Poor old Hare Street in Woolwich has been an unloved part of town for decades.
Lined with some solid, attractive, buildings which offer a glimpse into a more preposterous past when it ran to the rivers edge, the area descended into a mess of boarded-up, crumbling buildings adorned with foliage sprouting out as a big dual carriageway was installed.
The link to the river was hindered not only with the dual carriageway but Waterfront. The leisure centre did contain a passage through the building to the river which was eventually enclosed.
Almost a year to the day I wrote a post looking at the sad state of the street.
Since then some tentative signs of life are springing up. Not to get too carried away, mind. Baby steps.
Sports Direct are moving into a unit near Powis Street. Energie Fitness gym opened last winter, an African restaurant has opened and a new bed store too.
Independent businesses valiantly struggle on too such as Bagel Boss.
The eastern end of Powis Street suffers the same fate as Hare Street. New homes such as conversion of the former co-op have done little to alleviate struggles.
With signs of life near Powis Street the area of Hare Street closer to the river still struggles. The issue of an ugly, pedestrian-unfriendly dual carriageway at the end of the street near Waterfront remains.
Not exactly encouraging footfall is it?
Despite a plethora of developments in the area including Callis Yard tower recently completing and towers now rising on the old Waterfront car park, in tried and tested Greenwich Council fashion next to nothing has been done to improve the area for pedestrians.
There are also no confirmed plans in the public domain to do a thing about the crossing from Hare Street towards the river.
This doesn’t help their own struggling leisure centre (membership numbers have plummeted in recent years) nor the borough’s major town centre as a whole and thus business rate income.
There are vague ideas to rework the area when Waterfront moves to General Gordon Square seen in a document more than seven years old. It would once again have Hare Street meet the river which would be fantastic – but plans are continually delayed.
Whether that scheme will do much about the wider dual carriageway is an unknown right now. It’s not even a dual carriageway half the time anyway due to poor parking and a bus stand.
Here you’ve got a microcosm f all the authority’s public realm failures in one small area – with the side effect being a half-dead part of town. Both the council – and thus the public finances suffer for it.
Less business rate income from empty units and Waterfront leisure centre losing out from competition. Why walk there from the town centre when other gyms are easier and more pleasant to reach?
If you think that’d be enough for action you’d be wrong if the past is a guide. Still, some business fight against the tide and are managing to improve the area and try to entice shoppers. Maybe the authority could do its bit?