Murky Depths

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Greenwich borough

Greenwich leisure centres continue to see fall in users

Dated street design and clutter beside Greenwich Centre

Figures before Greenwich Council’s Cabinet show further falls in users of Greenwich borough leisure centres operated by council spin-off Better.

According to the report: “in Q3 2019, the Leisure service has experienced an 8.5% (38,420) drop in visits from 450,106 to 411,686 during Q3 2018 over all of the leisure facilities.”

A number of factors are given as reasons. One is the closure of Thamesmead’s pool for a month which would have had sizeable impact yet steep falls were in evidence before that.

Another factor given is the closure of Waterfront car park for tower blocks under construction for Berkeley Homes.

The Waterfront is moving to a new location in the town centre yet has fallen behind originally scheduled dates. One issue is Wilkos’ lease on the planned site off General Gordon Square and no alternative site being procured in the town centre.

Towers coming on Waterfront car park site

Increased competition is given as another reason. Many gyms and fitness centres have opened in Greenwich and Woolwich. Energie Fitness opened in very close proximity to the existing Waterfront centre in December which could impact upon the next quarter figures. It is comfortably cheaper per month.



Another factor which is never mentioned in these reports is very poor public realm which acts as a disincentive to visit some leisure centres on foot or bike. The existing Waterfront has a dual carriageway one side (with masses of street clutter), a ferry terminal the other and now a building site next door.

Greenwich Centre is beside a pretty awful junction and a small pocket park is unlikely to do much to improve it. Masses of new homes on the Peninsula should be a big potential market but as I hear again and again, many people won’t walk such poorly designed streets to reach it.

Not pleasant

Improvements are forever on the horizon but progress painfully slow. An agreement with TfL for more money to mitigate Silvertown Tunnel saw only £350,000 extra procured after nine months of talks, and improvement towards the dangerous Angerstein roundabout are not part of the legally binding agreement. That’s because the Mayor has promised cash as part of separate schemes – but we’ve heard that before.

Still as bad as ever

Cash for the area due in 2012 appears to have not been spent. Cash due to be spent this financial year has seen no public consultation and no one seems to know what is happening.



You all know about the many millions of S106 and CIL income derived locally.

And then this forthcoming week there are plans for 61 student rooms which are due to be approved in east Greenwich. Once again nothing is due to be allocated to improve local streets for better links and accessibility.

Hopefully the tide can be turned as many leisure centres offer very good services and also help bring footfall to libraries.

The report can be seen here.

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9 Comments

  1. A local

    I moved to the private sector as soon as the Arches closed and have never looked back. The council ones are expensive and from my experience poorly maintained, poorly cleaned and the staff didn’t seem to have any desire to help customers. How they compete with the likes of operators charging 19.99 a month is beyond me. A drain on council tax.

  2. A Better Greenwich

    To add at that the greeenwich centre gym/pool you always need to have coins with you for the lockers and for the hair dryer. In 2019!!! A joke!!!

  3. Jo

    Today is a great case study in Greenwich of why we don’t go. The whole area is gridlocked with traffic. I could take a bus and be stuck with the kids in traffic which is no fun. I could get a cab and pay £££ thanks to said traffic, or I could walk with kids on god awful streets.

    None are appealing. There’s other things to do which can avoid all those pitfalls so those will be done.

  4. Anna

    I find it mad that the council run leisure centres are so much more expensive than other budget gyms. Surely council run services should be the most affordable and accessible? Better charges £10 more a month for gym facilities than some of its competitors and no discount for those on a low income unlike the Be Active scheme in Lewisham.

  5. Niall O

    does anyone know what’s happening with the old arches site? it’s been boarded up for years now

  6. mvb

    I always loved to take my children to the Arches when they were young. Children want to play and have fun, the next best thing is wavelengths in Deptford but this is unreliable as often you arrive to find some features not in use, also the pool has become grubby. 25 metre pools with no water features are not much fun for young children. Deptford is our best choice at the moment as it is within walking distance.

    • Stan

      Yes, it’s shocking that they could approve a new centre with inferior facilities.

  7. Graham

    The Leisure Centres operated by Greenwich Council have not been that clean when i have used them and the changing rooms needed upgrading as did some of the pools and gym equipment.

  8. CDT

    I think relocating the new Leisure Centre in to the heart of Woolwich Town Centre by General Gordon Square will be more beneficial to users as will be nearer to more bus routes and shops in the Town Centre. I hope all the facilities will be provided in the new Leisure Centre along with separate pool areas for children and families So families can go for a great afternoon having fun together.

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