Crossrail have released the latest in a line of videos looking at design and development of stations along the route this morning – and it’s Woolwich that is highlighted.
It includes snippets from Rob Naybour who designed the station for architects Weston Williams & Partners. He mentions challenges of construction with fine sand and discovering a Roman river bed.
He also highlights how “the Arsenal has become separated” as the camera cuts to the busy, six lane road outside.
He mentions how the station helps to reconnect the Arsenal site with Woolwich town centre, though it doesn’t really do that. To be fair it cannot do that and it isn’t the architects fault. The road between the two is just not designed to be people-friendly for pedestrians.
This is the same road that saw changes made by Greenwich Council in recent years which ignored TfL street design guidance, removed greenery and installed guardrailing over a long stretch reinforcing vehicle dominance and the impression of a major A-road, rather than a street through a highly populated town centre with high footfall.
One with no cycle lane despite a number of changes over the years including a “super crossing”.
In fact, new plans for homes revealed last year look to cement that divide by building right up to the very edge of land leaving no space for a cycle lane and narrow paving as seen below:
Little change is planned despite high rises planned on either side:
Opposite is Woolwich Exchange:
The road dominates the area:
The video also praises a building next door – the Officers’ House or Building 11. Berkeley Homes sought to demolish in 2014. It only survives as local people fought for it.
The original plan was a drop off point and turning circle in place of the listed building.
Woolwich station itself was also never on the Crossrail line originally – which seems crazy to think of now. Services were due to run between Custom House and Abbey Wood.
Greenwich Council fought for it and a deal was struck whereby Berkeley Homes would build a station box if allowed to construct towers above. Fit-out costs would be paid by Greenwich Council via Section 106 and Community Infrastructure Levy up to the total of £15 million.
That struggle to secure the station ensured there was no second entrance to the east to serve Plumstead.
Many more homes are planned to the east and that clearly now seems a mistake – but options were limited. The real issue is no apparent passive provision for a future second entrance and exit.
If we look at the east of the station, towers are planned directly above:
To the east, Plumstead campus of Greenwich College is to be rebuilt with housing and a smaller college site:
And of course head east a bit more and there’s 1,750 homes at West Thamesmead.
Oh, and another 330 homes nearby near Broadwater canal which once served the Arsenal site:
And there’s more land with housing planned in future in a number of areas – including a substantial plot beside the river owned by Peabody and not part of 20,000 dependent on a DLR extension at Tripcock Ness.
The station itself is really quite modest at street level – though extremely impressive below ground.
There’s plenty of space for passengers on the island platform and some lovely details such as those bands around the hefty pillars. The colours represent former regiments on site.
A single entrance offers a large, open space with natural light streaming in. A band of perforated panels based surrounds the building based on the dead man’s penny and referencing the site’s military history.
In many ways things right now are better than they could have been. There’s a station for one thing, which will be a major boost to the area. A wonderful building remains next door that could have been reduced to rubble. now it provides homes, frames two squares and in future commercial units at street level for passing pedestrians.
Now the challenge is to ensure towers above the eastern end of the station do not ignore pedestrians and cyclists, and that the road separating the station and Woolwich town centre – including interchanges at Woolwich Arsenal station – becomes less of major barrier. Once again it’s possible. Numerous developments are bringing much income – even with Greenwich’s very low levies on developers – but the question remains; will they do it? Small changes to the crossing enacted a couple of years ago seem to be the extent of ambition, and it really needs more than that.