Meeting for anti-east London road bridge campaigners / Boris answers on river crossing matters

London Assembly member Darren Johnson AM (Green Party) will host a public meeting at City Hall on river crossings in November. To register your interest, please e-mail  “Rachel Carlill” <Rachel.Carlill@london.gov.uk> and put ‘register’ in the subject line.

Through this meeting Darren will be looking to work with key players in the (road bridge) river crossings debate to identify how best he can articulate the huge opposition that exists to these crossings to the Mayor and TfL using the tools at his disposal as an Assembly Member.

Darren’s response to, and critique of, TfL’s 2014 road bridges consultation can be downloaded from:

https://app.box.com/shared/static/b9leipz0c5qo3zfhr6nd.pdf

There may, for example, be gaps in the emissions or other data that Darren could obtain or he could organise a petition, motions or questions to be put to the Mayor. There may be further meetings that he could attend to represent his constituents’ views.

The meeting will also provide an opportunity for campaigners to forge links amongst themselves.

Darren’s Office has been working with Jenny Bates of Friends of the Earth on this issue for a while now, and Bexley Natural Environment Forum is contacting Jenny to find out what FoE are doing to help organise opposition. The last meeting of BNEF agreed to do what it could to help facilitate the coming together and co-ordination of opponents from both sides of the river, but recognised it did not have the resources, nor was the best-placed group to lead any umbrella campaign.

Meanwhile, courtesy Darren’s office, here are recent responses from Boris Johnson about river crossings in east London. The reply to Darren’s question, in particular, is just another statement of Boris’s enthusiasm for massive extra ‘development’ (urbanisation) in Bexley, meekly supported by Bexley Council. This is clearly where the five-fold hike to 22,000  new houses, compared to the 4,500 projected in the recent Local Development Framework comes from, even though 6 weeks after being asked where the 22K figure comes from, the Council has still not replied. The only positive thing that can be said about this is that the more (potential) public transport links there are, the less grounds there are for road bridges – other than to cater for people who want to get to the south coast in a hurry, or ever more heavy goods vehicles, neither of which has much to do with providing any ‘local benefit’, or anything to do with sustainability.

Crossrail – link to Thamesmead Question No: 2014/3001Darren Johnson. Thamesmead is one of the largest areas of London to have no railway station of its own. Have you studied the potential for a future extension of Crossrail to the area?

Boris Johnson’s reply: Written response from the Mayor and CommissionerTfL is currently working with LB Bexley and the GLA to develop a growth strategy forthe Bexley Riverside Opportunity Area, which could provide over 20,000 new homes. Aspart of this work, TfL is considering a number of potential transport interventionswhich may be required to enable such growth. The assessment of options has only justbegun, with modelling expected to take place between August and October and thefinal report expected early in 2015. Depending on the outcome of the OpportunityArea study, a development funding study could then follow to determine what, if any,funding could be generated to help fund new infrastructure. This work stems fromdiscussions between LB Bexley, TfL and GLA and is focussed on delivering additionalhomes and jobs for London. TfL is also working alongside RB Greenwich, LB Bexley, the GLA and Peabody as partof the Thamesmead Futures initiative and is looking at measures which could improvethe accessibility and connectivity of this area, as well as enabling housing andemployment growth. This work is at an early stage and will consider a range ofoptions including rail links, however due to the location of Thamesmead to the northof the planned Crossrail line; this is unlikely to include an extension ofCrossrail.  The proposed extension of the Overground to Barking Riverside is,however, being designed not to rule out a possible onward extension towardsThamesmead and Abbey Wood. This work is being developed in partnership with the work on Bexley Riverside.

Rail River Crossings in East London Question No: 2014/3334 Len Duvall Can you outline to me any potential rail or light rail river crossings that could be built around the Thamesmead or Erith areas and potential timescales?

Written response from the Mayor. Tackling the barrier effect of the river east of Tower Bridge is a vital element in addressing the long-term growth requirements of east and south east London, alongwith the economic development and regeneration needs of this part of the city. Inrecent years there have been significant improvements in cross river transport insome parts of east London including DLR and London Overground schemes. Further majorimprovements are committed and in the delivery pipeline, including Crossrail, whichwill provide a further new rail crossing of the river when it opens in 2019. Thiswill directly benefit Thamesmead and Erith through interchange with existing railand bus services at Abbey Wood.  An extension of Crossrail east of Abbey Wood toBelvedere and Erith and onwards to Ebbsfleet is also safeguarded by the Government. I recognise that more will be needed and together with TfL I am working on plans todeliver further major schemes to serve this area. My recent 2050 Infrastructure Plansets out why this is important within the context of London’s wider strategicchallenges. In particular London needs to maintain its world city status, house apopulation that is expected to exceed 11 million within 35 years, and become abetter city in which to live as well as a bigger one. Maximising the potential ofareas with significant growth capacity such as Thamesmead and Erith will be vital ifwe are to succeed in these aims. The Plan sets out a series of transportrequirements designed to achieve this. These include options for new crossings in this area, including bridges at GallionsReach and at Belvedere, and TfL has recently consulted on these. Both would offerthe potential for new bus services to link east and south east London, which wouldimprove orbital public transport connections in the area. In the case of Gallions Reach, a bridge would end close to the existing DLR, and itmay be feasible to extend the DLR across the bridge to serve Thamesmead. Thisconcept will be considered as part of the next stage of work on river crossings inresponse to the recent consultation.  Furthermore, opportunities also exist toextend the heavy rail network across the river. Proposals to extend the LondonOverground to Barking Riverside are currently being consulted on, withimplementation proposed by 2019. A further extension across the river to Thamesmeadto connect up with Crossrail would also be possible. This is at a very early stageof investigation and there are currently no proposed timescales.

Proposed Silvertown Tunnel (1)Question No: 2014/2975 Caroline Pidgeon How much money has been spent so far on plans and preparation for the Silvertown Tunnel?

Written response from the Mayor. The total expenditure to date on planning and design development work for the Silvertown tunnel is in the region of £2.5 million. This covers a four year periodduring which TfL has progressed the design through feasibility and optioneeringstages. Proposed Silvertown Tunnel (2)Question No: 2014/2629Caroline PidgeonWhy did TfL decide to progress the Silvertown Tunnel separately from the otherproposals relating to river crossings, even though you have been reported as statingon LBC Radio that building Silvertown alone will put “much more pressure” on roadsnear the tunnel?Written response from the MayorMy Transport Strategy sets out a clear need for a package of river crossings in eastLondon, to support the growth of the area and to address existing constraints withthe transport network. Earlier consultations carried out by TfL on the rivercrossings package have yielded clear support for the Silvertown crossing butidentified the need for further analysis and consultation to determine the proposalsfor crossing(s) to the east. As a key part of this package, the Silvertown Tunnel is designed to addresslong-standing congestion and resilience problems at the Blackwall Tunnel and thesurrounding roads. It achieves this by removing a substantial proportion of localtraffic from Blackwall Tunnel and will also act as a diversion route when BlackwallTunnel has to be closed for incidents, emergencies or essential maintenance. Theproposal of a new tunnel at Silvertown has had strong support from the public andstakeholders at previous consultations and the Secretary of State for Transport hasdesignated it as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project. However, the Silvertown Tunnel alone cannot address the lack of crossings in eastLondon. The fact is that London needs a package of new crossings to improveconnectivity and resilience to the east of Tower Bridge and support the growth ofthis area. I was not referring to the Silvertown Tunnel specifically but making awider point that there is a clear case for further crossings to be delivered east ofSilvertown, in order to support the growth in jobs and homes across east London. TfL is consulting now on these new crossing options, which are in addition toSilvertown Tunnel. The responses will guide the selection of an appropriate packageand enable us to better understand the relationship and interaction between crossingoptions and Silvertown Tunnel. Any new crossings need to carefully consider their role in local and strategic traffic contexts so that all impacts are properly identified and understood.

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