Applications for major changes in Woolwich town centre this week have revealed the favoured route for dedicated cycle lanes through the town centre to feed into the wider network.
Cycleway 4 is intended to run from Tower Bridge through Greenwich and then eventually end at the Woolwich ferry.
There has been no public plan however to connect to parts of Woolwich town centre nor to cycle lanes running from Woolwich to Plumstead.
TfL’s proposed plan includes lanes running from the ferry roundabout along Powis Street then turning left at MacBean Street before taking a right at Beresford Street.
TfL’s plan was featured in two planning applications this week covering £21 million in public realm work in Woolwich.
However those projects barely cover the proposed cycle route area and would not pay for installation.
It’s currently unfunded with Greenwich Council opting not to use incoming funds from a number of large developments in Woolwich town centre including two approved in recent weeks.
One such development was substantial blocks around Woolwich Tesco with 712 homes approved.
TfL asked Greenwich Council for £944,000 in developer contributions to assist with cycling improvements. Greenwich opted for £150,000.
A couple of weeks later another major development was to be decided for a new leisure centre and nearly 500 homes.
TfL sought 700k for improving cycle links for those reaching the centre and forthcoming residents. Greenwich went with just £50k.
The council also neglected to give Network Rail a penny for station access improvements.
Greenwich Council regularly like to state the developer wouldn’t contribute, but discussions conducted before planning meetings are held and decisions made decide where incoming funding is allocate. Greenwich do somehow always manage to find substantial funding for their favoured areas.
The NHS, rail access and sustainable travel are three areas overlooked in the past month.
Any cycle lane would head along Beresford Street where a major development was rejected, but it’s almost certain a revised scheme will be back.
Previous plans showed no such cycling space on the road.
TfL’s proposed lane would continue past other sizable developments such as an approved student housing block at the Catholic Club site.
That site too saw Greenwich planners ignore some of TfL’s guidance, with Greenwich officers stating: “on the sought contribution to healthy streets officers noted to TFL that given how accessible the site such a contribution should not be sought and be targeted to other contributions.”
The proposed cycle route would then head towards a very wide area of Plumstead Road which could accommodate lanes quite easily.
Over 800 homes were approved here Woolwich Exchange in this area. No cycle lanes were planned or funded here when approved.
The plan includes landscaping which makes cycle lanes harder to implement.
Finally there’s yet another major development at Armourers Court.
This again ignores the chance for any cycle lane on that side of the street.
A further view shows limited paving space with a lack of forward planning.
Much of Woolwich is in effect a blank slate given the scale of development.
Developments will happily includes details of thousands of cycle spaces for residents, but overlook how cyclists reach those developments safely.
Transport for London appear to now have a plan though Greenwich Council appear unsupportive.
Whether it be failing to allocate income from a multitude of new developments, or failing to ensure those new developments include passive provision for future lanes, it’s all contributing to a cycleway that ends at a busy roundabout and fails to link to the town centre.
Failing to plan ahead or assist with funding also ensures no direct link to cycle lane east of Woolwich town centre.
At least concrete evidence is emerging that TfL do plan to link disparate schemes though Woolwich town centre and provide safe routes for shoppers visiting and residents living in the centre.
Now it needs culture change at Greenwich Council to enable change to occur.