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Woolwich

Greenwich Council appoint project manager for Woolwich Creative District at cost of £309,390

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
fees.

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.

 

 

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6 Comments

  1. G

    Be great to hear some feedback from RBG on this.

    I really hope they don’t drop the ball on this.

    The Tooting Market guy seems the logical answer for the market and he seems very keen.

    A few more quid needs to go into the rest of Woolwich and RBG need more joined up thinking on the planning decisions.

    I get the feeling RBG are happy to throw money into the RA and Creative District and hope for a “trickle down” effect from there to the wider area.

  2. fromthemurkydepths

    From asking around it seems Woolwich doesn’t have a Town Centre manager. If true then very surprising for a major town centre.

    I’m sure cuts will be trotted out as an excuse (just ignore the huge sums coming in from new housing and developments which could help fund) yet a strong Town Centre manager could help push BID status, and similar projects that will draw many more people to the town increasing revenue and leveraging private income from major high street stores as Bexleyheath has done since 2011.

  3. Tired but still standing

    If I understand the documentation correctly, this £309k is over the three years expected to deliver the project., so, £100k/year – not bad really.

    What intrigued me more was:

    “On 29th March 2017, Cabinet agreed the scheme to develop and build the Woolwich Creative District at an estimated cost of £31.59 million (plus £11.16 million contingency). Of this amount £5.4m has been allocated for consultant fees.”

    Why is the contingency so high? Surely costs can be calculated quite accurately nowadays. Why is £5.4M being spent on consultants – 15% of the cost and what are we getting for that?

    • fromthemurkydepths

      Yep agreed it’s not hugely excessive for such a role. It’s the symbolic nature of it that really stings. The old town centres of Woolwich (plus Plumstead and numerous other shopping and town centre parades) have struggled with poor leadership for many, many years with vision not apparent and yet sums are agreed for the Arsenal.

  4. Jo

    I love the look of the arts district but the entire budget is huge when town centres nearby are in such POOR condition. Bizarre really. What message is this sending?

    And it’s not just town centres but estates, many public areas and parks too. Plumstead Gardens is a prime example of community facilities starved of cash whilst massive sums found for flagship projects. If senior Greenwich politicians are reading this – local people are noticing this disparity.

  5. Ben

    Agreed. There is potential for say, the stretch from the old public market tin shack through to the bottom of powis street in front of the DLR and then on down powis to the ferry, to be transformed into a genuinely pleasant place to hang out if it’s cleaned up and all the dross and betting shops are cleared out. Surely there is something that could be done to encourage more interesting shops /restaurants /small businesses to set up by what is becoming a pretty well connected area.

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