Thames Path Closure Update…
…but don’t get your hopes up.
Jemma, like most people here, has been in equal parts frustrated and angered by the amount of time the Lovells Wharf developers have failed to re-open the Thames Path (except when it suited them – the picture above is all that remains of the original Thames Path, though there is of course a slightly longer, well-maintained path that leads to… well, I always smile a little wry smile at the poor buggers who have walked all the way from Cricklade, knapsack on backs to find themselves in a glass and steel sales office in East Greenwich.)
Jemma wrote to the council to see where the bloomin’ hell we stand here. I can’t put what she said in any better words than her own, so here it is:
Can you please let me know what is happening about this, and why the developers appear to have been permitted to close a public right of way for such a lengthy period? You will no doubt appreciate that the local community is extremely concerned that there appears to be no end to the closure which is wholly unwarranted. Furthermore the longer this situation goes on for, the more likely it is that the developers will never re-open the path and/ or be able to establish that the Council has led the public rights lapse- meaning that the path may never be re-opened. I assume that you have taken legal advice about this- if not I suggest that you do so as soon as possible.
Finally I assume that it was a condition of planning that the path be reinstated and returned to public use? Could you please confirm.
All pretty reasonable stuff to ascertain. I especially would like to know that a quiet ‘adoption’ of the path by the developers won’t happen. It’s been five years – another seven and they can do what they like, if memory serves. Certainly there are gated developments further along the Thames Path towards Rotherhithe who just keep the gates locked full time these days.
Jemma has received a reply. In the interests of fairness, I shall quote the reply too; the bits in between the italics are my comments:
“Planning permission was granted in February 2007 for the redevelopment of Lovell’s, Granite, Badcocks and Piper Wharves. As part of the proposal, maintenance and improvements works were proposed to the riverside walk. It was always the intention for the riverside walk to be completed in phases that are linked to the phased development of the site and this is secured in the legal agreement attached with the planning permission.”
I apologise for the terrible quality of the plan below – but it does show that the whole of the development we have now IS only the first phase. Of course the rest is less financially attractive to the developer – an eco centre, workshops, health centre, boat club etc. Note the little red bit of shading.
“Unfortunately, due to the economic climate the development halted prior to completion Phase 1 of the development. At the time, the Council did approach the Developer into looking into the possibility of providing a temporary route through the site. However; it became clear that this was not possible on health and safety grounds due to preliminary excavation work that was carried out which has resulted in a significant length of the river frontage where there is no path. In addition, the Developer is required to export/import material by river which would have to cross the walkway overhead. It would therefore be impractical for a development this size and dangerous for the public.”
So – we can’t even have a temporary path because the developer made a mess. I’m sure that wasn’t deliberate. Just out of interest – has anyone ever seen the developer using the river to import-export materials? This isn’t actually a loaded question, just a question.
“In January, the Developers returned to site to continue building out the development. The next section of riverside walk for Phase 1 of the development is due to open prior to the occupation of the remainder of the blocks in Phase 1 which is expected to be no later than December 2014.”
DECEMBER 2014???? So we have nearly another two years of disruption – and that’s just of this section – and not guaranteed at that.
This will result in the riverside walk being re-opened up the point marked on the attached plan. The remainder on the riverside walk will be open once the final phase of the development has been completed.
Since that part of the development hasn’t actually been started I wouldn’t get too excited about this yet.
As yet no date has been provided for this final phase. The eventual re-opening of the riverside walk is secured in the Section 106 legal agreement between the Council and developer.
Well, that’s something. I’d like to be sure that the 106 agreement is part of any sale of the property should the current developer go bust or not like the look of the rest of the project – i.e. the bit that doesn’t have much in the way of housing (though I can’t see that part of the plans staying long if someone else takes over.)
Unfortunately, there is very limited in scope for the Council to force developers to complete a scheme.
How does a situation like this come about? I am astounded. Why isn’t part of the 106 a requirement to finish – or at least reopen the path – by a certain date, at which point the council takes over, gets out the bolt cutters and opens the path itself?
Until the development is completed members of the public will need to continue using the existing diversion route.
As Jemma says “I can see that the Council is in a bit of a hole here, but it does seem naive to have agreed that the reopening of a public right of way would basically have to be wholly contingent upon the final phase of the development being completed.”
I find it hard to argue with Jemma there…
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