Peartree Way, 3 November 2013

You’ve probably heard by now that Ikea is planning to open a store in Greenwich, once Sainsbury’s has shipped up the road to Charlton. News emerged via an ad in Greenwich Council’s weekly propaganda rag Greenwich Time, rather than anything released to the local press, while some nearer neighbours have had letters.

Sainsbury's Journal, October 1999

Ikea is promising “a significant new sustainable development”, even though it’ll involve the demolition of the current Sainsbury’s store, billed when it opened in 1999 by the supermarket’s staff journal as “the greenest store in Britain”.

Since then, Sainsbury’s has found it’s struggling to keep up with demand at Greenwich, while some of the eco-friendly features haven’t worked as well as planned. So it’s moving to a bigger (and similarly “environmentally-friendly”) store at Gallions Road, Charlton, in 2015, which will also feature a Marks & Spencer as well as high street-style shops facing onto Woolwich Road. It’s an intriguing development for north Charlton, but less good news for Greenwich Millennium Village residents who lose their nearest supermarket, while Blackheath residents will have to hope TfL relents on a refusal to extend bus route 202 to serve the new Sainsbury’s store.

All of which leaves the soon-to-be redundant “eco-store”. As part of the deal with developer LXB which has facilitated the move, Sainsbury’s has stipulated that the Greenwich site must go to a non-food retailer. LXB now owns much of Charlton’s retail space, and has already shuffled one store (Wickes) around to make way for the new development. I understand another retailer is likely to take up the empty Comet store on a temporary basis.

Enter Ikea, which has put a bid in for the site. Ikea’s long been keen on this area, and is believed to have been interested about 10-15 years ago in the land to the east of Asda which became the Greenwich Shopping Park. Now the Swedish flatpack furniture retailer has returned, and this time it’s serious.

Along with Sainsbury’s and Comet, one other thing which will go is the small nature park at the rear of the Sainsbury’s site – it’s understood Greenwich Council wants this relocated elsewhere on the peninsula. Where this fits in with long-term plans to develop the area around the (separate) Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park isn’t clear. Most parcels of land on the peninsula are now earmarked for specific developments, although as we discovered with the cable car, that can change.

Peartree Way, Sunday 3 November 2013

But the big problem is going to be traffic. Peartree Way (and the A102/A206 junction) already can’t cope with the Sainsbury’s traffic – the pictures in this post were taken on Sunday at 4pm. Pollution levels outside Sainsbury’s already breach EU limits – so much for the “eco-store”.

Ikea branches generate huge amounts of traffic – just visit its existing London area stores at Croydon, Edmonton, Neasden and Thurrock. Sainsbury’s moving down the road isn’t going to remove traffic from the area, it’s just shifting it a mile down the road. And while the Sainsbury’s site probably has the best bus service of any superstore in Britain, you can’t squeeze a flat-packed wardrobe home on a 486.

Solving this problem will be an enormous, and quite possibly insurmountable, challenge. It could well kibosh emerging plans to downgrade the filthily polluted stretch of Woolwich Road from Gallions Road to the A102 as a local road. Once Sainsbury’s moves, the Greenwich/Charlton area is likely to reach its capacity for major retail developments. While everyone loves Ikea, is having one down the road really worth seeing the whole area grinding to a halt for?

With the increasing pace of residential development in the area, seeing the mile-long stretch from the foot of the peninsula to The Valley as some kind of out-of-town retail barn nirvana is becoming increasingly out of date – something the plans for the new Sainsbury’s hint at, with the shopfronts on Woolwich Road and covered walkways to adjacent stores. Ikea may just have come to the party a decade too late.

But we haven’t seen the full details of what’s planned, yet. There’s a staffed exhibition on Saturday 9 November from 12-7pm at Sherard Hall, The Forum @ Greenwich, Trafalgar Road, while the displays will be up at East Greenwich Library from 11-23 November. It’ll be interesting to see just how Ikea faces up to these problems.

15 replies on “Ikea Greenwich: A flat-packed traffic nightmare to come?”

  1. So… You failed to mention the 400 jobs that this would bring to the area for a start, the traffic problems are guessed and what about the hot dogs???

    Other ideas for the site??? Also.. Where have you heard about the demolition of the site? True be it or not… Certainly no mention so far.

  2. Ps… Traffic is ALWAYS busy around 16:00-17:00 that time of day on a Sunday due to all the shops in the area having to close… Call it the shoppers rush hour…. Other days are lighter due to longer licensing laws…. Which, maybe should be abolished? It’s about time!

  3. Read the biodiversity offsetting plans coming out of Whitehall and the picture is grim for all things green and traffic shops and even more unsustainable growth is what you will get down on the Peninsula. Jobs may come but at a cost.

  4. I suppose you would have to offset the extra queues in Charlton for the long distances and queues elsewhere that exist now as a result of people in SE London having to make 1 hour journeys to the nearest ikea. It’s not like they are ten a penny and have equivalents nearby, like supermarkets, and a car/van is pretty essential. Ideally the food/clothing sheds in Charlton would gradually reduce and housing with a high street take shape in their place. No chance of that any time soon sadly.

  5. Are IKEAs really that bad for traffic, many a times have I gone to Croydon in the middle of the week, and you could have dropped a bomb, and no one would have died.

    The site redevelopment might also change how traffic flows onto the site. The petrol station will go on Peartree, and I suspect the IKEA entrance will be more towards the cinema, which might see people use Bugsby Way as a way to access the site. Also, Tottenham and Croydon are heavily used by public transport users, so as long as that’s retained, you might be surprised by how many go by bus.

    However 400 jobs can’t be sniffed at.

    Until we see a planning application then I’ll reserve judgement

  6. The last I heard, Sainsbury’s was keen on hanging onto the petrol station. (Obviously the right amount of cash could change minds.)

    If an Ikea is to work without clogging up the area each weekend – and that’s still a big if – it could demand some heavy-duty changes to the road network.

  7. I just don’t think we should keep pooh pooh’ing these ideas… Something has to he there and as stated in previous posts, hopefully the network has learned from poor traffic phasing so improvements can be made. I guess we’ll have to see what you all think after the coming weekend!!

  8. Greenwich has been trying to detrunk the A102M for ages, which is a complete nonsense. Can you add a link to this part, please?

  9. Anyone who lives or walks/cycles in the lower end of Charlton knows it is a pollution nightmare. All the plans to downgrade this road will come to nothing if all this retail goes ahead. Jobs are badly needed, but there should be a better balance between making things and selling things. It is not unreasonable to want clean air to breathe and not have your life cut short by breathing in things that kill you just so people can get hold of a cheap settee.

  10. Copied from comments I published this weekend on Greenwich Phantom, relevant to this thread too:

    For those against the Ikea store it’s likely that the biggest concern is traffic, as it usually is with such developments. So if we assume that Ikea could ‘potentially’exacerbate the already dire levels of congestion and pollution in and around the peninsula, then let Greenwich Council use the carrot of a ‘real earner’ for the giant of a private limited company, to actually IMPROVE the traffic. How? By persuading Ikea that, as a responsible environmentally aware company, they should not entertain increasing levels of pollution causing poor health to local residents, but instead use their huge power and influence to introduce alternative methods of travelling to and from their store and delivery of heavy/bulky purchases. It could be done! Unthinkable actions such as REDUCING the car parking by 50% and replacing it with cycle parking, green landscaping and outdoor rain sheltered eating and drinking areas (think Westfield for example). Improving the cycle paths in and around. Ecofriendly ‘green’ buses from centres such as Woolwich and Greenwich and Lewisham directly to and from the store- places which have feeder bus routes by the dozen to link up. Make the remaining parking EXPENSIVE and the home delivery option (which could be from a warehouse away from high density living areas like the peninsula)CHEAP. This move towards viewing items at large stores for subsequent on-line purchase/delivery is already happening and predicted to be the future of retail.
    Ikea bikes (like adapted Boris bikes!)could have storage panniers and/or trailers for loan and return for those who wish to have immediate delivery, and are fit enough and brave enough to tackle the London roads ( I do every day to work in Greenwich and I’m no ‘spring chicken’.) These could even be ridden by Ikea’s trained cycling delivery boys and girls (local employment too) It’s a complete re-think of encouraging stores to think more than just the immediate profit line, but taking a responsible and caring attitude to those locally whom their stores can affect both negatively and positively.
    Is this all science fiction, ‘pie in the sky’? If this could be managed, it would be a first for both Greenwich and Ikea, and a blueprint for the future. Would i then use the store? Probably at some point yes, and i know my wife would definitely (much to our wallets dismay). I personally would prefer a kind of mixed use market, a kind of Borough market and Greenwich market in one, both outdoor and indoor. Is this likely though? Perhaps with enough local support yes, but somehow i doubt that would happen with the populations general apathy. It’s hardly the Tooting Popular Front in Greenwich, and so given the ‘Hobson’s-Choice’ of Ikea, lets make them pay a bit more than they had planned with the promise it could reward them in the end. The future is in our hands.

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