New Greenwich Silvertown footbridge: Prepare for the worst

Plans to replace a footbridge over the Blackwall tunnel approach in Greenwich due to Silvertown tunnel have been approved – and detailed submissions don’t look good.

The existing concrete footbridge links Tunnel Avenue and Boord Street is set to be demolished and replaced with a new structure encased in mesh.

Existing bridge. Visibility good on approach

To give us a glimpse of what a bridge encased in mesh looks like, look now further than replacement footbridges Crossrail installed in Abbey Wood.

Aside from how ugly it is, there’s an issue around safety – or at least perceptions around it.


Bridge in Abbey Wood

Mesh covering the bridge span makes it pretty ticky to see if people are on the bridge when approaching the structure.

Preventing visibility and feelings of safety does little to encourage active travel for pedestrians and cyclists.

Poor public realm around existing Greenwich footbridge

In Greenwich the bridge is quite isolated, and one of few crossings over the A102 from the o2 and homes on the Peninsula to east Greenwich.

Area between new homes and east Greenwich is vehicle dominated

Other routes to cross the A102 are pretty abysmal with vehicle dominated space.

Lack of paving, crossings and numerous guardrail ensure vehicle primacy


Perhaps perspex sheets at the new Greenwich structure would prevent things thrown onto the road – given as one reason for the mesh – yet offer better visibility. This is an area some may shrug off, but it’s a big issue for others.

To be fair I may not have taken a huge deal of notice until using Abbey Wood bridges. Before, you could see who was on it when approaching and who was nearby when on it. That changed.

The Abbey Wood bridges do feature some perspex panels but a small amount which does little to lessen issues.

Abbey Wood bridge

The wider area along Tunnel Avenue in Greenwich is also pretty dire public realm, as covered on this site last year.

Mesh on Abbey Wood bridge span

There’s little to encourage people to walk or cycle, and the new bridge design looks like it could simply exacerbate that problem.

Riverlinx application showing mesh that will cover bridge span

There’s the obligatory shiny renders of course from Silvertown tunnel construction company Riverlinx, but given materials to be used it would turn out anything but appealing.

Not pedestrian friendly

And as it stands, no Silvertown mitigation funding is set to be used to improve Tunnel Avenue.

Abbey Wood footbridge

Maintenance could also be an issue. Much like new public realm around Abbey Wood station sees neither Bexley nor Greenwich maintain, the Abbey Wood footbridges see Greenwich and Network Rail squabble.

In Greenwich the current bridge is hard to vandalise. The new one less so. Can we expect Greenwich Council, TfL and Riverlinx to pass the buck in future?

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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 “New Greenwich Silvertown footbridge: Prepare for the worst

  • Perspex gets very easily scratched/etched and gets damaged by holding a lit cigarette against it.

  • There must be a better design which is much Safer for everyone. It could also be covered to help stop the elements getting in. Along with some form of lighting to make it safer at night. Sadly it will probably be vandalised in no time at all.

  • There’s a footbridge up by IKEA with no cover or mesh on it. If anyone wants to chuck anything they’ll just head up there?

  • Your not wrong JB the bridge by IKEA also needs upgrading to make safety so people can use the bridge safely and to stop people throwing items of bridge. They have no regard for the health and safety of others. A major incident waiting to happen.

  • When was the last time someone chucked something off the bridge? Can’t say I’ve heard of any incidents. 🤷‍♂️

  • Is there something wrong with the existing bridge ? Couldn’t this money be better spent elsewhere ?

  • @JB There was this about 18 years ago… I think it was the the same place… 😜

  • It’s enclosed to stop people jumping off – not to stop people throwing things.


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