How Woolwich Royal Arsenal looks as Crossrail’s (missed) opening approached

With Crossrail originally supposed to be opening in December (before the delay) Woolwich’s Royal Arsenal would be expected to be a hot-bed of activity. And on a walk around the site, it certainly is seeing much change.

In terms of the station, on the external side at least, the station showed progress. Golden panels on the main entrance exterior are now in place, and the surface level boxes to the east are looking almost complete.

No entrance will be located at the eastern end of the station. These are ventilation boxes:

Towers will be built around and above these boxes in the Armorers Court scheme:

Armorers Court development above eastern end of station

Could this forthcoming development be used to fund an additional station entrance to benefit Plumstead and Thamesmead residents?

Pavilion Square

This stage of Berkeley’s Arsenal development is practically complete. It’s the red brick block with a large arch:

Heading further down towards the Thames showed parts where hoardings removed and people entering buildings (not just builders despite the pic).

Hundreds of people will move in over coming months.

Creative District

Plans for conversion of these buildings have just been approved, with more plans recently submitted, though work is yet to commence:

How it will appear:

I’ve covered phase 1a here and Phase 1b here.


Cranes are on site at the former Waterfront car park which is now entirely closed. The third tower of an earlier riverside stage is also topped out:

The towers coming to the former Waterfront car park site:

Callis Yard

This block beside Riverside House is also approaching completion, though its hard to tell behind the shroud which currently surrounds it:

Public realm is still poor but hey what’s new – removing the divides from tired old parts of town to shiny new builds is never a Greenwich Council priority. Two-tier segregated space and not sharing the wealth seems to be perfectly ok:

Another cracking space for buggies and wheelchairs

Just down the road from all these new builds are the tired old parts of Woolwich. Any chance of a Section 215 notice on the owners to do something about this?

All the regeneration banners in the world mean little when buildings left to rot

Forget about all the tiresome inner Labour squabbles; at a fundamental level this is not an authority that appears to have much desire to use incoming wealth to improve run-down and deprived parts of the borough to any meaningful degree – whether it be Abbey Wood, Woolwich or Greenwich.

Sure, you can find the odd scheme but nowhere near enough given the money coming in – more this year to Greenwich borough than the entire city of Birmingham receive.

General Gordon Square was looking great, the Woolwich Building wonderful yet most of the town centre is still pretty tired. Those schemes would probably have happened anyway regardless of Crossrail (General Gordon Square upgrade in 2012 was funded by TfL’s Major Places element of their LIP fund; every borough receives it for one project every two-three years).

A follow up post will look at Abbey Wood – another area that should be reveling in improvements related to Crossrail.

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I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

    10 thoughts on “How Woolwich Royal Arsenal looks as Crossrail’s (missed) opening approached

    • I hope they soon re-open the area around the new station soon and don’t wait for the actually station to be opened in November 2019.

      Does anyone know when the Creative District is due to be complete? Thanks.

      • I’d heard 2020 but these things tend to slip (see Crossrail and Waterfront’s planned move).

    • I’m really confused by Greenwich Council strategy. I don’t think most councillors and officers are deliberately holding back other parts of town but are completely out of their depth and either don’t know how to do so and just havn’t moved with the times to embrace new funding streams and ways of working in partnership. They operate too often in a silo without looking at other areas.

      A massive shake up is needed.

      Crossrail is a godsend – a massive chance to boost the rest of the town. Despite this all changes seem to be solely from the private sector or TfL.

      Greenwich Council themselves are not spending much of their *own* funds despite dividends being received.

      Spray Street = private.
      Arsenal site = private
      Callis Yard = private
      Tesco = private

      Yet all bring in many millions to Greenwich Council which has gone where? There’s the station box but that doesn’t take everything!

      I mean, most authorities would improve the surrounding area as a major priority from incoming funds. Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem – all would as it’s the right thing to do. Not doing so increases and fuels a divide and resentment, of which their is plenty in Woolwich.

      It’s all so very weird.

      • Well, Greenwich ARE spending money in Woolwich. The Creative District is one big example. Whether it’s the right way to spend tens of millions whilst Hare Street and Woolwich High Street, to name just two nearby areas, need a lot of TLC is another matter.

      • Also, you touch on a bigger point which is how to improve the situation. Leaving it to Greenwich Council alone is never going to work. A strong local organisation comprised of residents working alongside businesses (a Business Improvement District is a big factor in why many other town centres succeed as they pay a surcharge which is then invested in an area) would help, but Greenwich don’t appear to want it. They seem to want sole control, yet are not really up to it. It’ll take a big fight and some brave people within the ruling party to stand up.

    • Correct me if I’m wrong (I normally am!) but do any buildings in Bexleyheath Town Centre have weeds growing out of them?

      Any in Bromley town centre?

      Any in most town centres in towns across the UK?

      But Woolwich does – in a few places along with crumbling facades, poor signage and a general air of neglect. It’s symptomatic of Greenwich’s lack of care and inexcusable at the best of times (they could enforce rules against the owner to improve it like in Plumstead – which itself took a decade of local people fighting) but with SOOOO much money coming in from Crossrail such a lack of focus on things like this is revealing.

      It says more than a million words. The haves and the have nots. This ain’t no Labour council in behaviour that I know of. It’s too many people coasting along who don’t care. It’s only where the poor people shop near Primark and TK Maxx. Sod em eh?

      The stupid thing is if they did strive for a better town centre, more business would move in and more income in their pockets.

      • See point above – those other towns have Business Improvement District status acknowledged by relevant councils whereby local orgs and business agree to join forces and pay a small sum for local events and town improvements. Councils then use their funds in addition.

    • Simple upgrades like the realm of that crossing but also the streets (to start with…) approaching towards Dial Arch square should already have been done. Doesn’t need much work, and would show some commitment to not only the new build area. Crossrail is a golden opportunity, with the DLR, who’s running for years now, having an incredible impulse too. I think to contact local MPs and council to ask their vision and commitment

    • Love the Arsenal as a visitor. Really lovely place to stroll around with no cars. Get out though and bit by Waterfront so bad. Cars always parked blocking buses and loads of street clutter.

      Very surprised no plans to work on that given five Berkeley towers.

      The road is stepped but that could be sorted. Remove barriers, put in cycle lanes, some greenery and that’d encourage new business along road.

    • I am a Plumstead Road resident for 24 years. Nothing has changed with the old and dilapidated Glyndon Estate and rodent infested Polthorne Grove. Tbe whole area has a foul smell. Area needs complete refurbishment so the poor people can live in decent surroundings. There are too many derelict shops along Plumstead Road and something needs to be done about the unhealthy foul smell.


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