Big Plans for Abbey Wood

It seems that big changes could be afoot in Abbey Wood. A large site near the railway station is in line to have a Sainsbury’s superstore, hotel, new public square and hundreds of flats as part of the Cross Quarter development. The prospect of a hotel does seem pretty astounding in a place like Abbey Wood, but then again Travelodge seem to be just about everywhere these days, and one of their documents did list it as a potential location a few months ago.

wrote a year ago about the site being purchased. Here’s an image of what the plans looked like then –

The renders looked quite attractive and reminded me of the impressive replacement of the Ferrier estate. However the announcement of a large supermarket, hotel, public square and flats mean in all likelihood it will be a completely new masterplan.

Behind the development are Gallions Housing Association, property developer and investor Development Securities & Berkshire Investment Capital. I’m a bit wary, as Gallions have built some very poor developments in Thamesmead in recent years. Developments that are not just ugly but inapproriate, such as the circular building and slab like block near an elevated dual carriageway and major roundabout in Thamesmead. The ugly frontage of the block looms over the carriageway. Pollution must be an issue for residents.

Development Securities are behind the ‘movement’ development next to Greenwich station. They have also been involved in some hotel developments which are less than inspiring. It’s pretty much a given that the hotel proposals will be quite dull with miserly small windows. The majority of new budget hotels springing up across the country are, whether in urban areas or by motorways. All too often budget hotels are motorway service station architecture dumped in towns and cities to the detriment of the environment. Just because its a budget hotel, doesn’t mean it’s neccesary to have a blank, dull facade occasionally punctuated by small cell-like windows as happens so often. I’ve seen some half decent looking budget hotel buildings, and some that even have the small square windows along with more interesting facades using depth, decent materials, and resulting in  something even approaching attractiveness. They are in a minority though, and developers and hotel chains wont do anything decent unless pressed. I hope Greenwich Council are paying attention.

So it seems as though Crossrail will make a big difference. There’s plenty of scope for more flats and shops nearby in the Village area by the station. The Harrow Inn pub was demolished a couple of years ago and the site has lain derelict ever since. Also, the main row of shops next to the station has a few single story buildings. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Tesco Express or similar with flats above in place of the single story buildings there soon.

As an aside, I was just browsing the Times Digital Archive. It’s available online through most library accounts I believe, and I was browsing using my Greenwich log in details. I searched for Abbey Wood while having a browse. One of the first results was a letter from 1849 regarding the new railway line, around the time the line through Abbey Wood was first built. The letter begins ‘Sir, what grumblers the public are’ in reference to comments about the line – some things don’t change! It also describes Abbey Wood as ‘densely populated with the vice-chairman of the line’, and ‘pleasantly studded with one barn and some trees’. Not sure how a barn made the place densely populated. I also recall reading a couple of years ago on a digital archive, possibly The Times, that the woods near the station was used a Cold War drop off point for Soviet agents. The archive is well worth a browse.

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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.

14 thoughts on “Big Plans for Abbey Wood

  • Bowing to the inevitable changes (sadly!) I was interested to read about the updated plans for Abbey Wood – and would personally love a local Sainsburys, but I do wonder if that particular store would really want to come here? I hope you don’t mind but I have done a link from my Blog over to you – I will remove it if you have objections.

  • That’s fine no problems. I was reading your blog last night I loved it! I was surprised at the supermarket being a Sainsbury’s, but then I thought about how hard it is to categorise supermarkets recently into certain areas, and they must see it as an area that will change when Crossrail arrives.

  • about time! abbey wood is crying out for regeneration. we need bigger shops than sad lidl and co-op.

  • Hopefully property prices will go up. What is the site currently used for? It looks like the travellers camp, but I may be wrong. If it is, I hope we don’t experience our own dale farm episode. Hope the horses won’t get too spooked by the construction.

  • Abbey Wood is crying out for a something like this that can only lead to better things for the area.
    At the moment it is a sad, ugly dump of an area. Have just read Andrina’s blog and can’t believe her friend objected to the colour of the Travelodge. I think it looks great and will give the area a modern feel that it needs. When I went to the Cross Quarter viewing on Saturday, I was told no one had given any objections against the plans and everyone was all for it. Andrina’s friend must have came and a good old whinge nearer the end of the viewing.

  • I didn’t go to the meeting myself ( ill) but I contacted the company dealing with the consultations who have been most helpful – and I have updated my blog accordingly. As I told them, although I obviously preferred Abbey Wood as it was (but how it was many years ago!) it has got very run down down and if you are going to to a project you might as well do it big. I wasn’t happy about Crossrail at first – but have even got used to that now. Certainly looking forward to Sainsburys. I tend to write more about the past – before it is forgotten (believe it or not Abbey Wood was once very nice!). Obviously I will try and write about what is happening now – but does it so much better than me!

  • Robert – The site is currently vacant. It isn’t the travellers camp but the old Siemens factory and Gallion Housing offices next door.

    In terms of the colour of the hotel I have no objection if done well. That’s the crucial thing. One of the worst thing about recent architecture is cheap and drab cladding. Grey is a favourite for many two bit ‘ designers’ and is pretty awful 90% of the time so colour can be very welcome. However, budget hotel chains put up some of the ugliest, cheap buildings, often using awful randomised bright coloured panels, in a poor attempt to disguise the fundamental cheapness of the structure. To be honest I can’t see the hotel opening for quite a few years anyway.

    The plans aren’t final yet and I would advise keeping a close eye on what is submitted. Often in poorer areas pretty bad designs are submitted, and supported by some, as ‘it’s better than what is there already’. A pretty poor argument to me. There should always be a demand for good design to improve the feel and image of a place, and to prevent a new round of demolition of failed buildings in 30 years. From what I saw of this scheme it looks pretty good so far.

    Andrina – Thanks! Glad you’re coming round to Crossrail. I think it will be very positive. It should improve the area leading to more facilities and quicker and more varied trips to central London. Who would have thought a sainsburys, of all shops, would open there? Without it Abbey Wood would continue declining to consist of not much else but chicken takeaways and being a dumping ground for people. I hope the whole Village area will be improved with nicer paving, lighting, and greenery and crossrail will help in gaining that. It shouldn’t need crossrail to get that but sadly that’s what it will take. I lived in Abbey Wood from birth until I left to go to uni at 19 and saw the decline myself, and still spend a lot of time around there. I was always told it was far better even before I was there by family and others who lived their for decades. If this development is high quality, and the village is improved and better shops and pubs move in then Abbey Wood will finally improve.

  • You have such up to date information and greater insights into the bigger picture than I have – I’ve come to the conclusion that my blog is really for the elderly…Oh dear…

    • Nonsense I think it appeals to many! I’ve really enjoyed your blog having lived in Abbey Wood and being interested in buildings and history. Before finding it it was bloody difficult to find out much info about the history of the place. There isn’t much else on the internet. It’s answered a lot of questions I’ve had over the years – for example why the houses were much newer where the jam factory used to be on the Co-op estate, and just what that building was that you wrote was an old police station. Keep up the good work.

  • We need to attract young working professionals and families to liven up abbey wood. With crossrail and amazing regeneration plans, i’m sure abbey wood will be the next hot spot for city workers. retailers will also be attracted to abbey wood due to the influx of young professionals and families. i wonder if there are any objections to the cross quarter regeneration and what are their concerns? I’m sure they are in the minority though.

  • So please to see how much Abbey Wood/Thamesmead will be upgraded in the next 5 years. Sadly the area will only be as nice as the people who live there. We have graffiti all over the shutters on the shops and groups of non speaking English people who drink under the flyover. Who would want to spend a night in a Travelodge with undesirables hanging about outside? As for Sainsbury’s they had better employ so good security to deal with the riffraff or it will soon close down. So what can be done about this?

  • you try living in East Ham/Barkiing!

  • Anybody know, what will happen to the traveler site. Personally I would like to see it gone.

    • It’s in a site ideal for high density housing and it is far from at the moment, and we do need far more housing. Also an eyesore right now. I’d imagine the council may be worried about suggesting it but happy to do so for council estates. A new site can be located close by, perhaps in Thamesmead?


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