Early plans are in to revise what is one of Woolwich’s best designed proposed developments.
The Island Site was to retain pretty much all buildings of merit, renovate while replacing some structures of limited value. Now revisions seek to retain those buildings.
One issue with the previously approved plan was a very low number of “affordable” homes at just 20 per cent, though in terms of design it was hard to find much fault. A cinema was also proposed.
The site was put up for sale in late 2020.
The new plan seeks to revise 310 flats into 660 co-living units. They’re a bit like student dorms or HMOs – residents have their own room but share kitchens, living areas etc.
The new proposal mentions a shared gym, despite a new leisure centre to be built just over General Gordon Square and others in very close proximity such as Energie Fitness on Hare Street.
Some good ideas from prior plans remain including:
- Retention of the same concepts from the approved scheme regarding site permeability and public realm
- The Dance School remains as per the approved scheme
However some potential pitfalls are:
- Retaining a larger number of existing buildings on the site compared to the previously approved scheme
- Additional floors will be added to the some of the retained buildings. The elevations to the 1950/60’s buildings will be remodelled.
That last one is crucial. The current Island building presents a blank frontage at street level. Retaining it also removes permeability from Wellington Street.
The original plan was space to access internal courtyards:
In the render above a clear path towards the Woolwich Centre is evident. Retaining the Island Business Centre removes that view and link. Presumably in its place will be one to the side, though no information is evident on this initial first stage of information.
Another building due to be replaced but could now remain include this on Thomas Street:
This is the very early stages of revising the scheme and detailed plans are no yet evident. They will follow and be covered on this site when they do emerge. For now it seems a shame a scheme with few design downsides is changing. There’s no guarantee there will be any increase in affordable housing under altered plans, but there does appear to be an impact on access through the site and design. While they state the concept of permeability remains, the exact location of access will have to change if they retain certain buildings.