The London Assembly transport committee has written to Transport for London in the wake of the cancellation of the Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf bridge to urge them to review and improve their business planning process, so that under-funded and undeliverable projects are not progressed as a result of unrealistic engineering proposals and low cost estimates.
The committee has also sought further detail and clarification on the proposed ferry service.
Budget projections for the bridge project soared from £120-£180 million in November 2017, to £463 million in March 2019 and now latest estimates stand at exceeding £600 million.
Navin Shah AM, chair of the Transport Committee, said:“How did TfL get its sums so wrong? This major infrastructure project is key to unlocking this part of east London in terms of active transport links, jobs and homes.
“A ferry service between Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf is a much cheaper alternative, but we have questions over its cost, frequency, commencement of the service and whether it will be free to use.”
“TfL must improve how it costs major infrastructure projects and ensure that projects of this kind have realistic costings and plans, so that Londoners are not continually disappointed time and again.”
More than 8000 sugar cubes eliminated in convenience store healthy food pilot
Two Bermondsey shops are among five independent convenience stores in Southwark which have increased the healthy options available to consumers as part of a pilot scheme.
The Good Food Retail Plan is a pilot funded by the Greater London Authority, Sustain and Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity to ensure that more Londoners have access to healthy, affordable food.
As part of the project the shop owners were supported to identify opportunities for increasing the healthy options available in their store. This could range from repositioning items, using different recipes to carrying new healthy lines of food and drinks.
The scheme recognises that convenience stores play a vital role in their local communities as many customers use them on a daily basis to top up their food shopping.
The pilot stores all represent different types of store from the smaller neighbourhood store to the larger independent supermarket. Across all stores, regardless of square-footage, all store managers demonstrated that healthy changes could be made.
The shops involved in the pilot are:
Nisa Local, Southwark Park Road
St James Supermarket, Southwark Park Road
Church News, New Church Road
Turkish Food Stores, Lordship Lane
Nisa Day One, Camberwell Church Street
Across the fives stores over 50 new healthy lines have been introduced as well as selling more single fruits as healthy snacks. Nisa Local in Bermondsey switched to a no sugar slush puppie recipe resulting in a saving of approximately 80,000 calories from sales between July and September, equivalent to over 8,000 sugar cubes. Following the introduction of three new lines, wholemeal bread now makes up 20 per cent of bakery sales at the same store.
These stores are run by independent retailers who purchase their stock from their local cash and carry. They choose their range based on what they think their customers demand is rather than necessarily on whether the products are healthy.
Cllr Evelyn Akoto, cabinet member for community safety and public health, said: “It is really fantastic to see the commitment from these five shop owners to make a difference in the health of our residents. These shops exemplify how small changes can have a big impact on the choices people make.
“The role that local shops play in the lives of our residents cannot be underestimated and it’s so important that as much as possible there are healthy options available. These shop owners have proven that our residents do want healthy options and I hope other store owners will follow their lead.”
Ali, owner of Nisa Local Southwark Park Road said: “I eat quite healthily myself and I’m quite passionate about [healthy eating]. I wanted to get involved; it’s something I believe in as well. A lot of kids come here after schools so we wanted to offer them healthier things to eat so we put single pieces of fruit at the front that people can just take and go, non- salted nuts, sugar free drinks things like that. According to our sales data all these things that we’ve introduced into the store are selling, there’s a market for people that are more health conscious and want to eat healthy.”
Transport for London commissioner Mike Brown has given an update on plans for an upgraded ferry service between Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf to replace the abandoned proposed for a walking and cycling bridge.
Mr Brown was questioned by Conservative London Assembly member Keith Prince at a meeting of the City Hall transport committee.
Asked about the cost of the ferry link, Mr Brown said: “Well, I don’t have the exact figure at the moment.
“And the reason for that is that this is in the early stages, we’re looking at what land purchases may be required and where those land purchases will be – particularly on the south side of the river.
“We’re also exploring what sort of technology might be applied and what the market could deliver in terms of the greenest possible ferry.
“It’s quite challenging because these there aren’t – when you look around the world – easily deliverable green ferries at the moment, so we might have to consider whether we at least explore the the options for some hybrid ferries in this regard.
“So there is a sort of headline number allocated to the ferry in the business plan, but it’s very much at a working level and just for some of the early stages of exploration of this.
“My imperative is to get on with this as quickly as I can, notwithstanding some of the challenges with the land purchase, and with some of the other commercial issues.
“It’s pleasing to see that we have got, good support, for example, from Canary Wharf on the north side. It I’m sure we’ll get on and deliver this and it will be a great boost for access across the river at that location.”
Pressed by Mr Prince as to when passengers might be able to use the ferry, Mr Brown said: “Well, again, that’s depends on the technology. And I’m not trying to be evasive here.
“It genuinely is a discussion that we’re having ourselves with the supply chain, with potential manufacturers – with potential operators as well actually – is how quickly we can do it.
“So I’ve pushed my team … very hard on on pinning them down to a date.
“But what I don’t want to do is give an artificially optimistic date here that can’t be delivered because we haven’t done all the groundwork yet.
“There is more work to do before I can categorically tell you that.”
The Canada Estate has been chosen as one of the testbeds for Southwark’s new ‘Great Estates’ programme.
Seven estates have been chosen to pilot ‘estate improvement plans’ by Cllr Leo Pollak, cabinet member for social regeneration, great estates and new council homes.
The council’s Great Estates programme stems from a pledge in Southwark Labour’s 2018 manifesto to “launch a Great Estates Guarantee so that every estate is clean, safe and cared for and residents have the tools to garden and improve their estate”.
The Canada Estate will share £970,000 funding with six other estates across the borough.
“Residents have raised concerns regarding crime and anti-social behaviour, in particular robberies and mobile phone theft nearby the train station,” according to the report prepared for Cllr Pollak by service development manager Sharon Miller.
There is an ASB hotspot in the middle of the estate, where there is a low level concrete structure. This area would benefit from some re-designing/redevelopment.
“Through the consultation process residents have suggested the following improvement areas should be considered: improved estate signage; re-painting and redecoration works to blocks and communal areas; improved estate cleaning; to create a space to use as a garden to grow vegetables; and new fencing around Edmonton Court.
“The estate has also been approved to receive £6,710 TRSIG funding for an estate music project.”
The bridge across Albion Channel near Brass Talley Alley was replaced a few weeks ago as part of works to upgrade the cycle route for Cycleway / Quietway 14.
But the new bridge – installed at a cost of £115,000 – isn’t to everyone’s taste, with the ‘offensive’ blue handrail drawing particular disapproval.
So far 11 people have signed a petition to Southwark Council calling for the handrail to be repainted:
The consensus among the residents in the area is that the new bridge does not suit the style of the canal and the surrounding buildings at all. The most offensive feature — and easiest to remedy — is the blue railing. The blue is at odds with the colours of all surrounding buildings and should be changed.
British Land’s scheme to redevelop 53 acres of the Canada Water area – including the existing Surrey Quays Shopping Centre – was given unanimous backing by Southwark Council’s planning committee this week after two nights of presentations from planners, objectors and supporters.
The masterplan will see between 2,000 and 3,995 new homes developed, along with new shops, offices and other uses. The first phase includes a new 34-storey tower.
The masterplan area includes Surrey Quays Shopping Centre, Surrey Quays Leisure Park, the Printworks, the former Rotherhithe Police Station, and the historic Dock Offices courtyard; and will be managed by British Land in the long-term.
Of the new homes, 35 per cent will be ‘affordable’ with 70 per cent of these for social rent.
It has taken 16 months from submission of the planning application to final committee decision.
“Delivering this masterplan in an area with as rich a history and heritage as Canada Water, Rotherhithe and Surrey Docks is an immense responsibility and one we have taken very seriously and carefully,” said Emma Cariaga, joint head of Canada Water at British Land.
“This is only the first step in the approval process and we are committed to continuing to engage and work with the local community to deliver the project, and ensure that the masterplan benefits those living, working and studying in the area for years to come.”
Cllr Peter John, leader of Southwark Council, said:“ We are delighted that this major step towards our vision for Canada Water has been approved.
“The masterplan provides the blueprint for an exciting new town centre that will provide thousands of new homes, particularly hundreds of new social rent homes, new jobs and opportunities, new open spaces and a brand new leisure centre for Rotherhithe in the first phase of the work.
“We look forward to working with British Land over the next few years to bring forward the plans and making sure our local residents are the beneficiaries of the opportunities the regeneration will provide, as laid out in the Canada Water Social Regeneration Charter.”
Much of the discussion at the planning committee meetings focussed on transport, with concerns that local road and rail links will struggle to meet the demand generated by extra residents and workers.
Councillors heard from a Transport for London representative who claimed that under their modelling the crowding situation in 2031 “gets no worse” when freqency boosts for the Jubilee line and East London line already planned and funded are taken into account.
British Land will pay £10 million towards a new entrance for Surrey Quays Station – topping up the already pledged Government funding of £80 million – and £12 million towards bus service improvements.
At Canada Water Station, the developer is making a £2 million contribution to extra staffing and minor layout changes.
The committee also heard from Howard Dawber of Canary Wharf Group who claimed that “there simply is not enough public transport” to meet the extra needs and that the council wasn’t seeking a large enough contribution from British Land towards infrastructure upgrades.
Canary Wharf’s claims were described as “pure commercial self-interest” by British Land’s Emma Cariaga.
The two sessions of the planning committee can be viewed in full on YouTube.
Southwark Council’s cabinet this week agreed to launch a consultation on the future of South Dock Marina and Boatyard.
Tuesday’s cabinet meeting heard a public question and a deputation from members of the bertholders’ association who aired concerns about future residential development which could generate complaints from residents about noisy activity at the boatyard.
In his foreword to the cabinet report, Cllr Richard Livingstone wrote: “The ideas set out in the report include how the marina could be expanded to better meet the demand for people to live on the marina; how the infrastructure of the area could be improved to meet the needs of berth holders and the broader community; how the space at the boatyard could be developed to both enhance its operation and provide new council homes; and how to give berth holders greater certainty on future fee increases.”
The proposed extension of the Santander Cycles bike hire scheme to SE16 will consist of a mere five new docking stations, the Mayor of London has confirmed.
After hints dropped by Southwark councillors and deputy mayor Heidi Alexander earlier in the summer, City Hall confirmed at the end of August that the bike hire scheme would be extended along the new Cycleway 4 between Tooley Street and Canada Water Station.
Now, in response to a question tabled by Lib Dem London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has given more details.
“It is planned that 5 docking stations (approximately 125 docking points) will be constructed along Cycleway 4 as part of the infrastructure build of that route,” said Sadiq Khan.
“Dates for installation have yet to be agreed with Southwark and are subject to agreeing specific locations with the borough and obtaining planning consents. Conversations on this are ongoing.
“The stations will be funded by Transport for London as part of the Healthy Streets funding portfolio.”
Santander Cycles currently has more than 750 docking stations across Central London.
Although many will welcome the arrival of Santander Cycles in SE16 for the first time, the limited scale of the expansion is likely to come as a disappointment.
Southwark Labour’s 2014 manifesto included a pledge to “work with the Mayor to extend Bike Hire across the borough”.
London’s deputy mayor for transport Heidi Alexander has confirmed that plans are in hand to extend the Santander Cycles bike hire scheme to SE16.
Ms Alexander was speaking at a London Assembly transport committee meeting held to probe the decision to halt the Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf bridge project.
Under questioning from Florence Eshalomi AM about the risk that Southwark is losing out on a number of transport infrastructure schemes, Ms Alexander said: “We are making significant progress on walking and cycling investments in Southwark and this part of London.
“Work has already started on Cycleway 4 which goes from Tower Bridge to Greenwich – and that will be extended to Woolwich.
“We’re also working with Southwark on a new cycle route from Rotherhithe to Peckham.
“I’ve asked TfL officers to accelerate their work to expand the Santander scheme further into Southwark, so that when we get this fantastic new cycleway built from Tower Bridge to Greenwich, further along that route you can get Santander docked bikes, because I know that is an aspiration that Southwark has.”
Southwark Council leader Peter John said last week: “We are also working with TfL on a programme to expand the Santander cycle hire scheme from London Bridge to the [Rotherhithe] peninsular, and this will be part of the cycle hire action plan presented to cabinet in the autumn.”