East Croydon Station’s “Bridge to Nowhere”, the £24million pedestrian bridge which has never been completed to provide the intended access to Cherry Orchard Road and Addiscombe, has just been cited as a reason for Croydon winning an award for urban design.
Or, as Croydon Council – which part-funded the unfinished bridge – put it: “The council’s Connected Croydon programme outshone urban design projects from around the country to win the Public Sector Award at the Urban Design Awards”.
Yes, a multi-million-pound unfinished bridge as part of a Connected Croydon programme.
One can only assume that there wasn’t much opposition.
The Connected Croydon programme comprised digging up flower beds and saplings and replacing them with new saplings, or scrapping cycle lanes on the High Street in South Croydon and replacing them with car parking spaces.
There were also pavement replacement works at various locations around the town centre which over-ran on time and budget. The programme was introduced by the previous Tory Town Hall administration, using huge chunks of riot recovery funds, usually in areas which were not affected by the riots in August 2011.
Promised linking routes for pedestrians and cyclists from the town centre through Old Town to Wandle Park have never been delivered, and much of the paving and roadworks that has been done has required repairs and return visits by contractors to deal with snagging issues over utilities and the finish of the work. Outside East Croydon Station, the job is still not completed, with work ongoing on the bus station.
Overall, £50million has been spent on the public realm, but at great inconvenience and cost to local businesses; a recent unscientific survey of Inside Croydon readers found only 18 per cent happy with the works that had been carried out. The general dissatisfaction with the DisConnected Croydon programme has seen the current administration quietly drop references to the project.
Nonetheless, the same contractors, Kier, have been retained throughout most of the works, despite the apparent problems in delivery. Indeed, Kier have been hired to carry out the carriageway works on Surrey Street over the next few months.
And Kier also happens to be one of the sponsors for Croydon’s “Beer on the Beach”stunt in Cannes next week at the “booze and hookers fest” that is the MIPIM developers’ conference.
The Bridge to Nowhere was intended to provide a convenient pedestrian link at the northern end of East Croydon Station, both to the station’s platforms and across into the town centre. But because someone in the legal departments at the Town Hall, TfL or Network Rail, failed to nail down a watertight agreement from Menta, the developers, to build the access point for the bridge on the eastern side of the station, the bridge has remained incomplete.
This inconvenient fact has not deterred the council’s propaganda department boasting of its “achievement”.
In a press release this week, the council said, without any sign of embarrassment, “As part of Connected Croydon, the East Croydon Bridge and pedestrian link was installed connecting the station to Lansdowne Road and improvements were also made to the public realm around London Road, Old Town and South End, creating new and improved spaces.”
They claim “improved efficiency and attractiveness of Croydon’s two major public transport interchanges at East and West Croydon”. What do you mean, you hadn’t noticed?
And the council’s press release also quoted someone called Ben van Bruggen, who is described as the “convenor of the National Urban Design Public Sector Award”, who apparently really did say that, “Connected Croydon shows that guiding the investment in the public realm is crucial not only to the citizens, through creating walkable streets and networks, but also to the developers, who know that quality public realm makes commercial sense.”
One can only assume that van Bruggen has either not walked the streets of Croydon town centre, nor had any conversations about “quality public realm” with developers Menta.
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