Posts Tagged ‘kidbrooke’
Woolwich’s Royal Arsenal development is set to get 21-storey tower blocks after Greenwich Council’s planning board backed an application from Berkeley Homes tonight. (Thanks to Eltham North councillor Nigel Fletcher for the tweet from the town hall.)
The board voted 3-2 for the plans, which will dramatically change the shape of Woolwich, and the riverside, introducing a series of tower blocks between 14 and 21 stories high, blocking Woolwich town centre off from the river.
The existing Royal Arsenal Gardens park will be to a narrow strip between the towers.
Berkeley’s proposals have been heavily criticised by Arsenal residents and one of the three local councillors, John Fahy, who branded it “wholly inappropriate”.
He added in a video posted to his blog earlier this week: “The whole of Woolwich, and the whole of Greenwich, see the river as important to them. It shouldn’t be overshadowed by high residential blocks that will be there not necessarily for local residents, but those who want to invest from other parts of the world.”
Planning chair Ray Walker (Labour, Eltham West), vice-chair Steve Offord (Labour, Abbey Wood) and cabinet member Sajid Jawaid (Labour, Plumstead) voted for the proposal. Voting against were Hayley Fletcher (Labour, Kidbrooke with Hornfair) and Geoff Brighty (Conservative, Blackheath Westcombe), while Clive Mardner (Labour, Abbey Wood) abstained.
Now Berkeley Homes – the council’s development partner at the former Ferrier Estate, now Kidbrooke Village – have had their way, it will be interesting to see whether the company which is set to gain a handsome profit from tonight’s decision finally comes up with the cash to fit out the Crossrail station at Woolwich, an issue featured here last month.
After paying £25m for the station site to be excavated, so far Berkeley has refused to come up with the £100m for the rest of the station – expecting Transport for London, the Government and Greenwich Council to cough up.
Interestingly, Berkeley chairman Tony Pidgeley joined London mayor (and TfL chair) Boris Johnson on a trip to the Middle East earlier this month, while last month, regeneration councillor Denise Hyland said she was “chipper” about the prospects of the council not having to fund the station.
Intriguingly, an image of the proposed station appeared in the council’s weekly newspaper Greenwich Time in February, bearing the name “ROYAL ARSENAL WOOLWICH” – the name of Berkeley’s development. Previous images have seen the legend “WOOLWICH STATION” above the entrance.
Footnote: If Woolwich finally does get a Crossrail station, it’ll have done better out of Berkeley Homes for transport than Kidbrooke. Greenwich Council has handed over control of the roads through the old Ferrier Estate to Berkeley, which is duly planning, with council approval, to close the roads, forcing the 178 and B16 buses away from the new Kidbrooke Village development.
Residents in the adjoining Brooklands Park estate have been left high and dry by this – but Berkeley Homes is refusing to reverse its decision, instead pressing Transport for London – with Greenwich Council backing – to pay for a turning circle so buses can run up to Brooklands Park and back. (See the second petition document here, and the TfL consultation for more.) So far, though, TfL appears to be trying to call Berkeley’s bluff, and says it is happy to reroute the B16 service “if a suitable turning circle can be provided”.
This place used to be boring. Featureless with only a running track – home to Cambridge Harriers athletics club – to break things up, Sutcliffe Park never really had much to commend it. But its design wasn’t just dull, it was also dangerous.
Buried beneath the park was the River Quaggy, which meanders its way from Bromley, through Eltham and Lee to Lewisham, which took the brunt whenever it flooded.
At the time of Lewisham’s last flood, in 1992, plans were in hand to do something about it – but local campaigners persuaded the authorities that rather than continuing to bury the Quaggy, it needed to be given room to cope with flood surges naturally. This would mean returning it to ground level at Sutcliffe Park, and restoring the old flood plain. The park had once been part of the swampy Harrow Meadow, before being landscaped and opened by the old Woolwich Council in 1937, which named it after the borough engineer.
After resistance from Greenwich Council was overcome, work began in 2003, and the results have been dramatic. The dull old park is now a waterside haven for wildlife, a beautiful green space just yards from the roar of the A20. Together with a similar scheme at Chinbrook Meadows in Grove Park, it’s been a win all around, with south-east Londoners getting much-improved parks and a level of reassurance over Lewisham town centre.
While it’s no longer the park’s top attraction, the athletics track remains as the park – on the borders of Eltham, Lee and Kidbrooke – gets set for even more change. A neighbouring football ground, once home to Greenwich Borough FC, was lost for housing development a few years ago, and the Kidbrooke Village development is now rising up to its north, taking the place of the old Ferrier Estate.
Eighty years ago, the old burghers of Woolwich would have looked at you incredulously if you suggested people wanted to live with a view of flooded wetlands. Now, their successors are banking on people flocking to make their homes next to a revitalised river.
“People living in Greenwich will want it to say ‘Royal Borough of Greenwich’ on the street sign,” council leader Chris Roberts said two years ago when it was announced Greenwich would become a royal borough.
I’m not quite sure the Dear Leader meant supermarkets should undergo the rebranding as well, but maybe the Greenwich branch of Sainsbury’s is hedging its bets for its planned move out of SE10 into (gasp!) Charlton in a couple of years. Any other examples of companies trying to cash in, I’d love to see them…
Indeed, even new wheelie bins have appeared with the “royal” logo. But what about Greenwich Council’s flagship development on the old Ferrier Estate site, Kidbrooke Village? With residents only recently moving in, surely these new places must be brandishing “royal borough” signs?
Nope. Looks like Greenwich Council has surrendered these streets to Berkeley Homes, which has put up its own street signs. Surely considering the close relationship Greenwich Council has with the company – Chris Roberts owns a Berkeley property on Woolwich’s Royal Arsenal development – it would have made sure Kidbrooke Village would have shown off the borough’s prestigious new identity? Or is the “royal” badge really just about promoting the council, rather than its communities?
Greenwich Council’s cabinet has agreed to spend up to £45,000 on further studies into a Docklands Light Railway extension to Eltham, with leader Chris Roberts declaring he wanted to “challenge Transport for London’s mentality” on new transit links.
The council has already spent £25,000 on the report via its Eltham Regeneration Agency, which suggests an eight-station line built on stilts above the A102 and A2 dual carriageways between a new river crossing at North Greenwich and Falconwood, on the borough’s western boundary.
Its director of regeneration, enterprise and skills, John Comber, told councillors on Tuesday that “a great deal of work needs to be done” to establish the viability of the proposal, which is costed at £1 billion and could include rebuilding east Greenwich’s Woolwich Road flyover.
Cllr Roberts said he envisaged costs coming down as “engineering solutions are discovered” for the scheme.
“This is also about changing the mentality of Transport for London, who seem to think that every bus and every railway line should go into central London when in actual fact we’re seeing in Westfield in Stratford, in Canning Town, in Canary Wharf that actually working patterns are changing,” he added.
“TfL needs to get into the 21st century about where jobs are located. It took years to get a bus service from the north to the south of the borough” – the 132 extension to North Greenwich – “and part of this is the ongoing challenge to change that mentality.”
Transport for London’s two most recent projects, however, have run around the edge of central London – the East London Line extension and the Docklands Light Railway link to Stratford International.
Culture cabinet member John Fahy called the proposal “an exciting opportunity for the borough long-term” which would “reduce the continual horror of queuing at the Sun-in-the-Sands and the Blackwall Tunnel”.
“There are cynics among us who would rubbish this and say this is pie-in-the-sky, but they need to recognise that we have a great track record in terms of the Jubilee Line, the DLR, and bringing Crossrail to the borough. I’m enthusiastically in favour of this report.”
Regeneration cabinet member Denise Hyland said: “There will be huge numbers of living at Kidbrooke Village, and this would be actually fantastic if we could actually ensure this is technically feasible. It would improve access to jobs and businesses in the borough.”
The report, compiled by Hyder Consulting, has not been made public by Greenwich Council.
Pie in the sky or not, it’s worth remembering that for this scheme to go ahead, Greenwich Council will have to hope for a Conservative victory at the next mayoral election, as Ken Livingstone has come out against building the tunnel between North Greenwich and Silvertown that this proposal depends on.
To further understand the difficulties with this scheme, it’s also worth picking up a copy of the current issue of train bible Modern Railways, which carries a special feature on the latest thinking for London’s transport. TfL’s current thinking for the DLR is to extend it to Euston, to cope with crowds from High Speed 2. “We could well get a bigger bang for our buck if we head west rather than east,” TfL executive Howard Smith tells the magazine. The other DLR scheme mentioned is Dagenham Dock – nothing about Eltham.
The magazine also carries a lengthy feature on the possibilities of extending the Bakerloo Line further into SE London, written by the author of a recent report for Lewisham Council on the idea. Five options are considered for inner London – one to Charlton, one to Canary Wharf, and three to Lewisham.
Beyond Lewisham, it could take over existing railways to go to Hayes (via Catford) or Slade Green (via Eltham) – both costing between £3.2-£3.6 billion. This scheme is actually on TfL’s radar, but it currently prefers a line to Hayes, but says the idea will be reviewed further.
If you want to find out more about the Bakerloo scheme, the Lewisham Council report is available online.
I still can’t help thinking that Greenwich would be better off junking this bizarrely insular DLR scheme and teaming up with other councils to back a Bakerloo Line link, properly plugging SE London into the tube network and giving access to a wider range of destinations than just North Greenwich. It’s bad enough trying to get the short distance from Blackheath or Charlton to North Greenwich in the mornings – surely the council should be trying to fix these relatively simple problems before thinking about a technically difficult scheme that still leaves Eltham relatively isolated, in London-wide terms.
All things considered, even after £75,000 is spent on a feasibility study, it’s still likely that the DLR on stilts to Eltham will join the King’s Cross Aerodrome and the Regent Street monorail in the long list of London’s canned transport schemes.
Greenwich Council’s cabinet is preparing to mull over proposals for a £1 billion Docklands Light Railway extension to Eltham, which it claims could be built above the A102 and A2 dual carriageways – and pits the Labour council against the transport policies of the party’s mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone.
The 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 Blackwall Tunnel southern approach through Greenwich, Charlton and Blackheath and then above Rochester Way Relief Road through Kidbrooke and Eltham to Falconwood, on the borough’s western boundary.
It suggests narrowing the lanes on both roads and building the railway above the central reservations.
A road tunnel from Silvertown is one of current mayor Boris Johnson’s long-term proposals, and got backing from chancellor George Osbourne earlier this month. But Ken Livingstone has said a tunnel there would be “mad”. Nonetheless, the report suggests building the railway inside a road tunnel.
Eight stations would be built, including two in tunnels at Woolwich Road and the Sun-in-the-Sands roundabout, where building above the dual carriageways would not be possible. Indeed, the flyover at Woolwich Road may even need to be completely rebuilt, the study says.
The report also acknowledges difficulties in building at the Kidbrooke interchange, where traffic stops at signals, and at Eltham station, where the A2 runs in a tunnel.
Cabinet members will discuss the report on Tuesday. The study, which has not been released to the public, was originally announced early in 2010 and was due to be completed in the summer of that year. After 18 months, the £25,000 report concludes that further work is needed on assessing passenger demand an alternative route options. Council officers recommend spending £45,000 on that extra work.
It’s hard to assess quite what the impact of the scheme would be without seeing the report – all we have to go on are the cabinet papers. We lack important details like where some of the stations would be (North Greenwich, Woolwich Road, Sun-in-Sands, Kidbrooke, Eltham and Falconwood are a given) and where on earth these trains would go to in the first place (Bank? Stratford International?).
But, on first sight, and I can’t think of any other way of putting it… this is crackers.
Above is Deptford Bridge station – see the size of the viaduct? And they’re planning to build that above the road? Obviously it’s wider here because there’s platforms on either side, but what’s basically being proposed is turning the A102 and A2 into a box with the DLR running on top. I can’t imagine anyone who lives alongside the Blackwall Tunnel approach – and a lot of people live very close to it – wanting trainloads of people peering into their bedroom windows.
There’s also the engineering challenges – including years of disruption if the 44-year-old Blackwall Tunnel southern approach has to be rebuilt. It seems to me that this report mistakes the DLR for what it was 20 years ago – a small railway with little bolted-together stations, whereas now its trains are three cars long and stop at stations as well-appointed as mainline stations.
It also relies on the assumption that a road tunnel will be built underneath the cable car site – which is by no means a done deal. Indeed, it seems mad to restrict road capacity while encouraging more traffic to come up the A102 with a new tunnel.
Reports like this can come up with good things – the Greenwich and Lewisham extension came out of a Lewisham Council study, for example. But construction in Greenwich and Lewisham town centres aside, the construction of that line was relatively unobstrusive. Hyder’s plan for an Eltham line would be anything but.
Greenwich is understandably anxious about public transport links in the south of the borough – Eltham’s long had poor connections and the Kidbrooke Village scheme will put big pressure on Kidbrooke station. But this seems a strange solution. And remember, an Eltham extension isn’t even on TfL’s list of ideas at the moment.
Lewisham Council has commissioned a study into extending the Bakerloo Line, which includes options through Eltham and onto Bexleyheath. If there’s a billion pounds – a billion pounds! – kicking around, then why not sort out the junction at Lewisham, extending the Overground into the area?
I can’t help thinking the only winner from this is Hyder Consulting – who’ve already led the council up a blind alley with its botched scheme to pedestrianise central Greenwich. Hopefully this time, the council’s cabinet will realise it can spend £45,000 on better things than this weirdly insular scheme.
Am I right to be so dismissive of this proposal, or is this as plainly nutty as I think it is? I’d love to know what you think…
10pm update: This gets weirder. I’ve just found on Eltham MP Clive Efford’s website a proposal for exactly the same scheme as Hyder were paid £25,000 to come up with – from six years ago. “Clive pointed out to them… might be possible to run a service above the A102 to Eltham.”
Passengers at four SE London rail stations which will suffer a reduced service during the Olympic Games will not get a refund on their season tickets, Southeastern has revealed today.
The government has approved the company’s plans to cut services to some stations to enable trains to spend longer at stops close to Games venues in Greenwich and Woolwich.
Passengers who use Woolwich Dockyard – which will see no trains stop for the duration of the Olympics – will be compensated for the inconvenience.
But those who use Deptford, Maze Hill, Westcombe Park and Kidbrooke will not be entitled to any compensation from the company. Deptford and Westcombe Park will see services cut by two-thirds during the Games, and will have just a half-hourly service, even during rush hour. Maze Hill will see trains stop in only one direction for most of the day, while Kidbrooke will lose a third of its services.
Instead, “ticket holders affected by service reductions will be able to use their tickets on local buses to access nearby stations,” Southeastern claims. However, those same local buses will be affected by traffic restrictions in Greenwich town centre, while open stations such as Greenwich, Blackheath, Charlton and Woolwich Arsenal will also be used by crowds attending events at Greenwich Park, the Dome and the Royal Artillery Barracks.
The plans, first revealed on this website in April, have been drawn up by Southeastern and the Olympic Delivery Authority. An early proposal to cut services at Charlton – despite it being a designated station for gymnastics and basketball at the Dome – was axed after pressure from the station’s rail users’ group and local MP Nick Raynsford.
The full timetable can be found here. It will see…
- Trains at Deptford and Westcombe Park cut from six to two per hour, even during peak times.
- Trains at Kidbrooke cut from six to four per hour.
- No eastbound service from Maze Hill in the mornings, no service towards central London in the afternoon and evenings.
- Later trains on all three lines to Dartford, with a last Greenwich line train leaving Cannon Street at 00.56.
- Earlier trains on Sundays.
A couple of weeks ago, I had a wander around Kidbrooke’s Ferrier Estate as it slowly comes down. It was prompted by a local newspaper story about a woman who claimed she’d been driven into mental illness as the estate was demolished around her. There’s far fewer than there were six months ago, but there are people still living on the Ferrier, in isolated pockets, while the old 1970s blocks come crashing down.
Here’s a row of homes entirely boarded up…
…apart from one:
Naturally, this local newspaper felt such a duty of care to a woman who’d been recently sectioned that it opened up the comments on its website so its readers could berate her for, it seemed, the crime of living on a council estate instead of in a semi in Orpington. I’m not linking to it, but I’m sure you can guess the newspaper concerned.
Nobody in their right mind would want to stay in the Ferrier while it comes down. There’s dust and noise everywhere; demolition work has even been taking place on Sundays, with great chunks of concrete smashing to the ground with sickening thumps. Yet, with some people offered substandard properties like this shack in Mottingham, the decision must be a tough one.
Despite all this, Greenwich Council has taken seven people to court in attempt to get them out. A small number compared to the thousands that have been successfully rehoused, but that’s still seven expensive court cases too many. I wonder if there’ll be a ceremony for the last resident to leave?
Meanwhile, up on what used to be the bend in Tudway Road by the station, Kidbrooke Village is finally emerging. Smart new homes have already been built on the site of the adjacent Harrow Meadow sports field (mind that green space, etc), but this is the first indication of what Kidbrooke Village will really look like.
It’s a curious rebranding – the real heart of old Kidbrooke is further north, by the church on Kidbrooke Park Road, surrounded by huge old houses and Morden College. There were still farms in Kidbrooke until the 1930s – the building of the Rochester Way saw to those, and the building of the Rochester Way Relief Road saw the end of the old village green. Indeed, there’s a council ward called Kidbrooke with Hornfair, but “Kidbrooke Village” will actually be in Eltham West. Confused?
Looking back at Adam’s photos from a year ago, I wonder where we’ll be in a year’s time. The last Ferrier residents will surely have gone by then, the first replacement Kidbrooke Village residents will be in. And probably complaining about the building works going on around them. It could be an interesting year ahead…
Greenwich Council suggested cutting the frequency of one of the borough’s few north-south bus links to help pay for its plans to pedestrianise Greenwich town centre, according to documents released by Transport for London.
The scheme was shelved after objections from Transport for London, and the documents outline TfL’s worries – including its estimate that the scheme could have cost up to £1.5m in maintaining bus services through the town centre area.
In response, council consultant Brian Hanson suggested in a briefing on 4 February 2011 that it could cut the frequency of route 286, which runs from Greenwich through Blackheath and Kidbrooke to Eltham and Sidcup – despite the fact that the council has long said north-south public transport links in the borough need to be improved.
At its most frequent, the 286 runs every 12 minutes, with single-deck buses between Greenwich and Blackheath often packed to capacity at rush hour. It also provides a link to shops at Eltham and the University of Greenwich campus at Avery Hill, as well as Queen Mary’s Hospital at Sidcup, outside of the borough.
Hanson also suggested cutting the frequency of the 129, which runs from the town centre, through east Greenwich and on to North Greenwich station.
Route 199, which runs from Bellingham to Canada Water station, would not be able to serve Greenwich town centre at all heading northbound, which TfL estimated would cost it up to £713,000 in lost revenue alone.
The plans would have seen College Approach and part of King William Walk pedestrianised, and a gyratory system installed running clockwise from Greenwich High Road, Norman Road, Creek Road to Greenwich Church Street. It was proposed to extend routes 129 and 286 to a new terminus at the Norman Road/ Creek Road junction, which TfL said would involve running extra buses.
TfL said this alone would cost it £392,000 a year. But Greenwich disputed the cost, with Hyder Consulting‘s Hanson – who is contracted to the council to work on transport schemes – stating “there is sufficient capacity on these routes to reschedule both services to run at a reduced frequency”. “This should be investigated in more detail,” he added.
Passengers would have to “accept extra waiting times”, Hanson said in a table outlining how the costs of rerouting routes 129 and 286 could be reduced to nil.
The documents also show that Greenwich Council had not yet produced a final business case for the project by the time it was shelved in March, despite initial plans to have a trial scheme up and running by then, with an eye to getting it completed by the Olympics.
An e-mail from Transport for London’s senior borough programme officer Tim Williams to Brian Hanson dated 9 March warned the council’s assumptions that trips to Greenwich town centre would double following pedestrianisation would need to be justified, and said claims that it would lead to a cut in accidents ignored areas where traffic would increase if the scheme was put in place.
He added: “The cost of extending bus routes 129 and 286 plus the lost revenue to buses generally in Greenwich Town Centre resulting from increased journey times are actual costs (as opposed to notional values of time etc…) which someone will need to meet.
“This is obviously an issue which will need to be discussed further.”
Hyder has been employed by Greenwich Council to work with it on transport projects including the ill-fated Greenwich scheme.
However, the study has yet to appear, and an Eltham route did not appear on a map of proposed DLR extensions unveiled by TfL earlier this month.
Greenwich Council has refused to answer how much Hyder is being paid for its work. However, figures published under new transparency regulations state that Hyder Consulting (UK) Ltd was paid £657,147 between December 2010 and March 2011, the most recent figures available.