Save Britain’s Heritage have written to oppose plans for the Spray Street quarter in Woolwich which would see over 800 homes, a revamped market and new shops and square in the town.
While I’ve had many reservations about the project I do find the group’s campaign line objectionable. For a start, they claim the plan is “in what remains of historic Woolwich Town Centre in Greenwich”. Is Spray Street “what remains” of Woolwich’s history and heritage?
It isn’t. It’s mostly a lot of dross and underused space. Woolwich has so many wonderful buildings but they overwhelmingly aren’t in this area – or in line to come down.
Earlier plans did remove a handsome row of Victorian buildings but revised plans now retain them.
Earlier plans also sought to remove the market, and that too will now be retained.
I actually wonder if they’ve ever been to the area given they link in the east end society. Woolwich is not in the east end.
This isn’t to say the Spray Street plan is perfect. Far from it. There’s a number of major flaws in my eye including poor massing along Plumstead Road where tall buildings are squeezed together, while to the south just three storeys are planned which could hamper future development at the DLR site. It’s uneven in massing resulting in a poor frontage to the north as seen below.
Business too has been treated poorly with unsuitable offers for relocation.
However, let’s not pretend most of the area is currently a masterpiece of architecture and removing many of the neglected structures will ruin Woolwich – or “what remains of Woolwich’s heritage” as claimed. That shows ignorance of Woolwich. The town has fantastic buildings across the town and very few are impacted.
A far more egregious scheme that will directly impact the heritage of Woolwich is on Mortgrammit Square, which will destroy a swath of characterful backstreets to the west.
Save Britain’s Heritage have never tweeted anything about this project.
The problem appears to be that too many take a simplistic black and white view.
Do nothing, build nothing, keep everything even if utter rubbish.
It’s no better than the sweep everything away brigade. Sensitive development retaining what is good, and removing the bad, is key to successful schemes. Trying to portray this project as removing “what remains” of Woolwich’s heritage is flat out wrong. There’s many valid criticisms to be made about this project – but a simplistic line about supposed existing heritage isn’t it.
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