An application for 333 homes at the site of Gallions care home in Thamesmead looks set to be approved if Greenwich Planning Board give the green light tomorrow (16 November).
The site is near the Plumstead gyratory and bus garage which is also seeing 1,750 homes built from Peabody and Berkeley Homes.
Greenwich Council seemed content to permit almost no improvements between that site of 1,750-homes and Plumstead station and amenities for those on foot, and the same now looks like happening again with the care home proposal.
So much for all those tweets and press releases last week talking about low carbon emissions and being green.
As ever, actions speak louder than the odd token gesture. TfL pick them up on the issue as seen in the Planning Board report before councillors tomorrow. TfL state:
“The applicant anticipates that residents will utilise Plumstead Station for National Rail services.
However, the walking and cycling environment from this site to the station is poor and could deter the use of this mode.
A contribution to improve the walking and cycling environment and make the station easily accessible, particularly noting the highspeed traffic at Pettman Crescent and the A206, should be secured in line with Policy T4.”
The council’s report completely ignores this suggestion and improving access to the nearest station and shops in Plumstead, and retorts:
“Improvements to Pier Way cycle lane will be secured in the S106 legal agreement, which links up to the Thames Path and rail services in Woolwich, including the upcoming Crossrail station.”
Erm, that’s a completely different direction away from nearby shops and Plumstead station. Greenwich planners do know this right?
TfL appear to know more about the local area than the local authority.
Pier Way isn’t even the route most will take to reach Woolwich stations.
The council ignored the applicant’s claim of what railway station residents will use and TfL’s guidance.
Many residents will want Woolwich stations, but to ignore Plumstead station with up to 8 trains per hour on Southeastern and Thameslink heading to destinations in Kent and many areas of London – not served by Crossrail – is quite simply, stupid.
The council’s job agency of course sees one of the largest allocations of income at £330,000. The sum total on physical public realm improvements is just £40,000 at Pier Way – which is the opposite direction from Plumstead station and not even the route most will take to Woolwich stations.
Politicians asleep again?
Councillors and Cabinet Members seem content to allow the Planning Department and council Officers to ignore TfL guidance and instead make very odd agreements with developers while elected officials continually talk about going green.
129 car parking spaces are to be provided and perhaps that’s why Greenwich are happy for a three-lane one-way system to remain.
TfL have requested a car-free development. Greenwich refuse and state:
“Whilst it is recognised that the site is located within the Thamesmead and Abbey Wood OAPF, the site is near to the western periphery of this area and given the accessibility level, the site is not considered appropriate for car free development.”
Yep, and that’s because Greenwich keep ignoring using incoming funding to improve links to local shops, amenities and a high frequency railway station.
Still the council drone on about COP26 while failing again on new developments and agreements on how incoming funding is used.
❔ What is the council doing to move towards being carbon neutral?
— Royal Borough of Greenwich (@Royal_Greenwich) November 10, 2021
LED streetlights eh? Wow, no one else is doing that.
The innovation is incredible.
Oh yes, and they’re taking out a loan to fund them (plus interest) rather than use income from developers as they’re bottom in London for collecting it. Great work again.
TfL also note the development pretty much ignores its context:
“The site borders Broadwater Dock, however the proposed development does not fully integrate and utilise this water feature.
The applicant should explore widening the footpath along the dock to accommodate demand including cyclists wanting to access the Thames Path and enhance the route.”
Apparently improving the path would mean fewer “affordable” homes so no can do.
A roundabout directly beside the site is raised by TfL:
“TfL is again disappointed to see no consideration given to addressing the barrier presented by the roundabout at the threshold to the site, meaning people walking to and from the nearest bus stop and to key local facilities, including schools, must make an uncontrolled crossing of at least one arm of a roundabout.
This will neither assist in achieving vision zero objectives nor does it deliver pedestrian priority. Roundabouts also cause issues for cyclists.”
Greenwich respond to say “RBG Highways have objected to the alteration of the existing roundabout.”
And that’s it.
Yes, the same Greenwich Highways stuck in a perennial design mindset centred around 1985.
Even by the low, low standards of Greenwich Council departments and their street design this is an embarrassment.
TfL aren’t giving up on the atrocious links to Plumstead though, and again stated:
“Need for contributions towards improving walking/cycling beyond the site boundary, capturing the potential for active travel trips to/from Plumstead.”
“This needs further exploration in order to maximise the potential for trips by active travel modes, noting the comments made above about the roundabout as a barrier to pedestrian and cycle movement.”
Greenwich Council planners again completely ignore the idea in the report. Do they even know the area or simply not care?
Again they responded with an answer for something completely different.
“Improvements to the cycle path along Pier Way have been secured, as have public realm improvements in the form of the publicly accessible pocket park and relaying of footpath on Pier Way along site boundary.”
Goodness me, some new paving slabs and a tiny park.
Plumstead and much of the east of the borough have often been an afterthought at best but this is ludicrous.
Beyond a joke
At what point do elected officials step in to do something about departments so clearly unfit for purpose? Planning and Highways are in serious need of reform.
TfL also raised the issue of paths and cycling improvement at the northern boundary of the site. Greenwich state it’s not needed.
This report is perhaps the clearest indication yet that dated design seen borough-wide and constant mistakes with street design are emanating from council HQ in Woolwich.
All the dated barriers that cyclists get squashed against. All the ugly streets. The endless bollards and clutter. It’s the result of a department that hasn’t the faintest clue on modern design and what appeals to pedestrians.
Do the council’s staff pretty much all get in a car when they knock off and drive home to Kent?
How many ever walk this area, or even know a thing about it?
Income has been secured for healthcare and one additional return bus journey in the peak.
Both are below totals given to GLLaB.
That’s of course if Greenwich collect the amount owed. They are, as mentioned more than once on this site, bottom in London for collecting income from developers.
The issue of poor pedestrian links is raised again later in the report, though Greenwich Highways again show little knowledge as they state:
“Given the reliance on travel associated with the development by modes other than the car, it is recommended that contributions be sought towards public transport and improvements to footways nearby.”
All very vague. As vague as can be. Nothing specific there like TfL’s guidance about links to Plumstead station and shops, and so it’s ignored in the agreement between the authority and developer.
The Planning Department then do the bare minimum with things like some new paving slabs.
What this report shows even more clearly than previous failures is the council simply havn’t a clue about how to encourage walking and cycling. Sustainability is mostly reserved for PR events and press releases.
That TfL appear to know more about the local area than the council is a sad indictment of how remote, out-of-touch and dated they are in both thinking and practice.