Friday, September 21, 2012

Thames Tunnel update

After two phases of consultation, Thames Tunnel has put forward Crossfields Open Space as its preferred site to intercept the Deptford Storm Relief tunnel (which runs under Deptford Church Street on its way to the Thames). The use of this site was not even considered in Phase One, but was added to the list after Phase One had recommended Borthwick Wharf Foreshore then found it to be unsuitable.

The finalised Thames Tideway Tunnel plans were published in July, with a 12-week period for the public to review the updated construction proposals before they are submitted for Planning Consent. This period, known as "Section 48 publicity" runs till 5 October 2012. The plans identify 24 preferred construction sites across London and will be 'submitted for scrutiny by the Planning Inspectorate' early next year, a process which may take up till 2015-2016.

You can read Thames Tunnel's rationale for their decision for the preferred site "Deptford Church Street" or "C32XZ" as they call it (its actual official name is "Crossfields Open Space") in Volume 5 Eastern site appendices, downloadable here. Go to page 83 to read up on Phase One, and page 94 for Phase Two. You'll perhaps notice that the criteria for not doing it in most places apply to the Church Street site as much as anywhere else. They may as well have tossed a coin.

You can also view the information specific to the Church Street site here or see below (P2 Deptford CS SIP) embedded in this post. Alarmingly, Thames Tunnel do not make it easy to download this document – you're requested to sign up for a paid subscription account with There is a 'print' button (but who wants to print 32 pages?) so we have also made a link to the document here in Google docs.

The first map in the document shows the route the interceptor tunnel will take from Greenwich Pumping Station through (or rather, under) Crossfields Estate, intercepting the big storm relief tunnel under Deptford Church Street, on its way to another 'preferred' site, Earl Pumping Station in Rotherhithe.

It's a little difficult to assess the information contained in the document – this table, for instance, is spread over two different pages (we've joined them here).

There are four main phases, lasting approximately three and a half years.

The impact on Crossfields Estate will be be greater in Phase 3 (P3). Although Farrer and Congers House are closest to the site and will be affected throughout the construction since it is right opposite them (and the intercept tunnel will be built under Farrer Lawn), the entire estate will suffer from the partial closure of Deptford Church Street in Phase 3. On page 14 of the document it says:
While the connection to the existing sewer in Deptford Church Street (A2209) is constructed (construction phase 3) we would need to close the two northbound lanes, as shown on Figure 2D. The two southbound lanes would provide two way access along Deptford Church Street (A2209). The bus lane would be suspended to enable this, and buses would need to use the general traffic lanes.

The northbound bus stop near Coffey Street and the southbound bus stop near the railway bridge may also need to be moved during this phase and the footpath along the western side of Deptford Church Street (A2209) would be diverted around the site. Based on our current design, we do not anticipate that any junction changes would be required.
Here's Figure 2D showing the road closure in Phase 3 (click to enlarge):

At the public meeting chaired by Joan Ruddock that took place on 12th September (see Further Reading below), Phil Stride from Thames Tunnel said they had used Transport For London modelling which showed 640 vehicles per hour used the north of Deptford Church Street. Thames Tunnel would only be adding four lorries per hour to this statistic. Someone from the audience immediately pointed out that one side of the dual carriageway would be closed, so Mr Stride's TFL statistics were irrelevant.

Their document claims Standard Hours would be kept during Phase 3 – that's 10 hours each weekday (8am-6pm) and 5 hours on Saturdays (8am-1pm). So that'll be 40 lorries a day each weekday then?  Perhaps Mr Stride was referring to peak times only?

Although the road closure would happen in Phase 3, this table shows 24 lorries a day in Phase 2 – when Extended Hours will apply (8am–10pm):

Some may recall the roadworks which took place a few years ago (whilst Thames Water repaired the Victorian mains), and how Deptford Church Street became gridlocked and Creekside became a continual rat run for a couple of weeks or so. As it is, there only needs to be one accident on either of the main artery roads – the A2 or A202 – or closure of Blackwall or Rotherhithe tunnels, for Deptford Church Street to become gridlocked. Or for an accident on Church Street to back up all the way to New Cross Gate etc. With partial closure of Deptford Church Street likely to last for up to a year during Phase 3, pollution levels from stationery traffic on all sides of Crossfields may become unacceptable.

In theory it could be said that Church Street is already just a two way street because of the bus lanes, but traffic will inevitably be slowed down by the partial closure, causing traffic to divert to Creekside. Moving bus stops may not be that inconvenient but there is no mention of pedestrian crossings.

Redevelopment at Faircharm will be taking place soon if not at the same time, and whatever happens there, we understand a decision has already been made not to use Deptford Creek to transport materials in and out, so Creekside will already have its fair share of lorries.

On top of that, the Deptford Church Street lorry route will use Norman Road, where Thames Tunnel work will also be taking place at Greenwich Pumping Station. That will go on for five years and will also use Norman Road and Greenwich High Road to transport materials. So we'll be surrounded on all sides. See the Greenwich Pumping Station document here.

Please watch out for further updates and details of how to oppose these plans. If you would like to go on the Don't Dump on Deptford's Heart campaign mailing list, please email them here.

P2 Deptford CS SIP .......................................................................................................................................................

Further reading:

For those who missed the Thames Tunnel Public Meeting on 12th September, the following observations were noted:

With Dame Joan Ruddock in the Chair, Oliver Seal spoke on behalf of Deptford Heart's campaign, followed by Phil Stride from Thames Tunnel. Ms Ruddock then opened the meeting up to questions from the floor.

Site Preference

The campaigners wanted to understand the reasons why the Crossfields Open Space site had now been chosen in preference to what had originally been Thames Tunnel's preferred site at Borthwick Wharf Foreshore (next to Millennium Quay).

Phil Stride stated the reasons they discarded the originally preferred site at Borthwick Wharf/Millennium Quay and other foreshore sites: there is a disused jetty causing an obstruction, the Ahoy Centre would be detrimentally affected, as would nearby residential housing, there are also 60 high-voltage electric cables passing under the Thames, plus the roads at Millennium Quay would not withstand lorry traffic. (NB: They are also privately owned by the developer, but residents have responsibility for maintenance so would have to be compensated.)

Relevant Data and Criteria

Stride was asked how many properties would be affected at both the Borthwick site and at Crossfields Open Space – exactly how many residents would be affected at each site? Stride didn't have the figures to hand. Joan Ruddock stated that her assistant would be noting any questions raised that Stride could not answer at the meeting so that they could be put to him in writing afterwards.

Stride said the residents at Borthwick Wharf lived much closer to that site, but a member of the audience pointed out that the population density is far greater in the area surrounding the Crossfields site, even if residents/businesses were a little further away (although the school is very close). Another pointed out that construction work would take place during the day, overlapping with school hours at St Joseph's, whilst many Borthwick Wharf residents would be out at work and therefore not exposed to noise and dust.

Someone asked why it was so difficult to get hold of any of the raw data Thames Tunnel had used to make their decision, so that the public could draw their own comparisons – persistent enquiries over the past few months had not been answered. Stride said he was surprised. One person stated they had not even been able to obtain a map of the consultation area, whilst another questioned the criteria used: he had been told that a school counts as a "single receptor", equal to a single flat.

Closure of Deptford Church Street

Why did they have to close half of Deptford Church Street? (One side of the dual carriageway would be closed for up to a year). Stride said this was because the main sewage tunnel already runs under the road (on the west side) where they would need to intercept it. He said they had used Transport For London modelling which showed 640 vehicles per hour used the north of Deptford Church Street. Thames Tunnel would only be adding four lorries per hour to this statistic. Someone from the audience immediately pointed out that one side of the dual carriageway would be closed, so these statistics were irrelevant.

Two members of the audience highlighted the problem of both the high street and Creekside being used as rat runs as a result of congestion on Deptford Church Street. Both are also conservation areas, highly populated, and pollution levels are bound to increase with stationery traffic. Crossfields would be surrounded on all sides by polluting gridlocked traffic. But it appears the only strategy was to offer double glazing to the school (which wouldn't help the children when they were in the playground). Needless to say, partial closure of Deptford Church Street will result in hold-ups that will spread out along the A2 and A202, affecting yet more people.

Using the river

Why are Thames Tideway Tunnel reluctant to use the river instead of roads? Apparently this was because they had to bring in ready mixed concrete as well as remove earth. This didn't convince the audience, one of whom pointed out that construction at Paynes & Borthwick mixed on site (and where there was very little road disruption). Another pointed out that you can mix concrete on barges, and another that there was a concrete mixer at Deptford Bridge (Prior's Aggregates), and waste could be removed by barge. Stride said there were prohibitive costs involved at the Borthwick site since they would need to build an island out on the river before they could begin to drill a hole there.

The Cheaper Option?

Someone pointed out that wealthy Barnes had fought off proposals and an alternative site was found in a poor part of Battersea – wealthy areas tend to have a stronger voice, with easy access to expertise, lawyers and media. Stride dismissed this analogy and insisted that cost was not a driving factor, but Value For Money was. Someone asked for figures. What were the comparable costs of the two different sites? Come on, give us a ballpark figure! None was forthcoming.


What's the size of the pot, someone asked. Stride said they'd be unable to offer non-statutory compensation (should people be unable to sell their homes), but there could be statutory compensation paid for such things as secondary glazing and loss of business, although it would appear they do not expect too many such claims at the Crossfields site.

Construction and Process

Stride said they had learned from Crossrail not to award contracts to firms who then subcontracted out, thus the main contractors would be more accountable.

Cllr Madeleine Long asked if Stride intended to go the Secretary of State and the government's Infrastructure Committee (the next stage of the process) with only one proposal. Since this part of the process could go on for a couple of years, might they find themselves back at square one if this site was eventually turned down? Might their business plan be a little faulty?

The meeting closed late at around 9.30pm.

Also read Joan Ruddock's speech in our previous post.

1 comment:

  1. The truth of the matter is that TW’s site selection criteria have no bearing on who eventually gets clobbered – although it has to be said that they seem to have a preference for locating sites right next to schools (this and the Bermondsey one and sheltered homes - in Fulham). It’s easy, children and elderly don’t have a voice. It’s the hidden powers exercised within that opaque corporation that make those calls and I’m afraid Mr Raynsford and his construction posse is just more matey with TW than Mrs Ruddock…

    Speaking of the construction industry, has anyone wondered if they might prefer the Thames Tunnel to Green Infrastructure, as the latter would likely ever so slightly impact their profit margins for new builds; whereas the TT enables the pace of development to continue unchecked, as in the past century, just build more, pipe away the stuff (and precious, clean rainwater) quickly, out of sight out of mind. Oh, and don't forget to charge us to pump and process all that rainwater that was clean when it fell from the sky! Once the TT is overwhelmed as happened in other cities that "enjoy" similar schemes – well, the Thames Tideway Strategic Study already has outline plans for a TT Mk2 (doesn't say who's backyard it will be built in but hopefully there'll still be schools in 15-20 years' time). Some might have hoped that the 21st century homo sapiens had become a little wiser of the impact of its activities on the environment? But of course, we wouldn’t want such considerations to impair anyone’s profit margin, return or bonus (Google "Martin Baggs bonus" if you’re unsure of what I’m referring to).

    We have tried to obtain crucial figures from TW - and I’m not talking about their glossies replete with pictures of dead fish. Very quickly one hits a resolutely closed door they call "commercial confidentiality" (sic). Those commercial interests clearly matter a lot more than our humble livelihoods.

    One last warning: "Figure 2B" above will have you believe that works will last four and a half years but has anyone wondered about the "Advance works" before that?? This is another aspect TW have no details forthcoming on. Some sites have enjoyed TW activity since the beginning of this year, perhaps it's to break in gently those residents whose bedroom will be next to 24/7 sites for a few years. If you ask TW, they will say those "advance works" are "not their responsibility". Prepare to hear that tune a lot more often if this scam goes further ahead, when all the work gets subcontracted to the cheapest bidder in order to maximize... you know what.

    The only way for Deptford to be saved from 5.5 years of misery (extra year for those "advance works"), is to join in in the coalition that pushes for the sensible solution for all Londoners, not just to save someone’s backyard...