Greenwich & Woolwich MP Matt Pennycook has asked Network Rail to provide the evidence for its plans to close the Angerstein Wharf rail crossing – including why the track company claims it is one of the most dangerous crossings in SE London and Kent.
The state-owned company confirmed last month that it was to close the link between Fairthorn Road in Charlton and Farmdale Road in east Greenwich, which connects local commuters to Westcombe Park station. It had originally planned to close the foot crossing in 2019, but paused its plans for a review.
Network Rail has said that the crossing must close on safety grounds, but Pennycook has written to the body asking for the evidence as to why the crossing is deemed unsafe, and why an alternative tunnel or footbridge under the single-track freight line cannot be provided.
The letter comes after the track company held a consultation meeting with local residents last week, which Pennycook said had been followed by “uniformly negative feedback”.
I have this afternoon written to Network Rail regarding their latest proposals to close the Angerstein pedestrian level crossing, putting to them a series of questions that have not yet been satisfactorily answered⬇️ pic.twitter.com/HPfpdT8Fsa
if Network Rail will publish the review it undertook after its earlier decision to close the crossing;
for the evidence that passengers are climbing under or over stationary trains at the crossing;
what other safety measures have been considered;
the evidence behind claiming it was the most dangerous crossing in its Kent region;
why safety ratings for the crossing had changed over the years;
why Network Rail believes there is not a right of way at that location;
what assessment Network tail has made of the alternative route via Woolwich Road; and
what it is doing to address safety concerns for passengers who face having to use Woolwich Road if the crossing closes.
The crossing is one of just a handful of foot crossings of railway lines in the London area, and has been in existence since the Angerstein Wharf freight line was built across a route used by farm workers in 1852.
Network Rail, which has recently installed gates at the crossing, said last month that the number of incidents on the line – which regularly sees freight trains to heading to Angerstein Wharf on the Thames – meant it had to act and that it would be “in close communication with the local community about the alternative route which is chosen”.
Pfizer vaccines against Covid-19 will be available to all adults at Charlton House tomorrow and Friday as the drive to get as many people inoculated as possible steps up.
All over-18s in Greenwich borough will be able to get first or second jabs from 2pm to 6pm on Thursday; with the clinic also open from 9am to 1pm and 2pm to 6pm on Friday.
Hundreds of people got their jabs at The Valley last weekend in a mass vaccination event for over-40s, and the stadium will opening its gates once again this Saturday. This time, over-18s from all SE London boroughs will be eligible with Pfizer jabs on offer.
There are also daily walk-up sessions for over-40s from across SE London at Guy’s Hospital and St Thomas’ Hospital from 8pm to 7pm, and sessions every Tuesday and Friday from 8am to 4pm at Lewisham Hospital. Greenwich borough residents over 40 can also get jabs from 8am to 2pm daily at Woolwich Late Night Pharmacy on General Gordon Square.
The first plans to build housing on the Charlton Riverside could finally get the go-ahead from councillors next week – replacing warehouses and industrial units on Eastmoor Street with 255 flats.
City Hall wants to see thousands of homes built on the riverfront around the Thames Barrier in the coming years, with a number of schemes in the pipeline. Plans for 771 homes off Anchor and Hope from the developer Rockwell were thrown out by a planning inspector a year ago after being rejected by both Greenwich Council and London mayor Sadiq Khan on grounds of both height and density.
A masterplan for the area calls for lower-rise housing – a maximum of 10 storeys – in an attempt to differentiate it from the Greenwich Peninsula and Woolwich’s Royal Arsenal, while Greenwich Council’s housing policy demands that 35 per cent of homes must be “affordable”.
Now two smaller plans have come forward for land behind the old Victoria pub, which could finally start the transformation of the area – but will also provide an insight into the trade-offs and compromises involved in creating what will eventually become a new neighbourhood. In one scheme, objections to taller buildings have been followed by a cut in the amount of “affordable” housing at a time when there are 23,000 people on Greenwich Council’s waiting list.
Planning officers are recommending that the schemes get the green light – but councillors on Greenwich’s planning board will have the final say at a meeting on Monday 28 June.
The first – and most controversial – scheme is from the developer Aitch Group, for land behind the current Beaumont Beds warehouse and to the west of Barrier Gardens. Aitch originally planned 230 homes with 10-storey blocks – after objections these have been cut down to 188 homes with blocks of up to nine storeys, with commercial units on the ground floor and play space for children.
Before the objections, the plan had 35 per cent “affordable” housing; now only 29.7 per cent of the homes would be “affordable”, with the developer saying it cannot afford to build more. Of the total, 21.2 per cent would be for London Affordable Rent – half market rents, available to people on the housing waiting list but more expensive than standard council rents – and 8.5 per cent would be for shared ownership.
The scheme has drawn objections from resident groups. The Charlton Society says the blocks are too tall, as the masterplan suggests heights of three to six storeys at this site, adding that it “would be a waste of time commenting on any other features of the design”.
The Charlton Central Residents Association – whose patch is some way from Eastmoor Street – also objects, saying the scheme would “not exactly providing good quality living accommodation” while the Derrick and Atlas Gardens Residents Association, which represents the only residential streets currently on the riverside, calls the height, density and massing “extreme”.
Charlton Together, an umbrella group representing residents’ organisations, says: “We continue to be faced with plans for dormitories that could be anywhere.”
In their report, planning officers say that the heights in the masterplan are simply guidance, and that traditional houses would not be allowed in a flood risk area.
“The scheme is characterised by a six-storey main parapet and which is considered appropriate to the intended mid-rise character of this part of Charlton Riverside,” they say.
Overall, there were 28 objections, with 34 comments in support.
Less controversial are plans for 67 flats on the site of the Beaumont Beds warehouse. These would be from the Optivo housing association – which held a very short-notice consultation in January 2020, meaning it snuck under the radar for many – and would all be for London Affordable Rent.
These would be in blocks of up to seven storeys, with two ground-floor commercial units.
However, there are still objections on the grounds of height from the Charlton Society and the Greenwich Planning Alliance, with worries expressed about a lack of play space – with Maryon Park across the busy Woolwich Road from the development. Other residents’ groups did not comment.
The major challenge to both developments is a lack of infrastructure. While new healthcare facilities are planned for the riverside, the NHS London Healthy Urban Development Unit calls for money from both developments to be spent on existing GP surgeries in the meantime – a request refused by council planners who say the developments are not big enough. Councillors could revisit the issue if they take enough interest in it.
Developers will also have to pay a £3,000 council levy on each flat to contribute towards the major infrastructure needed – new roads, including what will effectively be an extension of Bugsby’s Way; improvements to Woolwich Road and Anchor & Hope Lane; a new secondary school; one or two primary schools; ten nurseries; the health centre; Thames Path upgrades; improved public realm and a new park.
Network Rail has raised the issue of pressure on local trains, while Transport for London is charging a £2,812 levy on each flat to pay for new bus services through the riverside area – an extended 301 bus service from Woolwich is expected to be introduced as an interim measure.
If approved, other major schemes are likely to follow soon with developers understood to be impatient to start work on their projects.
U+I plans 380 homes on the old Siemens factory site on the Charlton/Woolwich border, along with a co-working hub for local businesses and space for light industry. The scheme, Faraday Works, was recently altered because one of the Siemens buildings was given a Grade II listing – resulting in a cut to the “affordable” housing on the site.