News is out that Greenwich Council have agreed to spend £309,390 on appointing a project manager for their planned Creative District at the Royal Arsenal site in Woolwich.
This follows a period when Woolwich Town Centre has been crying out for strong and effective leadership.
It follows news that the council are advertising for an operator to run Woolwich Indoor Market. Experienced operators and the public have been trying to engage with staff and departments regarding the site’s future but havn’t had the best response with poor communication and leadership once again at the fore when it comes to old town centres.
Modest funds are required to make the building safe. Greenwich Council don’t seem very willing to dip into their pocket.
The necessary funding needed to ensure the building is safe for a couple of years (at least) would be a fraction of that paid to the project director.
The old town
The idea of a creative district in Woolwich is appealing but at what cost? Is ballet going to bring in as many people as a fantastic food and drink market? I’m not being down on ballet here by the way – bring it on.
The current cost of the Creative District scheme is estimated at £31.6 million (plus £11.16 million contingency) with £5.4m allocated for consultant
Will it be the latest money sink for the many millions coming into the council from new developments instead of funds helping places such as Powis Street and Plumstead High Street?
The Department for Communities and Local Government revealed that new homes are bringing in £13.7 million this year to Greenwich Council through the new Homes Bonus scheme. It’s brought £54 million over the past five years.
This years sum puts Greenwich in the top 10 out of 300+ authorities nationwide. In addition, Section 106 payments and Community Infrastructure Levy payments are flowing in from developers due to the large number of new-builds.
This year is likely to be at least £13 million again from S106 and CIL. How many existing areas are benefiting from these funds? Not many.
We just have to look at “old” Woolwich town centre. It’s still lacking clear and effective management. There’s no Business Improvement District scheme, or plans for one, yet £309k is being spent on a project manager for a new scheme?
I hope this isn’t coming off as too anti-cultural district. I really like the look of it. Granted, the comparisons to the Southbank are a bit fatuous. Many aren’t going to travel to Woolwich for performance art, like it for not, but it still can do much good for the area. But large sums of money shouldn’t be directed there at the expense of existing long-deprived towns which need effective strategies and leadership. We’ve seen it all too often. Pet projects rule whilst the basics aren’t done.