Greenwich Council says promised improvements to make it easier to walk to east Greenwich’s controversial new Ikea, which opens on Thursday, will be completed in the spring.
The council has come under sharp criticism for not installing two pedestrian crossings on Bugsby’s Way, behind the store, or signage to nearby railway stations ahead of the furniture outlet’s opening.
As part of its planning agreement with Greenwich, Ikea has paid £750,000 “towards the promotion of travel by sustainable modes by staff and customers”, including the construction of new pedestrian and cycling links.
A southbound bus lane on Peartree Way, alongside the store, and a cycle crossing leading into Greenwich Millennium Village were nearing completion at the weekend. But there is no sign of promised pedestrian and cycle crossings on Bugsby’s Way, where traffic moves at high speed.
A Greenwich Council spokesperson told 853 that the improvements, which “are not as close to the store”, would be completed by spring, along with signposting to Westcombe Park station.
The council said it was liaising with TfL to make sure traffic signals on the bus lane were complete, and that lighting on Peartree Way had also been improved, while cycling improvements from Westcombe Park station via the A102 footbridge, Farmdale Road and a new crossing of the Woolwich Road were being co-ordinated with a safety scheme on the Woolwich Road to be installed in the summer.
With the clock ticking to the store’s opening at 10am on Thursday, one of the store’s local councillors broke ranks last week to criticise the new outlet’s potential impact on the area.
Writing the day after a launch event attended by council leader Danny Thorpe, Peninsula ward councillor Chris Lloyd tweeted: “So I decided to give the visit to Ikea in my ward a miss last night, not because I don’t like their stuff or meatballs, I really do, but because I’m still mega concerned the opening will have an atrocious impact on traffic in East Greenwich. I really hope I’m wrong on this.”
Responding to a constituent who pointed out that traffic was already bad in the area and that perhaps it was unfair to blame Ikea, Lloyd added: “Agree it has been a problem for years. Worried this will make it worse. No brownie points to be earned as there is no election. This silly planning decision predates me joining the council in 2014.”
Also last week, Greenwich’s transport cabinet member Denise Scott-McDonald, who also represents Peninsula ward, said Ikea had been “quite hard to deal with” and promised the council was “looking carefully to make sure [traffic is] monitored in a much more aggressive way”.
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