a comment by Darryl of 853 fame on one of my old posts that alerted me whilst researching the last article.

In both boroughs we are looking at a street over a railway line yet a very different  approach to design has been taken. Back in 2012 Victoria Way in Charlton looked like this:

Courtesy Google

Then much money was spent adding guardrail which obscures pedestrians crossing beyond:

Courtesy Google

The safety argument will be that pedestrians won’t now cross here – yet they still will beyond the end of railings where visibility is reduced on approach for drivers. And as shown time and again guardrailing (and obscured visibility) often leads to higher speeds.

It also now looks cluttered and unsightly. So, ugly and unsafe. Good work. They’ve even retained parking at the end of railings further hampering visibility.

Would you guess thousands spent here in 2014?

And look at the peeling paint on lampposts and general air of neglect even *after* tens of thousands spent on unnecessary work. It’s why so much of the borough appears run down. Money is there and is spent – but in odd ways.

Over in Lewisham the opposite happened. Back in 2012 a street over a railway line in Hither Green looked like this:

Courtesy Google

Guardrailing is in evidence – though the street is wider so visibility not as poor as in Charlton though car parking didn’t help. Note even little things such as guardrail being painted which helps with the attractiveness of the area. It shows a bit of care and love for an area:

Courtesy Google

Fast forward to 2018 and railings are gone. High kerbs still protect cars from heading onto paving and are a disincentive to pedestrians crossing. Visibility is good:

Courtesy Google

Even the bollards are better than wooden types favoured by Greenwich which whether quickly and get knocked out of shape easily.

Courtesy Google. Street furniture is a mess of materials and colour. Black, greys and wood

This is not to say Lewisham borough are better across the board with street design. There’s variation between major schemes and smaller jobs – and whether borough councils or external agencies took the lead – but with smaller projects Greenwich Council could learn much.

Whether £75,000 needs spending drawing up guidelines when they already exist from TfL is another matter. Have a word with the neighbours perhaps?

7 Comments

  1. JR

    Don’t dispute your overall claim that Greenwich over uses railing ands puts up quick-rotting wooden posts.

    But as someone who walks past the bridge railings on Victoria Way on a daily basis I do like having a guard. Before them cars would mount the pavement, this forces them to go one at a time. Could they do something like in Hither Green? That’d be better but for now I feel a bit safer.

    The width restrictors are awful mind and regularly get struck and knock out concrete.

    • fromthemurkydepths

      The raised kerbs already present in the rebuild would prevent cars mounting the kerb – they’re also present at Hither Green on the left in the pic above. The railings on top obstruct views (though at least they are the type that offer better views than some).

  2. Jiffy

    This bit of Charlton looks an eyesore now due to this change. Greenwich Council don’t seem to understand the concept of civic pride. If people feel a place is attractive they are more likely to look after it. Still I suppose it matches much of Charlton further down the hill…

    I’d guess £20k spent on doing that? That same money could’ve made the area down the hill look better but no, they have to make things worse.

    JR – there’s ways to prevent cars mounting kerbs which don’t involve doing what was done. High kerbs and bollards would do the same. But as the article states not those wooden ones. All the ones near me are bent or have weeds around the base as unlike metal or plastic they seem to leave room at the base to expand which becomes a weed fest = ugly.

  3. Stephen

    The Hither Green redesign made turning out of side roads more awkward and is actually dangerous for oncoming traffic, especially if the car turning is being driven by an inexperienced driver.

    Thankfully they have chosen wisely as there is a main driver test centre near by.

    Thanks Lewisham Council.

  4. I. Gill

    Think the key to this one is the huge primary school, 25 yards up the hill.

    Place a raised wall anywhere near a school and kids will want to walk on it, guaranteed. Hence the rail.

    Had the space been available that the Lewisham redevelopment (which logs great) things may have been different, but Greenwich often adopt a safety first approach with these railings.

    Agree they look ugly though and are poorly maintained

  5. Jo

    Are children on a raised kerb more dangerous than nipping out unsighted behind a guard rail?

  6. I know a little bit about how the Victoria Way mess came about since I don’t live a million miles away from this. The council consulted on it in about 2013 – it was a consultation you could only respond to by post. The railings are apparently because the bridge is weak.

    The sensible solution to a weak bridge, of course, would be to ban all motor vehicles from using it, which would have the happy side effect of cutting the rat-running which blights Victoria Way and Eastcombe Avenue – some modal filters here and in neighbouring streets and a couple of bus gates would transform that area. There’s a lovely example of this in West Avenue in Walthamstow, created as part of the mini-Holland scheme: https://twitter.com/E17modalfilters/status/865957975332188160

    Instead, you’ve got railings and a couple of width restrictions which make the area look like a complete shithole (and that’s before you get to the bent, broken and mis-matched lamp posts that surround it). Network Rail demolished and rebuilt part of the bridge a few years back, and that doesn’t help matters. I’m pretty sure the new arrangement is increasing air pollution too because vehicles are queuing to use the bridge or to get through the width restrictions.

    It’s a daily reminder that Greenwich really doesn’t think very much about pedestrian needs and would rather pander to rat-runners than create a liveable area which encourages walking and cycling. (And that’s an attitude shared by many residents, of course, who see pedestrians as a problem.)

    Greenwich has started to make some noises about blocking rat-running in parts of the borough – something it hasn’t really bothered to do for about 20 years. Reversing the Victoria Way eyesore would be a start – you’d think there would be enough money from the blocks going up there – but I’m not getting my hopes up.

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