Dear friends and neighbours – I hope you can join us to welcome the New Year with a Wassail In the Pleasaunce. It’s on Sunday 13th Jan, 1-3pm, and we would be really grateful if you can spread the word!
This is the fifth year the local community have come together for this traditional “New Year” celebration – with music dance and song. Wassailing also involves pouring an offering of cider on the trees of the community orchard. Cider and apple juice from London, and Kent apples will be on sale.
Wassail 2019 will feature:
AmyHollinrake – singer and songwriter from Brockley with dulcimer and Appalachian tunes
The first weekend of trading at east Greenwich’s new Ikea store will coincide with a big match at Charlton Athletic’s ground, threatening serious traffic issues across the area.
Yesterday the Swedish flat-pack furniture giant confirmed it would open its doors on Thursday 7 February. Signage appeared on the building, on the site of the former “eco” Sainsbury’s supermarket, two weeks ago and stock is already being taken into the giant blue store.
The Charlton Champion understands both Ikea and Greenwich Council – which has wrapped itself in the store’s yellow and blue colours, allowing it to sponsor a sustainability prize at its business awards and run a promotional stand at a recent festival in Woolwich – are keen to avoid such scenes, with rumours of a “soft” opening ahead of the advertised date.
Charlton Athletic will play Southend United that day, a match which usually sees the away side bring a large number of supporters to The Valley, whose proximity to the Blackwall Tunnel and the A13 to the Essex coast usually make it an easy trip. The Shrimpers are managed by former Addicks favourite Chris Powell, a factor which could also bump up the home crowd.
There are mitigating factors – Southend fans could be routed via the tolled Dartford crossing, while attendances at The Valley have dropped significantly in recent years with fans alienated by Roland Duchatelet’s ownership. But matches still cause short-term traffic congestion, and the curiosity factor around the wildly popular furniture retailer’s debut in SE10 is likely to make 9 February a difficult day to get around the local area.
Rail services are due to run as normal on the Greenwich line that weekend on Saturday, but the line is closed by engineering works on Sunday.
Indeed, closer to home, long tailbacks regularly form inside the Bugsbys Way shopping parks as drivers queue to get out.
To mitigate this, Ikea has signed a legal agreement pledging to direct drivers to the west of the site “to address network capacity constraints on Peartree Way and Woolwich Road roundabout”, with £50,000 for new signage. (See the full legal agreement and travel plan.)
However, there are no signs yet of promised “improvements to pedestrian and cycling access links to the development from Westcombe Park and Charlton railway stations”, due to come from £750,000 to promote “travel by sustainable modes”. Work to widen Peartree Lane to create a southbound bus lane has started, though, and extra pedestrian/cycle crossings are being installed on Bugsby’s Way, which could address a promise to improve links from North Greenwich station. The store also pledged to pay £500,000 for extra bus services.
In a press release not sent to this website, Ikea promises to be “being a good neighbour and a true partner in the local community”, offering “a wide choice of affordable delivery services will be available, from 24-hour delivery for those living within the Royal Borough of Greenwich, to a Zedify bike courier service, competitively priced mini cabs and Hertz EV [electric] van hire”.
For the first 10 weeks the store is open, it will also have a special offer on home delivery for those who live within 40 minutes on public transport – although if pessimists’ predictions are true, that could be a very small area indeed on the opening weekend.
East Greenwich’s infamous Woolwich Road roundabout, where a cyclist was killed earlier this year, is “not fit for humans”, according to a top councillor.
The junction of the A206 and A102, just west of Charlton, has been the centre of campaigns for cycle safety this year and the leader of Greenwich Council was quizzed on it last night.
Three cyclists died in the space of three weeks in south-east London earlier this year, with the third being Edgaras Cepura at the roundabout on 18 May.
Campaigners and councillors have criticised the junction for being notoriously dangerous for cyclists.
Council leader Danny Thorpe told a Q&A meeting at Woolwich Town Hall: “In relation to the tragic deaths of a number of cyclists over the last year particularly at the roundabout we held a visit with TfL and officers because its a very hard thing to resolve on your own.
“We don’t control all the infrastructure around there but we have to make sure there are changes because it is one of the most horrendous places to be if you’re on foot or bike.”
The council has carried out some safety improvements such as road markings but the road is under the control of Transport for London.
He told City Hall last month that TfL was working with the council on designs and funding to improve the roundabout “as soon as possible” ahead of a larger scheme of the cycle superhighway.
Cllr Thorpe added: “We have been lobbying hard to make sure a cycle superhighway is extended from Greenwich down to Woolwich too. In this area there is such enormous potential and demand we need to tap into.”
It comes as a wider plan for safety schemes was passed at a cabinet meeting last week.
Deputy leader Cllr David Gardner said: “That is an awful roundabout, it is not built on a human scale. It’s not built for human beings, it needs drastic surgery to make it safe.”
Okay, it’s actually in Greenwich, but we couldn’t resist giving a mention to The River Ale House, which opened a couple of weeks ago just down the Woolwich Road.
It’s in the former Under Cover Experience lingerie shop – the bottom fell out of the knickers market, and owner Trevor thought he’d try his hand at beer instead.
So far, The River Ale House is doing a good trade in the evenings – providing somewhere to go in a stretch of Woolwich Road that’s long lacked a decent pub.
There’s a rotating range of ales on, plus ciders, wines and spirits. It’s also very dog-friendly.
It’s the eighth micropub to open in south-east London over the past few years, joining The Long Pond in Eltham, Door Hinge in Welling, Hopper’s Hut and Hackney Carriage in Sidcup, Broken Drum in Blacken, Penny Farthing in Crayford and One Inn The Wood in Petts Wood. Another one, The Kentish Belle, is due to open in Bexleyheath later this year.
Transport for London is planning to halve the bus service between Greenwich town centre and Charlton as part of changes set to be brought in for the launch of Crossrail services at Woolwich and Abbey Wood.
Route 180, which links Charlton with Greenwich and Lewisham, will be diverted at the Woolwich Road flyover to run to North Greenwich station, with small cuts to be made to the frequency of the 472, which will continue to run to North Greenwich. The 129 service, which runs from North Greenwich to Greenwich town centre, will be extended to Lewisham as part-compensation.
TfL says 770 passengers will have to change buses each day as a result of the changes – and with no plans outlined to boost the frequency of the 177, the number of buses between Greenwich town centre and Charlton will drop from 12 buses per hour to six.
Both the 180 and 472 will also see changes at the other ends of their routes: the 180 will run to the Quarry development in Erith rather than the Belvedere industrial estates, while the 472 will run via Western Way in Thamesmead to terminate at Abbey Wood station, instead of its current route via Nathan Way.
Other changes will see route 178, which serves Shooters Hill Road, return to using double-decker buses to cater for expected extra demand for travel to Woolwich. Double-deckers will also return to routes 244 and 291, which run to Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
A new service, the 301, will run from Woolwich to Bexleyheath via Nathan Way (replacing the 472) and Abbey Wood. There are other service changes affecting the Erith and Belvedere areas, which can be seen on the TfL website.
There are no changes to buses along Charlton Road, or the 380 or 486 services.
The change to the 180 will make it harder to reach Greenwich from Charlton, Woolwich, Plumstead and Abbey Wood.
What does this mean if I want to travel from Charlton to North Greenwich?
If you live east of Charlton station, there will be more buses to North Greenwich (20 rather than 16 per hour in peak times), but you’ll be more likely to get a slower service. There will be fewer buses on the faster 472 service via Bugsby’s Way – eight per hour instead of the current 10. More buses will run on the slower route via the Woolwich Road flyover – 12 per hour on the combined 161 and 180, compared with six on the 161 now.
From Charlton station, there will be no change to the 486. But from the stop in Anchor and Hope Lane next to Makro, there will now be 16 buses per hour rather than 18 (not including the morning-only extra services from here on the 472, which will continue). Or you could cross to the stop by the Antigallican, where 12 buses per hour will run on the slower route via Woolwich Road flyover, shared between the 161 and 180 (compared with six now on the 161).
Local transport campaigners have long complained about the “dance of death” where services from Charlton station to North Greenwich are split across the three stops serving the Woolwich Road/Anchor & Hope Lane junction. These changes bring more buses across these stops (28 rather than 24), but will mean more people will have to do that “dance of death” at a junction Greenwich Council says is the borough’s most dangerous.
From west of Charlton station, it’s a straightforward increase – from six 161 buses per hour to 12 on the combined 161 and 180 service. If you travel to/from the Greenwich Ikea site, however, you’ll see the overall level of service up the Greenwich Peninsula is hardly changing – it’ll increase from 44 to 45 buses per hour in the rush hour.
From Charlton Village – no change. Nothing is planned for the 422 or 486.
Current peak service
Proposed peak service
472 N G’wich: 10
161 N G’wich: 6
180 Greenwich: 6
177 Greenwich: 6
472 N G’wich: 8
161/180 N G’wich: 12
177 Greenwich: 6
Anchor & Hope Lane
472 N G’wich 10*
486 N G’wich: 8
472 N G’wich: 8*
486 N G’wich: 8
Rose of Denmark
161 N G’wich: 6
180 Greenwich: 6
177 Greenwich: 6
161/180 N G’wich: 12
177 Greenwich: 6
Greenwich Ikea site
All buses: 44*
All buses: 45*
*Does not include the extra buses on the 472 between Charlton and North Greenwich, which run mornings only and are due to continue.
I want to travel from Charlton to Greenwich town centre – what do I do?
You’ll have to wait longer if you want to travel from Charlton to Greenwich – you’ll only have the six buses per hour on the already-busy 177 to rely on in future. A possible – but more expensive – alternative will be the National Rail service from Woolwich Dockyard, Charlton or Westcombe Park stations to Maze Hill or Greenwich.
Or you could change buses at Greenwich Ikea, although the proposed 129 service from there to Greenwich and Lewisham will be cut to a bus every 12 minutes – less frequent than the current 180.
The cut to the 472’s frequencies mean there will be slightly fewer buses to Woolwich from Anchor & Hope Lane – down from 30 buses an hour at peak times to 28. Up the hill, no changes are planned to the 53, 54, 380 or 422.
Where’s my bus from Woolwich Road to Lewisham gone?
TfL suggests you change buses at Greenwich Ikea, but the proposed 129 service from there to Greenwich and Lewisham will be cut to a bus every 12 minutes – less frequent than the current 180. There are also fears of widespread traffic congestion when the Ikea store opens in late 2018, around the time these changes are due to take effect.
Taking a 177 to Greenwich town centre and changing there for a 129 or 199 will be a more sensible – but still fiddly – option. Those who want to change to other buses in Lewisham will lose out by having to pay another fare. TfL wants to expand its Hopper fare so it offers unlimited bus changes in an hour rather than just two – there is no date for this yet.
If you’re one of them, be sure to fill in the consultation and tell your local representatives what you think.
There will be no change to the 54 or 380 services to Lewisham, while there is a half-hourly National Rail service from Charlton to Lewisham.
Squeezed finances at TfL – but questions over modelling
Technical notes supplied by TfL indicate that it expects demand for bus travel between Greenwich and Woolwich – including Charlton – to drop after Crossrail services begin in December 2018. It also expects demand to drop along Charlton Road, although there is no cut planned for services there.
It is not made clear how TfL has reached this conclusion, although it could reflect some journeys from Woolwich to places such as New Cross and Peckham switching from bus to Crossrail and London Overground.
While the new “hopper” fare – which enables people to take two buses within an hour for the price of one fare – reduces the impact of the latest truncation of the route, it will still inconvenience many passengers. Indeed, recent figures obtained by London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon show the 53 is the 10th most popular route for hopper fare users – these passengers won’t be able to take a third bus to finish their journey. (It’s worth asking the bus driver for a transfer ticket if this affects you.)
These images form part of developer LXB‘s application to Greenwich Council. A planning board will then decide whether to approve or reject these plans – likely to be some time in June.
There’s several elements to this application including an impact assessment on retail in much of south-east London. A thorough report by consultants WYG states that:
“The enhancement of the retail facilities at Bugsby’s Way will not affect Woolwich’s status as a Major Centre, nor its prospects of being re-designated as a Metropolitan centre in the long term.”
Their reasoning behind this are the new developments in Woolwich, such as the Tesco, that WYS believes will regenerate the SE18 area, keeping shoppers from getting into their cars or straying onto a bus and travelling over to Charlton.
Another talking point recently has been the downgrade of the western end of Woolwich Road (from Charlton station to the flyover) and how these new developments will impact on the near 24,000 vehicles that use the road on an average weekday.
Would it be outrageous for me to suggest that a coherent plan for Woolwich Road, using a bit of foresight, might save a lot of time, money and upheaval in the future?
The old retail barns that currently occupy this site lay dormant, aside from the odd illegal rave. Wickes is the last store still operating and is believed to be moving into its new home next to Matalan in the next two weeks.
If approved by the council’s planning board the new Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer would be looking to open before the end of 2014.