Greenwich Council

Agenda item.

Thames Tideway Tunnel Development, Greenwich, SE10 - Ref: 18/3473/G; 18/3486/G & 18/3493/G


In order to facilitate and manage construction traffic during the shaft excavation period of the Thames Tideway Tunnel at Greenwich Pumping Station the Committee is requested to discharge the requirements as outlined in the report.


Resolved to agree to defer the decision to discharge the requirements for applications 18/3473/G; 18/3486/G; 18/3493/G


The Area Planning Manager (West) gave an illustrative presentation advising the Committee that the details before then related to three linked applications.  He advised the Committee on the background to the Thames Tideway Tunnel Project and that the current applications related to alterations to the approved vehicle access route and the creation of a Vehicle Holding Area (VHA) during the construction of the tunnel shaft. He advised that during the construction of the tunnel shaft 80 vehicles a day would visit the site.  He advised that, as part of the wider Thames Tideway project, several other Vehicle Holding Areas (VHA) had been approved, which were on street.  The consent being sought was for three months and approval was recommended.


The Greenwich Area Planning Committee accepted an address from a representative for the Ashburnham Triangle Association (ATA) who stated that;

·       The ATA supported the Thames Tideway Project but had concerns about the proposal, which were set out at paragraph 6.4 of the report.

·       The ATA accepted it would not be practicable to impose a 20mph restriction on lorries travelling along Greenwich South Street, Greenwich High Road, and Norman Road.

·       The monitoring or noise and pollution should be conditioned.

·       The revised route would pass eight vulnerable groups and communities and Thames Tideway Tunnel should be required to inform them, in advance, of what would be happening and how they would be affected.

·       This application was for a three month trial period as part of Phase 1 and would see around 80 lorries per day use the revised road route and VHA.

·       Phase 2 was proposed from September and would see around 120 lorries per day use the revised route and VHA.

·       Given that this was for a trial period, a wide-ranging assessment of the impact of the proposals should be undertaken before the Phase 2 application was submitted.

·       Consultation on the effect of the trial period should include the public and the eight identified vulnerable groups and residents associations.  That this be used to assess the suitability of continuation to Phase 2.

·       The regular transport strategy reports should be made publicly accessible in a timely manner and as fully as possible.


The Ashburnham Triangle Association (ATA) representative responded to Members question’s that the ATA realised that there was an advantage to having a VHA but that wherever it was located it would require sensitive monitoring to give a baseline, particularly giving the concerns around air pollution and the potential impact of an additional 120 vehicles per day, during phase 2.   Whilst drivers would need to shut their engines off, when at the VHA, the vehicles would be stopping and starting within 10 to 15 metres of residents windows; noise monitoring would give an indication of any impact of this.


The Ashburnham Triangle Association (ATA) representative continued that it was their understanding that the excavation of the tunnel shaft, to prepare for the tunnelling machine, would take three months.  There would be a 3 month break before removal of the spoil, from the Tunnelling phase expected to commence in September, and the revised route and VHA would then be used for a further 12 months by 120 vehicles per day.


At the request of Members, the ATA representative read out the eight identified vulnerable communities;

·       James Wolf School – pupils, teachers, staff and parents. 

·       Greenwich Station users.

·       All local nurseries, including St Alfege and Lovibond Lane

·       Student hostel accommodation (Lovibond Lane and Greenwich High Road) and Greenwich Community Centre.

·       Medical establishments on Greenwich South Street and Greenwich High Road, including surgeries, dentists, pharmacies and counselling services.

·       Residents of Alms Houses including John Pen, Queen Elizabeth and Jubilee Alms House; Sheltered Housing, Council properties, Maidstone Close flats and Ashburnham Grove Flats

·       Cyclists, including via Greenwich Cyclists Organisation

·       Local Churches and religious buildings, Greenwich High Road gyms and hotels.


The Planning Committee accepted an address from a resident of the properties directly adjacent to the proposed VHA site who, speaking in objection to the applications, raised the following;

·       The VHA would affect a Bus rest stop not a bus stop.  Therefore, residents were not used to vehicle’s frequently starting and stopping at this point.

·       The VHA would be located opposite the very busy Greenwich West Community Centre, used by around 500 people per week. 

·       The VHA would obstruct the view of residents leaving the car park and garage area, which exited onto the street in front of the designated VHA.  This would result in drivers having to pull blindly onto Greenwich High Road to turn right.  It would not always be possible or practicable to have to wait for one of the VHA site marshals to assist in guiding drivers out.  The VHA would make exiting the car park area extremely dangerous.

·       This is for 3 months with a further 12 months, which could slip, giving residents at least15 months of the VHA right outside their front doors. 

·       The speaker challenged anyone to have a lorry park outside their front door for 10 hours per day – Monday to Friday and 7 hours on Saturday, with the only respite from the visual impact, noise, pollution and nuisance being Sunday.

·       Many of the residents in the two blocks of flat (nos. 106 to 120 and 122 to 134a.) adjacent to the VHA felt targeted as this was the only Local Authority block along the stretch of road. 

·       Residents felt that Greenwich Council faced a conflict of interest.  As freeholder of the blocks, it should be maintaining the residents right to peaceable enjoyment of their home.   The speaker challenged how 80 to 120 lorries per day was conducive to this.

·       It was not accurate that residents would be out at work during most of the day, as there were a number of night shift works and elderly residents who did not go out to work in the block and immediate area.

·       Greenwich High Road was a busy road, with quiet periods and there was concern at the increase in the noise level and pollution, particularly as vehicles would be stopping and starting their engines outside the flats.  This would affect resident’s ability to have their windows open and adversely affect anyone with asthma or repertory medical conditions.

·       The application proposed a hut, which would be in the frequently used garage area and grounds of the flats.  Residents were concerned at anyone using or coming onto the grounds who did not live there and objected to the use of the grass area for such a hut. 


In response to Members, the speaker advised that, in February, residents had been told that the VHA barriers would obscure the view onto the road and they would not be able to see the oncoming traffic from the right.  Drivers would need to pull onto the road, potentially into oncoming traffic, which was extremely dangerous. 


The Planning Committee accepted further addresses from two residents, one of whom advised that they were also speaking on behalf of neighbours in Greenwich South Street, both speaking in objection to the applications and raised the following;

·       The leader of the project team had stated, at a public meeting, that he would not want this in front of his house. 

·       The application stated that a VHA would stop vehicles from waiting on the public highway.  Greenwich High Road was a public highway and the area of road would be rented out, so no longer considered as such.  This could be the case for any road so why was it necessary to use Greenwich High Road.

·       Rush hour started at around 4pm and it was not uncommon that drivers would go the wrong way up one way streets to avoid traffic congestion associated with the Blackwall Tunnel.  The VHA and already narrow road lanes would only adversely impact this situation. 

·       Disabled access and use of the pavement may be restricted.

·       Greenwich South Street was a busy narrow road, which already experienced heavy traffic flow, and was flanked by a number of Georgian and Victorian buildings, a number of which were listed.

·       Many of the old and listed building’s already vibrated when one lorry passed.  Residents of these properties were fearful of the impact of 80 or 120 lorries a day on the structure of their homes.  This would be both a concern and an annoyance. 

·       The pollution along Greenwich South Street and the side roads was already high and would be increased, having a negative impact on residents with respiratory illness and the elderly.

·       The Councils own Healthier Greenwich Consultation, proposed traffic calming measures and policy on the Cycling strategy were not compatible with the proposals before Members.

·       Electric not diesel HGV’s should be used, with speeds limited to 20mph

·       Monitoring of noise, pollution and vibration should be undertaken in Greenwich South Street.

·       Deptford Creek should be used for the removal of all spoil.


In response to Members questions the Area Planning Manager (West) advised that the application before Members was submitted in 2018.  The developer may have undertaken earlier consultation at a pre-application stage.  The application’s before Members covered both the creation of the VHA and the proposed access and egress route to VHA, which would hold 4 lorries.


The Area Planning Manager (West) reiterated that the application before Members was for a 3 month period only.  Anything further would need to be applied for by way of a new application.  He also advised that Deptford Creek would be used for the removal of spoil from the tunnelling process but not creation of the bore hole.


At the request of the Chair the Area Planning Manager (West) clarified that the three applications were interlinked and the Planning Committee would have to approve, refuse or defer all three applications, as one. 


The Planning Committee accepted an address from the relative of a resident in the Queen Elizabeth Alms House who stated that;

·       His mother had only been made aware of the proposal via an anonymous letter to the residents.

·       The residents of the Alms House were in their 70’s plus and the noise and pollution created by this proposal would had a negative impact on their health. 

·       Where was the Marshall’s hut going, as residents did not want this on the green space in front of their homes. 

·       There were safety concerns at the use of the road for the VHA.

·       Whilst this was a worthy project, it had to be undertaken in a sustainable manner and with consideration to residents and the impact on their lives.


The Consents Manager for the applicant’s agent addressed the Planning Committee advising that;

·       The project would create a modern sewer system to help clean up the River Tames. 

·       The Vehicle Holding Area (VHA) would regulate the flow of vehicles to the work site and provide an area where they could be checked before going onto the site.

·       The application begin considered at this meeting was for 3 months.  If a further period of use for a VHA were required a new application would need to be submitted.

·       Discussions would be held with local residents and business to see what did or did not work to inform on any future application for the tunnelling phase.


In response to issues raised by the public speakers, the Consents Manger stated that;

·       In respect of monitoring pollution and noise, the applicant’s agent had an environment team and it was felt that, whilst they would be happy to provide the information they had, it would not give the information everyone wanted.  

·       Air quality was a holistic rather than local issue and the monitoring of emissions and dust would not reflect any impact additional vehicles would have on the local environment.  This was due to the air quality being affected by the wider environment.

·       The applicants’ Environment Team used a publicly available noise map to calculate the expected levels for the area, which were 65db to 69 db.  It was assessed that the lorries would be 63db, which would be below the background noise level. 

·       It would not be possible to undertake noise monitoring of the VHA as the noise levels would be lower than that of the background level.

·       A Management Plan would be in place for the VHA, which would require all drivers to turn their engines off and a marshal would be on site at all times it was in operation.

·       They would be happy to contact and notify the 8 community groups identified, once consent was gained, and would work with the Planning Council Officers to achieve this.

·       The monthly Traffic Management Scheme reports could be made publicly available. 

·       At the end of the 3 month trial period the applicant and agent would hold a meeting with the communities, business and public.

·       They wanted to do all they could to work with and have a good relationship with the community.


The Chair asked for clarification as to the applicants’ alternative options if, as a result of the assessment, it was considered the 3 month trial did not go well and was not a suitable option. 


The applicants Traffic and Logistics Manager responded that they had looked at other areas for the VHA and they would struggle to find an alternative location.  It may result in an approach having to be made to the Royal Borough of Greenwich to seek the use of a suitable side road or close off an area or side road by way of a temporary possession order.  He assured Members that they had considered a wide range of alternatives.


The applicants Site Agent added that they were keen to engage with the stakeholders and residents to assess how to make things work better for the residents, before moving to the next phase.


The applicants Traffic and Logistics Manager responded to Members concern’s that residents had advised them directly of difficulties engaging with the applicant or agent, that a number of meetings had been held and he had made presentations at three meetings, as well as attending briefings with a Ward Councillor and the Ashburnham Triangle Association Committee.   Additionally residents, businesses and the public could contact or raise concerns directly with Thames Tideway Tunnels.


The applicants Environmental Manager advised Members that, in respect of monitoring air pollution, noise and general environmental nuisance, it would be difficult as the publicised air quality levels for that road were above the EU recommendation.  The proposal would see a minute percentage increase of 2% to 5% vehicle movement per day, which would also be by Euro 6, the lowest level emissions vehicles and would have a negligible impact.  Other options had been considered to avoid road movements but it was not possible to move all the spoil by way of the river at Deptford Creek.


He continued that the metric used to assess road traffic noise covered a 16-hour period from, 7am to midnight.  At 10 metres from the proposed VHA the sound pressure for each lorry would be 73db, the closest residential unit was approximately 12 metres from the VHA and the calculated overall impact would be minimal and defused over the day. He noted that there would be a difference between what it was possible to measure and perception.


The applicants Site Agent confirmed to Members that the river was going to be used to move as much soil and spill as was possible and it was anticipated that at least 43% of the tunnel spoil would be removed by barge.  If more spoil could be removed by river it would be, but this could be difficult as this was a tidal river and they were governed by the short periods of high tide. 


With regards the Marshalls hut the applicants Traffic and Logistics Manager confirmed that this had been considered in the early stages but was discarded and did not form part of the application before them.  Suitable shading would be provided by the tress along the side of the road for the 2 Marshall and no hut would be erected.


Members raised that there was a Thames Water car park adjoining the tunnel site, which already had the facility for lorries and with some slight re-adjustment would be able to accommodate a VHA for 4 lorries. Members questioned why, given this was a Thames Water project, this area was not or could not be used.


In response, the applicants Site Agent advised that the Thames Tideway Tunnel (TTT) was a separate company to Thames Water and had no right of access to the car park.  He confirmed approaches had been made to use this car park but Thames Water had not given consent as they needed continuous access to the pumping station and would not allow any parking or access, relating to TTT on the site.


The applicants Traffic and Logistics Manager added that this would not be a practical site as it was too small to provide a sufficient turning circle for the lorries, given that the site was also used by other small vehicle deliveries, via Norman road, and employees.


A Member noted that consent had previously been granted for the closure of Norman Road for between 6 to 9 months.  They asked if a similar solution had been considered in order to locate the VHA in Norman Road.


The applicants Traffic and Logistics Manager confirmed that this had been considered and was, initially, the preferred option but it was considered that Norma Road was not a viable or safe option.  It was too narrow, had a designated cycle lane and several traffic-calming measures were in place.  He noted that there were also a number of trading units, which parked vehicles in Norma Road and there would be an impact to residential homes that fronted directly onto the road.   It would also restrict other deliveries to the tunnel site, Thames Water and trading units.


A Member noted that if access were granted to the Thames Water site, via gate 1 on Greenwich High Road, the lorries could egress to tunnel site, via gate 2, without having to turn at all. 


The applicants Traffic and Logistics Manager agreed that the use of the Thames Water Site would be the preferable option and whilst the turning circle may be tight it was achievable.  However, with the ongoing works to prepare Phoenix Wharf for the removal of soil, the wharf would be at saturation point with no room for vehicles, a holding area would still be required.  The Thames Water Site and Norman Road were also used for vehicle deliveries associated with the works, and its use was not practicable.  He confirmed that they could look at these options for the latter phases of the tunneling work.


The applicants Site Agent added that, as the Thames Water car park was associated with the strategic Pumping Station there were strict security measured in place regarding access.  The entire car park was fenced and gated, for security reasons.  A security guard ‘buzzed in and out’ vehicles via a slow gate, which would cause a backup into Norman Road and the main road, which was the situation the applicant was trying to avoid.


The applicants Traffic and Logistics Manager agreed that the use of the Thames Water Site would be the preferable option and that, whilst the turning circle may be tight it was achievable but with the works that would be ongoing to remove the spoil Phoenix Wharf would be at saturation point with no room for vehicles.  The Thames Water Site and Norman Road will also be used for other activities and deliveries associated with the works and its use was not practicable. 


The applicants Site Agent added that, as the car park was associated with the strategic pumping station there was strict security regarding access and the entire area was fenced and gated, for security reasons.  A security guard ‘buzzed in and out’ vehicles via a slow gate, which would cause a backup into Norman Road and the main road, which was the situation the applicant was trying to avoid.


The applicants Traffic and Logistics Manager stated that all the lorries would be in line with Euro 6 standard, similar to dustcarts and a number of them would have low entry cabs.  The drivers would be required to be acredited to Gold Standard safer driver training, vetted and would be managed in the VHA and on site.  No lorries would be parked in the VHA overnight.


The applicants Site Agent responded to Members that Deptford Creek had not been dredged as this needed to be done after the spawning seasons for the fish.  Work was currently ongoing to prepare the wharves for accepting the tunnel spoil.  


The applicants Environmental Manger accepted that the nearest air quality detection marker was on Blackheath Hill.  He assured Members of the reliability of the algorithm used to ascertain the pollution figures for the area and agreed that the figures could be made public, upon request. He confirmed that the further use of diffuser tubes would be considered.


Members moved to determination of the application’s.


A Member commented that they appreciated that applicants’ efforts but felt that there were serious issues around noise, nuisance and pollution.  Aware that the application was for temporary consent this could be an issue that residents would have to endure with for, potentially, up to 15 months.  They felt that further representations should be made to Thames Water to be more accommodating in support of what was their project, though it was to the benefit of all Londoners.   The Member felt that there were too many issues that needed to be resolved and they could not support the proposals.


A Member concurred that the creation of the sewer was needed and for the benefit of all but agreed with the previous Members comments that there were too many issues, as raised by the speakers, which need to be looked at further. 


A Members noted that this was a difficult decision as it was a magnificent infrastructure which was needed but there was difficulty in agree the proposal before them as at the end of the trial period potentially greater number of vehicles and journey made would be very likely to have a detrimental impact of the lives of the residents.  Whilst there may not be any alternatives to the proposed road route the VHA should be moved to the Thames Water site car park. 


The Area Planning Manager (West) addressed the Committee advising that Members had three options when considering the applications.  Members could either resolve to; refuse permission, grant permission or defer the items in order that discussions could be undertaken to see how the concerns raised could be resolved.


The Area Planning Manager (West) advised Members that as the applications before them related to the discharge of details submitted, Members could not add conditions requesting further matters to be resolved at a later date. If Members wished the re-submitted documents to be amended to address the concerns raised, they would need to be clear on this and the additional information would need to be contained within the submission documents.


The Chair noted that the applicant was intending to commence work at the being of April and advised that, if needed, an emergency meeting of the Area Planning Committee could be convened.


The Chair proposed that the application be deferred to address Members concerns and proposal for the re-sighting of the VHA, including at the Thames Water Site and the suggested actions requested by the Ashburnham Triangle Association; monthly reports on the traffic management scheme be made public, the installation of noise and pollution monitoring equipment, the impact on the identified 8 groups be assessed and that these groups be notified, in writing before the works commenced, with 5 Members for, 0 against, 0 abstentions.




To agree to defer the decision to discharge the requirements for applications 18/3473/G; 18/3486/G; 18/3493/G


The Committee requested that the applicant investigate alternative locations for the Vehicle Holding Area (VHA) including making further approaches to Thames Water to use the Thames Water car and lorry park located in Norman Road. 


That the submitted documents be amended to address the following matters:

·       That the substance of the monthly reports provided by the applicant to the Council on the operation of the Traffic Management Scheme be made public in a timely manner;

·       That the applicant installs noise and air pollution monitoring equipment at the site of the VHA and advise residents of existing pollution levels and expected pollution levels as a result of the development;

·       That the applicant consider the impact of the works on the following eight identified groups who are or have clients who are regular uses of Greenwich South Street and Greenwich High Road and to write to these groups notifying them before works commence;

o   The parents and staff of both sites of James Wolf Primary School.

o   All local nurseries, including St Alfege and Lovibond Lane

o   Greenwich mainline and DLR station users

o   Medical establishments on Greenwich South Street & Greenwich High Road, including surgeries, dentists, Pharmacies and Deborah Ubee Counselling

o   Residents of alms houses, including John Penn, Queen Elizabeth and Jubilee Alms Houses; sheltered housing; council flats and flats in Ashburnham Grove

o   Student hostel accommodation (Lovibond Lane and Greenwich High Road) and Greenwich Community Centre

o   Cyclists via the Greenwich Cyclist Organisation

o   Local churches, hotels and gyms.


Supporting documents: