It’s been a very long time in coming, but walkers and cyclists could soon be able to use the Thames Path uninterrupted between Charlton and Woolwich – with plans to build a new path over the riverfront.
Currently, the Thames Path from central London stops dead at the Thames Barrier, with anyone wanting to continue eastwards having to continue via the busy Woolwich Road before walking through the King Henry’s Wharf housing development.
During the week, walkers in the know can sneak through an unsigned shortcut through the Westminster Industrial Estate – but these barriers prevent cyclists from using it.
Plans to plug the gap were first revealed in September, at Greenwich Council’s first “cycling forum”, after negotiations with landowners. Now they’re slowly starting to become reality, with one phase having already received planning permission, and another currently in the planning process.
The scheme is particularly good news for the enormous creative arts hub Second Floor Arts, as the new route will run right past its entrance. Greenwich hopes it will be complete by April 2017.
Heading from east to west… (apologies for the duff photos, which are of a display board at the cycle forum event).
Phase 1 is currently going through the planning process (see application 15/3519/F), and consists of a ramp from Warspite Road which will then sit on top of the riverfront, taking the route round to the existing Thames Path at King Henry’s Wharf. Or, strictly speaking: “Construction of combined footway / cycleway bridge, a 1.4m high pedestrian parapet with lighting incorporated into the parapet posts, erection of a wooden fender structure in the foreshore area.” Comments on this need to be with the council by 29 December.
Phase 2 already has planning permission (see application 15/2972/F). It consists of a ramp between Unity Way, the street that leads to the Thames Barrier visitor centre, and Bowater Road, inside the Westminster Industrial Estate. This means there’ll still be a diversion away from the river (and the deteriorating Mersey ferry Royal Iris, moored here) but nowhere near as long and inconvenient as the current scheme. Greenwich hopes to start work on this before April.
While the scheme would make life easier for walkers, it also opens up the Thames Path as a viable cycle commuter route for people in King Henry’s Wharf, Woolwich Dockyard Estate and beyond – a twenty-minute pootle on a bike to North Greenwich being much quicker and more pleasant for those who are up for it than squeezing onto an overcrowded bus.
The money for this is coming from Transport for London – as mentioned last week in the post about hire bikes and Greenwich town centre, many of Greenwich’s cycle-friendly schemes are either coming either from TfL money, or through adapting renewal schemes when roads need resurfacing or reworking.
Separately, there is also a scheme to introduce a stretch of segregrated cycle lane on Plumstead Road, in an attempt to fix a botched road scheme from a decade back. “Light segregation” is also due to be installed on a cycle lane in Rochester Way, Kidbrooke, shortly.
Greenwich has a newsletter for people interested in cycling infrastructure in the borough – email cycling-strategy[at]royalgreenwich.gov.uk and ask to be put on its list.
This looks brilliant. Viewfinder Photography has launched an app for the Thames Path through east Greenwich.
Or, in its words:
The Viewfinder Photography Gallery is delighted to launch the Thames Trail: an interactive photowalk with an accompanying phone app that reveals the industrial and shipbuilding heritage of Greenwich, from its 19th century heyday to the present.
The route begins at the Cutty Sark and follows the riverside path around the O2 Arena. Many wharves, jetties and other signs of the industrial past remain, often unknown and unnoticed, yet they tell an important story about the river and Greenwich itself.
Archive material from Greenwich Heritage Centre, the National Maritime Museum and from personal collections – including paintings, photographs and models – as well as specially commissioned interviews with local historians and residents, enable participants to imagine what the area was once like, to see how it has changed and how it continues to evolve.
The Thames Trail documents the evolving nature of the riverside. Regeneration and development are rapidly changing Greenwich’s waterfront and shifting it from an industrial to residential and commercial area. Whilst on the photowalk, participants are encouraged to take their own photographs of the riverscape as it is today – these photos will be published on the Viewfinder’s website and on the Thames Trail Flickr photostream.Walkers should allow at least an hour and a half to complete the route – and longer for stops to listen to the audio material and to take photographs.
A launch event will be held on Friday 7 June 2013, from 7 to 9pm at MADE in Greenwich Gallery, 324 Creek Road, Greenwich SE10 9SW. Everyone is welcome.
An accompanying booklet is available to read online and / or download, for those without a smartphone or who would like to learn about industrial heritage of Greenwich from home.
For more details, and how to publish your own photos, see the Viewfinder website.
On a similar theme, there’s also an exhibition of photos of the old Syral/Tunnel Refineries site by Peter Luck at Greenwich Gallery, Peyton Place until 16 June (9am-5.30pm weekdays, 12noon-6pm weekends).
(I don’t usually do “what’s on” things or product launches – I just don’t have the time, unfortunately – but this looks absolutely brilliant.)
Amazing news, and not an April Fool – the Thames Path through Greenwich has now completely reopened for the first time in six years, after the path around Delta Wharf was quietly brought back into use. If you want an Easter Monday stroll or cycle, wrap up warm and go for it.
It means the riverside pathway from Wood Wharf through to Angerstein Wharf is now completely open again, from one end of Greenwich to another, for the first time since demolition work on Lovell’s Wharf started in 2007. (Here’s a few snaps of Lovell’s before work started.) That link reopened earlier this year, and now contractors have finished rebuilding the footway just south of Drawdock Road, at the end of Tunnel Avenue, which shut in August 2011.
Of course, while contractors had aimed to get the walk reopened by Easter, in a cock-up that’ll be familiar to anyone who uses the path, one part of it is still partly fenced-off. Just ignore the sign and keep going.
Of course, the question now is – how long will the path stay open for? How long do we have left before another prolonged diversion? The stretch that’s just reopened is already earmarked for development (more of which to come on that one…)
And with development will come a different look for the path, as shown by the introduction of a clear cycle route. How long does the anarchic, old-style east Greenwich riverside walkway have left? Enjoy it (and the work of the Guerilla Knitters) while it lasts.
The other big question mark lies at Enderby’s Wharf, where developer West Properties – despite being allowed influence over Greenwich Council transport and tourism policies – still hasn’t lifted a finger on the cruise liner terminal site it was given permission to build over two years ago.
We may have got our path back – and just as you enter Charlton, there’s a new information sign to round off the happy news. But the path should never have been subject to such lengthy closures in the first place without proper information and consultation. Hopefully lessons have been learned – and that we’re all a bit more vigilant now than we were six years ago.
It hasn’t been the best of weekends to enjoy it, but the Thames Path is one of the best things about this part of London. If you take the borough as a whole, Greenwich borough has the longest riverfront in London, and as well as a walking route, it’s a designated cycle route too.
A scrutiny panel of councillors has been looking into ways of improving it as a cycle route, and officers have come up with a report – you can read it here (4MB PDF). It features some good ideas, such as sorting out the irritating cobbles at Greenwich Millennium Village, changing signs so they read “North Greenwich” rather than “Blackwall Point”, and (yes!) installing cycle stands outside the Pelton Arms pub.
Councillors are meeting on Tuesday night to discuss it – and the public’s welcome to come along and ask questions if they want. A lot of attention will be on plugging the gap between the Thames Barrier in Charlton and King Henry’s Wharf in Woolwich, something which would dramatically change the way the path is seen – as well as helping people access the fantastic Second Floor Arts facility at Warspite Road.
That said, hopefully there’ll be room for my own gripe to be addressed – sticking some signs up to get pedestrians out of the cycle path by the cable car (and cyclists out of the pedestrian bits), where markings were worn away by the cable car contractors and not reinstated, while the pedestrian bit was never marked.
I’ve seen some sights commuting along the path over recent months, and sooner or later someone is going to come a cropper – or prompt someone else to come to grief – some day for paying more attention to their iPad than their surroundings.
My other gripe is that it doesn’t do much about improving access to the path – but this seems like an encouraging start.
One of the first big barneys on this site was over the closure – well, destruction – of the Thames Path at Lovell’s Wharf in Greenwich, and the council’s subsequent grovelling to developers after that.
Of course, the developers then downed tools after finishing the first phase, leaving a flooded hole in the ground where the future developments promised by the council’s propaganda weekly should have been.
But work’s recently recommenced, and nearly three years after the fences came down and people realised the path had been destroyed, Durkan Homes has finally replaced it. It actually opened on 11 January, and huge credit must go to local councillor Mary Mills, who cut the ribbon that day.
Looking back at the original May 2010 post, mind, it’s striking just how many of the complaints – of poor communication and council arrogance – still ring true now, particularly in light of recent events. And that was just after an election…
Further up the path, there’s some dramatic progress along the remaining closed section of the path, between Delta Wharf and Drawdock Road, just next to the Dome…
The whole thing’s being rebuilt – including the river wall, and the slipway at the end of Drawdock Road. Might be a while yet. And before you ask, there’s still no sign of Delta Wharf turning into a beach for the 2012 Olympics…
But at least now most of the path is now open, except for that short section – should you be walking or cycling it westbound, keep a very close eye for the pathway that takes you back onto it (just beyond the oddly-pointless traffic lights at the top of the Blackwall Tunnel escape ramp).
All of which gives you the chance for a proper walk or cycle along the Thames, and to enjoy the work of the secretive Greenwich Guerrilla Knitters. Their creations are holding up well, despite the winter.
9.15pm update: A committee of councillors will be discussing a report into cycling along the Thames Path (that’s along the whole borough, from Deptford to Thamesmead) at 7pm on Tuesday 12 February, at Woolwich Town Hall.
Now spring has arrived, you might be fancying a stroll along the Thames Path. But, yes, great chunks of it around the Greenwich Peninsula are still closed. So here’s a very useful Greenwich Council map which details what’s closed and when it’s reopening (1MB PDF).
Of course, useful info like this isn’t on the council’s website, so instead I’m happy to bring you news the section by the cable car works should be open again next month, and almost all of the walkway will be back in use by July – just in time for the Olympics. It’s all on the map. Fingers crossed this comes to pass.
But there could be more disruption to come – major plans to build student accommodation and shops to the south-west of the Dome include “changes to the adopted alignment of the Thames Footpath”. Unfortunately, there’s no further details on the council’s planning website, but it sounds ominous.