Greenwich Peninsual West Masterplan - the Society's response

PDF icon Peninsula West Masterplan

Greenwich Society response

Objectives and Conceptual Approach

These appear fine, with the expanded mix of uses in general to be supported – and we would like to congratulate Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands and the Council on this very welcome, positive and proactive form of planning, and stimulating vision, which completes the planning of theGreenwichPeninsula.  We wonder, however, whether the proposals for thePeninsulago far enough, and whether perhaps an even broader vision might be considered.  For instance, a major problem at the Peninsular, drawn out by these proposals is the divisive nature of the A102, and we wonder whether the possibility of burying some of this has been, or might be explored. This would be costly, but with the construction of the new tunnel which will need to sink down early to avoid carving a huge swathe through the Peninsular East, the opportunity might be there to bury, or at least part bury, a stretch of the existing road. This would open up a real opportunity to properly link east and west parts of thePeninsula, plus giving significant new development opportunities over the tunnel or cut-and-cover. See also our final thought and suggestion below.  Apart from this, we are concerned over a number of things, particularly with regard to the scale of proposed new development in the light of the additional effect this would have on the local infrastructure, which is already evidently under strain, and the impact on local primary school needs.

Movement

We strongly support the reference to proposals for an additional road link from Blackwall to Silvertown and extension of the DLR – but we don’t see how this major infrastructure improvement, if ever achieved, would benefit the local area of the Greenwich Peninsula West or relieve the two main distributor roads Blackwall Lane and Trafalgar Road, which already get very congested at times: nothing is said about the impact of the development proposals on the local roads. The only reference here is with regard to public transport – and here we would query the references to “a successor to the Greenwich Waterfront Transit” (Movement, p. 18 & Transport, p. 36).  [Whilst it was understood that funds had been earmarked for this in 2006, we have been given to understand more recently that the Waterside Transit had been dropped owing to the difficulties regarding its route throughEast Greenwichand along the A206: is this true?]  It would appear that the only practicable public transport provision would be just an ordinary bus service along the route shown on the layout plan on pp. 22/23 coming fromChristchurch Way. Whilst strategic links are good, we are concerned at the impact all this new development will have on the local roads, particularly the bottlenecks at the junction ofBlackwall LaneandTrafalgar/Woolwich Roadand Christchurch Way Trafalgar Road. In our view, before the Masterplan is adopted, the extra traffic load on these junctions resulting from the plan should be assessed (with and without the Silvertown tunnel), and remedial measures/alternative routes examined.

Development Framework:

Key Principles:  It is noticeable that the key features of the Masterplan do not include for any primary school facilities. The main layout plan (pp 22-23) indicates an area in the vicinity of the proposed multi-use complex marked for ‘education facilities’, but this is qualified on p.24 to relate to ‘university’ use – this spelt out on pp 40-42. Surely there will be a need to provide educational facilities at the pre-school/infants/junior level, given the number of children that will result from not only the residential elements of this draft proposal but also from the 10,010 new units on the Peninsula. The Millennium Primary school was designed to cater for children in the Greenwich Millennium Village but since the number of units there has grown from the 1,377 originally intended to the a new total of 2,243, as seen in the recently approved completion phases application, it is clear that the Millennium Primary School will be unable to cope. We consider that there is need for the masterplan to address this point

Layout plan: [pp 22-23] The layout plan shows a strip marked ‘public open space’ along the riverfront – this containing the Thames Path.  With regard to the latter, it is unfortunate that no attempt seems to have been made to seek to continue the Path along the frontage of “the safeguarded wharf”: it is forced at this point to take a detour inland here away from the river. In our view the plan should make it a priority to find a way of continuing the Path on or close to the river frontage. The plan already envisages reducing current operations at Victoria Deep Water Terminal to accommodate wharfage operations only, with two 'smart wharf' facilities. We question whether this is ambitious enough, for a long-term vision; options should be considered such as a split-level solution, with either a footbridge for pedestrians/cyclists or a conveyor to carry wharfage operations over the Path (as happens further downstream), or, as a minimum, part-time opening of the direct Path route when the wharf is not actually operating. These would need to be pursued with present and future operators.  

Multi purpose sports/education/leisure complex: This, planned to accommodate “up to 40,000 patrons”, is a very interesting idea, but raises the question as to how the area is to cater satisfactorily for the vehicular and pedestrian movement that would be generated: this is not adequately dealt with. We note the admission, “Analysis of the nearby current and proposed transport facilities is required to assess the feasibility of handling crowds attending larger events.” [Urban Form, Transport p.35]. Whilst unhappy over the scale of this proposal, we would support the development of sporting facilities provided that they are – as stated as intended (p.42) – available to the local community. There is a need for youth facilities in this area, and if this new development can also support this, all to the good – it would be helpful in makingGreenwich a better place in which to live. We feel that such a very large venue should really only be contingent on (i) The DLR link being realized (ii). No further parking provision being make available on the Peninsular to ensure that this becomes a public transport only venue.  

Large Riverfront Development: More information needed; particularly on the number of housing units, and proportions of affordable and family units to be provided. It would appear that perhaps there could be up to 1,000 new dwellings here as a result of the proposals, which would increase the local population by a further 2,380 or so (at the London Plan overall ratio of 2.38 persons per unit). Should the proposed sports/education/leisure complex fail to materialise, the number of new dwellings, on the showing of the “Outdoor Event Alternative” [Key Issues, p.83], is likely to rise to over 2,500 new dwellings

Delivery:

Implementation: It is stated that “early implementation could take place in the south of the Masterplan area”, but we are concerned that this is too vague: we feel that some indication should be given regarding timing and phasing of the proposed development.

Pipeline:

Future developments: These include the Hotel and Ballroom facility (within the Greenwich Peninsula Masterplan area) but notMeridianGardens at the northern end of the area (also within the Greenwich Peninsula Masterplan area), and in particular Plot NO602 for which planning consent has been granted: this, surely, needs to be mentioned.

Key Issues:

HSE Land Use Policy:  Reference is made to the external gasholder possibly becoming a feature of the Masterplan once decommissioned (p 80): but no specific uses are identified, and we wonder why not? We consider that the Masterplan should give some indication, and some examples of possible alternative uses here.

Outdoor Event Alternative: We would support the ‘Outdoor Event Alternative’ shown on pages 82-83 – again, provided the facilities are available to the local community; but we note that, in this case, it would mean yet more ‘high density development’, creating even more pressure from traffic on the local infrastructure.  We suggest that the area of public open space shown to be provided, alternatively, be provided just north of the Enderby Wharf site in order for it to be better located to serve the developing new local community. Greenwich Peninsula West needs to be considered as an extension of the East Greenwich residential area north of Trafalgar Road. We note that this area is identified in the UDP as an Open Space Deficiency Area. We consider that development of the Greenwich Peninsula West Masterplan area should include the provision of a proper Community Open Space to meet this area deficiency.

Temporary Use

Reference is made to the Greenwich Olympic Festival offering a variety of temporary uses during the Olympics, but nothing is said about the possibility of temporary uses on vacant lands in the area after the Olympics and pending prospective permanent development. We feel that this should be addressed.

A final thought and suggestion:

The Proposals for Greenwich Peninsula West take in, at the northern end, proposals already agreed as part of the approved Greenwich Peninsula Masterplan – and we have suggested a possible better linking of the West and East areas in our first paragraph above.  We feel that this gives an opportunity to look at thePeninsulaas one whole – a complete unified new town.  In the interests of developing unity and a sense of place, we would like to advocate that, besides covering over part of the divisive A102, attention be given to down-scalingMillennium Way. This also is divisive, an unattractive and massively over-scaled road, and even when thePeninsulais fully built we are doubtful that a dual carriageway is really justified.  If we can manage without one elsewhere in Greenwich then the Peninsular could too, and this would enable the development of the area with some proper urban scaled streets, making it more person-friendly, walkable and cycleable and allowing development to be built up to the new street or boulevard with a proper urban edge, mix of uses and street trees.  Currently the Peninsular is dominated by its traffic infrastructure, and this over-provision for vehicular traffic militates against a real sense of ‘place’ developing. Now is a golden opportunity (before it is too late) to do something about this.