Greenwich gyratory – Transport for London’s not happy

News from West Greenwich CARA, the residents’ group fighting plans to pedestrianise Greenwich town centre by creating a gyratory to the west of it via Greenwich High Road, Norman Road and Creek Road. The scheme is dependent on £2.4m of money from Transport for London – “local implementation plan” funds which each of the capital’s 32 boroughs bid for each year. This money has survived City Hall’s cost cutting, and has contributed to schemes like the redevelopment of Woolwich’s General Gordon Square (£1.4m from TfL), and the installation of electric car charging points (£20,000).

However, these schemes need TfL’s backing to get its money – and what’s not in favour at City Hall is gyratories. Last year, the New Cross one-way system was the latest to be taken apart, returning New Cross Road and Queen’s Road to two way traffic.

So this was TfL’s response to Greenwich’s plans to create a new gyratory, according to CARA

TfL cannot approve the scheme as currently proposed, as we have significant concerns about its impact on bus passengers and operations, as well as other matters such as the performance of the network, safety, severance and urban realm.

The point about buses should have been obvious to Greenwich Council and its contractor, Hyder Consulting. Buses on routes 180, 199 and 386 will face long diversions heading north – with the 199 unable to serve Greenwich town centre – while routes 129 and 286 will have nowhere to terminate. It’s not clear whether “the network” is the bus network or the road network, but it’s pretty clear that TfL thinks the scheme, as it stands, is a crock.

Even more worryingly, if Greenwich Council/ Hyder Consulting can’t come up with a scheme TfL approves of by June, that £2.4m will simply be allocated elsewhere in London. (At a time when Greenwich is trying to boost cycling, just think of what £2.4m could have done there…)

Indeed, contrary to local Labour councillor Matt Pennycook’s promises that the council will listen to local concerns, CARA members claim they have been deliberately obstructed, with chief exective Mary Ney deciding that pedestrianising the borough’s best-known town centre is not a “key decision”, making it harder for residents to scrutinise decision-making. This is a story I’ve neglected in recent months, but I hope to return to it soon, because it’s a sorry example of how poorly Greenwich Council interacts with those who pay for it.


  1. It’ll be very interesting to compare and contrast this with the way Hammersmith and Fulham intend to spend their LIP funds; removing pedestrian crossings and widening a slip road onto the gyratory at the expense of pavement and cycle parking.

    Will TfL dare slap down a Tory flagship they way they did Greenwich, I wonder*?

    * No, obviously, they’ll have got round Boris already

  2. Thank God for TfL’s stance in this instance. Gyratories are a failed 1960/70s concept. 2 or 3 lanes of only one way traffic on a road is akin to a dual carriageway/motorway right through the town centre.

    £2.4 million could do so much to improve the more run down areas of Greenwich Borough. East Greenwich is far more in need, as is much of Woolwich and Eltham. Actually where in the Borough isn’t in need of better street furniture, paving, lighting, and removing clutter and mess? There’s grotty streets all over.

    Recently I’ve been in other towns around London and Brighton that have recently smartened up their streets bringing life and business back, and creating lovely environments. That could happen here hopefully if the money isn’t wasted on a gyratory in Greenwich, which is already the most attractive part of the borough!

  3. I went and had a poke of their VISSIM models (the traffic modelling software used to test the schemes) at one of the consultations last year. There were, to me at least, a number of reasonable things to be considered to improve the centre of Greenwich in any case that they didn’t appear to have even bothered testing. I did get the feeling that the non-gyratory option was really only put up to be knocked down.

    Frankly, it surprises me that they got this far with it. A giant gyratory would never fly with about 5 different parts of TfL Streets if for no other reason than it explicitly goes against the Mayor’s Transport Strategy regardless of Boris’ “smoothing the flow” agenda.

    But then I would say all this, I work for a different consultancy so of course we could do it better. But in Hyder’s defence, it was relatively clear that their brief had centered around expediting car flow, everything else (cycles, buses, pedestrian environment for e.g.) was clearly a distant secondary concern. They can only do what they’re asked, if the council Highways Dept doesn’t want to know then their hands are tied. And if there’s one thing that is clear about Greenwich Highways and their attitude, it’s that the car is king.

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