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Something Bexley council and I can get close to agreement about is that the
borough transport infrastructure isn’t up to much. There are three East West
railway lines but they all go from London Bridge to Dartford. There are three A
roads also going East West and there are numerous meandering bus routes. There
is no easy way to get from North to South and the only bus from the Northern
boundary of the borough to the extreme South is the 229 which takes a series of
East West zig-zags. I used it exactly two weeks ago
and it took just over an hour and a half to get to Morrisons in Sidcup - and I
live half an hour away from its start point at Morrisons in Thamesmead. Do
Morrisons sponsor our only North South bus route? It serves their store in Erith too.
There is no underground railway or tramway or river boat service and our present council campaigned to kill off a proposed river crossing but due to some extensive lobbying we are going to get the carriage sidings for Crossrail. Not the station mind you, the trains will only get as far as Abbey Wood - the bit that is in the borough of Greenwich. When Crossrail passengers finally get to alight there they will be shunted into Wilton Road. If it is raining hard they will have to paddle their way out. The flood opposite the station exit is in Bexley and it has lain unattended for 25 years or more.
Wilton Road is not the most salubrious part of town. In the 25 years I've passed along it most days I have seen it go down hill and older residents say I never saw it at its best. No butcher any more, no greengrocer, no health food shop, no electrical goods supplier. The small hardware shop and pet food supplier and the florist are all long gone. The constant patrols by the traffic taliban and a rather generous provision of disabled parking bays cannot be helping.
Instead we have two taxi offices, two betting shops, a chemist where I have to pay £4.95 for something I can buy for £3.11 in another independent chemists not far away. A decent little card, gift and flower shop, seven (so I am told, I only counted five) hairdressers, three estate agents, too many take-aways to count, must be at least ten, a branch of Martin McColl staffed by friendly young ladies but where the queues are too long and wonder of wonders, a proper Post Office which has always served me well. And a pub I wouldn’t be seen dead in. Or probably would be seen dead in. The first word of advice I was given when moving to Belvedere was “Don’t go in the pubs”.
The other pub, The Harrow Inn, was knocked down three years ago. I blogged about it when a plan for flats there was turned down on noise grounds - and maybe others. That blog showed the ground plan and I thought it was a shame that the area was not going to get a shot in the arm. (Now there’s a phrase that should be used with care in Wilton Road.)
Having located a better drawing of the proposals I’m not so sure, although I understand the final submission had two floors lopped off.
Last week the derelict site was shielded by a plastic fence so I assumed that something is about to happen there at long last. Local enquiries have led me to a story about 16 houses. Bexley’s planning department website failed to guide me to any planning application but it may be there if you have a day to waste checking through it.
The first two photographs were taken last Sunday, the third shows how the site has looked for the past eighteen months. Bexley council was content to let a rat infested derelict site blight the North of the borough. Contrast that to Mrs. Grootendorst’s wild life garden in Sidcup. But then there is no record of the Harrow Inn site owners being Bexley council critics. So that’s all right then.