An autumnal walk around Woolwich

It’s time for another semi-regular update looking at ongoing changes around Woolwich. The town’s always in a state of flux and new developments are having a pronounced affect on much of the place right now. Meanwhile, other areas remain resolutely unchanged.

Let’s start with the Waterfront leisure centre car park, where hoardings were being installed advertising Berkeley Homes latest towers. Earlier this month I covered plans for the car park’s imminent closure with spaces moving to three other sites.

New towers are to be built on the car park in coming years. The Waterfront itself is also due to move to the site of Wilko’s on General Gordon Square with work potentially starting in 2020.

Just behind Waterfront the old ferries continue across the Thames. Two new craft will arrive in a years time to replace the existing three.

Opposite the Waterfront another tower has topped out on Woolwich High Street.

This is beside Greenwich Council’s Riverside House which they recently put up for sale.

The development is named Callis Yard after the council depot site which previously stood here. The finished article should look a bit like this:

The design is all a bit ’90s. And the low-rise section does a disservice to the existing parade of shops, which with some love and attention would look fantastic.

As it is, some are in terrible shape. Certainly bad enough to enforce a Section 215 notice which would force the owners to repair the building or be prosecuted.

Weeds growing out of buildings seems pretty common in places like Plumstead and Woolwich town centre. Other attractive buildings nearby are in a similarly poor state:

It’s hard to imagine such conditions being allowed in, say, Bexleyheath Town Centre. But then Bexleyheath has an active authority who implemented a Business Improvement District. Woolwich Town Centre doesn’t even have a town centre manager.

Greenwich Council instead found £309,390 to employ a manager for their planned arts district on the Arsenal site whilst the old town has had little for years. Do they want to bridge the divide between the old and new Woolwich?

Another way to do so would be to improve the public realm along Woolwich High Street but nothing is planned anytime soon to actively encourage more people down here and create a more appealing space.

Trees, less railings and clutter, cycle lanes, new paving and lighting?

Arsenal towers

Jumping over now back onto the Arsenal site and another tower has almost topped out:

New hoardings around Waterfront car park in foreground

Here’s the view from the temporary park nearer Woolwich High Street:

Another lower-rise development is very close by named Pavillion Square. This ones a bit ’80s with the red brick and curved corners:

The park here is temporary by the way. Expect things to kick off when inevitable building work starts on part of it in coming years. In its place will be a green spine from the river to near the Crossrail station.

Estate refurbishment

We jump now over to an estate by the south circular. This has had refurbishment work done and looks a lot better. This is part of Greenwich Better Homes program. Pre-cast concrete panels have been replaced by rendered exteriors for better energy efficiency.

The one downside is that the spaces around the buildings still seem in a poor state. To be fair, it isn’t yet complete but we’ve seen many times that estate refurbishments focus solely on the buildings and leave communal space in poor condition.

Proud to live here?

Once again here it’s the usual mix of cheapest possible street furniture, often damaged and in disrepair, with general neglect thrown in.

It often seems a  mystery as to whether the Housing Department even know their remit is not solely buildings but public spaces and greenery around them. What should be the lifeblood of areas is dead, hostile space. Space that no one is going to take pride in, few use and which encourage anti-social behaviour and issues like flytipping.

Let’s see if they improve these areas before the rippon is cut and Greenwich Council send out PR and selfies.

Right, this post has rambled on enough so a few other points. The Woolwich Building society building on General Gordon Square is still shrouded in scaffolding as upper floors are converted to flats.

Another development has begun. Cranes are on site for 116 homes just up from Woolwich Town Hall on the former Ogilby Homes site:

Here’s what is coming:

And finally, the housing block beside the town hall which formerly housed a cinema is now at full height but still covered in scaffolding.

So as ever, many things happening across the town. Not enough in the old Woolwich for my liking with many great buildings slowly crumbling. Many of the new builds are pretty decent and with Crossrail coming next year, many more new plans will kick off or be announced.

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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.

    2 thoughts on “An autumnal walk around Woolwich

    • Expect the cry of cuts when asked about any issues with estates. Then blank stares when its pointed out the issue goes back long before cuts and, anyway, what are you doing with all the money new builds are bringing in? Then they ignore further questions and the poor are left to live in squalid conditions.

    • Oh, what has been done with the money supposedly ear-marked for public improvement? Why, it’s at GLLab, of course!
      As I’ve written so many times before, GLLab is a money dump, from where political favours are repaid!


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