Welcome to Abbey Wood & Thamesmead: Upgrades around Crossrail station already a mess

With Elizabeth line services starting only a few weeks ago, the area around Abbey Wood station is already sinking into neglect at the site of multi-million pound upgrades.

Problems include vehicles starting to turn pedestrian space into car parks, damaged street furniture, embedded mess and dirt, a lack of greenery and building owners allowing structures to become eyesores.

Upon leaving an Elizabeth line and heading north you’ll be greeted by a residential block also containing retail units that is barely 20 years old and in very poor shape.

Blank walls and neglected building

There’s also broken street furniture at the Felixstowe Road exit already evident.

This is a post I didn’t want to write yet always suspected I would have to. I grew up in the town, have family there and have seen how its been all but abandoned by Greenwich council for so long under a number of leaders with little effort to improve much of the town. Every time I go neglect is obvious. Crossrail presents a major chance for change while Greenwich council, its politicians and departments seem determined to squander it.

Yet the town also has so much good and so much potential. People there deserve far better and I will write a post soon on all the good things, but today is unfortunately about neglect weeks after new services started running.

Abbey Wood estate

For one, the area around the station is a dull, dead space. Blank walls and nothing-ness. Murals were featured on renders before the station was built. Nothing appeared. It’s tailor-made to foster a sense of abandonment and subsequent problems.

Vehicles are regularly heading onto expensive upgraded paving around the station to park. Not a great surprise given that before the station rebuild paving beside the station turned into a car park each rush hour with no enforcement.

Abbey Wood station exit pre-station rebuild. All these cars are on paving space

It’s not just outside the station but also nearby outside new flats and Sainsburys.

Pedestrian space now a car park

There’s new flats being built here. It’s supposed to be car free, though with little enforcement parking problems will persist and residents may buy a car and park knowing little will be done.

Paving is cracking as vehicles drive across. Courtesy @InAbbeyWood

I’ve long highlighted how Greenwich Highways install numerous street clutter across the borough which is usually unneeded and without rhyme or reason, yet here is one of the few places it *is* needed.

Of course they’re still installing clutter nearby, just not where it may have some impact.

New bollards continue to spring up

In years to come Crossrail will be in operation from early morning till very late at night – and perhaps even 24 hours a day one day.

Some measures will prevent continual problems of vehicles heading onto pavement space here given just how large the flow of vehicles will be. But please, not the cheap and nasty wooden ones they often install that look ugly within weeks. Something instead in keeping with a £6 million public realm project. If Greenwich need a clue go visit one one of many other stations along the route.

Security bollards at Liverpool Street

There are hastily slapped down concrete blocks in some places after it appeared millions were spent and someone said “hang about, don’t we need some security measures?”.

This is the result:

Blocks dumped at last minute – and barely hanging on above slab

This is on the Bexley side of borough boundary.

A fine way to finish off a multi-million pound street project

There’s nothing on the Greenwich side so where vehicles are parking on pedestrian space. The boundary between Bexley and Greenwich straddles both sides of the station. That’s caused some dispute over the years over who controls what, though much of what I’ll highlight lies on the Greenwich side.

A block of flats next to the station is however entirely in Greenwich. Residents pay council tax to the authority.

The authority need to ensure the building owner improves the situation. This very much looks a candidate for a Section 215 notice.

Another section of the building with render peeling off

Render is falling away. It’s barely 20 years old. A Section 215 notice states the land owner must improve the condition of land and/or structure or face a penalty. One was enacted on Plumstead High Street after many years of local people asking the authority when a building became infested and was falling apart. Council Officers batted away residents and councillors stating it wasn’t possible.

It was. A S215 notice was finally issued and improvements only begun after a decade of the owner submitting plans but never carrying them out.

White render exposing breezeblocks behind

The Felixstowe Road entrance at Abbey Wood station is already the main route for residents of Abbey Wood’s long-neglected 3,000-home estate, and in future will be for those moving into thousands of new homes as towers rise and developments complete nearby.

To visibly be such a mess speaks volumes, and authorities need to get a grip before it’s used by even more people as new-builds complete.

Southern side

The southern side of the station is better but far from what was promised or what it should be. Public realm upgrades and street surfaces along the main shopping area are filthy.

I had to chuckle seeing the visible neglect of recent projects and then Greenwich installing these:

Greenwich borough board encouraging people to shop local

Why would people do that when it’s such a mess?

Maybe less money on street clutter and signs and more on actually keeping it in good condition?

New granite paving sees embedded dirt

Greenwich have already mothballed their deep cleaning equipment recently purchased that could have kept this recently upgraded area in good condition. No money they say.

Funny that, as other authorities such as Redbridge are using income from developers to improve and maintain town centres, with £250,000 in CIL spend allocated last year to street cleaning:

Redbridge CIL spend. Street cleansing third from bottom

Then again, Greenwich sit second from bottom in London for collecting income from developers despite numerous developments in the borough, as this excerpt from a Transport for London report before a Finance meeting next week shows:

Another source of funding to maintain the area is an expanded Controlled Parking Zone in the area the authority agreed to in 2017. They still havn’t introduced measures (five years after approval!) and the new rail line is now open after a four year delay. Local streets see inevitable results.

Trees seen in renders of public realm works never appeared.

How it was supposed to look

This is due to underground services apparently. Though nothing else has happened to improve the area and break up vast blank spaces.

The reality. Borough boundary runs in middle of road.

It all reaffirms that people living in Abbey Wood and nearby areas of Thamesmead came a long way behind those who would travel in to use the station via the flyover above.

Greenwich Council now has new political leaders after the previous failed for many years to resolve chronic problems and failed to resolve issues, but the same old Departmental heads remain…

As for Bexley Council, much of what has been covered isn’t in their borough, but some certainly is and they need to get moving.

Ultimately though, both need to work together otherwise a major improvement project and millions of pounds in public realm investment is wasted.

 

As a private renter with a young family, the cost of living is extremely high.

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Thank you

Murky Depths

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.

6 thoughts on “Welcome to Abbey Wood & Thamesmead: Upgrades around Crossrail station already a mess

  • June 16, 2022 at 5:36 pm
    Permalink

    My god what a mess!

    Yes those flats aren’t even twenty years old, they were built in the mid 2000s (2004 or 2005 I recall)

    Contrast that to Woolwich CrossRail station as well, which is far more attractive, though I’ve always said that Greenwich has all but given up on Woolwich town centre and is making a new Woolwich around the CrossRail station.

    Reply
  • June 16, 2022 at 9:25 pm
    Permalink

    thank you for highlighting this. Its truly awful. Abbeywood estate is a brilliant example of 50’s housing but it too is neglected. It drives me mad. is there anything that local people can do in terms of self organising or resting control from the council?

    Reply
  • June 16, 2022 at 9:58 pm
    Permalink

    you can already tell abbey wood’s not gonna get anything good again for like 40 years

    Reply
  • June 16, 2022 at 10:38 pm
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    The flats on Felixstowe Road have been having legal troubles for years. The majority of owners and the management company want to spend millions on renovations, but a minority of owners, all buy-to-let landlords, are holding out – filing legal challenges and engaging in violent and menacing behaviour towards management staff and other residents. It’s a real shame. They’re decent flats in one of the best-connected spots in London now, but selfish, greedy landlords are holding the development back

    Reply
    • June 18, 2022 at 1:55 pm
      Permalink

      Hi Mike,

      Firstly, are you a leaseholder of Priory place?

      The following are facts:
      1) The RTM or the management company do not have millions to spend. They collect service charge from leaseholders.

      2) Some of those filling legal challenges are resident leaseholders. They are not all buy-to-let landlords.

      3) Nobody has ever engaged in violent behaviour towards management. Please provide evidence or police reference.

      4) The management company (Prime) runs the RTM companies by proxy. Steve, Prime’s owner, once appointed himself as a director of the RTM companies and made compromising decisions.

      5) The RTM companies have had two directors for over 6 years and these two are alleged to be compromised by Prime. They have appointed their friends as directors but had prevented a free and fair election to elect people that oppose them. Mind you, there are about 162 flats with potential 162 other RTM members.

      Those that filed the court action have achieved the following:
      1. The managing agent accept that the Hermitage block service charge demand notices for the periods 2014/15 to 2019/20 are defective, in that they are not compliant with Section 47 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987. They will be remedied. Any late payment charges, administrative charges and legal costs for debt recovery relating to these demand notices within
      this period will be refunded.

      2) Estate Charges:
      The managing agent accepts that annual maintenance adjustments were not undertaken for the years 2014/15 to 2019/20. The managing agent agrees to undertake annual maintenance adjustments for the past periods of 2014/15 to 2019/20. The managing agent agrees to undertake annual maintenance adjustments going forward.

      3) The managing agent will reconcile water charges for both blocks for the period 2014/15 to 2019/20, so that the total water charges are split proportionally 84 (Hermitage) to 78 (Chantry).

      The above proportional split will continue to be undertaken each year going forward. The Respondents agree that by the end of April 2022 an investigation will be undertaken to assess cost effective options for fitting water meters in Chantry block and Hermitage block.

      The investigation is to include an assessment of the possibility of installing water meters within each block of Hermitage and Chantry buildings. The Respondents will provide the Applicants with the outcome of the investigation for a discussion on ways forward.

      Importantly, all leaseholders acknowledges that work needs to be done on the estate but conflict arises because of the fraudulent management company.

      Please contact me if you want more information.

      Reply

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