A trip to Greenwich’s new outlet shopping centre Icon at the O2

So then. I was not particularly looking forward to this except for some mild intrigue. I’m not a big shopper you see, and shopping malls are places I actively avoid.

But given the interest in the new outlet centre in the O2 (articles on it have gained a large number of views) I popped over to see what it was like and how the area was looking.

And you know what? It really wasn’t bad. In fact, I actually enjoyed it. And no, I wasn’t invited or anything like that.

Firstly, it’s pretty big. There’s no sizable stores like Primark or H&M though. Maybe people who drive would park up by those shops in Charlton and then take a bus to the O2 – a bit like a park and ride system. Which will obviously put strain on the buses and traffic.

Despite the lack of big stores, I can see it being a favourite of teens and those who like to go to shopping centres for the social aspect as much as buying stuff. It’s big enough to spend a few hours in – let alone the rest of the O2 and all that is outside.

Ground floor is not complete

One reason I liked it was that it wasn’t as manic as expected. Busy, but not crowded. Which probably wont last.

That was because large amount of units are still empty, including the entire ground floor.

Also, shops were doing introductory offers, and amazingly, they weren’t half bad.

As well as that, a couple of outlet stores I popped into actually were cheaper than the High Street. I’m cynical about this kind of marketing and expected outlets to have tat or stuff labelled as discounted because one branch in the Hebrides had it at the higher price for a week many moons ago, but no.

Many have compared it to Bluewater and the like. It’s not comparable. For one, as stated, the big stores aren’t there. But for me who would do that online anyway, it’s a far better prospect simply because you can escape the sterile mall feel after a while shopping (this one has that in abundance like most) and get outside with beautiful views, pleasant walks, a great park and more coming soon like the open air market and Design District now under construction.

View of the park

There’s the lovely Pilot pub just south of the park too.

Getting there

I took a route on foot to the O2 from Westcombe Park station. Pretty much no one one else will do this. I just wanted to see if any changes had been made to entice people to reach the Peninsula on foot from the station since I last did the walk many months ago . The answer is no.

This area was in line for small-scale improvements from Greenwich Council’s HILLs scheme in 2015 but nothing appears to have happened.

What is very noticeable is traffic levels are still increasing even before Ikea opens.

Buses were stuck in jams throughout the area.

Walking around did also show a number of new things in the area which I’ll be covering in coming days such as the new Design District and market as well as elevated running track now being installed. Plus Ikea and the new school opening soon.

What is clear is that the shiny Peninsula upgrades (great as they are) are as far removed from existing communities in east Greenwich and lower Charlton as ever in terms of investment despite plentiful millions coming in from Section 106, the Community Infrastructure Levy  and New Homes Bonus funding (4th highest total out of 350+ UK local authorities). It’s a problem that extends from Abbey Wood to Woolwich to Greenwich.

15 photos of the new centre have been added to my Flickr photographic account here.

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J Smith

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.

8 thoughts on “A trip to Greenwich’s new outlet shopping centre Icon at the O2

  • They’re putting up the elevated running track?! I thought that was far in the future. Do you know when it will be finished and will it be a new surface all around the peninsula?

    As to the new shopping centre, I’m quietly in favour though I worry about the effect on public transport.

  • A lot of work going on for the elevated track and I think late 2019 is the goal. It’s only the first stage though. Should be an all new surface.

  • In fact I will do a post on the elevated running track this week. There’s so much to cover in the area and changes coming thick and fast.

  • Didn’t realise there was an open market coming. Do you have more details?

  • It looks vast and empty now, but as observed a lot of the units remain to be tenanted. I might go out there on the bus as I can get on the 108 from the bottom of my road in Lewisham. I used to live in Westcombe Park Road, but it’s not a walk I would fancy.

  • There’s a quaint park called east Greenwich pleasuance near to westcombe park station with a nice little cafe in it. I think the man that shot napolian is buried in it. It has lots of little community events. Ikea will really effect the traffic down there and it’s often gridlocked already!

  • I finally managed to get out to the new shopping outlet on a week day during mid-morning.

    My overwhelming impression was of a vast impersonal space which dwarfs the small units. The fact that it is still to be fully tenanted added to the vastness. It is also cold and an assistant at one of the concourse stands was wearing a coat.

    I really don’t see this as being a massive draw away from Bicester, but it’s one saving grace is that North Greenwich station is closer to this outlet than either of the Bicester stations to Bicester Village.

  • Pingback: More shops open at Greenwich’s o2 shopping centre Icon – but it’s slow going – From The Murky Depths

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