January 2019 decision to compulsory purchase buildings for 750 homes and cinema in Woolwich

Greenwich Council are due to decide in January 2019 whether to compulsory purchase buildings in Woolwich for the 750 homes Spray Street development.

The development from St Modwen and Notting Hill Housing offers much to look forward to including a new cinema and commercial space alongside 742 homes.

New public square is welcome

However a large swath of Woolwich town centre would be flattened to make way for the development with some shop owners raising complaints about the process and alternative sites offered.

A dentist, for example, has raised issues around relocating as has a newsagent who complained that an alternative site offered was over in Abbey Wood in an area with far less footfall. A campaign group named Speak Out Woolwich has also formed.

The newsagent is located in a parade of shops on Woolwich New Road that with investment and a little imagination could look far better. The parade is not great at all right now adorned with poor signage, shop frontages and some buildings barely maintained. But think of what might be.

Courtesy Google

Much of the rest of the wider site has little architecture merit but some parts do – including the row of Victorian shops and the covered market. Developers have changed plans from retaining and renovating buildings of merit amongst new builds to leveling everything.

It could be argued that it would be justified if greater density were provided through demolition, but some good quality buildings on Woolwich New Road in line for demolition are to be replaced with some that are barely any taller – but a lot blander.

I also really dislike how buildings at each end jjut out and impose themselves. The building at the far end would replace an 1980s block and no big loss there, but the new build visualised appears to encroach onto paving space. This is an area of high footfall that will only increase when the Elizabeth Line opens.

Missed chances

The covered market has also seen a new lease of life as Street Feast’s Public Market. The transformation of the space in a matter of weeks shows what can be done. Initial plans to retain the market with relocation have also been dropped.

Early render showing market. moved but roof retained. Now abandoned

There’s much to look forward with the plans for the area. But it’s a shame the easy option has been taken to flatten everything instead of working creatively to retain what has merit – only if 10% of the overall site – and build around that. It’d make barely any dent into overall home numbers of provision of a cinema and shops.

If Greenwich Council do agree to proceed with a CPO on all buildings alongside a lack of alternative, comparable space for retailers, then it’s likely to raise a much opposition.

Click here to read a post from January this year when plans were submitted.


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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 “January 2019 decision to compulsory purchase buildings for 750 homes and cinema in Woolwich

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  • Personally I can’t wait for them to flatten the lot of it to be honest . Very questionable businesses in that area , many who I’ve seen with my own eyes dumping litter into the street .

    At night it’s not a nice area to walk around and I don’t feel safe at all .

    • Surely then remove the dodgy businesses alongside the crap buildings (90% are poor) but support those businesses that do good, like a dentist, and renovate minority of buildings with merit?

  • I really hope it stays, They can literally improve it and clean it up, We need some History amongst the modern cube towers.

  • I hope Tai Tip Mein are able to relocate nearby – that would be a massive loss!!

  • Some of the historical buildings could be possibly be refurbished like the nearby Equitable Building over looking General Gordon Place. The area however, is in desperate need of a major clean up and business owners need to be more responsible how they dispose of their rubbish,

    But there is a lot of anti social behaviour in this area and around Parry Place which effects local residents with noise and cars etc. It is true people just do not feel safe walking around this area especially at night.

    For this reason I now support the regeneration of the area with the new homes and cinema. The News Agents and Dentist could be relocated very close to their existing premises in one of the other empty retail premises in Woolwich.

  • There are already two vintage cinema buildings in Woolwich near the ferry with some great history to them. Just because they are used (rented/owned?) by mega-churches (snake oil and live exorcisms anyone?) does it mean they cannot be repossessed and repurposed?

    That would enable the ferry end of Powis street and Woolwich high street to come to life again, timed nicely with the royal Arsenal neighbourhood spilling over from the east.

    Admittedly the spray street location is closer to the 3 train station entrances, but perhaps encouraging cinema visitors to take a 10min stroll through local business avenues would enrich the whole area and spread the money being drawn to Woolwich by the cinemas.

  • Pingback: Nine screen cinema coming as part of revised Lewisham Gateway plans – From The Murky Depths

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