DLR to Thamesmead to see £1 million for study. Abbey Wood interchange scrapped
TfL have issued a press release this morning on a DLR extension to Thamesmead.
I can see politicians getting very excited but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Just £1 million is to be spent which is chicken feed in terms of overall funding needed to progress this project.
The extension would unlock land at Tripcock Ness for up to 15,000 homes though a map in the press release shows the DLR heading no further into Thamesmead. The plan follows a consultation I covered in January 2020.
It would not reach Abbey Wood station to offer residents a connection with Crossrail and Southeastern services and be of limited use to many existing residents.
For most current residents it’ll be no quicker to reach major areas of employment if a DLR link is constructed only as far as Tripcock Ness. A bus to Abbey Wood then Crossrail or Southeastern would still trump a DLR in terms of timing and destination choice.
The press release states:
- £1m joint funding package, fully funded by external partners, agreed for the next stage of technical work on proposed extension of the Docklands Light Railway to Beckton Riverside and Thamesmead
- Work will help refine route options, environmental impacts and transport benefits of potential extension
- Announcement comes as Mayor confirms creation of the new Thamesmead and Abbey Wood Opportunity Area Planning Framework, which will help deliver more than 15,000 new homes
- A DLR extension could also support up to 15,000 new homes in the Beckton Riverside area
However let’s not forget TfL are in severe financial difficulties and central Government show very little willingness to fund infrastructure projects. The Bakerloo Line extension to Lewisham has no confirmed funding.
Greenwich Council leader Danny Thorpe stated:
“We’ve been making the case for improved public transport for residents in the east of our borough for many years and we’re happy that TfL and the Mayor of London are taking this seriously. With thousands more homes planned for Thamesmead, the DLR extension in particular is an option we really want to see made a reality.
“It’s been more than 50 years since the first homes in Thamesmead were built, and thousands more will be built over the coming years. We’re serious about improving air quality and tackling the climate emergency so enabling new and existing residents to walk, cycle and use public transport is crucial.”
TfL state this move is a result of the adoption of the Thamesmead and Abbey Wood Opportunity Area Planning Framework. I will cover that in a future post – though during consultation it almost entirely ignored Abbey Wood with arbitrary boundaries slicing Abbey Wood in two – and Greenwich Council failed to raise this oversight. A quick look into the December 2020 draft shows mistakes within opening paragraphs.
The press release also states “support work on other transport options within the OAPF will also be carried out including options for a rapid bus corridor”. Yet in just the past two months major developments on the proposed Bus Transit route failed to allocate any income from S106 income to the project. Those being 6,000 homes at Greenwich Peninsula and 1,750 at West Thamesmead gateway. There was no mention of the project in regards to Community Infrastructure Levy income either.
What seems to be the plan now is – at best – a bus transit that mirrors the 472 bus route. No more than that. That’s similar to the original plan from the 2000s which started as a tram, then trolley bus then eventually a rebranded 472 bus. The history of that project can be seen here.
In coming days we may see lots of happy statements from local authorities and politicians. In reality I wouldn’t expect much to happen anytime soon and if/when it does, a limited crossing will not impact the rest of Thamesmead to any great degree if it doesn’t link to Abbey Wood station. A bus – no matter what it’s branded – is not the DLR or London Overground. The 472 already exists as do other routes. It’s a lack of ambition and funding which denies what is really needed, and has been for 50 years, in a high quality link that benefits the majority of Thamesmead and offers interchange potential.
On the plus side it does open up undeveloped land for many much needed new homes.
A follow up post will look at the long term plans for Abbey Wood and Thamesmead. A consultation earlier this year on the key document guiding change and investment up to 2041 apparently saw no response form Greenwich council or local cllrs Denise Hyland and Clive Mardner. Bexley Council did respond alongside local Cllr Ann Marie Cousins and MP Abena Oppong-Asare.
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