A new consultation has been launched on the future of Woolwich town centre.
The town could see funds from the High Streets Heritage Action Zone project which I looked at last year.
The survey asks questions about the town centre which has struggled for many years. Recently British Land, which own 56 units, announced a £1.1 billion loss – and that was mainly before current circumstances.
One thing about Woolwich is that despite being pedestrianised for 30 years, car primacy remains in street design despite vehicle access being limited. See the bollards lining the “road” and yellow lines. There’s also a fair amount of street clutter.
Recent successes in Woolwich include designating parts of the town centre as a Conservation Zone in January 2019. This was a key factor in the rejection of a tower last month beside Tesco. It also helped in altering plans for Spray Street and integrating fine existing buildings among new builds.
On the flipside that heritage isn’t always appreicated. The town has long seen buildings neglected with little enforcement. Over the past year Sports Direct opened but a key condition of planning approval to clean up the building has not been undertaken.
Other buildings on Hare Street were refurbished recently, yet instead of restoring stonework as planning applications stated, it was simply painted over.
One plan to improve the public realm and open a new market to the rear of Iceland sadly went nowhere.
Woolwich is an endlessly fascinating place but one which sees much stigma from various quarters. It has endless huge regeneration plans which in many cases havn’t benefited many parts of the town centre or actively threaten to detract from areas. Mortgramit blocks are one such scheme:
Then again new spaces are being created which will appeal to many, such as a new riverside area which opened last week. Much of the Arsenal site is great – but feels a world away from Powis Street and Hare Street.
Failing to spend much developer income from large developments in the town is a key factor in many parts lagging behind.
The town has long lacked strong management to steer it through tough times. Bexleyheath for example stole a march decades ago and for some time now had Business Improvement District status which sees business pay a levy to promote, maintain and in places improve the town. Bromley has one too helping to draw people from the south of Greenwich borough.
There are attempts to draw people in such as the Greenwich and Docklands festival draws crowds, but how many return regularly?
Whether Greenwich have the management capability to firstly win a substantial bid and then enact a successful scheme is one to watch.
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