Plans to progress a long-delayed new leisure centre in the centre of Woolwich on the site of Wilko are before Greenwich Council’s Cabinet next week.
The scheme is around five years late and the Waterfront, which will close, is bleeding members quickly. As I covered yesterday (Monday 20th), membership numbers are down 20 per cent.
Much information is not publicly available in the new report. It does reveal they are looking “to procure a partner to deliver the residential element of the scheme” and will refurbish the Tramshed.
Will they council utilise their developer Meridian Home Start and thus be able to utilise every penny of profit – typically 20-25 per cent – and reinvest into housing and the new leisure centre, or will they allow a private developer to take control of the housing element and retain that profit?
Reading through the report, the project features input from the Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and the Third Sector and the Portfolio member for Growth and Strategic Development, but not the Cabinet member for Housing. Well, it’s not mentioned.
That’s despite this site being a prime town centre plot with plans for some existing housing to be demolished. Troy Court would be flattened, and the report states “that there be no further lettings at Troy Court with immediate effect, and that steps be taken to rehouse the existing tenants of Troy Court to allow vacant possession of the site”.
It also states “no formal ballot is needed as the scheme is not receiving GLA funding”.
If signed off, the council will move on to secure future design work. Eventually they will reveal decisions; will they choose a private developer to build homes on public land, or will they step up and use their own developer Meridian as many other London councils are to retain maximum value for taxpayers? Some London Councils are now looking at building hundreds of homes on plots.
Then there’s the question of what will happen to the old Waterfront? A case of selling off again for developers to reap the rewards, as seen over the road at Callis Yard and Riverside House, or will they take an active role and retain profits from future housing sales for the good of all?