Murky Depths

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Woolwich

New Woolwich leisure centre slowly proceeds – as Tramshed retained

Viscount House. Future site of new leisure centre

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.

Large membership falls seen in Woolwich

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?

Waterfront car park sold to Berkeley Homes

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”.

Callis Yard tower on left on former council site. Riverside House on right recently sold

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.

Much public land lost for short term gain

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?

 

4 Comments

  1. Michael Douglas

    Very happy to hear the old tram shed will be retained and restored. I seem to remember reading an earlier council document saying it was to be demolished. Doing so would have been criminal, especially since we’re loosing a whole row of period buildings for the Spray Street development.

  2. John Edwards

    Can’t believe a Labour council will be demolishing council homes, especially when they are specifically for older people, many with health problems. This must be opposed.

    We need more council homes, not less and this could be a prime site for building more council homes, including some for families. There are 19,000 on the waiting list. Many children are having to be rehoused in temporary accommodation outside the borough in the Medway and then travel back to Greenwich everyday for school.

    Why will the many millions from the Waterfront sale not be spent on developing a new Leisure Centre and homes for local people? Why allow the big developers to make their obscene profits from this instead of providing for the local community?

    And where is the meaningful consultation on this? A decision will be taken at 4.30 pm on a Wednesday afternoon ( 29th January) by a cabinet of 10 Labour councillors. Barely a week’s notice! This is truly shameful.

    We will be organising against this, including a petition, lobbying Council etc. If you want more information, please go to the Speak Out Woolwich facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/speakoutwoolwich/

  3. Ashley

    It will be more beneficial for Meridian HomeStart to be given the chance to build homes for the Borough and the ever growing housing list. We need more affordable housing at Council Rents.

    It will be another woeful act by this Labour administration if they choose another Private developer.

  4. Graham

    I thought the whole block by Wilkinson’s was coming down to make way for the new Leisure Centre. With only the original Tramshed building remaining next to the new Leisure Centre.

    As i stated in the consultation i am hoping that the new Leisure Centre will have a bigger separate areas for children, women, disabled, men and possibly other faiths and the LGBT community. So that the Leisure can be used by everyone.

    Hopefully with the new Leisure Centre being more centrally located in the Town Centre and the new Leisure Centre is kept cleaned and well maintained membership numbers should increase, Which goes a long way to help with the Centres operating cost.

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