Registered cars in Greenwich borough rise by 7,000 in a decade

The number of cars registered in Greenwich borough continues to grow with figures showing that in 2020 the total reached 79,091 – an increase of almost 7,000 in a decade.

The figures aren’t new (published in 2021) and I stumbled upon them while looking into Lewisham Council’s Transport Strategy which is due to be discussed tomorrow.

Greenwich numbers though paint a revealing picture and are worth highlighting given controversy over congestion, cycle lanes, Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and Silvertown Tunnel.


Cars registered in the borough saw barely any change from 2010 to 2013 at around 72k. Then increases begun, with around a thousand extra cars on the road each year until figures broke through 79k in 2020.

The increase in Greenwich surpassed neighbouring boroughs. Lewisham saw an increase from 73k to 77k between 2010 and 2020.

Bexley grew from 100k to 106k.

The rate of increase far outstrips London-wide changes.


It’s hard to see any imminent reversal of this trend given Greenwich Council have continued to permit extensive car parking in developments – or refused to enact parking schemes in areas where hundreds of homes are planned.

In recent weeks alone I’ve looked at future phases of Greenwich Millennium Village, where over 200 car parking spaces are planned.

Future plots of GMV

A major Woolwich estate redevelopment also springs to mind. Morris Walk estate rebuild will see a substantial increase in homes – and when approved Greenwich refused to install a controlled parking zone in the wider area. It doesn’t take a genius to work out what will happen – even if parking in the development itself is restricted.

Heavy traffic beside Morris Walk estate (now demolished)

That’s the same estate where the authority opted not to spend any sizable sums to improve pedestrian links to bus routes, leaving a narrow, dingy underpass as one of the main routes.

How thousands of new residents will be expected to reach bus routes and cycle lane

One phase will see 144 spaces for 302 homes. The transport plan stated “no overspill is expected to occur onto the surrounding streets. It has been noted that opportunities for overspill parking are very limited in any event and it is unlikely that residents would seek to park on-street”. Really? There’s a number of roads with no restrictions nearby. Residents will park there.

They did the same in November 2021 in Thamesmead. A development from Fairview Homes will see 129 homes, while improved pedestrian links to nearby Plumstead station was ignored. TfL advice on improved public realm including pedestrian crossings was ignored.

Advice to Greenwich’s Planning Department during the application period stated: “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.”

Greenwich’s response? To completely ignore it and refer to a token spend in the opposite direction to the nearest station.

TfL state measures needed to improve links to station. Greenwich response completely ignores and mentions measures in complete opposite direction

Then we have ever rising public transport fares. This week we’ve seen announcement of TfL fares rising by over six per cent on buses and the annual rail fare increase will be implemented. Southeastern have long been adding inflation-busting increases even since a 2006 award stipulated RPI+3 per cent each year. Both increases heavily due to decisions from the Department for Transport alongside the Treasury.

With that background it’s hardly surprising more cars are registered in the area. Both central government and some areas of local government encourage it – and that doesn’t look like changing soon.




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J 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.

    8 thoughts on “Registered cars in Greenwich borough rise by 7,000 in a decade

    • Flats without parking spaces in out-of-centre parts of London like Greenwich are not marketable. It’s not Z1 London. Developer wouldn’t build with such restrictive terms – the spaces are expensive and they are underground so far better than cars littering streets as is the case with every residential street in the borough.

      Greenwich Borough has some of the most restrictive CPZ times in London – I can park in the City on weekends for free or in Mayfair for free on Sundays but never in Greenwich on any of those times, yet still car usage increases simply because the number of residents are rising. Understand the desire to reduce car ownership, but LTNs and restricting parking are simply sticks and they will not work.

    • Thats a pretty shocking analysis John, and doesn’t surprise me. RBG are solely intent on increasing housing (without gaining community funding in the process) whether or not affordable or restricted to local families. Developers are given a free hand and they well know that values increase if parking is provided. It’s almost ‘sod the rest of us’ having to live with the congestion. What exactly has the new transport zsar achieved since appointment? LTN’s being rowed back under pressure from drivers, back to square 1 (actually if there is such a thing, back to square <1, as more development means more cars than ever before.) No chance in foreseeable of Trafalgar Road ever overcoming its problems without drastic change. With elections coming up they will be pandering to the driving majority, who can't see that they are actually the ones who suffer too, by attempted changes toward cleaner/safer /greener alternatives being withdrawn and congestion increasing year on year.

    • And they’re still building more blocks of ‘apartments’ in greenwich. So a lot more people and cars in the area, while there are significantly less roads open to spread out the traffic. It used to be a nice area to live in, but not so much now.

    • New housing is going up in many other parts of London with much slower rises in vehicle numbers because many people need a home to live in and are happy without a car if good quality transport exists.

      The issue is Greenwich permit sizable car parking in some developments and fail to use traffic wardens to prevent people parking in nearby areas.

      It’s still a nice area. In many ways a lot better. Stop always looking back. Cities always change. Greenwich I may add are simply behind the curve

    • You only have to look across many parts of London to see that’s incorrect. A great deal of housing in Zones 2-4 have no car parking and yet sell and are popular. In Greenwich we see Woolwich will be very close time-wise to many places in a couple of months with Crossrail. North Greenwich already is 2 mins to Canary Wharf. Greenwich is 10 mins to London Bridge on a train and Deptford about 7 minutes. These aren’t outer suburbia.

      Using Westminster Council as a comparable doesn’t make much sense. Try similar boroughs covering Z2-4. Greenwich are far more relaxed than most are about car use. Hackney, Southwark, H&F and those types of areas.

    • Even the newer devlopments in some Zone 6 areas have a very low amount of car parking (eg Romford) and that’s a conservative council! Just amazing really how this Labour council can pretend to be ‘progressive’

    • Even when developments are allegedly “car-lite” with a specific condition attached that no on-street parking permits will be granted, RBG seems to breach its own rules by issuing parking permits to owners of vans and other over-size vehicles that won’t fit into the underground parking. RBG also seem either unaware or unconcerned about the huge wodge of dosh that developers make out of selling the underground parking to new residents – around 30,000 a pop in East Greenwich. Maybe RBG should think about how much the land in our streets that is used for parking is actually worth at normal market rates.

    • RBG council clearly has a role to play in reducing car dependency and making active travel more attractive, but i think you can map this rise in car ownership onto the launch and spread of PCP finance for cars, which has made private car use more accessible. You can hardly blame the council that novel finance tools make it easier for poorer residents to get a car! Greenwich is also one of the boroughs straddling zones 2-4 that is worst connected by public transport (no tube, no trams, two small areas served by DLR, no north-south connections by rail), and suffers bad traffic because it plays host to the only river crossings for miles. Everything here is beyond the control of the council and town planners. Greenwich needs help from much higher up to fix its car addiction


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