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.
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.
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.
It’s not just outside the station but also nearby outside new flats and Sainsburys.
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.
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.
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.
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:
This is on the Bexley side of borough boundary.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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?
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:
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.
This is due to underground services apparently. Though nothing else has happened to improve the area and break up vast blank spaces.
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.