Lombard Square: Revisions as it’s realised 1,750-home Thamesmead development is beside prison

Detailed plans and revisions have been submitted for the West Thamesmead Gateway development comprising 1,750 homes near Plumstead bus garage.

Peabody and Berkeley Homes are behind the project on the border of Plumstead and Thamesmead, with outline approval given in December 2020. Revisions and further detailed plans have since been drawn up.

The site is now called Lombard Square, which was revealed when Berkeley units begun marketing in Hong Kong.

The main site isn’t the most appealing given the triangular plot is bordered by a prison to one side, an elevated sewer another and a three-lane gyratory to the other.

Occupants won’t be able to see out of some windows. Balcony screen labelled four is also translucent

It now appears that someone has realised there’s a number of prisons directly next door. This new application thus seeks to revise buildings on site, and orientate them away from providing a view to Belmarsh.

This doesn’t help occupants, as full-size screens will be installed on balconies and frosted glass placed in windows to prevent views to the north.

Plot 3 is located beside both the prison and gyratory. Of course this ensures it is the main affordable housing block.

Overall design changes and detailed plans don’t present a particularly appealing prospect, with a drab colour scheme now evident in various plots:

Plot 8 design

This shows revisions from an earlier design:

Pedestrian links to public transport

When initially proposed, TfL stated £1.8 million was needed for improved bus services yet the initial agreement negotiated between Greenwich Council staff and the developers allocated just £500,000.

TfL objected and a compromise of £1 million reached.

What that’ll achieve in a time of bus cuts remains to be seen.

As for pedestrians, access to nearby Plumstead High Street and transport links is poor.

Not only is the site constrained on all side, but access to nearby Plumstead station is far from good enough for 1,750 homes.

Section between thousands of residents and railway station

Plans to improve the gyratory running past the site were heavily downgraded before approval, and there are still no confirmed plans to improve links to the station.

The application talks a lot about greenery and links within the development. That’s great, but what about when you get out?

Narrow paving area to reach station

Given little attention paid, I guess they’ll be high demand for 526 car parking spaces.

It states: “The proposed scheme seeks to create a pedestrian priority environment, encouraging active modes of transport.”

Courtesy Google. Road runs through middle of overall development. Tower planned on right

“Strong green links, via green fingers and green streets will provide a connective network for residents and visitors to move through, which is focused around a central park.”

All very nice until you leave and face a three-lane one-way system and a not very pleasant walk to the station on narrow paving. Two people passing will struggle to find space, let alone thousands of residents:

The “paving” to the left in the above photo is just a few centimetres wide. It’s not usable to any real degree as shown below:

There’s also a not particularly appealing underpass:

Underpass

There is no detailed plan to fix this, though the application states:

Walk to underpass in orange. Many take option in blue

“Active lifestyles will be promoted by safe pedestrian and cycle priority routes throughout the site.”

Three lanes of traffic and entrance to McDonalds dissects development. Plans for major changes scrapped

“Pettman Crescent will deliver a dedicated cycle lane connecting into the wider cycle network.”

However it’s still heavily compromised and not at all appealing as things stand.

Insular thinking

A persistent problem with Greenwich planners is an insular view that looks at the footprint of a development alone with scant regard for the wider area.

When questioned they’ve often said Section 106 income from developers (even before changes to S106 and the introduction of the Community Infrastructure Levy in recent years) can only be spent on the site itself.

Underpass alternative to narrow path to shops & transport links

This was never accurate, but it did mean they all but ignore the wider context of many sites.

Internal pedestrian and cycling links are great and all, but pretty useless if it all falls apart a few metres from the site’s footprint. Particularly one as constrained as this.

Landscaping

Like all major planning applications this submission has large sections devoted to landscaping. Much looks very good.

There’s a park planned with a pond within the site.

If people never leave to go shops or travel then it’d be wonderful, but people do tend to leave their immediate environs.

Out of dozes of pages on the landscaping, just one (page 99) looks at how people cross the gyratory through the site on Pettman Crescent.

One new crossing is the sum total of road changes

One crossing is your lot.

The application also completely ignores connections to Plumstead High Street and Plumstead station.

Council confusion

This week we have again seen Greenwich Council and local politicians put out videos on the environment, COP26 and reducing emissions.

Underpass from development to station, shops and bus stops

Compare and contrast that to when a plan is submitted which all but ignores how people living in a major development can easily and safely walk to local shops.

And if the past is a guide, when this comes before the Planning Board barely any councillor will ask a single question about it.

Car dominated public realm near new towers

As ever, watch what they do rather than what they say.

Once again, this plan – which is the result of an already-approved outline application and subsequent discussion with council officers – simply doesn’t consider the site in a cohesive manner with its wider environment, and thus does little to ensure people don’t drive or simply order in deliveries via car or van.

Local business of course suffers to boot as potential custom is squandered.

Pedestrian route from Greenwich Peninsula housing to east Greenwich shops

We’ve seen it in Greenwich plenty of times, we’ve seen it in Woolwich too with dual carriageways running past numerous new-builds with next to no improvements to the public realm for pedestrians and we now see it in Plumstead and Thamesmead.

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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.

One thought on “Lombard Square: Revisions as it’s realised 1,750-home Thamesmead development is beside prison

  • November 7, 2021 at 8:52 am
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    The public realm around this proposed development is in a dire state as is the undepass and the walk to Plumstead Station and bus services. So more investment could be provided to really smarten up the area and make it much safer for pedestrians and cyclist..

    We also need to see more investment in bus services and local amenities in the area including extra drains and sewerage systems etc. As the existing systems struggle with cope with all the thouands of extra new homes being built.

    Reply

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