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