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.
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.
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.
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.
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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