If you have lived in the borough for more than five minutes you will probably know that Erith and Crayford used to be a major centre for industry; pioneering aircraft, machine guns and munitions, and cable making. Many of its road names bear witness to its industrial past.
But over the last half century past glories have faded away and in many cases the sites they once occupied have been
built over, not just residential property but massive warehouses.
Poor transport links remain an obstacle to further expansion and one poor Mayor of London has been followed by another and because of him there are currently no plans to improve matters. Bexley’s north south links are no different today to what they were 26 years ago. Its Council was objecting to any river crossing as recently as 2013. An act of stupidity it must now regret.
Bexley Council has been far too slow to recognise that burying its head in the sand is a sure way to go broke when government is starving Councils of funds and now they are trying to make amends. Approving housing wherever it can be squeezed in regardless of public opinion and consideration for wildlife. It would argue that there is no realistic alternative.
On Thursday evening they are likely to approve in outline a massive rail freight facility to be built between Slade Green and the river. I doubt a major rail head will help local industry a great deal but the tax revenue it will generate will go a long way towards digging Bexley Council out of the financial hole it has dug for itself.
Unfortunately I cannot be at the Planning Committee meeting due to a longstanding prior engagement, however the plans are publicly available.
It’ll be contentious, the land is Green Belt and the naturalists are worried - naturally.
They have highlighted the fact that local Conservatives campaigned with Zac Goldsmith as recently as last May (the mayoral election) to protect the Green Belt but when it comes to the crunch we discover they were lying. What’s new? Sadiq Khan did exactly the same. They are politicians, it’s what they do.
Bexley Council upgraded the area to a Grade 2 Site of Importance for Nature Conservancy only two months ago and to build on Green Belt the developer has to plead special circumstances.
The rail hub will create about 2,000 jobs operating a 24/7 shift pattern and although the main road access point will be at the roundabout at the end of Bob Dunn Way (close to Bexley’s recycling centre) in Dartford “it will have a material effect on traffic in Thames Road, Bexley”.
Network Rail appears to be unconcerned about the impact on North Kent passenger trains. They think seven freight trains in each direction could easily merge with North Kent services with more possible overnight. The Slade Green depot could be extended to accommodate 12 car trains too.
Any Crossrail extension to Ebbsfleet will be impacted but Network Rail has plans to cater for it. (Pages 23 to 26 of the Agenda. 9MB PDF)
In fact hardly anyone seems to be objecting to building on the Green Belt apart from the London Wildlife Trust and Thames Water which is worried about both drainage considerations and the extra demand for water.
Whether of not the application is approved will presumably depend on what Council Leader Teresa O’Neill has told her cannon fodder to do. It is certainly not unprecedented for Conservative Councillors to speak against a proposal but vote for it.
No development of this nature has been turned down for the past several years.
Danson Park is not Green Belt land.