Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Blocked rights of Way, Bellfield Close

When Hexagon Housing Association applied to close the rights of way for cyclists, mobility scooters and pedestrians between Old Dover and Charlton Roads, the application was rejected by the Council in 2004 following objections by users and residents of Schofield Walk and elsewhere in the locality. The paths form what the Council described as a ‘pivotal’ part of the London Cycle network, which is currently being upgraded in preparation for the Olympics. But in 2007 Hexagon defied the Council’s decision by building walls to block the rights of way. Signs directed cyclists, including pupils of Invicta Primary School, and other users to go round the Standard gyratory instead. However some local residents felt the closure had reduced crime on the estates and wanted the rights of way to be extinguished.

Letters to Westcombe News showed that opinions were sharply divided over the issue and the Westcombe Society, which had supported the Council's decision in 2004 (which had enjoyed wide support) decided it would not take sides on such a divisive issue. Instead, it asked the Police to monitor any changes in antisocial behaviour on the estates and urged the Council to conduct a survey, as required by law, to see if a compromise could be reached.

The results of the survey will be discussed by the Council on Wednesday 8th April. The Police have reported that the walls have not reduced reported crime, and the Council survey confirmed that opinions were indeed sharply divided. No alternative route could be found that was as safe or convenient and met the legal requirements. Such an alternative route would also have to be approved by Transport for London, which has objected to the current obstruction.

The Council will have to decide whether to require the removal of the walls or to refer the matter to the Secretary of State for a public enquiry – which seems unlikely to be able to come to a different conclusion. The paths are one of a number of items to be discussed at the meeting, which is open to the public. It starts at 18.30 in the Town Hall, Woolwich.


Hexagon HA said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Hexagon HA said...

Blocked rights of Way, Bellfield Close

We write in response to the blog dated Tuesday 7th April 2009 which incorrectly suggested that Hexagon Housing Association has contravened their planning permission and blocked the Right of Way through Bellfield Close against the wishes of local residents.

When Hexagon HA obtained planning permission to build Bellfield Close in 2004 the design included a route through the new estate. The route was temporarily blocked and the cycle route diverted while the estate was constructed to maintain site security and protect local people from the works. During this time residents of Dornberg estate and Schofield Walk asked for the route to be diverted permanently because they felt that it reduced anti-social behaviour.

As a result of this request LB Greenwich consulted local residents on the issue and found many were in favour of permanently diverting the cycle route. The matter was referred to Greenwich Area Planning and Environment Committee on 16th October 2006 and Council members voted to support the permanent diversion.

In order to comply with the revised decision the temporary fencing which blocked the route was replaced by brick walls when the scheme was completed.

We must stress that Hexagon HA has never sought to block the routes through Bellfield Close. The original design of the scheme incorporated the routes and this was only changed to comply with LB Greenwich's decision to permanently divert the route.

Following the Planning Committee's decision on 8 April 2009 to refer the matter to a public enquiry, Hexagon and London Borough of Greenwich plan to hold a meeting for residents of Bellfield Close, 20 Charlton Road, Dornberg Close and Schofield Walk sometime within the next 3 months to enable residents to get together to discuss their views and response to the public enquiry.

Hexagon Housing Association
11 May 2009

Vanbrugh said...

As is confirmed by the published agenda (http://bit.ly/SkGKJ) there was neither a proposal nor decision on 18th October 2006 to extinguish the existing rights of way for pedestrians, cyclists and mobility scooters between Old Dover and Charlton roads. There was also no proposal or decision to construct a permanent diversion for any of these rights of way. There is no record, then or subsequently, of any application by Hexagon Housing Association, or any decision by the Council, to vary the terms of the planning consent in this respect. There is no record of any planning application by Hexagon Housing Association, or consent by the Council, for the construction of the walls in excess of 2m height adjacent to a highway used by vehicular traffic (e.g., Bellfield Close) that currently block the various existing rights of way for pedestrians, cyclists and mobility scooters, as a result of which the Council has found the various rights of way to have been “illegally obstructed”.