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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

Council ‘suspends’ Greenwich gyratory scheme

with 16 comments

There’ll be cheers in west Greenwich this weekend as the hated plans to create a huge gyratory system have been “suspended” by Greenwich Council – you can read the full story over at greenwich.co.uk, along with an exchange of e-mails between the three local councillors and leader Chris Roberts.

It’s 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 due to be funded with TfL money – and affected its “strategic routes” – so needed its approval.

In fact, the fatal blow came when it moved from “pedestrianisation” to “gyratory”, as the council and its contractor, Hyder Consulting, inexplicably chose an option which involved creating a one-way system around Greenwich High Road, Norman Road, Creek Road and Greenwich Church Street.

Transport for London has been steadily ripping out gyratories over the past decade, starting in Shoreditch in 2001 and continuing last year with the scrapping of the New Cross one-way system. It was very unlikely to approve going back on this policy for Greenwich, particularly with a scheme which still hadn’t taken into consideration the effects on the bus network.

The whole affair raises more questions than answers, though. Here’s a few I’d like to see answered.

- What happens to the £2.5m in TfL money earmarked for this scheme? Does it get reallocated to other schemes within Greenwich borough? Or does it find its way to another London borough instead?

- Will any of the other schemes be looked at? The gyratory wasn’t the only idea kicking around to improve Greenwich town centre’s environment.

- How much has Hyder Consulting been paid for its work on a scheme which has delivered precisely nothing? Hyder is working with Greenwich on other schemes in the borough, but this will have been by far the most high-profile. Last year, I submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to discover how much Hyder’s contract was worth. The council refused to answer, citing commercial confidentiality. There’s a bigger question here – on a day when Labour leader Ed Miliband is addressing hundreds of thousands of people opposed to cuts in public services, how much did one of his party’s councils blow on this failed scheme when the money could have gone elsewhere?

- Why does Chris Roberts dismiss TfL’s head of borough projects David Rowe as “junior staff”? Is it because he put the mockers on the gyratory proposal?

- However, Roberts does refer to a meeting with Boris Johnson’s deputy Richard Barnes and “senior TfL officials”. There’s a vague reference to traffic proposals which will “affect areas of the borough to the east of the town centre“. It’s unclear what this means. (A wild guess – something to do with the run of traffic lights around Maze Hill?) Some clarity from Greenwich Council or TfL would be handy.

Greenwich will no doubt return to the pedestrianisation idea in coming years – which is a good thing. But I suspect the gyratory is dead. By the time the council gets to look at it again, Norman Road will be home to big developments, and won’t be a street where you can hide a racetrack.

But the questions surrounding the council’s doomed scheme, and the costs, will echo for a long while to come yet.

(UPDATE 1.35PM MONDAY: A council statement fails to mention the gyratory proposal, further suggesting the scheme is almost certainly dead.)

Written by Darryl

26 March, 2011 at 1:29 pm

16 Responses

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  1. Excellent news, and excellent report. Now lets hope that £2.5 million can be salvaged go towards improving the streetscapes in some of the worst parts of the borough. That really would be an olympic legacy.

    I fit can’t and is lost, then what an indictment of such a stupid and outdated scheme, and those that pursued it.

    fromthemurkydepths

    26 March, 2011 at 3:11 pm

  2. Sorry for the rubbish spelling above. I was in a major rush. I will edit it if possible.

    fromthemurkydepths

    26 March, 2011 at 3:12 pm

  3. Very good news. I was looking at the plans for the Norman Road development recently and noticed that the drawings showed Norman Road as one way. I was worried that that might have been an indication it was already a done deal. But luckily not.

    marmoset

    26 March, 2011 at 4:42 pm

  4. Eternal congestion, fumes and a high-speed gyratory surrounding the market it is…

    Steve

    27 March, 2011 at 9:10 am

  5. If there are a few pennies left to sort out other parts of the borough with traffic problems it would be good. The one which drives me mad is at Blackheath Standard where the crossings for mere pedestrians bear little relation to where we actually want to walk.

    Afraid the only solution is less traffic.

    Maggie

    28 March, 2011 at 8:11 am

  6. Re “affect areas of the borough to the east of the town centre“. Is this anything to do with the No Through Road sign and swing gates that have been put across the Old Woolwich Road just past the power station?

    58frankh

    28 March, 2011 at 2:55 pm

  7. No, that’s a council scheme – generally, TfL are only interested in main roads and traffic signals.

    Darryl

    28 March, 2011 at 3:33 pm

  8. Thanks Darryl but what is that scheme?

    58frankh

    29 March, 2011 at 11:18 am

  9. It’s to stop heavy lorries from using the area as a cut-through, I think.

    Darryl

    29 March, 2011 at 1:35 pm

  10. [...] London Assembly member Darren Johnson asked the mayor about the scheme’s funding, as it appeared delays to the project would mean Greenwich Council losing a grant from Transport for London to fund the scheme, which was due to create a pedestrianised area at College Approach and King William Walk. The Green Party member posed the question before the scheme was shelved last week. [...]

  11. [...] by Hyder Consulting – the firm whose proposals to pedestrianise Greenwich Town Centre were shelved after an outcry from residents and Transport for London. In March 2010, Hyder’s Ed Humphrys [...]

  12. [...] schemes have been given. Greenwich Council were working on the gyratory plan right until TfL threw it out. When it was cancelled it was announced some money would instead go to the Woolwich Square project. [...]

  13. [...] behind last year’s botched plan to pedestrianise Greenwich town centre, which ended up being rejected by Transport for London for its insistence on turning much of west Greenwich into a gyratory [...]

  14. [...] report, commissioned by the council from Hyder Consulting – the company behind the shelved Greenwich pedestrianisation scheme – suggests an extension could be built via tunnel from Silvertown, then on top of the [...]

  15. [...] Hyder already has a sorry record in Greenwich town centre, having been behind botched proposals to pedestrianise it in time for the Olympics which were shelved in 2011. [...]

  16. […] and smoothing the flow of buses and taxis”. This doesn’t seem like a revival of the shelved pedestrianisation scheme, but what it means for cyclists, walkers and drivers remains to be […]


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