Well, we all saw this coming didn’t we?
Woolwich Elizabeth line station is already proving too popular to cope with just one entrance and exit and so Transport for London are to trial new access measures.
For years before opening I would bang on (here’s a post from 2015) about how a single entrance and exit at Abbey Wood and Woolwich was short-sighted. Now shortly after the line has opened we see Woolwich as a victim of its own success. And that’s with many, many housing developments nearby not even finished yet.
For those unaware the line – after decades of being rejigged this way and that in the classic UK approach to infrastructure of lengthy prevarication – was to finally to head to Abbey Wood in the 2000s. But without a station at Woolwich.
Thus begun a campaign for one.
That battle was won but at a price. Greenwich Council would have to foot a sizable bill and they’d be just one entrance and exit to the west of the station. The authority then proceeded to Royally screw up paying that bill to the detriment of the whole borough (they still havn’t paid it off years late after setting an ultra-low levy on private developers) but that’s another story.
Now the station is open and extremely popular (no shit) and so there’s congestion. From this Monday (15th January) a new queuing system will be in place for escalators.
Just the beginning
If things are bad now, well, in the words of The Carpenters we’ve only just begun.
Directly above the eastern end of Woolwich station plans are approved for residential towers. No plan is included for another station entrance and exit here to alleviate crowding.
Head a short distance east of the station and three separate developments are now underway totalling 2,500 homes.
In the past week I’ve been taking photos and planning to put posts up about them soon.
These aren’t plans being drawn up; they’re underway.
To the south and west of Woolwich station also there’s a mass amount of developments from the Brookhill estate rebuild to Berkeley’s towers beside the Thames.
Again, I’ve been to see recently and am planning posts covering them.
Towers beside the Thames are well on the way.
Other plans come thick and fast. Last month Berkeley consulted on a further 660 homes at the Arsenal site along Beresford Street.
The old Catholic Club next door is also set to become student blocks.
Over the road and the former Woolwich Polytechnic school site will see further plans emerge at the junction with MacBean Street.
Initial plans were rejected but something will be built here and it wont be low density.
There’s nearly 500 homes also approved behind the new town centre leisure centre.
A further smaller block is completing a short distance away from Meridian Home Start.
Hundreds more homes are also approved around Tesco in Woolwich.
Here’s the block approved in front of the superstore when viewed from General Gordon Square.
Many more homes will be built to the rear.
And let’s not forget the Island Site.
Head west and there’s also new homes now rising at the old Morris Walk estate. Many of them.
Simply put, the issue of crowding is not going away.
It’s one of London’s major growth areas. The line has many existing and new transport links feeding into it including relatively recent new bus routes like the 301 from Bexleyheath.
In the future an express bus will also link thousands of new homes in Thamesmead to Woolwich and Abbey Wood stations.
The Charlton Riverside masterplan will also see up to 8,000 homes.
There’s even many developments in north Woolwich and it’s not that far a walk via the foot tunnel.
The line is acting as a magnet not only locally but from further afield.
If it’s struggling now then it has no chance in a decade of coping. It would help mind if Southeastern didn’t enact service reductions along the Woolwich line to London Bridge under government orders to cut, in turn pushing more to the Elizabeth line.
How long until serious action and need for a second entrance? And will that only happen when blocks are built above the eastern entrance of the station? It looks almost certain. It’ll cost more in the long term.
And Abbey Wood will be next. With Thamesmead in line for thousands of new homes alongside nearby Belvedere and Erith similar will happen there.