New details of £3.8 million Woolwich town centre improvement project

Further details have been revealed on plans to spend £3.1 million on improvements Woolwich town centre as part of the High Streets Heritage Action Zone project.

A periodic trawl through council documents unearthed a letter from Historic England and a Greenwich Council document. Historic England are providing £1.7 million with £2.1 million from Greenwich Council.

A letter sent to the authority in April 2020 came with stipulations and sought further clarity on the bid, with Historic England seeking to “better define outputs” and “provide greater clarity regarding the nature of works to the old town hall and library”.

Old Town Hall

GLLaB are now based in the old library. An upgrade project for the site has previously been covered on this site.

The April 2020 letter reveals Greenwich Council and councillors were told to withhold information on the award “including press releases, social media and website updates from all partners and councillors” due to a desire to coordinate promotion.

Woolwich Front Room

Greenwich’s letter reveals an intention to: “Approve entering into a fixed term lease of a vacant unit from British Land on Powis Street to create a heritage and community drop-in centre to provide a space to engage with the area’s history and the personal heritage of
its residents.”

Run down buildings

“A vacant unit on Powis Street will be used to create a heritage and community drop-in centre, which will provide a space to engage with the area’s history and the personal heritage of its residents. Within this space there will be a host of activities, exhibitions and displays drawn from material in the local archives, with an opportunity to meet and talk to the Greenwich archivist. It would also host engagement and participation events as well as opportunities to be used by local community groups for events/meetings.

This space will act as a ‘Woolwich Front Room’ by way of a focal point of the project and activities”.

Other plans include: “Grants (up to a value of £50,000) to local businesses and organisations to support the delivery of the High Streets Heritage Action Zone for Woolwich Town Centre” and “a programme of grants for improvements to shopfronts and facades will be provided to restore and reinstate historic features.”

Attractive builds not maintained

The issue is whether certain building owners will maintain – and whether Greenwich will do anything if they do not. Some shops continue to leave less and clutter outside their properties on a daily basis. Despite numerous notifications to the authority and the impact on disabled pedestrians who are often blocked, Greenwich and their newly privatised enforcement team appear to do little to nothing as it continues unabated.

Street clutter

Until the authority can get to grips with basics such as many neglected buildings and some shops that couldn’t care less about their local environment, will these projects succeed? There’s little things like painting and general upkeep simply forgotten. Multi-million pound upgrade projects from the past now look tired. If they can get that right, the town will appeal. It’s already improve a great deal over the past 10 years.

Woolwich is also set to see £17.2 million from the Future High Street Fund, as covered here. The funding is partly coming from Section 106 funds from a huge range of new developments around the town. I recently covered many of them, which can be seen here.


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J 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.

    5 thoughts on “New details of £3.8 million Woolwich town centre improvement project

    • This ‘heritage drop in’ centre has me baffled. What is happening with the main Borough archive & local history centre. Is it coming back to the Arsenal site as originally promised or has this been completely forgotten about?

    • I wonder if the new « heritage » centre will address the actual heritage of Woolwich Arsenal – that it made the weapons used to conquer and subdue the empire. It is a memorial to a giant war crime. If we could address this awful past, it might actually do the community some psychic good. Of course what we’ll actually get is some more government-approved soft focus guff about « community spirit during the blitz». What a waste of money.

    • You clearly know nothing about the British Empire and are incredibly insulting to my family and the majority in this country whose relatives fought (and many died) to defend the freedoms we now (clearly by your comment) take for granted. Sip your latte whilst you indulge in a world given to you on a plate by previous generations that made your easy life possible. Woolwich Arsenal has a proud history and thank God for the Empire, or the entire world would be under dictatorship by now and the slave trade not ended. Others would not have embraced democracy and liberties passed on. The modern world as we know it would not exist and millions would not have been pulled out of poverty by British systems and the inventions that made it so. How dare you have such hatred whilst you bask in a light billions would dearly love themselves but have neither the institutions nor leaders to deliver it.

    • Hi Richard, do you have any evidence, or expert research, to back up your claims?
      Because us Brits have (deliberately?) not been taught about the horrors of the British Empire.

      E.g you say, without the empire: ” the entire world would be under dictatorship ”
      But: British colonies were a dictatorship.
      “were run as a military dictatorship, often under martial law, and the majority of colonial governors were military officers.”

      Also, did you know that: “The Nazis openly justified their actions by pointing to the British Empire, from which they borrowed ideas and pr ..”

      A quick google brings up well researched expertise that contradicts all of your claims.

      I’m sorry to disagree with you – but it appears us Brits have had our heads filled with myths by a wealthy few, who would like to keep us distracted.

    • I grew up in Plumstead. From birth in 1961 to leaving London in 1989, to move North.
      The previous contributors have their own particular and personal points of view of Woolwich and the general history of the town, some i agree and some i disagree with !
      I have seen massive change in Woolwich over my time there and now as a distant, but interested observer.

      The Royal Arsenal (site) was that mysterious place on the other side of the big wall (Woolwich Road – A206). One could catch glimpses of the historical and functional military buildings from the top deck of a double-decker bus.

      After massive redevelopment of the former Royal Arsenal site to create upmarket (relatively expensive) high-rise apartment blocks and other infrastructure (Crossrail), the old A206 wall has been replaced with a much bigger wall or barrier of buildings that now symbolises a huge disparity in affluence and opportunity, in my view.


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