Blackheath station car park sale: Southeastern seek to retain parking

Earlier today I was alerted to plans to sell Blackheath station car park and took a look into the proposal.

The site is one of the largest car parking areas beside a station in inner London and housing seemed an obvious candidate. New homes beside railway stations are a sustainable means of building housing and reduces the need for cars. The concern in Blackheath would be losing the market – though an alternate site may be possible.

However it appears any sale with not see car parking removed for new homes. It’s also revealing that Southeastern were very keen to retain car parking instead of housing, despite the potential for a captive market for new residents. In a consultation response, they state “Regarding the granting of short term commercial leases for the space, we would be very concerned if there was any shift away from using the land as a car park” and at no point mention housing as an option.

Courtesy Google. Parking extends behind this viewpoint

Network Rail are also pro-parking, as they respond: “The primary use of the land will remain as a carpark and this controlled by a restricted user clause within the proposed lease. A minimum of 108 spaces are to always be provided”.

Lewisham Council continue the theme: “The confirmation that the site will be sold subject to a restrictive use clause/covenant ensuring solely car parking use in the future, and retention of the allocated area for marathon stacking is welcomed.”

An ability to retain an area for the annual marathon or fireworks could be accommodated alongside any new homes.

Housing near stations

This brings us to a wider point on new homes located around railway stations. Almost every single major planning application that this site has ever covered features a wide range of responses by the time they make it to decision time, except for Southeastern who almost never respond or engage. Network Rail rarely do. Compare this to areas where TfL operate transport (in terms the tube, DLR and London Overground) where they generally do feedback information on requirements, impact upon services and desired improvements including via developer financial contributions.

One of the stated aims when rail was privatised was a commercial nous, yet this is barely apparent from many franchises since the 1990s in terms of new housing and potential custom. Southeastern have never shown much interest in linking with developers and housebuilding to encourage usership of their lines. Developers never show much interest in rail in south east London, and so it’s regularly overlooked.

Just this weekend there was the plan revealed for 341 homes in Thamesmead. The closest station is Plumstead. No mention of the station on consultation documents. They do mention the DLR which doesn’t exist in Thamesmead, a bus rapid transit which doesn’t exist and Crossrail. Last week there were 1,400 homes in Greenwich. Nearest station is Westcombe Park. No mention of it. There was mention of North Greenwich tube. It’s no exaggeration that the number of plans like this I can recall is over 100. There’s a major problem with developers, local authorities and rail companies not talking.

Even where projects do progress it’s often the bare minimum. Last week a new Kidbrooke station building opened. Lots of backslapping around it, yet it’s one of the very few stations to see a major rebuild in recent years that lacks any step-free access or ticket gates. It’s a bare bones, cheap option. Maybe Berkeley Homes didn’t want to pay more than the bare minimum, and neither Southeastern nor Network Rail pushed it.

Now franchising as we know it is dead, perhaps things might change. I doubt it, but let’s see. TfL were far better but their financial problems and job losses could see this focus cut. If it does happen, it’d be an example of best practice eroding down to poor standards elsewhere rather than the worse practices in rail improving to better TfL standards.

A single organisation in charge of maintaining and operating services seems to take a holistic approach which the current railway network simply doesn’t, with responsibility split between the Department for Transport, Network Rail and Southeastern.

You can view consultation responses here.

 

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John 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 “Blackheath station car park sale: Southeastern seek to retain parking

  • April 5, 2021 at 8:59 pm
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    Would be interested to know if the Mini-Cab office, etc. will also be retained.
    Having Blackheath Cars literally next to the station has saved me many-a-time when I’ve had to disembark at Blackheath due to service issues / suspensions on the Greenwich / Woolwich line, especially as there is no Black Cab rank in close proximity.

    Reply
  • April 7, 2021 at 11:02 am
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    it is worrying for blackheath residents that kevin bonavia the local labour Councillor seems to show no interest in blackheath since his failed bid for federal politics ,, this could slip through as he focuses his time on vanity projects

    pedestrian access needs to be ensured for lewisham side residents to get to the station

    why wasnt the bridge made for the olympics to cross the platforms made permanent

    Reply
  • April 7, 2021 at 4:38 pm
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    So blackheath residents will lose their weekly market? One struggles to imagine the mayhem that will happen at john ball school. The car park is completely full (and there is illegal parking in baizdon road) at the start & end of the school day. Making it a school street has resulted in even more u turns or 3 point turns. No discernible reduction in cars. Struggling to see how this will be solved?

    Reply
  • May 8, 2021 at 1:20 pm
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    I am not sure that I understand this proposal. Public car parking is to be retained, BUT with parking spaces also for use by residents in the development. It seems to me there will be very little public car parking left with the properties, plus [limited] parking, crammed at the end of the current site. 🤔

    Reply

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