Abbey Wood’s £6 million Crossrail station scheme “fails within days”

Well, I hate to say I told you so…

Yep, the inevitable has happened and just a few days after opening new public realm around Abbey Wood station became a car park.

Temporary barriers have now been erected along the kerb edge with readers contacting me to highlight issues outside the station in opening days.

Station not particularly appealing when viewed from shops

It was obvious what would happen. On the 17th April I wrote a post entitled “Could Abbey Wood Crossrail’s public realm improvements rapidly fail?”.

If we go back to October 2016 I covered the same issue and wrote in relation to Felixstowe Road (though the exact same applies on Wilton Road) on the subject of upcoming changes:

“There’s some potential issues. The extensive paving will become a car park in no time unless bollards are installed and Greenwich Council enforce parking rules.”

Multiple cars on paving – a common site leaving the old Abbey Wood station

Anyone who knew about shambolic parking issues across Greenwich borough (costing £12 million and counting since 2012) and specifically the history of this spot could tell you cars would drive and park on that shiny new £6 million paving.

The paving is also a lesson in how not to do things. They’ve opted again for bright white paving slabs that stain easily and will look grubby without very regular cleaning.

Cold and uninviting as things stand

A darker, cream coloured stone as shown in original designs would work far better in such a spot of high footfall.

How it was supposed to look

Will a load of cheap wooden posts now be installed in a rush-job resulting in hap-hazard design?

The streets previous appearance

A simple line of smart, black metal posts, that do not rapidly age in weeks and aren’t flimsy would suffice.

In addition, where’s all the trees in renders?

Plans havn’t matched reality

An old lamp post has also been retained which is pretty incongruous among new street furniture. Small things can have a large impact on design.

Shared surface will not work without enforcement

The station building also presents a pretty dead and inactive frontage to the shopping parade alongside. From the very beginning I was wary that the station building focused all attention on those arriving on the flyover (on a bus) and ignored the very town it was located.

Accessing Abbey Wood station from adjacent flyover is the focus to detriment of nearby streets

in terms of street design, much of these errors can be rectified, though all should have been considered long before now. Installing trees is a must to soften the cold appearance.

Cars can be kept off paving with a line of contemporary and contextual street furniture. Paving slabs will have to stay a bright white and hope cleaning is sufficient. The blank frontage of much of the station could be alleviated through lighting, banners, artwork etc.

Next stage. Same problems will arise without alterations

Whether that happens though is a mystery, and why it hasn’t happened with the budget and time on offer is bizarre. Many in charge were warned years ago of what could happen. Will the same mistakes be made on Felixstowe Road next?


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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.

    4 thoughts on “Abbey Wood’s £6 million Crossrail station scheme “fails within days”

    • Shame! Indeed… CGIs always have lots of bright green trees and then in reality you never see them. Usually part of discputes around ownership and maintenance.

    • Please don’t suggest bollards to them! Other places manage to keep cars under control without ugly street furniture poking about everywhere.

      • Maybe these other places have drivers who are amenable to parking restrictions and controls. You only have to read reports of the ‘wild west’ parking that goes on in Abbey Wood, Plumstead and Woolwich to see the magnitude of the disregard that drivers exhibit.

    • The lack of trees in the plan compared to reality is interesting considering the Mayor is already well behind he’s tree target and this is the kind of location they should be planted. In the overhead drawing there is what 30-40 trees? Of which zero appear to have been planted.

      Also if there’s no cycle racks on the Felixstowe Road side it’s complete madness, considering they’ve put them everywhere else is this is actually the place they’d most likely be used as the Cross Rail entrance would also be at that level.


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