Should North Greenwich bus station be listed? These people say it should be

North Greenwich bus station, November 2016
You probably read a couple of weeks ago about the new development planned for North Greenwich station – 30-storey glass towers, a “winter garden”, 800 flats and a world-famous architect in Santiago Calatrava.

It’ll certainly be an impressive sight and will probably replace the Dome as the peninsula’s signature building – in fact, if you look at the peninsula from Charlton, the O2 is already disappearing behind Knight Dragon’s fast rising towers.

Peninsula Place will replace the current bus station at North Greenwich – a darling of 1990s architecture books but no longer fit for purpose; a scene of fights, bus jams and frustration.

What you probably didn’t see reported is that the 20th Century Society, rather bravely, wants to see the Norman Foster-designed terminus listed.

“We would deeply regret the loss of two recent and outstanding examples of late-20th-century infrastructure buildings,” the society’s conservation adviser Tess Pinto told design website Dezeen.

Clearly our Tess hasn’t faced any sharp digs in the ribs while trying to squeeze onto a 486. It is a lovely building, if useless for what the area has become. Perhaps it could be dismantled and re-erected somewhere else? It is the third major bit of 1990s infrastructure on the peninsula to face destruction in the past couple of years after the ‘eco’-Sainsbury’s (which the 20th Century Society also fought to save) and the soon-to-be-ripped-out busway.

Indeed, the Dome’s Blue Peter time capsule almost came a cropper recently.

North Greenwich bus station queue

No matter how impressive 30-storey glass towers will be, it’s absurd to say they “unlock the potential” of the peninsula – very little has been done since the Jubilee Line opened in 1999, and the only plans focus on a road tunnel aimed at long-distance commuters passing through. But that’s what Sadiq Khan found himself saying in interviews promoting Peninsula Place. (He also managed to mistakenly claim Crossrail was coming to the peninsula, a reminder that he needs better transport advisers, fast.)

TfL has admitted the Jubilee Line faces capacity problems into the 2030s – despite another major upgrade planned soon – while plans show the bus station as having room for 17, rather than 15 buses, and planned Silvertown Tunnel services may gobble up those spaces. Add in 15,000 new homes, and those fights for 422s aren’t going to go away any day soon.

I’ve written about this for CityMetric, and you should go there now and read why North Greenwich desperately needs a bridge to Canary Wharf to ease some of the pressure.

Peninsula Place (image: Knight Dragon)

Neither City Hall, Greenwich Council nor Knight Dragon seem willing to countenance the thought that Greenwich Peninsula needs more than just the Jubilee Line.

So Peninsula Place is an uncomfortable reminder that if you live in east Greenwich, Charlton or Blackheath – never mind Eltham or Woolwich – then if you’re heading to central London, North Greenwich will not be meant for you for much longer.

It’s mad when you think about it from a transport planning point of view – North Greenwich has a lot of regular users who live nowhere near it, but use it every day because it is in zone 2 and results in cheaper fares than using their local stations. And this situation will get worse as the TfL fare freeze goes on while Southeastern’s continue to rise.

An in time, North Greenwich station will have more people in its catchment area, and will become increasingly difficult to access by bus for the rest of us as time goes on. Best to get used to this now (or get a bike).

Unfortunately, this means the train services through places like Charlton, Blackheath and Eltham will need improving – but this seems unlikely too.

So while the glass towers will certainly look very nice, unless there’s a serious rethink, short-term and parochial thinking looks set to curse the peninsula – and the rest of us who live nearby – for years to come.

9 comments

  1. Mark

    I think it’s 30 stories on top of an 80ft atrium so 40 in total. I also worry if anyone is thinking about capacity at North Greenwich

  2. Andy

    I entirely agree that a bridge to Canary Wharf is required – either that or the obvious cable car extension that should always have been designed in.

  3. maryorelse

    Yes – you will be surprised to find that I on the whole think you are right. I am currently involved in trying to get a bus from up here (topish of Vanburgh Hill) down to the Dome – or indeed the Peninsula at all. All we have is hills which anyone who is not 25 and fit has trouble gettting up with bags and stuff). and also
    – why does no one understand that the way to cut traffic on the Peninsula is to put in a dedicated tram or rail link from North Greenwich to Charlton or Westcombe park. When the Jubilee Line went in it was made quite clear to campaigners that any mention of an extension like that would only be made by mad people – after all they said ‘no on would ever use it”
    Am i also allowed to mention – as I have mentioned it extensively else where – the ridiculous new route the 108 takes north of the Tunnel. You are very welcome to ask me why I drive everywhere?? I am an old lady with limited mobility and there is no sensible public transport round where i live.
    – oh – and the issue about the Ecology Park and the transparent towers that don’t cast a shadow.

  4. Nick Craddy

    Good reporting Daryl. I was maddened that the eco sainsbury was flattened, but I don’t give a hoot about the bus station. Outlived it’s usefulness and capacity.

  5. Niall

    More good work Daryl. There’s a similar situation going to occur in Surrey Quays/Canada Water in the future. British Land has bought up 50 acres for redevelopment, despite the fact there’s no spare transport capacity to get in and out (Jubilee line already rammed, Lower Road pretty gridlocked these days, hemmed in on two sides by the river. I spoke to a board member of a different development company, who explained that planning permission is granted as long as there’s the ability to travel, even if in practice it would be impossible as it’s already at capacity. Councils seem to care about getting in more housing but don’t seem to give a hoot about transport infrastructure. In their defence that might be because councils are local and transport is central, but even so, more joined up thinking (and more transport) is needed.

  6. Walt

    This tendency of the english of wanting to conserve everything always amazes me

    They should build another branch to the peninsula when they build the bakerloo extension.

  7. Matt

    I’m desperate to see some north south links in Greenwich! OK so the DLR extension is out but what other options are there? Surely more frequent buses can’t be the only solution. I can never get on the 132 and my uber bill is getting ridiculous. I’m considering getting a motorbike..

  8. James

    Greenwich peninsula needs a north-south non road transport option. Busses are a joke as there isn’t anything like enough Road space. Best would be a Jubilee line extension south via Westcombe Park or Charlton, or perhaps light rail (perhaps using the existing Angerstein Wharf rail line). But if you wanted to do it on the cheap, you could extend the dangleway south to the mainline trains on the Greenwich line and over to Blackheath or Kidbrooke. It’d have great views and actually be useful as public transport.

  9. rational plan

    The ideal but very expensive option would be a new mass transit line. The Simplest would be a DLR line breaking off the Woolwich line after the Barrier Park under the river to North Greenwich then across the river to the Dogs prehaps under Marsh Wall then across the river again to Surrey Quays station. Thereby bypassing the most congested section of the Jubilee line, At a minimum it could be built with three stations, A billion pounds or so though.

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