Another battle over parking is likely to break out between Greenwich and Bexley councils over plans to charge drivers for leaving their cars on main roads near Oxleas Woods.
Greenwich’s deputy leader Averil Lekau approved the plans to introduce payment parking on parts of Rochester Way and Welling Way, Eltham, on the last day before the Christmas break.
Currently, both roads, which are close to Falconwood station, have free parking for all. Free spaces are often hard to come by, and Greenwich says that double-parking has become a problem. Its new transport strategy includes encouraging people to use public transport rather than driving.
Drivers will be charged 50p per hour – or £2 per day – to use the spaces in future, with a short stretch close to the entrance to Oxleas Woods having free parking for two hours. Closer to the station, the charge will be £1 per hour with a £4 limit. The restrictions will only apply on Mondays to Saturdays.
But Tory-run Bexley Council has objected, saying drivers will simply shift to its streets. Greenwich Council’s opposition leader Matt Hartley has also criticised the plans. The decision – published on an obscure corner of the council’s website on Friday – could now be challenged at a scrutiny meeting.
Bexley says that 17 of its streets could be affected by “significant parking migration” with at least 260 commuters using side streets around Falconwood – which is next to the A2 – to park for the station.
A host of local residents also complained. One said: “If commuters use our road for parking, Bexley Council will then impose parking restrictions here and it will lower the price of our houses and change the peaceful, calm atmosphere of our road.”
A commuter from Dartford responded that taking the train from there would “cost me over £120 a month extra rather than coming to Falconwood. I know of many others coming from a lot further away so it would cost them a lot more each month.”
Bexley also voiced doubts that the charges would work, with the council officer responding saying: “All day parking for £2.00 or £4.00 is significantly lower than the market rate so I do not see how the charges will support the modal change [Greenwich] are seeking.”
Greenwich’s rather contradictory response was: “[The fee] not only meets our objectives of reducing car dependency and unnecessary car journeys, but [is] also a rate that does not adversely impact residents and commuters.”
Hartley said the charges would push parking towards the Eltham Park area and eventually lead to controls there.” We are particularly concerned that residents’ concerns about the knock-on impact in Eltham Park have been disregarded,” he said. “The new administration needs to rethink its approach, which is a recipe for ineffective and costly schemes and wasted time, money and energy.”
There is a long history of arguments over parking between Greenwich and Bexley. Proposals for a parking zone close to Avery Hill were held up by objections from Bexley for seven years, until London mayor Sadiq Khan finally gave Greenwich the go-ahead in October 2020. In this case, Conservative councillors had sided with Greenwich rather than their party colleagues over the border, even launching a petition in support of the plans.
And while Greenwich has complained about Bexley’s own parking restrictions near Falconwood pushing traffic over the border, in June Bexley objected to plans for 70 flats opposite the station because it feared new residents would park in its streets.
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