Murky Depths

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Woolwich

Woolwich Hare Street: slow signs of rejuvenation seen

Energie Gym on Hare Street

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.

Hare Street had been in poor shape for some time

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.

Looking down Hare Street. New shops and gym on left. River would have been visible to right

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.

Towers seen here completed since photo taken – but no improvements to street

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?

Cross here from the town centre – or just dont bother

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.

New tower

There are also no confirmed plans in the public domain to do a thing about the crossing from Hare Street towards the river.

Looking down Woolwich High Street

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.

Public realm in wider area is poor

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?

Leisure centre on left cut off from Woolwich by busy road

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?

 

4 Comments

  1. Michael Garrett

    The ideal solution would be to drop the dual carriageway into an underpass and have Hare Street continue to the waterfront over the underpass. Expensive, but not as if Greenwich Council are starved of cash. It would be a statement of intent in rejuvenating the area

  2. Steven Norris

    Steve Norris
    With all the main shops in charlton its no wonder woolwich shops suffer, with all the new building going on it would make sense for the council to have a programme to encourage businesses to come to woolwich

    • fromthemurkydepths

      Yep allowing large schops in Charlton undermines Woolwich. They fought ASDA in the 80s but recent additions could have been challenged with a suitable masterplan in place. They didn’t have one. The 2012 masterplan encouraged more retail sheds. I fear they lack the ability to revive Woolwich. It would need something like a Business Improvement District as seen in Brixton, Bromley, Bexleyheath etc but they don’t want to give away control.

  3. CDT

    I agree with all of the above comments. However, I know a lot of people who now say the avoid Woolwich as much as possible for shopping etc. As they find the area to be very anti social and I have people say to me they do not feel safe walking through Woolwich especially at night.

    I have lived in the area all of my life and what I find heart breaking is that people feel this way about Woolwich and even more saddened that a lot of the problems affecting Woolwich including being pestered for money, street drinkers and large groups of youths hanging around the area are not really being tackled by any one.

    Woolwich used to be a great Town Centre with a market you could by anything from. Great shops including the Co-op Home Store and Cuffs Department Store. Marks & Spencer’s etc etc.

    Woolwich also has a lack of restaurants so there is not really anything to courage people in to the area in the evenings as there is not really much to do.

    I do believe with the right investment and Management Company in place Woolwich could be turned around like Bexleyheath and Bromley which are more pleasant areas to shop or go to a restaurant in the evenings for a nice meal and to relax for a couple of hours.

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