New Woolwich leisure centre: Greenwich reveal design

Well if I may blow my own trumpet for one moment can I just say I called it.

Greenwich Council have revealed designs for their new leisure centre on the site of Viscount House which houses Wilko. It is indeed the design I spotted in a planning application a few weeks ago and covered here.

To be demolished

What do you think of it?

I’m not really sure the General Gordon Square façade is befitting this town centre square location. A centre like this in the middle of greenery? Sure, but here? Contextual?

Tramshed is being refurbished and extended

The current Wilko store is due to be demolished after February 2021.

Looking towards Wilko

It’s also disappointing that no housing is to be built above the rear area on the leisure centre plot. For such a sizable town centre location directly beside Woolwich Arsenal railway and DLR station and close to Crossrail, 450-500 homes on a separate plot to the rear isn’t very ambitious.

Overview

It may not be appropriate for high rise housing above the leisure centre directly on the edge of General Gordon Square given proximity to Equitable House, but there does appear scope for buildings to rise and taper up towards the rear.


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There is housing planned to the rear of the overall site but not the leisure centre section.

New pool

Given this is public land and there is severe housing need, why not utilise all possible space while ensuring buildings do not loom over the square? The numbers in temporary accommodation in Greenwich continues to rise:

September 2020 report on housing in Greenwich

We’re not talking 20 storeys on the square’s edge, but around 6-10 floors of residential above fitness studios before reaching the planned residential plot where heights will increase.

Waterfront will close

It also appears that despite being public land, social homes will be limited. Given the modest 450-500 home total, we could potentially see just 200 “affordable” homes, with limited private homes to cross subsidise the project – especially if Greenwich Council gift the plot to a private developer who will require sizable profit margins rather than the authority reinvesting all profits.

The rebuild will see council tenants at the over 50s housing block named Troy Court moved out. Greenwich’s cabinet agreed that last month.

The location of the pool will also be a key factor. At the current Waterfront centre swimmers can look out to the Thames – and not have too many people look at them. Here you could have hundreds of people waiting for buses peering in depending on design.

On the bright side there will be a number of new fitness and leisure facilities such as more fitness stations in the gym and eight lanes in the pool rather than six at present in the Waterfront. No outside slide though.

The famous slide – site of many a Woolwich Pigeon competition

The fate of Waterfront – and whether Greenwich sell the land or use it to build homes alone or in partnership remains to be seen.

These towers from Berkeley Homes are being built on what was the Waterfront’s car park

The consultation also asks feedback on whether the Bull Tavern pub should remain.

Courtesy Google

It doesn’t mention that another shop building was recently demolished just along Vincent Road with plans for housing approved in 2018. Then in March 2020 plans for a hotel were approved, yet this plot lies within the overall site now being consulted upon.

Hotel plan approved

Could this throw a spanner in the works?

Hotel plans

You can view new leisure centre plans here and have your say.

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John Smith

I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

19 thoughts on “New Woolwich leisure centre: Greenwich reveal design

  • December 8, 2020 at 11:42 am
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    I feared they would build small – well relatively – on their own plot and give away the rest. What’s the betting Peabody or Berkeley get it?

    Do we know how much they got for selling the waterfront car park? I wonder if they’ve already agreed a deal for waterfront itself?

    End of the day and I hope im wrong but developers cream off the land, we get a small amount of council homes and thats your lot.

    Im wondering if there is even a need for a big gym at 2 and 1/2 the size? A pool makes sense but all the new builds seem to have gyms and for those on a budget the new gym chains are much cheaper than the council. This looks like a 2005 model for 2025.

    Reply
  • December 8, 2020 at 11:57 am
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    I don’t agree with the concept of Council housing where a private rent may be £150 and the Council rent could be £75….its a distortion of the housing market and totally unnecessary….

    I’ve lived in multiple properties both here and overseas and have had very little need of Housing Benefit…

    What has been the case for many years where the expression Council Estate was mentioned…was an inferior living situation…being low income doesn’t make lower class people….

    Any adjustments as of now should be through Housing Benefits etc….not by offering substandard housing conditions…..

    The days of Rachmam are long gone and private lets are everywhere and good quality….and often superior to any Council Housing

    Reply
    • December 8, 2020 at 12:02 pm
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      The distortion is government props pushing up housing costs forcing people to rent at high cost. Even on decent wages – £20k – £30k in SE London – housing benefit is often needed. Who benefits? Landlords.

      It’s costing taxpayers many billions each and every year. It was £9.3 billion in 2016 and doubled since 2006. That could build many good new homes and maintain existing homes.

      Just checked and it’s now believed to be £12 billion a year by 2020. If stable (and it wont be) that’s £120 billion over the next decade going to private landlords. Where’s the news on that like we get for a small crossrail overrun?

      If you think private lettings are better you should see the results of a Home Office funded investigation in recent years across Greenwich borough of private lettings. Many are in poor conditions with overcrowding an increasing issue and numerous faults found with electrics, safety, insulation etc. And then look at the state of emergency accommodation costing taxpayers large sums as a lack of public housing for people. Landlords again reaping the benefit at the expense of taxpayers and tenants.

      Housing benefit was cut around 2012.

      Council housing is/was only substandard as funding for maintenance fell as funds for housing benefit increased as rents increased and ending up in the pockets of landlords. A coincidence when many politicians are landlords?

      There’s nothing to say it should be substandard. It was’t for decades. People now have become conditioned to think the recent past is the past full stop. It’s not.

      Reply
  • December 8, 2020 at 12:46 pm
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    No car park, no play area for kids (developers hate building anything they can’t sell). Why no car park – the numbers that dropped at Waterfront once the car park closed shows how vital it is. Similar with the Greenwich Centre – it just moved the parking problem elsewhere. With a family we have been put off using Greenwich Centre as it is a pain to get to at times without a car.

    Reply
    • December 8, 2020 at 12:55 pm
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      Car parks are not happening in town centre sites. Less and less people under 40 drive. More and more new builds nearby that are car free. Plenty of footfall and public transport links. I expect drop off for schools and the disabled.

      The Greenwich Centre has atrocious walking links from Greenwich Peninsula new builds. Idiotic from the authority not to improve that despite many chances to do so as developer income flows in. If there were better links combined with promotions with residents at GMV and other new builds they’d see a boost.

      Reply
      • December 8, 2020 at 1:37 pm
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        You are talking about Greenwich who have built both North Greenwich and Woolwich Crossrail without public drop-off, or even black cab.

        Woolwich is dying without cars to boost shopping. But a leisure centre will work better there as by a transport hub. Except…

        The artist’s impression appear to have closed Thomas St and Woolwich New Road. So where will the buses go, and will that route people away even more? Covid is massively reducing commuting too, and if you add a specific 30 min bus journey each way on top of an hour in the Gym, you massively reduce uptake.

        Reply
        • December 8, 2020 at 4:39 pm
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          The O2 has a taxi rank and a drop-off point outside the station entrance. Woolwich Crossrail has a tax rank at the back of it.

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          • December 8, 2020 at 5:14 pm
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            The O2 has no legal point for private drivers, and when it first opened, they refused to allow the black cab rank to be signposted, despite the intention being for disabled users. Enforcement was increased over the summer, and almost uniquely in the country, there is a byelaw making it a prosecutable offence to say goodbye to someone, on top of the stopping penalties,

            As of 2018, a rank AT the station had been refused, offered by the developer to go with the demolition of a listed building, planned, then withdrawn again. The last time I looked, Station way was an access to locked barriers and a pay car park only, and no black cab rank – if one has been added since, I can’t see any publicity. The only rank listed as of Jan in Woolwich is the one by the SE Station, on Vincent St. The surrounding roads are also entirely double red, preventing cab waiting use or dropping by anyone else without the black cab exemption. But I haven’t been there since lockdown.

            I firmly believe in public transport; however, I think it is unreasonable to expect all users to be on foot, particularly if disabled or with luggage, and shopping is a competitive draw situation.

        • December 8, 2020 at 6:42 pm
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          I thought it was TfL that built North Greenwich and Woolwich Crossrail, unless I am mistaken and Greenwich Council now run tube and train stations?

          Reply
          • December 8, 2020 at 8:14 pm
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            In a literal sense, yes, for the main facilities but it was Greenwich which laid down the planning consents, road layouts and regulation, etc, controlling this aspect. Their decision.

          • December 8, 2020 at 8:22 pm
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            Greenwich have never run any stations. Some are TfL and some are Network Rail / Southeastern. Surrounding areas vary depending on land ownership. Some changes require planning permission and some do not.

        • December 9, 2020 at 2:13 am
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          Really, people ought to be walking, cycling or jogging to the gym then they can save a bit of time and/or money as a result by only needing to spend half an hour there, having done the cardio part of their workout on the journey!

          Reply
          • December 9, 2020 at 2:58 am
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            In an ideal world, of course. But that’s “fit people thinking”, if you have used all your energy in the session, you don’t want a nice jog home afterwards, you are “gym focused”.

            But I note numbers dropped significantly after the Waterfront closed its car park. Lots of factors, but the end result was clear.

            Being near transport hubs, will minimise, not eliminate, this effect.

    • December 8, 2020 at 2:23 pm
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      It’s easy to get around the borough without a car. I’m glad that many of these new developments aren’t including car parks – we need to get people off their dependence on private vehicles.

      Reply
  • December 8, 2020 at 1:04 pm
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    I moved here from east London where many gyms in towns do very well with no parking. I notice SE London seems more attached to cars which will change with all the new flats. I must have read about ten thousand at least in the last month such as Woolwich estate rebuild, the big plot near Plumstead station and more. Much potential custom – if well priced. If not low cost gyms will decimate them. Low cost gyms do have parking in Charlton and that’s the councils own fault with poor planning decisions. Despite parking becoming less important it still doesn’t help to offer it in places alongside cheaper gyms.

    And aren’t we all missing covid? That must have badly hit Better? I mean they were struggling before.

    Reply
    • December 8, 2020 at 8:23 pm
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      Better/GLL have received some emergency funding recently but they were seeing declining membership numbers across Greenwich borough long before. They’ve now also taken on Lewisham centres.

      Reply
  • December 9, 2020 at 12:20 am
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    It may be easy for some to get around the Borough without a car and for some to give up dependence on private vehicles but there are some of us with extremely limited mobility but not wheelchair bound who rely entirely on their car to go anywhere. Without my car I would be housebound but we are never considered at the moment.

    Reply
  • December 9, 2020 at 10:32 am
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    Oh another Greenwich Council project that will suck in funds while the rest of the town has simple basic issues unaddressed.

    How can a racist “preacher” STILL be on Powis Street regularly after years? He was there again at the weekend shouting and screaming.

    How can so many building owners get away with leaving their buildings like that? Look directly next to the main council HQ at the shops along from weatherspoons!

    How can they force out one of the main shops in the area people think its worth visiting in Wilkinsons?

    Greenwich council can’t get a grip on basics but these projects keep the managers in jobs and give the leaders somewhere to cut ribbons. If they could get a grip on the little things Woolwich would thrive but as long as the little things are ignored it wont prosper and I wish it would. I wish this would change the town but it wont as some of the people in charge are so hopeless.

    Reply
  • March 13, 2021 at 7:49 am
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    Yet another monstrosity that does not improve the area and that nobody who lives here wants.

    Reply

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