Southwark councillors last night gave the green light to demolish the 1980s Surrey Quays shopping centre for a major new Rotherhithe development.
The site, also containing the Surrey Quays Leisure Park, Printworks and former Dock Offices courtyard sites will be cleared to make way for various new developments under a new masterplan approved last night after two contentious meetings.
British Land proposes 20,000 new jobs, 3,000 new homes (35 per cent “affordable”)and a 3.5 acre park across the large site alongside new shops.
One major point of contention has been transport provision. Rotherhithe and Surrey Quays stations are often operating at or over capacity and see closures. These plans would see a second entrance for Surrey Quays station in five years time.
Canada Water on the Jubilee Line is also an extremely busy interchange station on a crowded stretch of line that will see large-scale development at nearby stations such as North Greenwich. Developer Knight Dragon have this year proposed an increase in homes by 1,750 above previously agreed levels on their sites to reach a total above 17,000.
Other Peninsula developments such as Morden Wharf are moving forward after years of inaction.
TfL have stated that capacity problems would be no worse in 3031. They credit that to an additional two trains per hour on the London Overground confirmed in August and covered here, an increase in Jubilee Line capacity and the Elizabeth Line commencing which will alleviate the Jubilee Line from Stratford.
The future Jubilee Line frequency increase is smaller than envisaged since a planned new train order was scrapped in 2017. It will see existing stock worked harder to bring a smaller frequency increase than previously foreseen.
TfL said a slight dip in tube usage around 2016/17 was behind cancellation of new trains yet growth has since returned for the subsequent two years. I regularly cover passenger numbers (and did so again over the past week with new figures out continuing to show growth).
Another issue for those raising transport capacity concerns at last nights meeting is large-scale development down the road in Deptford. Convoys Wharf is finally seeing planning applications and will total 3,500 homes when complete (if it isn’t revised up).
The Timeberyard is another development nearby in Deptford that will total 1,132 homes.
Buses will see investment though bus use is falling in London due to ever-slowing average speeds. More routes will not achieve much if buses crawl along.
One good piece of infrastructure coming soon is a brand new cycle highway to central London which is now under construction. It would take 10 minutes to cycle from Surrey Quays station to Tower Bridge on safe, protected lanes when complete.
Should we have faith in TfL’s forecasts? It’s really a big unknown. Sometimes transport forecasts and modelling have been incredibly wrong, and sometimes bang on the money. They are sometimes flawed in not catering for nearby growth – and having looked at some transport planning documents and comparisons made with other “similar” developments are often interesting, to say the least.
How many people will switch to the Elizabeth Line from the Jubilee Line in places like Woolwich and Charlton given annual Travelcard costs are £616 more per year and more by the time the Elizabeth Line is running? TfL expects the vast majority of people to do so. Will they?
It’s not just homes though with the Jubilee Line; a new venue with a 10,000 capacity opened in north Greenwich last month and is ramping up use. It could reach 200 events per year in coming years.
This scheme does appear to have much to commend it. A large green space and building homes on vast car parks and low density buildings in Zone 2 makes perfect sense. As ever it’s the old issues of infrastructure and whether sufficient investment is being made. Whether that be transport, schools or health – and whether predictions are accurate.
Though whether this happens soon is another matter. London house prices are falling and many developers have cut back on building – including Knight Dragon in Greenwich. This scheme could be many years off.