Two items of relevance to Greenwich and the Millennium were discussed at this meeting:
1. Intermediate Mode Transport Study
London Transport’s new ideas for public transport in Outer London.
A number of transport initiatives are underway in the Borough of Greenwich including the provision of new Red Route schemes under plans issued by the Transport Director for London. The Director spoke to the Meeting explaining the Red Route scheme and describing latest developments. The two main schemes to come in to effect in the next year or so will be one on the A2 across Blackheath from the Sun in the Sands roundabout to the Greenwich/Lewisham boundary at Deptford Bridge and another on the South Circular Road from Well Hall to the Woolwich Ferry.
A representative from London Transport then described the situation regarding a number of schemes put to L.T. for new, ‘intermediate mode’, transport links in the Greater London Area. These include a plan to link Greenwich Town Centre via the Millennium Expo site to Woolwich, Thamesmead and possibly Erith, with the further option of a cross-Thames link to another scheme in Beckton using a designated route on the proposed Gallions Reach bridge. To provide the latter would mean compatible systems having to be installed.
Intermediate mode transport includes light rail, tram, guided bus, trolley bus and similar systems which utilise environmentally friendly propulsion systems in areas which experience high levels of pollution. Some are capable of switching power from one system to another (say from electricity to diesel) when travelling faster or in less congested areas.
The Greenwich area system is currently rated as the number one priority scheme out of all those under consideration. However, there are a number of problems associated with implementation, the main one being the time scale available if the scheme is to be available in time for the Millennium Exhibition. L.T. consider that it would take at least seven years from Parliamentary approval to complete a light rail or tram-based system and that studies indicate such a high-volume carrier would not be necessary except for the duration of the Millennium Exhibition itself. Such a scheme would be impractical for what is required. However, it might be possible to plan the system with conversion to tram being made possible at a later date.
A guided bus scheme would, on the other hand, be feasible within the limited time available. Guided buses require a much reduced infrastructure and consequent planning approvals, running on normal roads or dedicated paths with only a guidance cable buried 100mm below the road surface of the route and low level ‘platforms’ to provide passengers with level access to the bus floor. The purpose of the guidance is to ensure that the vehicles stop precisely at the platform area. The vehicle is typically articulated in two parts and can be electric or diesel powered. A number of slides of sample vehicles in use elsewhere in the World were shown.
Some concern was expressed by Councillors that what was going to be possible within the time scale was not what the ideal, and some surprise was expressed at the estimated usage figures for the planned route.
2. Cutty Sark Docklands Light Railway (DLR) Site Petition
Work on the DLR Lewisham Extension contract finally began in October 1996. It will definitely include a Cutty Sark station. In connection with the contract, the Council issued two separate CPOs (Compulsory Purchase Orders) on the various properties in the site bounded by Greenwich Church Street, Thames Street, Welland Street and Creek Road.
The initial CPO issued, now partially implemented, affected a block of council flats, Walrond House (which has already been demolished with the subsequent re-housing of its tenants) as well as several shops facing on to Creek Road and five premises in Greenwich Church Street. It did not include the shops on the junction of Creek Road and Greenwich Church Street that comprise the ‘corner’ site facing on to the Greenwich one-way system. Demolition of the five premises on Greenwich Church Street that face the Royal Naval College entrance and which were said to be required to create the entrance for the new station is also now on hold since the DLR contrators have been asked by the Council to rethink their plans for this entrance.
The second CPO issued in late October covered all these remaining premises. However, it was issued in order to ease the process of above ground site development, once a developer has been appointed to manage the site. No planning application has yet (20/11/96) been received from any developer and nothing is expected until early 1997. Therefore no decision has yet been taken by the Council on whether demolition of some, or all, of these premises will be carried out. It would depend upon the nature of the planning application and on structural surveys being carried out in relation to the effects of underground work needed for the station. If they are not demolished, the premises will be offered back to the existing owners at the completion of the contract for purchase or rent.
The subject of this Agenda item was the receipt by the Council of a 4500 signature petition objecting to the issue of these CPOs and the possible consequent destruction of a section of Greenwich Town Centre.
Alan Brett spoke to the Petition. He objected to the Council’s comments in the accompanying Report that referred to the fact that only 7% of those signing the petition had addresses in Greenwich. He pointed out that many people who worked in Greenwich and many market stall holders were from outside the area, but nevertheless felt sufficiently strongly about the potential destruction of these buildings to sign the petition. The same applied to those signatories who were simply visitors to the area from elsewhere in the UK or from overseas. He asked why, with one hat on the Council were trying to encourage visitors to Greenwich, yet with another were apparently willing to demolish part of the reason they came.
Councillor Chris Roberts, Planning Committee Chair, expressed some concern about mis-representation, by some, of the real facts relating to the issue of the CPOs. Although this was accepted to some extent by Mr. Brett, he pointed out that everyone is fallible and that there had been major errors in the Planning Committee’s letters on the subject of the date of this particular meeting.
It was proposed by the Chair that the objector’s concerns be recognised, and that full consultation would accompany any planning proposal eventually received for the site by the Council.