Berkeley Homes seek to remove shop/bar space at new Woolwich block

Berkeley Homes have submitted an application to reduce commercial space and change design at a building currently under construction in Woolwich.

The Royal Carriage Factory – also known as Building 10 – is a listed structure, though Berkeley Homes gained permission for significant changes which would see 146 homes mainly via a block built on top.

They now seek to reduce commercial space and convert some proposed shop units facing a proposed inner courtyard into residential units.

Overview of building 10

Three units facing a future Windsor Square would become eight flats if approved.

Proposed commercial units in pink facing new courtyard to be removed under this plan

Berkeley state the retail market has changed, which is of course correct, though the coming of Crossrail should lead to a large increase in footfall.

Retail in courtyard to become housing

A proposed number of residential buildings directly east would see residents pass this location to reach Woolwich Elizabeth Line station, and is set to see an increase in flats above already consented plans after revised plans were revealed in 2020.

Revised 2020 plan next door

This neighbouring block is known as Armourers Court, and I covered revised plans last year. Berkeley’s arguments about footfall do not mention this uplift in homes nearby. 500 homes are now included. Berkeley Homes are involved there too in a joint venture with TfL. Do they know something about delays?

Overview from application show proximity of Armourer’s Court

Back of house space at the approved retail units is also double height, which could be more profitable converted to double floor housing.

It is of course hard to state what impact it will have on remaining units. It may help or hinder, as the critical mass of units reduces in turn possibly reducing the appeal to visit.

Recent history of site

This development is only happening as Berkeley Homes sought to entirely demolish listed Building 11 nearby. When that was opposed, Berkeley Homes proposed refurbishing Building 11 (known as the Officers’ House) and in turn being allowed to build a block on top of Building 11 with shops at street level.

Building 11 has in turn been refurbished and seen extensions to the rear and above:

This would’ve been flattened if original plans went ahead

This site was the first to report plans to demolish the Officers’ House back in 2014. Many reasons for demolition they gave back then turned out to be completely wrong.

New square

I took a look at the completed scheme in 2019. Claims the building and squares either side couldn’t function together have been shown to be incorrect.

This passage was given as a reason to demolish building. “Too narrow”. It works fine.

Given the history of both building 10 and building 11, wariness is perhaps wise.

Berkeley make a big play of the site’s heritage but had no qualms about demolition when it suited, nor about placing a large block above a listed structure.

Refurbished instead of demolished

While retail has seen a massive impact, this area located among thousands of new home sin a characterful courtyard seemed an area that could thrive. Places that allow those working from home to pop out for leisure, or those who work from home to sit with a laptop, could have worked. The courtyard showed real character, and it does seem a bit short sited to not even give much of it the chance to succeed as a place to sit, enjoy and perhaps work.

There are Young’s pubs nearby that can function as places for those working at home to settle, though personally I find their corporate feel dull and sterile. Interesting independents would really appeal and offer a nice alternative. But that would mean offering reasonable rents to encourage smaller scale start ups, which is possibly the real issue here.

Easier to just put in homes at the expense of vitality and variety?

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8 thoughts on “Berkeley Homes seek to remove shop/bar space at new Woolwich block

  • June 11, 2021 at 3:12 pm
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    It would be great if RBG made similar agreements here as they have done with the Creative District at North Greenwich, so guaranteed low rents for specific destinations for a particular period, in exchange for the building permits.
    That would provide the possibilities for (local) independent shops/boutiques to give it a go at this location, especially when Crossrail opens up.

    Too bad we all see that this could really add value and character to the area, but that RBG does not see this…

    Reply
  • June 12, 2021 at 6:25 pm
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    There is too much empty commercial space and I think Berkeley Homes took a long hard look and saw that it makes no sense having units that will remain unlet.

    Reply
  • June 14, 2021 at 6:09 am
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    I agree. However, a lot of the empty commercial space in and around Woolwich Town Centre are in need of complete refurbishment to make them more attractive for new businesss toi rent.

    Reply
  • June 14, 2021 at 9:17 am
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    I meant NEW commercial space that local businesses cannot afford because of the high rent. Those who could afford the rent are not coming to Woolwich because of the demographics – largely poor and working class. The people living in the shiny highrise blocks are not really bothered and take their spending power elsewhere.

    Reply
  • June 14, 2021 at 4:07 pm
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    I agree with anonymous. I live near that development and can see why, given events over the last year, the developers want to change those units in that development from business to residential use. With more people working from home, many office and retail spaces in many cities are going through change of use to residential.

    The very attractive Officer’s House (building 11) has some commercial units to the rear of it facing the square. Those units have remained unoccupied for a long time. Without commercial rental income (the price of commercial rent could be another reason why they are empty), I would not be surprised if those ended up being changed to residential use as well.

    Reply
  • June 15, 2021 at 2:41 am
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    That;s true enough anonymous201481. On line shopping and high commercial rents make it much harder to let commercial premises nowv days.

    Reply
  • June 16, 2021 at 5:37 am
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    Woolwich is crying out for change

    I welcome all the new developments. As we try to revitalise Woolwich and bring back to an area people want to live work and viisit .Rather than the no go area it has been allowed to come today bighted by anti social behaviour

    The new residents also need to be catered and conribute to the Borough via their Council Tax Payments which are quite high on the new developments.

    Reply
  • June 16, 2021 at 5:44 pm
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    I remember the Woolwich of the 70’s as being buzzing, BUT it has always been rough and not somewhere I ever wanted to live and never will. All those new builds are merely expensive dormitories from which the council has gained s106 payments and continued revenue from council tax.

    Reply

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