Saturday 18 June 2011

Thames Tunnel consultation; possible impact on Deptford

Thames Water's plans for construction of the new Thames Tunnel, which have been under development for some years now, are set to affect Deptford in some way or other, like it or not.

Next Friday and Saturday (24 and 25 June) Thames Water is holding drop-in sessions at the Creekside Centre to consult with local residents and businesses about its 'phase two' plans. I strongly recommend attendance to comment on proposals; please read on to find out why.

Three routes are being considered for the main tunnel - the preferred route more or less follows the River Thames from Hammersmith down to Abbey Mills - but whichever is chosen, a few smaller connection tunnels must be built to carry waste from the combined sewer overflows into the main tunnel. Local combined sewer overflows for Greenwich Pumping Station (located at the foreshore just west of the Greenwich Foot Tunnel) and Deptford (right in front of the Ahoy Centre) must be linked into the main tunnel at Rotherhithe, with the main work site originally intended to be Kings Stairs Gardens. During the phase one consultation, locals mounted an impressive campaign to save their local green space from being used as a construction site. As a result, Thames Water is trying to find an alternative and has even bought up brownfield land nearby as a possible option.

But one of Thames Water's proposed changes to reduce the impact on Rotherhithe is to reverse the direction of tunnelling for the connection tunnel. Originally the tunnel boring machine was to start at Kings Stairs Gardens and head towards Greenwich; the spoil was to be taken up to ground level through a large shaft in KSG and removed by barges. While construction sites were needed in Greenwich and Deptford, they would be smaller and less disruptive, without the need to remove lorry loads of spoil and deliver materials for the tunnel construction works.

With suggestions that the direction of tunnelling be reversed, this could have quite a dramatic impact on the preferred construction site just over the boundary in Greenwich, and associated impacts on local roads.

Greenwich Pumping Station, which is just across the Creek in Norman Road, is owned by Thames Water and as such is an obvious choice as a worksite for one of the local interceptor tunnels. But changing the direction of tunnelling will mean spoil has to be removed at the site and taken away by road, and additional deliveries will be needed, as well as the fact that a larger construction site will have to be used.

Here's a rendering of how it is proposed the site will look when the work is finished.

A second, potentially more disruptive issue for Deptford town centre has emerged as part of this second round of consultation.

A construction site is also needed to build the interceptor tunnel for the Deptford combined sewer overflow which discharges down by the Ahoy Centre. Again, in the initial consultation, Thames Water proposed a site at Borthwick Wharf as its preferred option, but there was opposition from local residents in Millennium Quay who would be directly affected by the construction work. The work was also proposed to leave permanent structures at the site to enable operation of the tunnel.

As a result, Thames Water wants to know what local people think about losing the use of the little triangle of land enclosed by Deptford Church Street, Coffey Street and Crossfield Street for several years. This would be turned into a construction site from which the interceptor tunnel for the Deptford overflow would be built.

In the open letter that has been sent to local residents by Thames Water, there's not much information about what work would need to be carried out from this site, or how long it would be needed for, but I guess that's what staff at the 'drop-in' sessions at the Creekside Centre next week will be able to confirm.

I am not particularly keen on the prospect of more heavy construction work in the centre of Deptford - Thames Water is intending to start work in 2013 with completion of the whole system in 2020 so it seems we may have a lull of a year or so after the town centre/Tidemill/railway station/etc completion before chaos descends again. I am also very fond of that little green lung, it enhances the setting of St Paul's Church and provides a buffer against the noise and pollution from Deptford Church Street. Its trees and grassed areas provide valuable wildlife habitat in an increasingly built-up urban environment. The fenced-in area next to the road is also used by dog-owners to let their pets run off the lead, and additionally, the proposed site is right in front of a primary school.

If you want to find out more, and have your concerns noted, please try and get to the drop-in sessions at the Creekside Discovery Centre, 14 Creekside.

Friday 24 June 10am-7pm
Saturday 25 June 12-5pm

There's a huge amount of information on the project and the consultation process at Thames Water's dedicated Thames Tunnel page here, with most of the consultation information about various sites on this page. The second phase of public consultation is not due to start until September of this year, so if you are concerned about the impact this work could have on Deptford and its surroundings, now is probably a good time to read up on it and have your objections ready.


Monkeyboy said...

Nothing wrong with putting pressure on TW to find the least disruptive constuction method/programme but let's not forget this will prevent poo being dumped in the river at deptford and the surrounds. If (and I've not read the details) work goes ahead deptford could demand some kind of local facility be built on the land. A building for community use at £100,000 cost to build would be peanuts compared to the construction cost.

Deptford dame said...

@monkeyboy agreed the tunnel is necessary, that is not an issue in my opinion. However one of the contributing factors to the pressure on the sewers is the increase in hard landscaping and loss of green space, which increases both the amount of runoff and the speed with which it reaches the sewerage system. I certainly wouldn't support construction of a building at this site. If anything I would prefer them to convert the remainder of the Greenwich Pumping Station land to public space by making a park or something similar along the Creek.

shipwright's palace said...

what about a Section 106 type agreement whereby the length of Deptford Church Street up to and including the junction with Creek Road was "greened" in return for the use of the spaceclose to St. Paul's? This could include a row of trees and landscaping down the centre of Deptford Church Street with a number of pedestrian ramps across the Street to ease traffic speeds., say three in number: Crossfields to Giffin Street
St. Paul's to Berthon Street
Creek Road Junction to Albury Street

The junction at Creek Road is in dire need of attention. Perhaps because it sits at the borough boundary neither borough wants to invest. What we need here is for this to be a junction of excellence in town planning. This junction is a potential site for sculpture and certainly for more planting. A good case study for this type of treatment is the West Side Highway along the Hudson in New York City, which until a few years ago was a totally hostile place.
I can't agree with with any sum spent on a building for community use. The Council already has far too many underused buildings or buildings that have been empty for more than ten years without use.
There was once a grandiose scheme for the stretch of land at Crossfield Street. I think I posted images of the fine terrace proposed by the eminent architect George Dance in the 1790's to the Dame a while back.

shipwright's palace said...

The Dame's readers may be interested in John Evelyn's proposals to improve the quality of the environment in London. A free download of his ideas for extensive tree planting is available here

For a more recent manifestation of Evelyn's spirit see

Anonymous said...

Love the idea of more of John Evelyn's trees around! Also love the green space at Deptford!

But also at Rotherhithe. However, looking at the worst case scenarios for just a moment, IF at least the southern half of the green triangle could contribute towards saving the equally beautiful trees at Rotherhithe, then the reasons would be JUST THIS and not an excuse to sneak through a plan for building work on the site, now or at any time in the future.

Sorry, monkeyboy, billboards are sometimes difficult to see the full picture without stating your personal interest. The dynamic of the green space is indeed a welcome respite from much of the surroundings, now and even more so in the future as Deptford increases its residential capacity. It is also used by the school and locals and certainly contributes to the very unique character which we are very fortunate to experience with the location of the trees and St Pauls with its beautiful churchyard.

QUESTION: Why is it always the trees which are scrutinised for demolition? With such a large area affected by the tunnel, why oh why oh why can’t they adopt the policy of looking for the ugliest buildings (or even car parks) to use?

I haven’t yet visited the consultation so I am unaware of the direct route, but what about the GiantPizza Hut or the MegaBowl thing at Surrey Quays – they were put up in a flash with very little thought to their contribution to the environment and I bet they are barely used during the daytimes; should not the flimsiest or most easily replaceable commercial buildings be considered first rather than the beautiful and health-giving properties of the trees?

Anonymous said...

Oh, hello, I see, it wasn't Crossfield or Kings Stairs, was it, it was Crossfield or Borthwick. Aha! That's slightly different. With respect to Monkeyboy, I suspect a proponent for keeping Borthwick unchanged, masquerading as a stirrer (looking at all possibilities) to get the scheme passed through so that Borthwick remains unchanged - well yes, arguments can be put forward including those with a vested interest, etc etc.

But logically speaking, the river is surely the ideal place to take all of our, ahem, substances superfluous to requirements, even though it would mean, understandably, disruption to the shoreline, at least for a while. But lets face it, it never was the Bahamas, and that's where the fluids flow to, whether we like to admit it or not.

The Centre of Deptford is the meeting point for all the cultural events that fans and onlookers of Deptford are so keen to promote - the views from the station, the absorbtion of the pollutants by the beautiful trees, the historic and centrally-located site of St Pauls in close proximity to the Laban Centre and the station - don't you want there to be anything to be proud of about visiting Deptford?

Sorry about the shoreline. But don't see it as a loss - the river is a tempestuous and fickle friend, and it works hard to keep us cleaned and drained - or at least it need to - there no shame in that, and there is no shame in it being visible. It would be an advancement of hydrological engineering achievement - celebrate it! Moderate the building, by all means, to reflect the importance of what it does - but please don't ruin the heart of Deptford just to accept an easy (lazy)option, it's just not what is required for anyone who views Deptford as anything other than the groundspace for a faceless collection of residential blocks. It's not what's needed in the heart of Depford, the river is the place for hydrology - please don't just accept the crossfield, Deptford deserves better - for the benefit and function of both sites! x

(Though, Chris, I still like the point about John Evelyn's trees) :-)

Anonymous said...

- And for what it's worth, I would have preferred to have seen a larger map with some indication of how on earth those two, and only those two, sites have been selected, when the tunnel must surely cross some of the nastiest parts of London.

My suspician is that the thought and detail goes into the Masterplan when deciding which parts of Deptford to sell for quick-win profit for the developers, turns out to be hype when the sites that have been protected for their environmental and cultural VALUE to all of the community and to the future of Deptford throughout the WHOLE of the planning decisions, are suddenly given away at the last minute under the pretence of being a utility - and probably one for which the developers who will rely on its function may perhaps not even contribute to its cost - The whole process seems to be very unfortunate and leaving space for this project until the last minute seems almost negligent.

That said, all that we can do is to try to get the most suitable and fitting monument to London's hydrology that the architects, jointly, can provide - or to ask for the site selection process to be started again.

And thank you for all that the shipwrights, etc, have done for the community. And sorry I didn't sign in with a name.

We just need a suitable site for the celebration of hydrology, and to hope that Thames Water - with help from whoever needs to provide it - take the opportunity of making a striking and 'sustainably progressive' design.

(some hope?)

Best wishes

Anonymous said...

PPPPPS (all anonymous comments above are all one person, ie me). Didn't Thames Water sell all that land to build One SE8 and Deal's Gateway?

Perhaps not, but if so then they could hardly play the cost-cutting card when it comes to the design, surely?!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nightmer said...

I bumped into (another) anorak at the consultation last Friday. This tunnel is considered by many to be a sledge-hammer to crack a nut. Hammersmith and Fulham has mounted a big battle against the big dig. see:

To quote some of the more salient points:

"In addition to the specific concerns about the two sites in the borough many local people are starting to question whether the benefits of the super sewer are in proportion to the large costs. Issues include:
• The public health benefits will be relatively minimal. There is no risk to drinking water from sewage overflow into the Thames
• The tunnel will do little to increase the capacity of the local sewerage network where, during storm conditions, basements suffer from sewer flooding
• The environmental benefits will also be small. The Thames is ‘one of the cleanest metropolitan rivers in the world’, according to the GLA, and recently won the international Theiss River Prize for cleanliness
• The limited benefits are not proportionate to the large and escalating costs, especially during an age of austerity
• There are sensible and more cost effective alternatives that can make the Thames even cleaner with less disruption to Londoners and without the huge environmental, social and economic costs
• A shorter smarter tunnel, like the Babtie option combined with other measures, could be as effective at a fraction of the cost."

Deptford Dame said...

@nightmer I read the brochure that H&F has put together against the Thames Tunnel. I was quite surprised not to see see some sort of commitment from a planning authority to implementing measures that would reduce the pressure on storm water sewage overflows - for example by protecting green spaces, preventing gardens being paved over, encouraging the creation of more soakaways etc. These aspects are mentioned, but only in terms of the scheme not delivering them - as if H&F doesn't understand what part it should be playing in this.
I can understand why people don't want construction work and disruption in their immediate neighbourhood, but the council seems to be of the opinion that it has no part to play - if there is a problem, it is Thames Water's responsibility to solve it. I would have thought a more constructive response would have been more helpful.

Walrus said...

This in today's Guardian: