The empty new shops of Woolwich

Beside Woolwich Town Hall stands one of the town’s newest blocks of flats. At its base lies a number of commercial units. All are currently empty.

The development of this site was contentious and involved demolishing an art deco cinema building where new operators were trying to turn into a sustainable arts and community facility.

Renders before building work begun

Developers eventually succeeded in plans to demolish the site and the new building appears externally complete, but for the shop units at least, no business has yet moved in. It’s be a prime site beside the Town Hall and opposite the Woolwich Centre with plenty of council employees on hand to give custom.

Courtesy @Kleon – taken early 2018

Hopefully this isn’t yet another case of commercial units in new builds lying empty for years due to excessively high rents.

Greenwich has seen numerous retail units lay empty at new development sites in recent years.

Many flats also look empty though it’s hard to be sure. Foxtons do have a board outside advertising flats. The same company was accused in a Times investigation last month of duping sellers into believing they could gain higher sale prices than the market offered. Sellers believe the over-valuation, and then once in charge of the selling process the agents would then state they couldn’t raise the original estimate.

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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.

    8 thoughts on “The empty new shops of Woolwich

    • I hope these new commercial / retails units are occupied soon. They are in a prime location on Wellington Street by Woolwich Town Hall and the Woolwich Centre. Also there are also a lot of new flats under construction opposite. So there would be plenty of potential customers in the area.

    • It was a bloody disgrace when they levelled that theatre, the exterior had a lot of character, and it lent an air of authenticity to the old town. Now, I fear the creep of gentrification every time I pass by one of these new soulless monoliths.

    • Sadly we are losing a lot of our heritage in the Borough of Greenwich. With many of our old historic and character buildings demolished. I have to admit I always thought the exterior of the old theatre was listed. I was shocked when it was levelled.

      However, now the new commercial units have been built I hope they are let and occupied soon,

    • These empty units are all over the borough. I have assumed that it’s a case of the developers asking for too high a rent and then (later) applying to have the unused shops converted into flats.

      • Between the Job Centre, VD Clinic and depressing bulk of the local buildings, the area doesn’t seem to be all that appealing. Starbucks or Costa would probably thrive (captive audiences all around) but little else, particularly if the Job Centre patrons need a place to sit down before appointments or want to use the free WiFi.

        A good, 5-12 restaurant might work, given the availability of parking nearby (I’m thinking of places like Saffron Kitchen on Lea Bridge Road) but I’d be reluctant to start a business in an area that has no dedicated shopping footfall.

        Other than that, it probably will be turned into flats at the urging of the council. The last thing they need is boarded windows opposite their flagship.

      • Agreed @Chris. I don’t know why developers even bother with shop units since they will stand empty for ages.

    • The empty units on this site may work better as office space rather than retail units, Being located close to both Woolwich Town Hall and the Woolwich Centre on Wellington Street.

    • Workmen are now working on the inside of this empty commercial unit and it looks like the boards on the windows could be coming down in the very near future.

      Does anyone know what is planned for this site?


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