Circular Way
Circular Way is effectively used as a car park (Image: Google)

Calls to rip out a road running across Woolwich Common have been rejected by Greenwich Council officers, despite neighbours complaining of it being used for flytipping – although it says will consider further measures to control who uses the street.

The newly-formed Friends of Woolwich Common petition signed by 225 people was presented to the council in March asking that Circular Way, which runs across the common and past the Willow Tree pre-school, be closed because flytipping has become “an almost nightly problem”.

Circular Way was once a major route across the common, but is now used as an access route to the pre-school and is blocked at one end. The Friends of Woolwich Common want to see it completely blocked.

“Blocking off Circular Way would save countless resources and time from the council waste services, the MoD and the Friends of Woolwich Common volunteers who all strive to clean up the common against the ever increasing odds. Residents want a clean common which they can use safely and be proud of,” it says. “The common is an example of acid grassland which is rare in London and under threat nationally. The grassland provides the right conditions for a very wide range of insects, birds and plants, including some which are very rare. A simple step would make all the difference to protecting the common.”

A few miles away, Lewisham Council has ripped out roads across Blackheath in recent decades, most recently Long Pond Road in 2000.

But Greenwich Council officers said closing the highway across Woolwich Common would result in parking problems. “The Royal Borough [sic] appreciates this road may not be seen as an effective use of space but there are currently access arrangements and potential negative results which could arise from potentially implementing the stopping up and removing Highway status,” it says in a report to be presented to the council’s highways committee later this month.

“Removal of this carriageway could also lead to the parking being displaced to residential roads to the west of Queen Elizabeth Hospital putting additional pressures on those roads in the absence of any parking controls in that area.”

The possibility of adding parking controls to those streets is not mentioned. The council also claims that there have only been 10 flytipping incidents on that part of the common in the past year.

‘Point closure’ planned

It further adds that closing the road permanently “would involve legal proceedings, which may run the risk of being unsuccessful, dependant on the decision of the magistrate’s court”. “If stopping up of the highway was pursued, the accessibility arrangements for the local nursery would need to be resolved and the underground services within the road would require relocation, before any public realm improvements were undertaken,” it adds.

But council officers say they are willing to consider a six-month “point closure” – a second blocking-off of the street. “This would still require further liaison with relevant stakeholders, as access is currently available to enter Woolwich Common “green space” via Circular Way, with an access gate in-situ allowing access,” the report says.

“The effectiveness of the closure will be reviewed in order to arrange the necessary permanent closure with a statutory consultation once the review is completed.

“As this land is owned and maintained by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), there would be a historic right of way in place to provide access, therefore this would need to be maintained or an alternative arrangement agreed between both parties.”

The council says it will also “explore the effectiveness of enforcement and prevention of flytipping at this location”.

Last year, 853 revealed how the Ministry of Defence ignored repeated requests to clear up rubbish on the common in the lead up to a major grass fire.

The report will be discussed at the council’s highways committee on June 18.

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