Greenwich estates still in abysmal condition borough-wide

One of the fundamental issues covered by this site over the years is poor quality public space whether it be parks, shopping parades or estates.

Having grown up on Abbey Wood estate and seen decline first hand during the 1990s and 2000s – long before cuts – it became a real bugbear how authorities such as Greenwich all but gave up on certain areas. Often poorer areas.

Unfortunately that persists to this day with some areas overlooked time and again. This site has attempted over the years to show how funds can compensate for central government cuts – and how some council’s like Greenwich simply hasn’t used them.

Abbey Wood estate – one of the approaches to shops

The latest being a failure to collect Community Infrastructure Levy income from a number of developments. In 2019/20 Greenwich were last of any London council for collecting income.

A cursory investigation over the summer by the authority quickly found at least £1.7 million they failed to collect – and more is likely given the vast gulf to most other boroughs.

With that in mind, recent visits to various areas near new developments again show how public space is still in terrible shape.

Let’s start in Abbey Wood. A town seeing the most change for 50 years as Crossrail nears and new developments arrive. Not that the 3000-home estate is seeing much – if any – improvement:

The above image shows a path leading to a Lidl supermarket from housing. What is quite hard to make out is that there is no dropped kerb here but a step. Those in wheelchairs and the disabled won’t be able to take this link to the shop.

It’s another simple thing that discriminates against the disabled while there are funds to improve – and again shows how Greenwich fail to use them adequately.

The image shows Eynsham Drive beyond where money from TfL administered by Greenwich Council has twice been spent. Those are funds from the Local Implementation Plan.

2017/18 planned schemes.

Twice the road has been dug up and altered using these funds. However while most councils will conduct wide ranging consultations on how funds should be spent and draw up plans in advance, Greenwich scramble around on how to spend money after it’s been allocated by TfL and only consult those in the immediate area. Literally only a few people living directly on the road appear to have been asked despite the street being home to the estate’s main shopping areas and bus routes.

Now this is an area I know well, and I also know people metres away who were never asked how money should be spent. If Greenwich were open and consulted as other authorities have, someone could and probably would have told them about this path which would have been fixed using a minuscule mount of the £120,000 TfL gave them.

Greenwich are also last in London for adding their own funding to TfL’s using this scheme using developer income obtained from S106 and CIL.

If we turn around from where the above picture was taken, more neglect is evident:

Walls broken and garages wrecked. It’s all so grotty. A common site in the estate l.

How about an entrance to the estate’s major park? One with a listed monument no less:

The entrance broken and gates broken for years.

Enticing?

It’s hard to see much investment from the authority in 30 years across the whole area.

It doesn’t matter whether money from central government was flowing or cuts being made, whether new builds are bringing the authority millions of pounds of zero or nothing as barely any investment ever happened.

When anything is done it’s reactionary and without even a hint of any attention to detail.

The usual street clutter is of course thrown up everywhere, mind.

The latest being those ultra cheap and nasty steel poles.

This is a Labour council – a Labour council – that couldn’t appear to give a damn about estates and its residents.

There’s no pride, no care and no attention.

You have to wonder how many staff or councillors ever grew up or lived on estates.

How many ever visit when not on a rare errand to door knock and get votes?

Woolwich is also full of poorly maintained housing and public space.

Directly next to the council’s planned leisure centre and 500 homes is the Armstrong Estate.

Is this an attractive welcome? Somewhere you can be proud to call home?

What’s the odds anything is spent to improve this space? A bountiful amount of Woolwich development nearby hasn’t seen a penny spent on basic improvements in estates like this to provide bin stores, improved landscaping and trees.

Head a little west and other Woolwich estates betray long term neglect:

It’s hard to find a single brick wall at a Greenwich borough-maintained estate that isn’t broken:

The state of the environment doesn’t encourage pride. Quite the opposite. It attracts a lack of care and flytipping abounds.

Google Streetview from two years before shows the wall in the same damaged condition and other flytipping:

Same spot over two years ago

Photos do not tend to get across how so many areas are ugly, dangerous and neglected with railings, posts and other walls all in various states of disrepair.

Do a 180 degree turn and views will show numerous new developments bringing the council millions that can fix this and improve estates – if they bother to collect it.

Even Greenwich town centre estates see the same thing:

It’s endemic from east to west.

And it all goes back long before cuts, and it continues as other sources of funding are spurned.

Raise it and a myriad of excuses come out. The obvious being we have no money or it’s down to TfL.

That and central government cuts. Which of course are a massive issue.

Yet not giving a damn goes way back before 2010. And what excuse for failing to collect income from developers in the here and now, let alone that when collected residents in estates see next to nothing.

Many councillors parrot lines from long-failing council departments instead of delving a bit deeper and learning from other boroughs.

How many are asking why so little money from developers is collected. To be bottom in London while near the top for new development is a hint something isn’t right.

For a department to then find £1.7m quickly once highlighted raises more alarm bells.

None of it makes financial sense even if ignoring the moral aspect of leaving estates residents to live in grim environments.

Some of this neglect is also asking for a lawsuit.

Not that the authority seem to care.

Out of site, out of mind?

 

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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.

10 thoughts on “Greenwich estates still in abysmal condition borough-wide

  • October 29, 2021 at 10:48 am
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    There clearly isn’t any performance indicators that the relevant departments are assessed against and that takes the ownership of the issue right through to the exec board. We all know that greenwich Council would be a disgrace as a small parish and in its current position its population have just given up hope of seeing it perform the most basic statutory duties.

    Reply
  • October 29, 2021 at 4:31 pm
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    Those examples are disgraceful. Rent paying tenants have lived in slum-like conditions for years with not a penny spent on maintenance. The council will then blithely decided to tear down and rebuild, but with fewer homes and higher rents. The unfortunates who lost out in the ‘lottery’ will find themselves exiled completely. Worst off, however, will be leaseholders whose compensation won’t buy them anything in the borough.

    Reply
  • October 30, 2021 at 9:40 am
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    Formidable change is desperately needed for our estates and public areas to be invested for the future. Landscape gardens and trees planted for starters. Better lighting, Street clutter removed and funds spent on our public Realm has a whole and not squandered on waste. Labour have become too complacent, unwillingly helpless in there ability for change in developing or adapting to schemes designed to better our Public Realm and services. This Borough is long overdue for Change

    Reply
  • October 30, 2021 at 10:02 am
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    Totally agree with all the comments raised here. Matt w. Anonymous201481 and Ashley all make good valid points.

    I think Greewich Council have long since forgotten that the rent payers, leaseholders and council tax payers pay for services for the upkeep of their homes and estates. But little if any work is done to improve them.

    Reply
  • October 30, 2021 at 10:55 am
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    I find older homes and housing estates are in need of improvements to homes and public realm around the Borough.

    While we welcome the redevelopment of estates like on the old Morris Walk estate. Hundreds of affordable social rented homes are lost in the process and replaced with shared ownerships homes (part buy and part rent). New homes for rent now nearer to market value.

    Reply
  • October 30, 2021 at 5:16 pm
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    Shared ownership is the worst of all possible options. People who buy as little as a quarter share are charged the full percentage of service/maintenance costs.

    Reply
  • October 31, 2021 at 9:11 am
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    Huge parts of Greenwich borough are disgusting because Greenwich council has forever spent any available funds on keeping Greenwich town in good shape, and in the last few years has directed any spare attention and funds towards Royal Arsenal and funding the Woolwich Crossrail station fit. They clearly do not care about Abbey Wood and Thamesmead in the east of the borough. This can be seen: on Felixstowe Road, where there plenty of space for trees, but none, and no litter bins on the Felixstowe Road approach to Abbey Wood station; around Abbey Wood town centre, which let’s face it is hell on Earth, and don’t even get me started on the estates in Thamesmead North (Battery Road, Barnham Drive), and Gallions Reach shopping centre, which are all but inaccessible except by car. It’s past time to put Greenwich council in special measures and for central government can send some decent city managers in to sort the mess out

    Reply
  • October 31, 2021 at 9:25 am
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    @ anoymous201481. Absolutely totally agree with you on shared ownersip a very expensive way of trying to buy a home.

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  • November 1, 2021 at 4:48 pm
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    @Roy L: if only Greenwich council could be put into ‘special measures’. The council really only cares about the ‘historic’ town centre, the park and open heath land.

    Reply
  • November 4, 2021 at 1:28 am
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    It’s the same old vicious cycle, the environment is rundown and seedy looking, why would anyone be empowered to keep the area tidy, or even be proud enough to call it “Home”?

    Reply

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