Thames Path to stay closed in Woolwich – sending cyclists and walkers onto dual carriageway

Thames Path Woolwich
The path has been closed since November

A section of the Thames Path is to stay closed in Woolwich despite transport bosses wanting more people to walk and cycle while capacity is reduced on public transport.

The path through Mast Pond Wharf, just west of the Woolwich Ferry, was closed for a year in November 2019 after work started on a site where two new buildings are planned to complete the Mast Quay development. Two 14-storey blocks were built between 2004 and 2006 by developer Comer Homes, which was given permission in August 2011 to add two new blocks of 14 and 22 storeys to the site.

Walkers and cyclists have been forced to divert through the completed section of the development and use the busy A206 dual carriageway on Woolwich Church Street instead.

Woolwich Church Street
Walkers and cyclists have been forced to use the A206 instead

The closure has continued through the coronavirus lockdown, which has seen people encouraged to walk and cycle, with families taking to the Thames Path to explore the area on two feet and two wheels.

The path is controlled by Greenwich Council, and cabinet member for transport Sizwe James said the closure was needed to repair the river wall.

James told 853: “I appreciate how inconvenient it is, but the closure of this section of the Thames path is required to carry out some long outstanding repairs to the river wall as well as enabling construction on the second phase of the Mast Quay development. While we are working with the developer and monitoring works to ensure the path is reopened as soon as practically possible, the closure will be in place for a year – 12 months from the closure date – subject to the works being delivered on time.

“The safety of our residents, pedestrians and cyclists is a priority. The diversion route has be assessed by our cycling safety team and, while it is not ideal, keeps both pedestrians and cyclists on the northern footway along Woolwich Church Street.”

In May, Transport for London said it would include plans for a cycle route between Greenwich and Woolwich – which would include Woolwich Church Street – as part of the response to coronavirus, although little has been heard of this plan since then. Before Covid-19, work on the route was due to begin as early as next year. Greenwich has also bid for £4 million for a number of other schemes, including a route from Woolwich to the borough boundary at Abbey Wood. It was reported late on Friday that Greenwich had received about £850,000 in total, although it is not yet clear where this money is to be spent.

Mast Quay development
Work finally began at Mast Pond Wharf last year

James added: “The unprecedented impacts of Covid-1919, including significant reductions in TfL income, have meant large funding reductions and much of this year’s TfL-funded walking and cycling improvements programme is on hold.

“However, we are actively working with TfL to bring improvements wherever possible. This includes installation of temporary measures to support increased walking and cycling to support social distancing. We will provide information on any new highway schemes as they are authorised and receive funding, and where required, we will hold public consultations.”

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