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news, views and issues around Greenwich, Charlton, Blackheath and Woolwich, south-east London – what you won't read in Greenwich Time

Revealed: Why TfL doesn’t want a gyratory in Greenwich

with 14 comments

Last month this blog reported on Transport for London’s objections to Greenwich Council’s plans to create a massive one-way system in west Greenwich to enable it to pedestrianise a small part of the town centre, following revelations from a local residents’ group, West Greenwich CARA.

Now the full objections can be revealed, with the release of TfL documents detailing those objections. Without TfL backing, the scheme fails – and puts at risk nearly £2.5m of funding which will simply be allocated to traffic improvement schemes in other London boroughs.

To refresh your memory, this is what is planned. College Approach and the northern part of King William Walk would be pedestrianised, with Nelson Road becoming a two-way street. As part of this, a gyratory system is planned running clockwise around Greenwich High Road, Norman Road, Creek Road and Greenwich Church Street. The upside is gaining a car-free zone between the market and the river. The downsides, though, are numerous – TfL is ripping out gyratories all over London, there’s nowhere for buses to terminate and some routes would be severely delayed, and gyratories are considered dangerous for cyclists.

Here’s the documents – a letter from TfL to Greenwich Council outlining its objections, and partially-redacted minutes from a meeting of TfL’s Network Management Group from November 2010.

The minutes refer to concerns about the “ambitious timescale” of the scheme – particularly a plan to have a trial scheme up and running by March. This should be well under way by now.

But nothing has happened, and so far nothing looks like happening. Enquiries from locals are being met with silence from Greenwich Council. The Greenwich Society has proposed an alternative scheme, involving improving pavements. There’s another idea kicking around about covering over the railway cutting between Stockwell Street and King William Walk to free up some pedestrian space. But still, nothing from the council. There’s also been no formal contact with Lewisham Council, whose roads will also be affected by this scheme.

So, with 16 months to go until the Olympics, will this, or any other scheme to improve Greenwich’s streets actually happen?

UPDATE 3.35PM: London Assembly member Darren Johnson has also tabled a formal question to Boris Johnson about the issue.

14 Responses

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  1. Thanks for the update Darryl.

    A quick glance shows that there seem to be numerous problems and objections to the scheme. I can’t really see what good it will do anyway.

    Interesting to note that there is planning officer on the NMG called Mr. Blitz…..

    Chris J.

    22 March, 2011 at 1:42 pm

  2. I’m all for the pedestrian scheme for CA and KWW so hopefully any changes will retain that plan.

    Maybe turn Church St/Nelson Road into a simple T-junction?

    The Greenwich Society’s proposal is a little weak, to say the least. The reason for the scheme is to alleviate congestion and all the Society can come up with is wider pavements, retaining the high-speed gyratory around the Market. Just how does that help?

    Steve

    22 March, 2011 at 1:55 pm

  3. Pardon my ignorance but why are gyratories considered dangerous for cyclists?

    And Steve has a fair point – is there a particular reason why a gyratory is necessary rather than a T-junction? In fact, could you not retain the two sets of traffic lights outside Cafe Sol and the ones at the end of Creek Road exactly where they are but set them to work as a three way filter? All you’d need to do is make Nelson Road and the short stretch between the three sets of lights two-way and cut off the corner of the island outside Cafe Sol to allow right turns from Church Street and job done.

    Blissett

    22 March, 2011 at 2:25 pm

  4. Quite simply, because it’s more dangerous to cycle in 2/3 lanes of fast-flowing traffic than in 1/2 lanes of slower traffic. See http://crapwalthamforest.blogspot.com/2010/10/gyratories-are-anti-cyclist.html

    You’ll have to ask Greenwich Council (and its agent, Hyder Consulting) why they chose the gyratory from the options they set out in 2009: http://www.greenwich.co.uk/news/02432-council-consults-on-pedestrianisation-proposals/

    Darryl

    22 March, 2011 at 2:37 pm

  5. Ah, sorry, assumed there was a more complicated reason than that that I didn’t appreciate not being a cyclist.

    My understanding of option 1 as outlined in the original consultation document was that it didn’t include a three way filter and therefore was downplayed in the consultation because of the inability to manage the volume of traffic at the Church Street/Nelson Road junction. Numerous options for a gyratory were proposed with key benefits outlined for each whereas Option 1 was not explained in sufficient detail and is deliberately worded to accentuate potential downsides. Seemed pretty clear to me that only a gyratory solution was being seriously considered and properly worked through which is a huge shame.

    Blissett

    22 March, 2011 at 3:40 pm

  6. So “So, with 16 months to go until the Olympics, will this, or any other scheme to improve Greenwich’s streets actually happen?” Who says this will improve our Streets? In any case this daft idea was nothing to do with the olympics (it wasn’t going to be removed afterwards)and there is nothing that anyone can do that will make Greenwich streets work during the events (horseboxes, press TV, special lanes for competitors officials etc, etc

    58frankh

    22 March, 2011 at 8:24 pm

  7. It’s painful to read that so much money could be flushed away and given to other boroughs when there is so much that could be done here, all because Greenwich Highways department appear to be stuck in 1970s thinking.

    I think this money from TfL can be used quite flexibly, and thus could improve streetscapes across Greenwich borough. For example the horrible junction by the old Greenwich hospital could have better paving, lighting etc and be tidied up. The horrible Blackwall tunnel approach bridge could be made into less of an eyesore with some painting and good use of lighting, and the roundabout below made far better for cyclists and pedestrians. The plan to cover over the railway cutting in greenwich creating a public space would be fantastic as well. But no, instead a bloody gyratory.

    fromthemurkydepths

    22 March, 2011 at 8:54 pm

  8. [...] good news, if not entirely unexpected – the plan was effectively dead the moment a senior TfL official wrote to Greenwich indicating it could not support the scheme, intended to create a pedestrian area along King William Walk and College Approach. The scheme was [...]

  9. [...] sight, it looks as if the money may not be lost after all. The gyratory scheme was shelved after TfL objected to it because of “significant concerns about its impact on bus passengers and [...]

  10. [...] proposals to pedestrianise Greenwich Town Centre were shelved after an outcry from residents and Transport for London. In March 2010, Hyder’s Ed Humphrys told an ERA meeting about the practical challenges of [...]

  11. [...] scheme was shelved after objections from Transport for London, and the documents outline TfL’s worries – including its estimate that the scheme could [...]

  12. [...] the restriction comes just months after Transport for London objected to a similar system being installed permanently in the town centre, as part of a scheme to [...]

  13. [...] proposed pedestrianising College Approach and King William Walk, but the plan collapsed after Transport for London objected to its other plan to create a gyratory system around Norman [...]

  14. […] to work on plans to part-pedestrianise Greenwich town centre, but the scheme failed after it planned to introduce a huge gyratory system and cut bus services. Hyder’s still working on a detailed “DLR on stilts” […]


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