I’m not going to beat about the bush. The news is frustrating. Kuhn Way has to stay closed for (even) longer because the work on the school has over-run.
That’s the summary. Read on for more…
For some background, you might remember that there was a debate a while back about whether Kuhn Way (an alleyway that runs north-south basically from the station up towards Forest Street, Dimond Close, Essex Street, Norfolk Street, Suffolk Street, and the other streets that I have heard optimistic estate agents refer to as ‘the Lanes’.) Forest Gate Community School (FGCS) is a really fantastic, nationally acclaimed successful school, and is constrained as many urban schools are by small grounds that are effectively cut in two by Kuhn Way. With a bit of a heavy heart, I argued that although closing the access through Kuhn Way would enable the school to use their site better, actually this was an important route through for a large number of residents to get to the station, and it was really vital to keep it open. You can read about that in my blog post here and again in this post here.
So FGCS went back to the drawing board with their architects, and came up with a new plan, which I felt (and the planning committee felt) represented a real compromise which kept this alley open in the long term, but did involve closing it for a time whilst building works were done on the school’s walkways that run over the top. You can read my brief thoughts on the revised application at the top of my ward report here. (Stories that this blog is going to be renamed ‘Rachel’s ongoing ponderings on Kuhn Way’ have been greatly overstated…).
So it was with a bit of a heavy heart that I was informed, very politely by an officer keen to keep me in the loop, that in fact the works had over-run, and Kuhn Way would have to be kept closed for longer than we anticipated. I am really disappointed about this and I know local residents will be too. Actually the officer who told me wasn’t exactly delighted about it, and told me how she’d gone back to the contractors to ask whether it could be temporarily re-opened for a while, whether any work could be brought forward, and when I pressed about the delay and the duration I was assured she’d basically pursued all the avenues she could think of but that they just couldn’t find a way to make the delay any shorter.
The following newsletter has been sent out to local households. I did some redrafting of it as the first draft focussed more on the work and less on the outcome (longer closure) so I am happy that it’s as clear as it could be, which is at least something in terms of transparency. I also asked that the newsletter could be sent out to a larger area this time, so although it certainly won’t go to all of the roads that use Kuhn Way, it has gone through more residents’ doors this time which is again an improvement.
For what it’s worth, I am sorry about this. I use Kuhn Way myself, and so know that the diverted route is a bit of a pain, and obviously more so if you are disabled or elderly. I am glad that once the work on the school is finished we will be doing some improvements around it. I have seen an early draft of these and was keen that they should include planters, bollards to help stop pavement parking, a new sign marking Kuhn Way so that people know where it is, and more to help that area feel and be safer and better lit.
Which is all to say: Kuhn Way will reopen in September 2020. It will be improved and nicer and well-lit and safer. The closure is not brilliant, but I do believe that we all benefit as a community from having such a great school part of where we live, and so overall I do still think it’s worth it.
Edited 9/3/2020 to add an electronic version of the newsletter referred to above.
Hi Rachel, many thanks for the prompt update as always!
This is truly disappointing and frustrating. The alternative routes are a real pain not only for the disabled/elderly but even for people like myself taking kids in scooters or buggies to nursery. The other side alley is always dirty and full of puddles and accessing Woodgrange Rd on the other side means battling against cars in that car park during rush hours then going past more bins and puddles. I could go on but all this is common knowledge…..
What I find infuriating is that it appears there is zero intention to improve the alternative routes whatsoever (better cleaning/resurfacing/lighting/anything!) while Kuhn Way remains closed. I manage major engineering projects for a living and I can say that getting the time schedule wrong by 80% is a spectacular failure and not something you realise last minute and should be dealt with a “sorry we are very late again but it will all be better in the end” newsletter.
I had a chat this morning with the Neilcott PM on site who told me that their works would be done in 2-3 weeks, then Kuhn Way needs to stay closed until September to allow for the rest of the works (CCTV/lighting/paving etc.) to be completed. If this is true, I find it very hard to believe there is no way to open the route temporarily/intermittently – but as is the case with these things this is not the easy option.
Unfortunately this is another example (the other one being residents being subjected to the scaffolding stairs at FG station for years) where projects are mismanaged by the council/ contracts not set up properly or not enforced and residents have simply to put up with it unnecessarily.
Is there no other way we can put pressure on the council or the contractor to try a bit harder on this? Either to open temporarily or being works forward or improve alternative route?
Rachel kuhn way was never an Alley it was a Place and also the school kept saying that Kuhn way ran through the school ,they keep owning it in any conversation . There was no school anywhere around there when Parliament place came into being it was a much wider place with shops a pub and a blacksmith later a cinema also some tiny cottages , whitehall school was built in 1890 on the opposite side to where the school is now and until this school was built in 1965 no land was taken from our lovely public walkway ,the new school had the land the old school once stood on for a sports ground .. Since this school has been here it has encroached on our walkway which was put there for the publicaround 1840 and I am getting pretty tired of the school saying about having an alley running through a school , well it doesnt the school takes up our public space ours not theres and it is also not a rat run as also called by the school at one time
Thank you for this, very insightful.
Newham is considered to be one of the poorest boroughs and believing that despite of this it’s fair to charge the same as neighbouring boroughs.
Newham residents have already been suffering a lot financially, then to put this out there. If we wanted to go by on fairness you should have looked at people’s financial circumstances and then decided on the parking costs. For someone to pay £100-£200 a year towards this could have also helped them putting food on table for their family but this is never considered.
Then I know people will argue well if you can afford a car you should think about all these costs and it a fair comment to make but nowadays people from lower incomes can only afford cheaper cars.
I’m all for contributing to lowering the air pollution and only use car when necessary otherwise we are pro walkers.
I also understand that now there has also been restrictions for road users but now having to go on main roads which has beautiful parks and fields surrounded namely Wanstead. How do people feel about that? There’s always huge amounts of traffic whilst walking around Wanstead/aldersbrook- that’s also affecting the environment surely?
No, this isn’t fair. It’s just another money making scheme.
Whilst the poor become poorer!