August 2021 Newsletter
Welcome to the latest edition of the EGRA e-newsletter. Once again there are more hot local issues than can easily be accommodated in a single issue but we would still like to hear about anything that impacts our area.
Our long-serving Secretary, Louise Fletcher, is planning to stand down at the end of the year. She has been absolutely vital to the functioning of EGRA both before and during the pandemic and she will be a hard act to follow. This is a really essential role and involves minute taking at committee meetings about once every six weeks, preparation of an agenda, sorting out incoming mail and adding material to the website. If you think you could undertake this role, or even part of it, shared with someone else, we would love to hear from you.
Traffic and Road Changes
Blackwall Lane Junction - The rebuilding of the Trafalgar Road/Blackwall Lane junction to accommodate the new Cycleway has had a negative impact on pedestrians. RBG has taken on board some of the issues and we now have a stop light restored by The Plaza where traffic has been regularly blocking the pedestrian crossing - though this has not stopped determined motorists. The cycleway still looks unfinished (while the Deptford Creek to Deptford stretch remains unopened due to some dispute between RBG and TfL over the resurfacing of the Creek bridge). Every single pedestrian refuge has smashed railings and broken temporary barriers - the whole effect is pretty depressing over a year after works were started. TfL have recently written to interested parties advising that they are reviewing the traffic changes although there is currently no public consultation.
Greenwich Town Centre - RBG did not let the grass grow under their feet in their haste to remove the social distancing barriers in the town centre. We are now back to the slow motion racetrack, parked cars, inadequate bus stops and overcrowded pavements. EGRA would like to back the Greenwich Society proposals to widen the pavements around the Market and remove the parking permanently. This seems a plan which has some possibility of being implemented and would actually benefit those using the town centre rather than driving through it.
Removal of West Greenwich LTNs - The planters blocking traffic from Crooms Hill, Royal Hill and Hyde Vale have also gone and these roads are now blocked only by ANPR cameras to exclude all but emergency vehicles and bizarrely, taxis. Hyde Vale is also open to through traffic from 07.00 to 09.00. Given the inadequate signage of the closures, it will be interesting to see how long this system lasts without a legal challenge as has happened in other parts of London.
Impact East of the Park - Given that the justification for the removal of the above is to improve traffic flow in East Greenwich, EGRA would love to get feedback from members about the effects these changes have had further east. Does traffic flow better along Trafalgar Road? Are Maze Hill and Vanbrugh Hill easier to negotiate? What is the impact on anyone trying to cycle through the town centre? Are locals avoiding the town centre because of the narrow footpaths?
Banning Street - And finally some good news. After a prolonged email exchange with RBG Councillors on the uncontrolled parking situation in Banning Street, local Councillor Chris Lloyd claimed on Twitter that RBG does not yet have jurisdiction here, despite building work having started in 2007. Banning Street has never been signed over from the developers to the Council. He also stated on 11th August that the situation would be rectified as soon as possible but that it could take anywhere between 4 and 16 weeks. We are all hoping this happens sooner rather than later given the extraordinary delay and the huge loss of revenue for the Council from illegal and dangerous parking.
Green Projects - How to get involved
One of the consequences of the pandemic across the country has been a surge of interest in gardening and tending neglected spaces. EGRA has always been keen to take on gardening projects but there are many other small groups that would love to have extra volunteers.
The EGRA planters in Woodland Walk and on Trafalgar Road always need people able to water them once a week or so, water supplied by the Crown Pub. Contact email@example.com if you can help out.
Maze Hill gardeners meet once a month on a Saturday from 10 'til 12 for a clean up and planting session, theyhave a blogsite http://mazehillgardeners.wordpress.com/ and email for more information firstname.lastname@example.org. Next work party should be September 2nd.
Christchurch School Community Garden on Blackwall Lane has regular Friday volunteering days. The garden has vegetable beds, floral borders, an orchard and beehives. More information at email@example.com or drop by on a Friday from 10.30. An open weekend day or two may be planned for later this year.
The Mell Street pocket park has community gardening sessions. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Trinity Almshouses flower beds. Residents of Highbridge Wharf along with EGRA and Greenwich Society gardeners recently cleared and began planting these neglected beds on the Thames Path. The plan is to plant sustainable, drought-tolerant, tough shrubs and flowers which will out-compete the weeds and won’t require a lot of attention. Please contact email@example.com for information or just do some guerilla gardening. It is very frustrating that RBG haven’t cut the grass this year and the area is a mess. The Thames Path is a national path with heavy tourist and visitor footfall and the current state is an embarrassment.
The Rose Garden on Blackwall Lane has suffered from similar neglect by the Council. Our Ward Councillors claimed last year that they would be forming a Friends Group but this has failed to materialise. In the meantime, we recommend that local residents take on some guerilla gardening.
A new group Blackwall Lane gardeners has been active at the end of Blackwall Lane under the flyover and have just done a litter pick from there to IKEA on Bugsby’s Way. They can be contacted via Facebook.com/Blackwallgarden or@Blackwallgarden on Twitter. Any more details will be put up on the EGRA website.
These are just some of the projects in East Greenwich. Established groups also operate at East Greenwich Pleasaunce and Westcombe Woodlands. The lack of green space in our area is a major concern particularly with so many impending mega-developments creating more need for recreational space. We will add an updateable section on green projects to the EGRA website. Please let us know if you have identified any other areas that could provide some much-needed open space.
Thames Path and Foreshore
River Front Clean Up - the last year has had a very detrimental effect on the Thames with masses more single use plastic floating in the river and huge amounts of litter left on the foreshore and Thames Path by thoughtless users. EGRA would like to organise a regular clean-up group along with residents from River Gardens and Enderby Wharf but we need someone who could take this on as an individual project. If you are concerned about the state of the river and have some spare time to liaise with the other groups we would love to hear from you.
Silvertown Tunnel Construction Surface works are now well underway as anyone who has been along Millennium Way will have seen. The gasometer site is now a major construction zone and work on the cut and cover element of the tunnel along Edmund Halley Way are due to begin soon. On the other side of the river, the Newham site is now full of activity. This all seems to indicate that any further attempts to stop or postpone construction are pie in the sky and we need to be engaged with the developers to mitigate the worst effects of the project and to try and prise some local benefit from what will be a very disruptive process.
Tree removal - recent weeks have seen the chopping down of over 130 mature trees including the one extraordinary surviving elm tree near the southbound Blackwall Tunnel exit. The mature London planes by the Boord Street footbridge have also been reduced to woodchip and whole area now feels eerily empty. There are currently no replacement plans for these lost trees.
HGV traffic - there has been a lot of concern about the amount of HGV traffic using Millennium Way and often stacking up outside Millennium Primary School and St Mary Magdalene in John Harrison Way. Riverlinx HGV figures do not correspond with the numbers that parents have counted and they refuse to reveal where the lorries are going.
Boord Street Footbridge - Riverlinx have come up with yet another horrible design to replace the old but well-designed footbridge. The latest model is completely caged presumably to stop people dropping things onto the road rather than to protect those using the bridge.
Community Liaison Group - at the last meeting EGRA members asked for proper drawings, plans and modelling for the entire public realm including what is planned for the Blackwall Tunnel Approach where the footpath is now directly adjacent to the road. We also want to see the proposed pedestrian routes over the Silvertown Tunnel portal. So far all we have seen is a fanciful video of buses on nearly empty roads going through a shiny new tunnel and nothing about how this will relate to the existing Blackwall Tunnel road network. Many residents will also have received a leaflet from TfL which seems to indicate that there are currently no plans to improve the pedestrian/cyclist environment.
Tunnel Avenue green corridor - EGRA members were concerned when new signage went up recently near the Tunnel Avenue footbridge to the retail park. This included the rather alarming word “redevelopment”. Many residents have been worried that the existing road network will require widening to accommodate the extra traffic that Silvertown Tunnel will generate and this strip of land between the back gardens of houses in Tunnel Avenue and the A102 owned by GLA Property Services would potentially provide space to add traffic lanes.
Other Planning Matters
Morden Wharf - We understand that this planning application will go to the Planning Committee in September. We would all like to see a high quality mixed use development on this important site but the current plans are very disappointing. There have been hundreds of objections to the height and density of buildings. There is still time to put in your comments on the RBG Planning Portal. In the light of Liverpool losing its World Heritage Site status because of unsuitable development, we hope that our Councillors will be more focused on how this massive development impacts on the iconic Greenwich views.
Ikea Car Park - There has been another round of rather lacklustre consultation by London Square, the potential developers of a residential complex over the Ikea car park and on the B&Q site. The number of property units has been reduced and the highest towers (20 storeys) are now on the Bugsbys Way side of the site rather than the A102 side - though the improvement in air quality for residents will be negligible. It is still quite a long way from an actual planning application and the consultation is mainly a box-ticking exercise.
Old Woolwich Road Auction House - Local objections to the extremely vague traffic plans in this application seem to have worked as they reminded TfL that Cycleway 4 now goes past the site. TfL objected to the proposals and the application was turned down by planning officers.
Trafalgar Tavern - The owner withdrew the application for extended hours of operation until 03.00 following a large number of objections. However, there is now an application for use of the roof terrace as a late night venue. Residents of Highbridge Wharf and Crane and Eastney Streets are obviously very alarmed by this proposal and their leaflet can be found on the EGRA website (LINK) detailing the potential problems.
Star and Garter - Following a violent incident at this pub, the landlords have had to apply for a new licence. Residents can make comments based on the usual headings that apply to licensing.
Extension of the Ultra Low Emission Zone
From 25th October the ULEZ will be extended to the North and South Circular Roads. Vehicles that meet the following criteria will not have to pay the daily £12.50 charge;
Euro 3 motorbikes and mopeds
Euro 4 petrol cars and vans up to to 3.5. tonnes and minibuses up to 5 tonnes
Euro 6 diesel cars and vans
The system is in place 24/7 and monitored by ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) from traffic cams. Charges can be paid in advance or up to three days after. It will be interesting to see how this impacts on the huge numbers of old delivery vans which are now a feature of our streets.
The e-newsletter was something new for EGRA when we could not hold our usual regular face-to-face meetings. The newsletters have received a lot of positive comment and we would like to continue with them. Is there anyone in the EGRA membership who would like to take on the task of compiling and editing the newsletter? Generating content is no problem at all, given the number of things going on in this area but none of the current committee have any expertise in layout and particularly with adding some better pictures and graphics. So if you can help we would love to hear from you.