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Thamesmead, Transport

1,750 homes in Thamesmead to be decided – major road change cancelled?

Plans for 1,750 new homes in Thamesmead close to Plumstead bus garage are due to be decided this week by Greenwich Council’s Planning Board.

I looked at plans in depth earlier this year, which you can see here, and this post looks at new information. This is how much funding will be paid to Greenwich Council from developers Berkeley Homes and Peabody:

  • £5,000,000 Strategic Industrial Land Investment Strategy contribution;
  • £2,400,000 Plumstead Power Station contribution;
  • £1,000,000 health contribution;
  • £1,004,407 carbon off-setting contribution
  • £617,000 highways contribution;
  • £500,000 Transport for London contribution for public transport
    enhancements;
  • £500,000 GLABB contribution;
  • £35,000 cycle training contribution;

Health

£1 million is allocated to health which is far below the amount requested by Greenwich CCG. They sought “£2,641,531 for capital costs of increased capacity of primary healthcare, community and mental health services and acute care
infrastructure, for example at Gallions Reach Health Centre to address the health demands from this development.”

Transport

The site is far from a favourable location and is currently remote. One side is an elevated sewer, the other a prison with the west side facing a three lane gyratory.

Taken from sewer bank

There has long been talk of altering the gyratory, but that now appears cancelled. It’s hard to see how it will be achieved looking at how Section 106 funding allocation.

TfL will see £500,000 though they requested £1.5 million and believe plans underestimate pressure on buses.

This junction looks like staying:

Current junction alongside site

An overhead view from planning documents:

Overview

£5 million for industrial land investment is an odd one. Just east of here is the White Hart Triangle industrial site built around 20 years ago. To this day it still has sizable amount of vacant land and has struggled to find tenants. So what’s with another £5 million?

Site faces one-way system and bridge

£617,000 seems far from enough to make any substantial change to the road network and improve links to Plumstead station.

Further along in a  report we can see what they plan in terms of street changes, and it appears lacking in ambition. Is this enough to make the area people-friendly for thousands of residents:

  • Cycleway along Pettman Crescent between the junctions of Western Way
    and Nathan Way (so only on one half of the gyratory)

Looking towards site of 1,750 new homes. No cycle lane here. Plumstead station behind.

  • Installation of controlled pedestrian crossing linking main site to Plot 1 (which doesn’t do a thing for links to the station)
  • Nathan Way junction entry treatment including pedestrian refuge island
  • New or relocated bus stops on Pettman Crescent and Nathan Way, resurfacing of pavements around the site

None of this really addresses the core problem for new residents who seek to reach Plumstead to access rail services and shops, which is a wide one-way system and narrow pavements. Resurfacing pavements is not expanding them. At least 3,000 residents will share the narrow pavement seen in the image above to reach the nearest station and shops

Two-way traffic on renders – plans seem cancelled

There was talk years ago of improving the area outside Plumstead station but nothing has progressed including at the major pinch point between 1,750 homes and the station. The report mentions this should be in place when the development completes. Let’s hope they’re right.

The transport report states a very low number of residents will use Plumstead station – located just 150 metres to the north and offering eight services per hour including Thameslink and Southeastern services. A development of 1,750 homes and 3000+ residents would see just “32.1 additional passengers per AM peak hour”. Yep, that’s just one per cent of residents using a major rail station 150 metres away in the morning rush hour.

Plumstead station

The report states “It is noted that neither the Council’s Highways Officer, nor TfL has considered this increase in passengers to be of concern in terms of public
transport rail capacity.” As I said when looking at Kidbrooke plans approved last week which also predicated very low levels of rail usage, TfL do not operate rail services nearby and highways are focused on, well, roads and not rail.

Presumably the hope is everyone will head to Woolwich Crossrail instead and while a large number will, the sheer proximity of Plumstead station to the site will appeal to many people. It’s only 24 minutes on a train from Plumstead to London Bridge.

Southeastern were not consulted.

If the hope is TfL will cough up for future street improvements, well, we know the state of their finances. Continually relying on them is not a strategy Greenwich Council can rely on, as much as they insist on doing so.

GWT map from the early 2000s before being scrapped.

Another reason for minimal action could be plans for a bus transit system to pass the site – well, part of it. We know Greenwich Council have never let the idea go since it was scrapped in 2009. However it could be many years off particularly with TfL financing, and its implementation should not impact on walking links to Plumstead High Street and station.

TfL requested money for the scheme. None is allocated.

In comments the GLA state: “Proposals appear to prioritise vehicular movements over pedestrian and/or cyclists, due to the positioning of the access into the site, the limited scale of the proposed amendments and due to the car parking level proposed.”

TfL do praise plans for wider pavements on Pettman Crescent but there is no specific mention of those under highway improvements funded from this project – and as stated this is dependent on other funds. They state the need for “Strong walking/cycling links required to Plumstead Rail Station” to which Greenwich Council reply that this is subject to additional funding.

They are also concerned that the bus network will be overcrowded

The council report also states “Issues indicated as ‘to be addressed at later design stages’ only refer to the details of the pedestrian crossing layout and bus stop relocation”, which rules out any substantive changes to the gyratory.

The report continues “TfL raise concerns about the location and nature of the primary access which they consider prioritises vehicular movement over sustainable and active travel contrary to the Mayor’s Transport Strategy.”

“TfL request that the applicants reconsider the primary access arrangements and take the opportunity to create a high quality pedestrian gateway into the site.”

“The applicant’s response is that the primary access provides an appropriate transition between the busy gyratory and residential development beyond
and that the provision of a single access point from Nathan Way would not
provide a reliable or resilient access strategy for a development of this size.”

Affordable homes

Only 429 homes out of 1,750 are “affordable”. To reach the affordability target the plan includes shared ownership which really should not be included given cost.

A few hundred metres north is another Peabody development facing Belmarsh Prison. A small 1-bedroom shared ownership flat costs £70k for a 25 per cent share. In addition to the mortgage a “buyer” then needs to pay rent of £481 a month and a service charge per month of £157. A family home is comfortably more expensive.

The level of “affordable” homes provided is the maximum that can be provided due to “viability concerns” according to the applicants.

In recent financial results, Berkeley Homes had a gross margin of 33.2% and an operating profit margin of 24.5%.

Greenwich Council’s Housing Department had no comments on the level of affordable housing.

The plans are recommended for approval.

1 Comment

  1. Roy

    I thank you for that article…and the many others…all excellent
    Looking at the ” donations ” by the builders….its obvious that they are derisory and for Greenwich Council to even thinking about accepting them seems like corner shop mentality….
    £300,000 x 1750 flats is approx £525 million…..when u look at this amount and what Berkely are offering I had to smile
    As you suggest…everyone is going to head for Plumstead Station as all the buses stop there and as you suggest is also a wonderful train service to Central London.
    This particular spot has always been a bottleneck and I have seen nothing so far to reduce this problem….except Greenwich Council suggesting we cycle everywhere.
    I only wish I could get on a bike never mind cycling….
    As usual all I ever think about is transport and by that I mean car parking and amenities….green areas….for small children….noise will be a factor at that particular spot and haven’t seen any sign of banks of trees to protect or reduce the traffic view or noise.
    Perhaps the Council think we enjoy traffic noise or imagine cars will be disappearing over the next year or so

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