Archive for the ‘Thames path closures’ Category

Thames Path Closure Update…

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

…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.

Darn tootin’.

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…

Thames Path Current Routes

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Thanks to Mary for making this map available, showing the current closures on the Thames Path. It’s what we’ve been asking for for some time.

Some of it’s good news – looks like the eastern section will be reopened next month if when the cable car gets looped up and running. I’m okay with that closure – no one wants a Boris-pod dropping our of the sky onto them.  And in theory the top bit which has some kind of weird double-closure thing going on is due to open in July (can’t think why they’ve hit on that date…)

Some of it’s much less impressive. The Lovell’s Wharf part is, ‘closed until further notice.’ I have serious worries about that stretch – nothing seems to be happening and the developers seem to have carte-blanche to close it as long as they damn please.

For now it’s a pretty dull walk around the Peninsula, and an even duller cycle. After July it should get better. But that Lovell’s Wharf closure remains a serious blight on the path.

UPDATE: I’ve just read on Darryl’s site that developments include “changes to the adopted alignment of the Thames Footpath”. No details yet, but I don’t know about you, folks. I’m up for a fight on that one if I hear our path is to be eroded piecemeal on a permanent basis.

Rear Window (16)

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Thank you to everyone who’s been sending in pictures from their back windows to resurrect this series – I never fail to be fascinated by those private little vistas that other people enjoy.

Today’s is from Patrick who’s over at the Greenwich Millennium Village, including one of those weird skies we’ve been having recently thanks (according to Peter Cockroft, who knows everything) to a large amount of Arabian dust in the atmosphere, no doubt kicked up bay the various revolutions that have been going on in the Middle East.

GMV is remarkable for its quietness. It doesn’t matter what day of the week, what season of the year or what time of the day it is, you’ll never see anyone around – though the place is fully inhabited. Because of this it always has a slightly etherial feel for me, a cross between fairyland and a small town in the Netherlands. It’s a fascinating place to wander around; I get the feeling that even when the other consortia have built whatever they’re going to build it will still be as quiet as ever.

Which reminds me. Darryl over at 853 has some Good News (not of the biblical variety) for Thames Path lovers. The builders, Bellway Homes, who deserve a mention for having stuck to their word, have re-opened the bit along the east side of the peninsula, which, along with the re-opened bit where Amylum was, means that the only section still closed to the public is Lovells Wharf where evil London and Regional Properties have not stuck to any kind of word, have destroyed the path, re-routed what’s left of it to their sales office and show no signs whatsoever of actually doing any building work.

Darryl points out that this is a disgrace, and I wholeheartedly agree. If they are not going to be building for months (or perhaps years) they should be forced to re-open the path until they do. And if that involves their having to rebuild what they destroyed, so be it. I have written to Thames Path National Trail Office to see on whom we need to put pressure to put pressure on LRP to get our path back. They won’t be able to do anything about it themselves, but maybe they will know who can. In the meanwhile,  the bit outside Lovells Wharf won’t be getting a shiny new glass plaque like this:

as it’s being deliberately left out of the Jubilee Greenway. I’m hoping the creators of the Greenway are just being pragmatic, knowing that it’s just not going to be open in time for the 2012 Jubilee – but is there something more sinister afoot? I think we should be told.

Update: Very nice lady from National Trails has directed me to Walk London, though it could be a local authority issue too.

Walk, Don’t Walk

Monday, April 12th, 2010

We’ve talked about the rubbish state the Thames Path is in between The Cutty Sark Pub and the Dome on several occasions recently, but it’s only now the sun’s finally decided to come out that the effect of a double whammy of ‘construction’ on the west side of the peninsula is really being felt.

I’ve had several emails over the last week from people who have been really shocked that the path is not only closed, but with virtually no signposting, notices of what’s going on or suggestions for alternative routes, so I guess it’s worth reiterating that if you’re fancying a nice stroll along the river just now, there are better places to find a spot of peace.

The path at Lovell’s Wharf, of course, has been closed for a couple of years now while the developers take their time building some unexciting flats. Now the first ones are up for sale, I see that some of the path is open, but don’t get too excited. The people in the picture above are just about to get a shock:

Yup folks, this is where the path runs out. It’s a nice, neat end, but just look at what’s left. A giant mud-bowl of totally undeveloped land, a closed-off Thames Path and no dates whatsoever for any kind of join up with the next bit footway.

As you can see, the path’s still actually there, but it’s now a muddy track and there is no access whatsoever. In fact at the Cutty Sark Pub end, the path’s actually bricked up into a very dull flower bed.

Clearly it’s going to be Far Too Dangerous to ever allow people to actually walk by the side of the river, so even when we get our path back, sometime in the next millennium, it will be set back from the Thames in case we Do Anything Silly.

This is what I mean – the old path, now planted with the sort of bedding and easycare grasses that developers always use when they’re trying to sell new apartments. THIS IS OUR THAMES PATH – and we ain’t getting it back. Instead the best we can hope for is the official road for the flats, which runs out after 20 metres.

Brenda has written to the Regeneration, Enterprise and Skills department of Greenwich Council. to ask if there’s ever going to be any hope of getting a bit of path back. So far she’s had no reply. To me that dead-end is pretty final-looking – the developers have created exactly enough ‘nice’ path to get their potential customers to the front door. I don’t think they’re planning on giving us our path back any time soon.

Vicky’s fed up with the next bit of path – she sent me this pic of the rat run that you have to nip through, past the bits of river that are – heavens – actually still working places – boatyards and the like. I can’t remember the path ever being any different at this point, and I suspect there are no plans to change this. No view, but at least it lets you through.

Which is more than I can say for the next bit, around where the old Amylum site is being demolished. With no notice, consultation, or information, the path is completely closed from there until some way round the peninsula. I understand it was closed for 12 weeks a couple of weeks ago, but since no one has had the courtesy to officially tell anyone, stick a notice up or suggest alternative routes to Thames Path walkers, there are a lot of very confused people just now.

All in all, it’s a right sorry state. If you’re thinking of taking a nice stroll in the next few years, guys, try going west, or much further east…