Murky Depths

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Woolwich

Owner of 56 Woolwich town centre shops falls to £1.1 billion loss

Empty shops below handsome buildings

A company which bought 56 shops across Woolwich in 2018 has recorded a loss of £1.1 billion in results announced today.

British Land purchased various shops for £103 million in 2018. In 2019 they recorded a loss of £320 million and in the year to March 2020 a loss of £1.1 billion. That period does include a small period of lockdown which begun on 23rd March. Next year’s results will see most of the impact.

Since taking over in Woolwich the town has failed to attract many names – with household names moving away. Starbucks left as did Dunkin Doughnuts to give two examples.

Former Dunkin Donuts now empty. Starbucks occupied unit on left until recently

A large number of empty units litter Powis Street including the former Phones 4 U. They collapsed almost six years ago.

Empty shops

Wilko are closing and opening a new shop in Charlton.

British Land units in blue

The town has attracted some shops such as Sports Direct, but even there, conditions of planning permission such as painting and renovating a neglected building has not been undertaken.

All of those troubles predate the current situation. Who knows where the town will end up?

There are huge housebuilding plans which should offer a great deal of future custom, but it takes good management to ensure the area actually appeals to people – both old and new residents. Whether British Land will have the funds to invest remains to be seen.

 

16 Comments

  1. ChooChoo

    Restricted parking means that the days of going to Woolwich town centre for a big shop are numbered. Charlton retail parks, Westfield, Bluewater and t’internet are better options. Woolwich is a mess and has a real identity crisis. The council spent big on the square installing a huge TV and doing some landscaping. Teens came and used the area for skateboarding – which was pretty cool, I thought. Better than them sitting at home on an x-box or getting into trouble with gangs. However the boarders were moved on. Who has replaced them? At the other end of the disposable income spectrum, some of the more premium brands have moved away as their target demographic invariably drive to other destinations. It must be especially hard for retailers in the pedestrianised bit to attract footfall organically when their shops are completely hidden from passers by and no signposting is clear from Plumstead Road. Seems like British Land bought a turkey for now. Perhaps fortunes will turn around with the opening Crossrail and the Spray Street redevelopment.

  2. Charles Calthrop

    Imagine a borough like Hackney or Tower Hamlets getting hold of a beautiful square like Woolwich – the surrounding area would be teeming with street food places and a good late night crowd. If the market were encouraged to grow, you’d get something closer to its old appearance in the 80s rather than the sad footnote that remains. The desire and the drive need to come from the planners, to encourage more than just housing to be built. The giant outdoor screen and relatively good condition of the square show that people respond to clean, beautiful surroundings. If that were carried through it would make Woolwich a real treat, rather than look like the end of the world

    • Lord Lew Can

      You can only lay the blame at the door of Greenwich Council. A real shame for a place with serious potential.

      • Graham

        Yes I do have to agree with you Lord Lew Can Greenwich Council are largely to blame. For most people Woolwich is a no go area due to anti social behaviour.

        With the right management, investment and tackling the anti social behaviour Woolwich does have great potential and can be a great town centre again.

        With so many new homes in the area businesses would have a great local customer base.

    • Anon123

      Why are greenwich cllrs so unimaginative? Why dont they hire better calibre planners? The square is a pecfect example of lost opportunities. The square near the council building in Tower Hamlets Mulberry place has completly transformed with a water feature, decked seating, coffee shops, gym and several food trucks that come out during the lunch hour to feed the council workers. We have the exact same set up here in woolwich with the council building and square next to one another but all they did was put a stupid TV there! It really annoys me. Why dont they ask Tower Hamlets as a neighboring borough for consultancy support or advice? (…Its ok the mayor there is white now in case anyone didnt get the memo…) Why isnt the square opened up for a farmers market every so often? Why do those two ugly green mounds full of trash and pigeons continue to sit there. Surely there could be better use of the space in front of tesco. Why was that vaping shop ever allowed a license!? Why are there betting shops everywhere. Until if these kinds of establishments go maybe new comers would venture into the high street but if the locale is still crummy they would prefer to get on dlr or drive to statford or other decent shopping centres. If the sq is just gonna sit there like a pit at least turn it into a cross rail entrance, that would be a lot more useful than what it functions as now.

      And lastly why is one person allowed to own 56 shops in a small highstreet? Doesnt really encorage competition or innovation.

  3. anonymous201486

    The only way that Woolwich can look up is if some premium brands moved into the area, but the perception of the town is one of low income, shabbiness and anti-social behaviour.

  4. Paul SuperUnknown

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Councillors in Woolwich are small timers. It’s above their capacity to think big. All they cry about is the lack of money, yet they give millions to that bottomless pit GGLab! They give away revenue sources, Parking Enforcement for one, and wonder why the “pot” is always empty! The scoundrels and ne’er do wells who inhabit the centre of town are a perfect example of the Council’s apathy when it comes to fixing what ails the area! No cycle lanes! Too much street clutter! Their absolute ignorance when it comes to following the suggestions of those in the know (TfL, DfT)! The citizens of this Burrough will never get the type of Burrough we deserve as long as these short-sighted, stuck in the ‘70’s politicians are running the show!

    • Charles Calthrop

      Small-timers. Exactly what they are. Long on excuses and short on vision, they’re blessed with a near-playground of opportunity to create a fantastic town centre. Instead they’ve decided to seal off the nicer part (the Crossrail side) and let the old town centre starve to death. Anon123 also makes a point about the Square being used as a Crossrail entrance and you can see it shape up like the new Tottenham Court Road station.

      What’s always struck me is that the Arsenal site was in effect a complete working city of its own, with its own post office and trains. Imagine restoring part of it as a living museum town, let people see what life was like in the early 1900s when the docks flourished. People want experiences, and it could easily have been accommodated along the river route.

      But, small-timers think only of scrabbling for pennies. In some ways the Council have a lot more in common with the “…scoundrels and ne’er do wells who inhabit the centre of town”. Neither dream of anything beyond shaking down the honest citizens for a few pounds. Its probably why they won’t move them on – they see the resemblance

    • Ashley

      Totally agree Paul Super Unknown, All these Greenwich Labour councillors are chronically Inept, not interested and lack any resolution for change, for much needed improvements and investment.

      We need candidates for the people, champions for their local area and proud to live in the Royal Borough.

      Implement strategic plans and act on investing in our outdated neglected Public Realm.
      Creating Pedestrian friendly, decluttering of bollards, safety rails and weirdly positioned posts etc. Utilise S106/CIL and TFL funds.

      Lay the foundations For Greenwich Councils Meridian Home start to build our future housing at affordable rents and by helping the homeless.

      Not forgetting a workable process to combat illegal parking, abandonment of unwanted or untaxed vehicles blighting this borough.
      This would generate significant revenue.

      It’s a shame Greenwich is stuck in time warp especially when you have one party ruling this Borough for 50 years with no sight of changing unless people open there eyes to voting in another party.

      Change is needed drastically

  5. Woolwigerian1990

    Scoundrels and ne’er-do-wells… It’s always shocking coming on here and the Newsshopper message board (to an even greater extent) and seeing the absolute contempt so many hold for Woolwich and its citizens. At least the racist right-wing rabble on Newsshopper are knuckle draggers of the daily mail mould. I’m pretty sure the bulk of commentators on here would say they’re left leaning/liberals, “tolerant” and all the rest, but deep down are still rattled by the sight of black teenagers in hoodies. Seeing violent anti social crimes when it’s low level loitering and abit of (shock, horror) drug dealing. Majority of you need to get over yourselves. Think you’re so englightened and better than. Anyway I enjoy getting my info from here, Wilko’s leaving is as low as it gets.

    • Paul SuperUnknown

      I’m sorry to have rankled your hackles, but when I see stabbings, beatings, theft, and downright vandalism and disrespect of public property, those who are responsible ARE scoundrels and ne’er do wells! To shrink back from calling them out for their blighting behaviours is to believe things are EXACTLY AS THEY SHOULD BE, and we deserve no better! I deserve better, and I want better!

  6. Anon12e

    Oh please I am a minority and have done outreach work with the black community for a decade. Newsflash even black people dont want to live in crime ridden s-holes!

  7. anonymous201486

    @Anon123, high streets often have one major landlord. There is nothing you can do to stop those with the money acquiring land and property.

    Woolwich is unlikely to see a farmers’ market after the failure of the ‘street food’ venture in the public market. The person behind the idea and Greenwich council are blaming each other for the collapse.

    @Charles Calthrop, you have hit the nail on the head when you say ‘… they’ve decided to seal off the nicer part (the Crossrail side) and let the old town centre starve to death.’ In fact, I went to a ‘festival’ a few years’ ago and all the nice things – food/art/crafts – were behind the wall.

    @Woolwigerian1990, you are the one who mentioned ‘… black teenagers in hoodies’, but we are the ones who are racist.

    • HK

      Pretty much agree 100% with all your points.
      Greenwich Hospital own quite a few of the properties in Greenwich Town Centre.
      The Inc group also use to own quite a few business too.
      Owning many of the properties has both it’s ups and downsides.

      Woolwich Town Centre has so much potential but it seems nobody in charge is willing to be brave when it comes to decision making.

      I don’t understand Woolwigerian’s comments either. Nobody mentioned the race of the anti social groups and, so maybe he/she is exposing their own bias?

  8. Disappointed

    I am fed up of people bringing issues down to colour. Regardless of colour who wants to live in a sh!thole. Woolwich has been in decline for years and this decline needs to stop. As stated in other post I firmly believe that the blame for the decline lays squarely at RBG doorstep. To discuss it has nothing to do with colour or political beliefs. I have grown up hearing authorities of all political parties use my skin colour as an excuse for their ineptitude. Basically let’s not fix or improve anything because it will affect the ethnic minority community.

    For the record RBG will see this post and be laughing at us. While there is comments like the above about being tolerant, left or right wing, RBG will continue to run down the area with little regard for our quality of life. Wasting valuable resources on their pet political projects.

    There is no earthly reason why the community should accept anti social behaviour or low level drug dealing. Period. As if these ills are a compulsory part of living in Woolwich. I want and deserve, along with everyone else, to live in an area that is vibrant, economically viable and visually nice. Basically on par with ladbroke grove or notting hill. If that makes me right wing then so be it. I shall wear that badge with pride and honour. For those who feel this is wrong, note I deliberately stated those areas as they have a large ethnic minority community and the areas are known to be nice………are they all intolerant or right wing too??

  9. anonymous201486

    Ladbroke Grove and Notting Hill have the one thing that Woolwich lacks, an abundance of beautiful period properties. Many were former Rackman dwellings that had fallen into disrepair. The middleclasses began moving in back in the 1960’s and renovated the houses for family living, but even then such properties were still quite expensive and now command resale prices in the millions.

    Today’s Ladbroke Grove and Notting Hill may seem socially cohesive, there is still a divide a financial divide. Lest we forget, the Grenfell Tower fire happened on the watch of the richest borough in the country that make Greenwich look benign.

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