Greenwich again ignore improving streets as 333-home Thamesmead development set to be decided

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.

1,750-home project nearby all but ignored improved links to shops and station

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.

Hollow words?

So much for all those tweets and press releases last week talking about low carbon emissions and being green.

Current site

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.”

TfL raise issue of poor links to south east. Greenwich completely ignore and talk about links to west

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.

Site in red. Nearest station is Plumstead. Orange route to shops and station ignored. Meandering blue route is Greenwich’s suggestion for new residents to take to Crossrail and presumably National Rail

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.

Three-lane gyratory

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.”

TfL called for improved crossings or changes. Greenwich said no.

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.

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.

Setting

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.

Roundabout

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.”

Roundabout beside site

Greenwich respond to say “RBG Highways have objected to the alteration of the existing roundabout.”

And that’s it.

Street clutter in Thamesmead

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.”

Underpass

“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

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.”

Underpass alternative to narrow path to shops & transport links

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.

 

 

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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.

13 thoughts on “Greenwich again ignore improving streets as 333-home Thamesmead development set to be decided

  • November 15, 2021 at 5:12 pm
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    It’s criminal incompetence. The footway required to walk or cycle to plumstead is flooded every time it rains, when it’s passable is a very dangerous walking underpass which I avoid. The diversion along the road has massive barriers from the 80s installed and the street lights on the 3 lane gyratory which u have to sprint across to get a burger from macdonalds don’t work. Its genuinely one of the most poorly maintained areas of London and here is an opportunity to get some basics right but nothing from the coucil as usual. Ideally greenwich have broken some statutory requirements and can be held to account but I don’t expect so. Councillor Peter ward has repeatedly said he will ‘sort it’ in a very Boris like way over the last few years and nothing has changed.

    Reply
  • November 15, 2021 at 5:20 pm
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    Everyone can surely see by now the greenwash nonsense Greenwich Council put out is a sideshow when it comes to reducing congestion and pollution.

    This is yet another example.

    That’s 1,750 + 333 homes near the gyratory and they’ve done the square root of jack shi* to improve it and the pedestrian experience. A starker example of their real intentions couldn’t be clearer.

    The report before the Planning Board is clear and a litany of TfL saying “this is rubbish, improve it with income you’ll receive” and then “this is rubbish” ad nauseum with Greenwich Council’s response being whistling and fingers in ears. Got GLLAB that needs to take the bulk again and to hell with other areas.

    Reply
  • November 15, 2021 at 6:08 pm
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    Amazing that they think people and cyclists would take the indirect route via Pier Way?!

    The same Pier Way that is narrow and lined with parked cars that I see no mention of improving until it reaches near the Thames after a few hundred feet?

    The Thames path is ok for a Sunday afternoon leisure trip but if on foot heading to bus stops or cycling to shops who is taking that route! Nobody.

    The report is a hitherto look into how shockingly poor Greenwich Council are in discussions and negotiations. The report is so bad for them is there a rogue element in the department that produced it and wanted people to see?

    Reply
    • November 15, 2021 at 6:10 pm
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      Indeed if heading to Woolwich station it’s Broadwater Road then Tom Cribb road via the roundabout TfL recommend be improved and Greenwich refused.

      Pier Way is for leisure.

      It’s really basic stuff not to know logical routes – and even when informed by authorities simply ignore it.

      Reply
  • November 15, 2021 at 9:05 pm
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    You do wonder if the people making the decisions have ever visited the area. They should walk along the footpath and underpass that meanders north of the bus garage and along near the Ridgeway underpass at night and then ask themselves if that is genuinely likely to be used at night?

    The canal infrastructure is equally rundown and eerie even during the daytime.

    The idea that the road cannot be reduced to dual lanes opening up more space for pedestrians and cyclists is laughable.

    It just seems to be throw the money at GLLB and to hell with anything else.

    Reply
  • November 15, 2021 at 10:09 pm
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    Is there really no organisation that’s mean to be pulling the council up on these kinds of things? It’s obvious from the most cursory glance at this by anybody that it falls way short of being acceptable on any level.

    Reply
  • November 15, 2021 at 11:06 pm
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    Greenwich Councils reluctance to spend S106/CIL funds is baffling. Where is all this money going? Needless to say on wasteful projects and failed upstarts Such as GLLAB.

    The Realm is in dire need of investment, Poor outdated design and lack of maintenance as left this in disrepair. Major changes are needed.

    For too long this shameful administration blames others for their diabolical actions and neglect. LABOUR failings and complacency needs to end… the only way for this is to vote for change.

    REAL investment and CHANGE is needed for the residents and visitors of this Borough.

    Isn’t Greenwich meant to be Royal Borough….

    Reply
  • November 16, 2021 at 8:06 am
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    John – out of curiosity – have you shared your excellent research on this (and many other areas; pedestrian/cycle links between GMV and Greenwich Town are another example of extremely poor planning, with Matt Pennycook MP, Mayor’s office or indeed the newspapers? Clearly, the Planning Department at the RBG council is failing in the most spectacular ways.

    Reply
  • November 16, 2021 at 9:49 am
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    Only the clowns in so-called Royal Greenwich council could see thousands of new homes proposed and associated income and STILL do next to nothing for this blighted spot.

    One would hazard a guess those at the top NEVER walk through the dark dingy and scary underpasses to get home in the areas they live.

    It’s only a Royal borough in very select areas isn’t it?

    Reply
  • November 16, 2021 at 1:58 pm
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    That gyratory really needs changing. The council can ‘Elephant & Castle’ it to make it easier to get to Plumstead station.

    The council’s record on its lack of consideration for public realm, ignoring advice and suggestions from the likes of TfL, their failure to declare and make good use of developer receipts, while cozying-up to developers and their whims is shameful. And they have the nerve to call themselves a ‘Royal’ borough.

    The current lot ought to be removed, so remember, there are local elections next May to remind them of this and their other failures.

    Reply
  • November 16, 2021 at 2:43 pm
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    @Ashley and @Michael, Greenwich has 51 councillors, 42 of whom are Labour. Unless there is a change of thinking amongst local Labour politicans, Greenwich council’s ineptitude will go on until the crack of doom.

    Reply
    • November 16, 2021 at 4:18 pm
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      Yep it needs those internally to ask questions. Way too many just coasting along though.

      Reply
  • November 17, 2021 at 11:42 pm
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    Unfortunately, the senior officials acting for the council rely on the politicians for their appointment and reappointment, while the incompetence/sleaze of the councillors requires the silence or incompetence of the officials. There’s a horrid symbiosis of incompetence and sleaze that has brought our neighbourhoods into ruin and we are long overdue some disruption. I am really hoping that the independent bounce that has made inroads into councils across the country starts to take hold here, so we can finally shake RBG out of its negligent coma and towards some good governance.

    Reply

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