What Do We Want? A Cover Up!
When do we want it? Well, soon as possible, ideally.
This is something we briefly discussed last time the University plans for Stockwell Street came up for consultation. Even then I couldn’t see a downside save for the logistical nightmare it would be, but now a group (I suspect small, so far, but I could be wrong) of local residents have decided to actually press for it happening.
It’s simple enough on paper. To cover-over the whopping great railway line that’s been cutting Greenwich in half since mid-Victorian times, and use it as a public space. This is currently dead zone at street level – and let’s face it, it’s hardly a good-looking part of town. It’s not even a haven for wildlife, unless you count the local rodent population.
Covering it over (as it is already on the road) is technically do-able, and would provide a wide through-passage between parts of the town that could do with it, giving us perhaps an extra park or maybe even the possibility of getting our Village Antiques Market back, but there are other, more aesthetic reasons for doing it. We’d get a lovely view of St Alfege’s for starters, and the new University buildings might not look quite so in-yer-face if they were surrounded by some sympathetic lighting, soft planting and the odd kiosk.
Apart from logistics I can’t see a single problem with this idea. But can anyone else?
So – what’s holding it back? Well, certainly not the university. I talked with the guys from there first time the consultation came around and they’re all for it. But frankly, it only impinges on the edges of their land, so although the spirit may be willing there, the soil could be weak. I know they’d be behind such a project in theory though, and I also wonder if they might stump up some readies too. Certainly worth an ask.
The other side, I am led to believe, belongs to Greenwich Inc. They might be a little less happy – but surely it would give greater access to various outlets of their empire, so I would hope that they could be persuaded too. As for Nick Raynsford – well, I’d expect him to support it as it would give his chums in construction extra work.
No – the real fly in the ointment is the railways. I get very confused about who owns which bit of railway lines – the bit being discussed here, of course, is the fresh air above the rails – but a combination of Network Rail and Southeastern could be a mighty foe, unless properly wooed.
Getting the guys from the council onboard is the first task. They have all been sent material, though as you can see it’s in a basic stage just now. I can’t see that they’d particularly object (after all it would give extra footfall to their beloved pedestrianisation scheme), but if it involves shelling out folding cash they’ll probably drag their heels without lots of public support. I wonder if we’ve used up all our central grant-ery allocation in the Island Gardens scheme?
If you think this would be a good idea, an email to various local political people who could help here is what the group (dunno what they call themselves) suggest.
Nick Raynsford firstname.lastname@example.org (MP)
Chris Roberts email@example.com
Maureen O’Mara Maureen.O’Mara@greenwich.gov.uk
David Grant firstname.lastname@example.org
Matthew Pennycook email@example.com
Mary Ney (chief exec greenwich council) firstname.lastname@example.org
If you do send an email, perhaps you could copy-in the co-ordinator of the group so they can keep you up to date with progress…
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