Woolwich market and Spray Street consultation soon – as new public realm neglected

Early render
Early render

A consultation looking at plans for Woolwich’s ‘Spray Street Quarter’ is to be held this weekend. Council papers shows plans for a cinema, up to 650 homes and a new public square. The consultation website mentions “around 600 homes”.

I covered the topic recently here. Plans look pretty positive so far, and should greatly aid connecting the Arsenal site with ‘old’ Woolwich.

The extensive Spray Street Quarter site
The extensive Spray Street Quarter site

You can find out more on Saturday 25 June, from 1 pm – 5 pm and Monday 27 June, 3 pm – 8 pm, at Greenwich & Lewisham Young People’s Theatre (The Tramshed) facing General Gordon Square.

Nearby areas unloved already

However, a trip this week to the town shows once again that Greenwich Council are squandering opportunities to lift up the long blighted town. The first impression upon leaving the station was just how filthy so much of the area was. And these were spots where £9 million were spent just a few years ago. Maintenance has been poor.


I’m not talking litter, but ground-in dirt on many pavements and much street furniture. There were plenty of street sweepers around town doing a great job but departments don’t appear to directly resources well. They need to also deep clean areas using jet washers. As I wrote before, Greenwich Council’s own paper boasted of buying some on their own cover. So why not use them? Everything just looks so scuzzy right now.

Various Greenwich council departments have issues with routine upkeep of public spaces – even in the busiest town centres. A fortnightly clean would maintain spaces which cost millions to install.

woolwich plumstead road
Paint chips across much street furniture

It leaves a crap first impression of the town when leaving the station. And first impressions count. Heading to the squares shows parts looking very unloved. The area facing Plumstead Road is again filthy. All these areas were upgraded with millions of pounds from the Greater London Authority very recently.

Much time was spent designing high quality spaces, ordering and installing high quality materials to improve the towns reputation. Then Greenwich Council’s department take charge and let it slide pretty rapidly. These simple things count. Get them wrong and problems can spread  – more people litter, shopkeepers don’t upkeep properties, the whole feel of an area can decline with negative effects spreading.

It’s not just the paving – but all the paint chips on signs, benches looking filthy etc. It all adds up to a cumulative effect and reinforces the image of Woolwich, which let’s be honest, is pretty bad among many. Rightly, or wrongly, getting these simple things right can do much to change that. And it’s so easy and cheap to fix.

Road surface broken
Road surface broken

The road surface is also a mess. Setts used for a road surface was always unlikely to work with heavy buses constantly using this stretch. It’s been the same at Bexleyheath and many other town centres. Early renders for the public space outside Abbey Wood’s Crossrail station show the same. It won’t last a year.

It’s all well and good having flagship projects but getting the basics right counts.


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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.

    0 thoughts on “Woolwich market and Spray Street consultation soon – as new public realm neglected

    • I couldn’t agree more. Have you ever received any responses from Greenwich to your posts repeatedly pointing out their many failings?

      • I’ve heard from cllrs and staff, and know some personally that work there, and many are good people. But there’s failing in some management and officer positions, and cllr’s should be far more demanding of some.

    • It’s such a shame that RBG are given millions to improve places for locals and then are unable or unwilling to maintain. £9 million and a mess so soon? Embarrassing for officers and councillors. Do they care?

    • Maybe greenwich council could keep it looking nice, if they didnt have to make cuts for the workers on woolwich market.

    • Greenwich council have the staff and they have the equipment. It’s a case of allocating staff to do it.

      And like most things – very poor public space, park and streets management long pre-date cuts, and unlike many other authorities, they have a large amount coming in via developer contributions (s106 and Community Infrastructure Levies) that could be directed towards upkeep.

      • Greenwich Council are past masters at decay. The streets are always filthy, the bins are always full to overflowing and the pavements are a public nusciance, even a hazard. The current state of disrepair is no longer shocking. It’s simply the way it is and if you ask any long term resident of the borough they’ll be sure to tell you it’s always been like this too.

        Long ago it was accepted that the streets of Greenwich had look like turn of the century slums. It’s a useful identifier. You’d be anywhere in London but you’d always recognise that certain hopless degredation of a street in Greenwich. That familiarity with demise along with the ambiance of more than down at hellness meant you could only be in Greenwich and no where else.

        Greenwich was never too posh and Greenwich never had ideas above it’s station. Shame that because if the council did have a few more ideas about the look of their public spaces it’d be a much nicer place to live in.

        It’ll be interesting to see what happens in 2017. In 2017 Greenwich Council gets to keep 50% of the total business property tax raised in the borough. Up till then the council had to hand it all over to the treasury and only keep 35% of receipts.

        Osborne’s last budget was all about ’empowering local councils’. One thing Greenwich has never short on is power. Oh did you get that to any political party the mantra is always the same and it goes like this Power = Money. Right up to this point you thought you lived in a democracy didn’t you.

        So where will they spend all that extra money? Public spaces for a better enviroment for all who live and work in the borough and for no obvious profit or maybe something else. My money’s on the something else and it really doesn’t what that something else is. They will concoct a scheme that puts that extra money into their pockets at the expense of making any discernable difference to the lives of it’s struggling, long time suffering residents.

        • ** NEWS UPDATE – Greenwich Council Finds New Moneymaking Scheme.

          This comment lifted from the comments section of The New Shopper, Thu 4 Aug 16, on the enforced and premature closure of the the much used Warehouse Leisure Centre :


          “Residents did indeed speak at the Cabinet meeting – against the proposals. No residents supported the plans at face to face meetings (which consisted of tiny groups of invitees between 12 and 20 at each). The online survey consisted of council suggestions of activities with the option to tick) 50 people participated. One company (Peabody) is recorded as the business consultee in the Plumstead Urban Framework. This is not “overwhelming support” or “extensive consultation”. Nor does it represent value for money or a revitalisation of the High Street. Local residents did and do indeed support investment to revitalise the High Street – in terms of cleaning, decluttering and refurbishment – rather than spending £11.2 m plus on a vanity project which will result in the loss of the borough’s first leisure centre, butchery of a much-loved newly listed building (a very early Andrew Carnegie funded library), sale of a building which the council’s own highly-paid consultants had recommended retaining for use by a community group, possible removal of a well-used car park on which retailers are dependent and more.”

          Didn’t take long.


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