Yesterday I looked at a new rooftop garden area which recently opened at Ikea in Greenwich. And very nice is it too.
Back on terra firma and things take a downward turn. A new public space has also opened to the rear of the store. It controversially replaced an ecological garden. Here it is without a soul in it:
It’s not bad of course but isn’t a great leap forward given what previously existed. In the background you can see hundreds more homes under construction as development at Greenwich Millennium Village moves ever closer to the store and east Greenwich.
That means many more potential pedestrians in the area. Well, perhaps, as despite the store now being open more than three months only one planned pedestrian crossing has so far been built and the other is AWOL. Ikea gave Greenwich Council more than £1.7 million to improve the local area.
The only new pedestrian crossing installed so far is located in an annoying spot for pedestrians and those walking to the site from nearby homes. It requires a circuitous route which is hardly the most direct.
On the below image blue is the logical, quickest route route and one many will try to take given human nature. Red is the route people on foot are forced to take unless they skirt around guardrails:
It seems none of the lessons of failed post-war planning, which tried to force pedestrians on proscribed and irritating routes is being taken on board by the authority which continues to adopt decades-old design principles.
In isolation this design annoys pedestrians and many will simply walk along the kerb-side next to barriers. A “safety” measure that is actually more dangerous. On a wider level people are more inclined to drive if getting about is made more difficult than need be – which it is across the borough.
The other planned crossing on Bugsby’s Way is still not in evidence. No work has started.
This is the site where that crossing should be:
On the right is another road with no dropped kerbs forcing wheelchairs and buggies on another lengthy detour on foot. The sorting office here will see more footfall as Blackheath is closing. That also brought the authority over £100,000 in S106 income.
In between the two crossings is another where no work is planned at all:
Ultimately what we have here is a rapidly urbanising area still designed for a time when there was an entire absence of nearby homes and pedestrian footfall.
In the past it was common to blame TfL for this state of affairs. Greenwich like to divert attention to TfL.
Yet we now know TfL do not manage any of these roads. When it comes to money allocated towards improving areas and streets, in addition to routine TfL funding, Greenwich lag behind almost every other London council despite receiving more than most as they’re in the top three of London authorities for new developments, and the top 10 of over 300+ UK authorities.
Despite the failure to invest income on the ground, yet another report on encouraging walking and active living has been drawn up and is before Greenwich Council’s cabinet next week. Reports and studies come and go but funding still lags behind other authorities year after year.
Action, not words, are needed. Even when the second pedestrian crossing is finally built on Bugsby’s Way we still have sites that are inadequate in terms of location and design.
Another missed opportunity. Firstly, it’d take a brave cyclist to navigate the roundabouts nearby. No chance taking the kids to the new shop from new builds nearby.
On an anecdotal level, the cycle racks are entirely empty whenever I’ve passed.
Ignore the claptrap that people only ever drive. Simply not true at a store like Ikea. Sure, the majority do but far from everybody. Yet methods to entice people away from driving when visiting to only pick up small items or meet friends for a drink are still lackingg.
For a store that continues to beat the sustainable PR drum, tucking cycle racks around the corner of the store’s entrance in an area of low footfall instead of in front of the shop is hardly good design.
But that really sums up the entire venture. The store building itself may be sustainable (though even then mixed-use with housing would be truly sustainable), but just about everything that surrounds the site isn’t. The authority can draw up every report under the sun, but that doesn’t look like changing any time soon.
This was, as you tell, not an Ikea puff piece as much of the media put out. If you appreciate this site and local coverage, find out how to help here.