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.
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?
The current Wilko store is due to be demolished after February 2021.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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 fate of Waterfront – and whether Greenwich sell the land or use it to build homes alone or in partnership remains to be seen.
The consultation also asks feedback on whether the Bull Tavern pub should remain.
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.
Could this throw a spanner in the works?
You can view new leisure centre plans here and have your say.
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