The long-planned shopping centre at the o2 in Greenwich (or Dome as I still call it) could well see its first retail occupants move in from May this year. It’ll be named Icon. Most shops are unlikely to move in until later on in the year.
£185 million is being spent on installing retail units on parts of the Dome still unused since the Millennium Experience ended on new years eve back in 2000.
Four to five million visitors are expected each year with at least 80 shops and more restaurants planned. Those are big visitor numbers. An aim is to entice Asian tourists – many of whom currently travel out to Bicester Village.
A central “street” will have single storey shops on one side and two levels the other.
Cineworld cinema will also be expanded.
There were ill-fated plans for a super-casino on the part of the dome now to be used for the shopping centre.
I never really got why so many kicked off about a couple of huge casinos in the UK (which are pretty glitzy and tacky affairs that people generally go to for big events) yet less was said about liberalising gambling advertisements (which now cover most football teams shirts) and bookies on High Streets which attract far more problems and gambling issues than a big show piece super casino would have.
Anyway, Gordon Brown became PM and blocked the super casino, allowed the rest of the Gambling Act to proceed which then gutted local authorities abilities to block new betting shops, and the Dome lay half empty until now.
I know I add this addendum to most posts but transport, as ever, is a critical component of any new development, and a shopping centre of four to five million visitors is certainly going to have an impact.
And that’s where things get a bit sticky.
Let’s take buses. There’s already a scrum to board at North Greenwich. TfL could well even be cutting back certain buses under changes recently consulted upon.
The shopping centre will naturally increase crowds alongside Ikea, the forthcoming St Mary Magdalene school (1600+ pupils) under construction on the Peninsula nearby, new build homes etc.
Then there’s the Tube. TfL recently scrapped plans to order more trains for the Jubilee Line and increase frequencies.
Passenger numbers are stagnant this year but still higher than two years ago and no one thought tube travel was a cakewalk then. Add in new homes around other Jubilee Line stations such as Canning Town, covered here, Stratford, North Greenwich and areas around Canada Water and stagnation probably wont last long.
Maybe Crossrail will completely alleviate the problems. A long shot perhaps.
And finally cars. The road network in the surrounding area is already terrible with congestion rising due to new retail parks. New schools and Ikea will increase congestion. There’s masses of car parks still on the Peninsula, but can it handle many more cars?
It’ll probably be used as another push by some for the Silvertown Tunnel, yet the approach roads on the south barely change under plans so it will not offer much relief.
The many changes underway on and around the Peninsula are exciting in isolation, but on a wider level once again the question again is how will transport networks cope?