Electric car charging point opened by TfL in Woolwich: Why no housing too?

Transport for London have opened a recharging point for electric vehicles near the Woolwich ferry and Woolwich High Street.

They’re branding it as an electric “petrol station” and the site’s footprint is pretty big.

Courtesy TfL

What strikes me is what a waste of land. The charging points are fine, but in a housing crises and with TfL desperate for money, why underuse such a site?

Build some bloody housing above it.

Missed opportunity?

Whether it’d be social housing to ease mass shortages or expensive riverside flats to bring in money to improve London’s public transport (or a mix of the two), at least they’d be a social good.

Site in red. Around the same footprint as Riverside House. Large roundabout alongside. 

Remodel the extensive roundabout alongside and further land could be gained for homes.

The site is only a few metres from the Thames (albeit with an ambulance station and ferry works). It’d offer great views from upper floors.

Noisy? Give it triple glazing, or even move the ambulance station a few hundred metres west to the industrial areas to free up more land for homes.

It’d make next to no difference to journey times.

The location is also excellent for Crossrail and sustainable transport. By not building homes on sites like this, more is built in car-dependent areas whether they be electric or petrol.

Where’s the ambition?

All well and good to find reasons not to do things, but there’s 23,000 on the Greenwich borough waiting list and 1400+ in emergency and temporary housing.

Petrol station future

TfL calling it an electric “petrol station” does raise the question of what future for petrol stations as electric car use grows. Will we see many close as people charge from homes?

Or in cities where home charging isn’t easy, rebuilds of various plots with residential unit above to assist with housing demand?


Adverts are far from enough to cover site costs and my rent.

You can support me via Paypal here

Another option is via Patreon by clicking here

You can also buy me a beer/coffee at Ko-fi here

There's also a Facebook page for the site here

Many thanks

J 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.

11 thoughts on “Electric car charging point opened by TfL in Woolwich: Why no housing too?

  • My god John I know you’re keen to get waiting lists down for housing, but you’d have 35 story towers built on everything if you were in charge! What about just a little empty sky and keeping pollutants down (housing, especially high rise, is polluting too remember, especially in winter). And say we reduced the housing list with serious over-development here along the waterfront, doesn’t that simply attract more on to the housing list here, heading for boroughs with a small wait?
    Spare a thought for those of us who have lived and worked here many many years, redevelop yes but massive over-development to feed developers tirelessly seeking valuable land for big profits is detrimental to all current residents! I think I’m going to stop reading your housing articles, they infuriate me, as I’m sure they do many others who are long term locals. Sorry John. Maybe just state the facts and like 853 leave the reader to decide, or give a balanced view of opinions on heavy development?

    • No I’d like more decent housing so ever more family homes aren’t converted to HMO. I never mentioned private developers but public building for the public good. As a private renter I’ve moved so many times and often not through choice. Endless costs and issues arise from that.

      This site has always been pro-housebuilding providing it is affordable and of good quality.

      I’d love a social house or a house to buy if they were affordable on an average salary without wealthy parents. Many people don’t have that.

      I’ve also seen the impact first hand of the shortage with people forced to move 50 miles away and live pretty much in squalor. Those were people who lived and worked in the area for years.

      So when there’s public land thats underused I do want to see housing built and not 35 floor towers everywhere.

      I mean it was portacabins and tarmac for years on this plot. The greenery next door could remain.

      Some long term residents may not it, but then I’m guessing they aren’t the ones who have no stability and can be kicked out of home at anytime.

      The site will remain pro housing as many need good quality housing.

  • Yes but how much does it cost? There’s a wide range of costs to charge and rapid chargers usually cost more. You also have to sign up to an app. Lots of sustainability waffle in the press release but no practical info

  • Thanks for reply John and quite understand where you’re coming from. We do agree on some things it seems, a dislike of tall towers in the wrong location and over-development by greedy private developers. The scandal on Isle of dogs with the housing minister back-hander’s was a case in point (and never sacked for it as with all the cabinet under BJ lest he had to get some work done himself). Retaining greenery is another common desire. Decent homes for families but not in high rise.
    Private renting isn’t all bad John, and not always the fault of the landlord. I have had tenants above my shop bringing an income just sufficient to support my own family when my shop based business was poor and insufficient to pay the mortgage. They have always left through choice amicably and mostly moved out of town. I have had to spend substantial funds renovating after some tenants have disrespected the property. Finally I have had enough of the problems associated, both tenant caused and Govt meddling, and decided to remove the property from the private rental market, and convert to an Airbnb by investing yet more money to reach a high standard (no savings, spent all my working life’s pension).
    My own kids, now 22 and 26, have both moved further away than the 50 miles you mention, partly for accommodation cost reasons, but don’t live in poverty or squalor, and both rent privately owned property- a house share in Reading, a 2 bedrm apartment in Bristol shared with girlfriend. In Bristol as two newly qualified doctors they can afford a decent apartment (without family money as we are far from wealthy), overlooking Clifton Downs. In London they could not afford the same, would earn about the same salaries, and prefer the Bristol lifestyle and environment.They both work for the nhs I’m proud to say, and both expect to move around the country several times in their lifetimes for promotions-it’s part of life in the nhs if you want to get on in a career. They enjoy lower rents and cost of living by moving out of the capital, they prefer the lifestyles too. They have no intention of returning, and at some point i will move to be closer to them (until they move again!)
    There are two sides to this argument of course, and i fully understand your position. But i remain firm with mine, that the over-development of high rise apartments (with a substantial amount of overseas investment) here and along the river into Charlton, Woolwich and Deptford will not solve our housing problems here. They will always exist, since London is attractive to many ,as all capital cities are, especially the young and newly arrived to the UK. Over-development in confined space generally ultimately leads to ghettoe’s and high crime in decades to come. It’s inevitable. We’re already seeing the seeds of it here in East Greenwich.
    Space for families, greenery, upkeep and improvements to public spaces are essential to avoid it but are unlikely to happen to the extent required, there aren’t the public funds and never will be (sorry for the pessimism here). Cycling facilities temporarily improved by being given a chance in a pandemic are already being scaled back to suit the motorist. It’s a city with it’s attractions for sure, but with problems piling up, and it’s not all the fault of small private owners of housing, though we’re often the scapegoats,and many are so fed up with it that short term lettings with Airbnb etc are increasing, and it’s not a surprise. We agree to disagree John I think is the saying. Lovely public family homes/houses/gardens will not happen here, it’s a pipe-dream. In the sixties it could happen, and I enjoyed the luxury of a new council house overlooking fields in Mottingham as a child from 11 years on, having been re-housed as a family of 5 from a grotty 1 bed flat with outside loo and tin bath in the backyard in Westcombe Hill- now under the tarmac of the Blackwall tunnel approach road.
    There’ll forever be a shortage. It’s likely only ever going to be helped by building all over our precious greenbelt- but that’s another issue entirely and one the Tory’s are keen to pass the buck on to local authorities, even though they are the instigators of the central directives at the heart.
    Other parts of the UK are not all squalid! We should embrace them if we can, and relieve the pressure on London, rather than allowing building to the sky to surround those who may have to stay for whatever reasons.

  • I think this land would have been better used as a holding location for buses, then letting one of the first lane on the duel carriageway be converted into a bus/cycle lanes, making the area safer for all and chipping away a bit at the lack of cycle infrastructure.

    Petrol garages are private businesses so don’t understand why tfl feel the need to build and manage one on public land.

  • Agreed Matt W.

    Also agree with John TFL should have spent the money on bus service improvements. We also need more land made available for social housing or affordable family homes for rent.

  • I emailed the press team and got the practical information:

    “ESB’s PAYG rate at Glassyard site is 30p/kWh incl. VAT, the same rate applies for contactless payment with a 50p connection fee.

    The price reduces if part of their membership plan (28p/KWh). All rates details are listed at this link https://www.esbenergy.co.uk/ev/price-plans-terms-and-conditions

    ESB’s charge point network is on their website (For Glass Yard: https://www.esbenergy.co.uk/ev/charge-points?51.4751860,0.0898758,12z,Glass%20Yard%20Woolwich,1585si) and also on their app. We expect it to be uploaded to Zapmap shortly.”

    According to Which? 30p/kWh is fairly standard for rapid charging, albeit at the higher end of prices. More common chargers you see in supermarkets etc aren’t as fast but about 20-30p/kWh (my own home electricity bill is 15p/kWh for comparison though Octopuis lowers this to 5p if I use it off peak). According to Which? at 30p/kWh this works out as about the same price as filling your car with Diesel if you converted this to mpg.

    So you’re paying for speed and most EV owners are unlikely to always use a rapid charger. And thanks to the Woolwich ferry typically only being a single boat service at the moment you’ll have plenty of time to fill your battery.

  • Petrol stations are adapting too so the gap in the market is being filled privately – the Charlton BP on Woolwich Road has just installed 8 rapid chargers that claim to only use green energy.

  • Petrol stations are going to be a feature of the built environment for many years’ to come. The oil and gas industry will keep ‘mining’ fossil fuels until the last drop has been extracted. Governments make noise about phasing out the use of fossil fuels but the cost of electric cars are very expensive and beyond the means of many drivers who are only just managing to stay on the roads.

  • EV’s aren’t the premium they were previously, when new they are about 10-15% higher than comparable models (eg Mini, Niro). I think the main problem is that there isn’t enough second hand ones available yet as they are too new to make it worth reselling.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.