Friday, 21 October 2011

Convoys Wharf: transport planning

The recent granting of outline planning permission for the massive redevelopment of the Surrey Canal  site around Millwall's stadium was inextricably linked to improvements in transportation at the site. Not only has the initial application for 2,700 residential units been cut back to 2,400, but the developer Renewal has committed to a large number of transport improvements, most notably topping up the cost of building the new Surrey Canal Road station on the East London Line Extension.

As London Reconnections points out, the transport improvements agreed do not stop at a new station, they are quite comprehensive and offer reassurance that sensible measures are in hand to try and minimise the impact on public transport that this increase in population will have. At the moment, the site has a 'PTAL' rating (a way of calculating the public transport accessibility level) of 2, which on a scale which goes from 1 (lowest) to 6, is poor.

Likewise, the Convoys Wharf site has an average PTAL rating of 2. On a site of this size, to come out with an average of 2 underlines its inaccessibility.

Compared to Surrey Canal's 2,400 residential units, Convoys Wharf developer Hutchison Whampoa is proposing more than 3,500. So how will the impact of this huge increase in population on the public transport system be minimised?

According to HW's application, "as part of the redevelopment at Convoys Wharf it is proposed that a bus route would be provided through the development site from the beginning of Phase 2, either by diverting and enhancing an existing route or by providing a new route". So if you move there in phase 1, you will have to fight your way onto the existing buses.

Will Convoys Wharf be a public transport-free zone? (Flickr: gritty-but-pretty)

The application states: "Particularly as Crossrail and High Speed domestic services will divert a considerable amount of existing rail traffic onto other routes, it is considered that the rail services from Deptford can accommodate the demand likely to be generated by Convoys Wharf." As a reminder, Crossrail services are not scheduled to begin until 2018 - and that's still seven years away, so not exactly guaranteed!

The domestic high speed services are already up and running, so conditions on the trains at the moment should reflect any improvement due to this.

The planning application considers that most underground trips will begin at Canada Water. I estimate the walking time from the furthest point of the site to this underground station to be about 20-30 minutes, and I'm a fast walker. Presumably people travelling by underground would take the bus there, so it's really the impact on the buses that carries the greatest weight here.

"With 15 trains an hour on this section, each train will only carry a maximum of 5 additional passengers, if those leaving the development all travel in the same direction. This is not considered to be a significant impact."

River bus?
"Discussions are ongoing with Riverbus operators to identify the most effective form of service provision at the new pier. Nevertheless, it is anticipated that from the end of Phase 1
  • a dedicated shuttle boat will run between the new pier and Canary Wharf at 20 minute intervals during the weekday morning and evening peak periods, providing a capacity of at least 180 passengers/hour by direction
  •   The existing Embankment Pier – Woolwich Arsenal services will serve the pier during off-peak periods. "
Improvements to walking and cycling routes are also proposed, which is just as well.

The transport assessment – available to download here if you wish to read it in detail - also contains extensive justification of the number of parking spaces that the developers want to include (approximately 1800 for residents). You might take this as indication of where the real transport planning is pointing.

And as for the public transport 'improvements', how will they affect the PTAL rating of the site? Even the developer's transport consultant can't gloss over this one. "By routeing a bus service through the development and providing the new river bus service, walk access times to public transport will become shorter. Across the site, PTAL will rise to a minimum of 2 with the area around the New King Street entrance rising to a PTAL of 3."

Broadly speaking (and certainly on average), no change.


  1. Existing buses? Are there any existing buses? I've cycled past Convoy's Wharf on the way to and from work for the past three or four years and I can't remember encountering a bus anywhere near there, except up on the A200. I'm sure the long-standing residents on the estates around there would have loved a local bus years ago.

  2. I went to an exhibition a year or two ago about Convoys and they were talking about diverting the 199.

    The 129, which runs from North Greenwich to central Greenwich, was originally planned to run via Convoys and South Bermondsey to Peckham:
    and also

    And years back, when the 453 was created and bendified, the original plan for that was for it to go to Convoys (hence the slightly odd terminal at Deptford Bridge.)

  3. @alan they are referring to buses that currently run along Evelyn Street I believe.