Care home set to be demolished for 341 homes in Thamesmead (or Woolwich as the developer renames it)

Care home set to be demolished for 341 homes in Thamesmead (or Woolwich as the developer renames it)

Developer Fairview have begin a consultation into demolishing a vacant care home in Thamesmead and building 341 homes which would top out at 15 floors. They’ve decided to rename this area of Thamesmead as Woolwich. Not a good start.

The proposed site is the recently closed Gallions View care home. It’s a relatively modern building located beside Broadwater Dock – otherwise known as what remains of the historic Royal Arsenal Canal. Last week I took a look at plans to fill in this stretch of water.

Courtesy @running_past. Site of homes on right

There could be some unhappy buyers if they see flashy renders of waterside living then move in to find it gone.

Drained and permanently removed?

Greenwich Council have previously referenced plans for infill in strategy documents:

Council report regarding infill of dock

A recent Site Allocations document recently adopted mentioned similar:

The mention of a green link is somewhat odd, as just south of here the chance to substantially alter the large one-way system was abandoned in 2020. A green link would simply hit three lanes of gyratory. More on transport in a bit.

Renders show the canal – which may be going soon

Out of 341 homes, 19 per cent are planned to be family sized. Fairview do not commit to the minimum number of “affordable” homes, and state “our current aspiration is provide a level of affordable housing”. There are 131 car parking spaces mentioned on their consultation website. Maybe that’s why the three lane one-way system is being retained for ever more cars.

Most buildings would be around five floors with one tower rising to 15.

Transport

As is common, these consultation documents completely ignore the nearby high frequency national rail line and Plumstead station with Southeastern and Thameslink services. Now of course it’s early days, but how many times have we seen this when it comes to better pedestrian links to stations and areas of employment and leisure? You think, ok, well perhaps when plans are fleshed out they will address it, then they almost always aren’t. Then the full application comes in and again key links are all but ignored with no one speaking to Southeastern or Network Rail, then Greenwich’s Planning Board meet and councillors say little while approving. Many a time it’s clear they havn’t read documents or know the area they’re deciding on. Yet another chance to improve an area gone. Some then wonder why traffic rises.

Closest station is Plumstead – though far from a pleasant walk

Fairview do mention a lot of transport plans that have no funding and currently look nowhere near getting off the ground, including the plan for a Bus Rapid Transit – though when nearby developments have been recently approved along the proposed route no money has been allocated towards it. This scheme was formerly named the Greenwich Waterfront Transit and I took a look at its history and eventual death here. It’s now bubbling away again in the background but with no money for it.

GWT map from the early 2000s before being scrapped. It mostly followed the route of the 472 bus

The consultation also references the DLR in Thamesmead but there’s no funds for it, and TfL are in deep trouble financially. Aside from that, from this area there’s pretty much no point in ever using a Thamesmead extension unless you want a meandering and slower journey via Beckton. Far better to utilise a nearby asset that is already in operation such as Plumstead station. However again and again developers ignore the Southeastern, Greenwich Council do little to highlight the key link and so links are overlooked. Another example just last week was 1,400 homes on the Ikea car park. Westcome park station is nearby but with a pretty crappy walk to get there. A developer presentation barely addressed it, with an image showing pedestrian links not including the main walk to the station.

Lack of direct links to Westcombe Park station (or Charlton shops) in presentation images. Orange arrow is what many would actually use

A nearby development of 1,750 homes named West Thamesmead Gateway approved at the end of 2020 failed to do much about the gyratory between this site and Plumstead station, so it’s unlikely a 341-home plan will.

Gyratory set to remain

If you think I’m being hard on early plans it’s a legacy of numerous plans that progress and fail to address the basics, aided and abetted by Greenwich Council.

On the bright side Crossrail should be in operation and I’d expect many will head there for many journeys across London. That’s not to say however Plumstead links should be ignored, as Southeastern and Thameslink offer a wide variety of destinations and quick links to areas of employment and leisure destinations that Crossrail does not. Fast and frequent journeys exist to thousands of jobs in Belvedere, Erith, Dartford and into Kent, and in the other direction towards Charlton, Greenwich and London Bridge for a wide range of connections.

Fairview state they hope to start on site in 2022:

A plot directly north of here is owned by Peabody. In the five years since they took control and a Housing Zone was established, they’ve drawn up no plans, and now state they have no imminent plans to do so.

Then again, where they’ve already demolished shops and housing at a site near Abbey Wood station, they don’t intend to build until as late as 2039 as revealed in a presentation last week. Maybe 2050 here? Fairview may be guilty of trying to erase Thamesmead and call this area Woolwich, but at least they draw up plans and don’t twiddle their thumbs for years at a time like Peabody.

To view documents click here.

 

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Murky Depths

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