The link between daily travel and emotional wellbeing is well researched. From work commutes and the school run, to leisure and shopping trips, numerous studies confirm that the quality of these journeys directly correlates with quality of life. This is a fact that Royal Borough of Greenwich has put at the heart of public realm improvements in Plumstead. With traffic congestion an ongoing challenge, residents will reap the rewards of a careful redesign of the areas in and around the historic train station, making it more accessible and improving walking and cycling safety for everyone.
Before the Royal Borough of Greenwich could start making any changes, it needed to understand exactly where the problem areas were. With Arcadis brought on board to deliver baseline assessments, we started by surveying the surrounding street lighting and other structures, reviewing traffic data, and collecting and analyzing the number of pedestrians and cyclists, as well as the number of traffic collisions. We also looked at existing land ownership, to help provide a clear picture of the current situation before going on to develop initial new design options.
Together, we realized that improvements needed to be focused on the areas between Plumstead Station and the Griffin Manor Way-Pettman Crescent Housing Zone. Improving pedestrian and cycle connectivity here would help to revitalise an area that has long been neglected. It will create a safer and more attractive streetscape for local residents, as well as encourage healthier and more sustainable forms of travel.
To progress these ideas, we needed to work closely and engage with all relevant parties, including Royal Borough of Greenwich, and other key stakeholders such as the housing association Peabody, Transport for London, Network Rail and Thames Water.
Bringing all these stakeholders together to have an open discussion helped to generate ideas and allow for the most appropriate solutions. We held a series of workshops during the initial design stages to build relationships and buy-in for what would be a high profile and complex project.
Preparing an engagement plan from the very start proved to be vital. This collaborative approach has been particularly important because of the complex infrastructure in the area, with several structures including Crossrail, a major Thames Water sewer and Network Rail assets nearby.
Improving the human experience
The result will be a formalized pedestrian route to the station, with wider footpaths to provide more space for people to move around in. There will also be more consistent cycle routes, helping cyclists travel easily and safely around the area.
We are also helping to improve the station itself. It has an unusual design, with both an upper and lower level. We wanted to make better use of this space, and a key aim is to improve the lower level with better lighting, public art and spaces for community involvement, including a performance area.
The station's upper level will benefit from low maintenance planting, considered street furniture and more lighting to improve the overall public realm. New materials will delineate spaces and activities. Cycle parking and artistic centre-pieces will be introduced, and dead-end spaces will be removed.
The elements are numerous, harmonious and inclusive. Together they add up to a scheme that promises to transform daily travel into an experience that is safer, smoother and infinitely more uplifting, making a real difference for the people of Plumstead.