Woolwich town centre revamp: Have your say on £21 million spend

Greenwich Council have launched a consultation into how £21 million in funds should be spent on improving Woolwich town centre.

In publicity the council say *they* are investing the £21 million which is not the case. Much is external funding. Investment is welcome but trying to pass off external funding as their own is a bit much.

Nope

The money comes from two sources: the Future High Street Fund (£17.2m from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government) and the Heritage Action Zone fund (£3.1 million with £1.7m from Historic England).

Permanent market stalls one idea

We generally know some details of what is coming from previous documents including work on Powis Street and Beresford Square.

Render

Beresford Square is set to see permanent market stalls and a stage in from of the Arsenal Gatehouse – which will see a cafe or bar.

Square looking shabby due to lack of deep cleaning. Taken in 2018

Hopefully this is more successful than the multi-million pound project at the square just 10 years ago.

Beresford Square entrance. Maintenance poor since last upgrade at beginning of 2010s

Obvious lessons to learn from that project just 10 years ago are to not use materials that require regular deep cleaning if not willing to do so. Greenwich have cut back on deep cleans across their town centres. Other councils are using Community Infrastructure Levy funds to do so. Greenwich have royally messed up obtaining CIL income since introduction in 2015 and lag the vast majority of London councils and their own estimates at the time.

Render from early 2010s before last upgrade. This scene did not materialise

Now they are proposing:

  • improvements to the look and feel of the town centre while preserving Woolwich’s unique character
  • encourage a diverse mix of uses on the high street including new businesses, creative workspaces and events
  • make it easier to get around within the town centre, creating better connections between the market and high street with the riverside, the Elizabeth line station, the Arsenal and surrounding neighbourhoods
  • improve the look of shop fronts and find new uses for old buildings
  • encourage more people to shop, eat and socialise in the town centre
  • provide more trees and planting
  • make Woolwich more resilient and flexible

Trees and planting is an interesting one, as another major project in the past decade installed greenery and trees at some expense. Again, it wasn’t maintained and then removed after around five years.

Green central reservation lasted a year. Wasn’t cleaned. Now removed

This for me is the major crux when it comes to major projects and public realm. They can look gleaming on day one, but if day-to-day ability to maintain isn’t there it will not work.

While Bexleyheath’s 2010s upgrade isn’t perfect, paving looks decent as material chosen does not need so much deep cleaning to avoid looking shabby.

Though Bexley Council did install setts in the road which rarely lasts – and Woolwich saw the same. Patches of tarmac abound.

Road surface has not lasted too well
Positives

There are many successes from 10 years ago that forthcoming work will hopefully replicate. General Gordon Square is far, far better and business now have seating to enjoy the space, which is well used by many.

Major improvement

Landscaping is extremely good and well maintained around the square.

Landcaping

The former square was dingy, secluded, unloved and unused by many. Now it’s greatly imroved.

If the success of General Gorden Square’s revamp can be replicated at Powis Street and Beresford Square – and there’s no reason it can’t – then Woolwich will be majorly improved.

Powis Street has a wide range of good architecture which is to be restored and see new life.

Powis Street

It seems unlikely the west end of Woolwich will be revamped under these projects. I took a look at this forgotten end of the town centre over the past week. It’s a bit of a time capsule though is seeing many new homes in the area.

Poor public realm

The council state: “The funding will be focused on the Old Town Hall, Powis Street and Beresford Square.”

Hare Street

This isn’t the end of the world at Hare Street perhaps, though some areas certainly need improving such as Woolwich High Street.

Ironically, while Greenwich Council are trying to pass off external funding as their own, in an area they could obtain their own funding to improve this blight on the town, they’ve failed to do so. yep, it’s S106 and CIL income again.

Vehicle dominated

To have your say click here.

Events are being held:

 

 

 

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Thank you

John 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.

6 thoughts on “Woolwich town centre revamp: Have your say on £21 million spend

  • March 12, 2022 at 6:47 pm
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    I’m a bit sceptical about the town hall works. Feels a bit like Plumstead Power Station: significant chunks of public realm money being used to discharge the Council’s liabilities to maintain buildings. Hope I’m wrong.

    Reply
    • March 13, 2022 at 12:53 pm
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      There is a hint of that. Woolwich’s Old Town Hall refurbishment has a greater likelihood of succeeding due to the town centre location and footfall. The Plumstead Power Station work always seemed odd. It’s simply too remote and has no passing footfall so ideas like a market mooted early on seemed doomed to fail. Now it’s set to become a studio and while good that it will be refurbished and see new life, it has taken a lot of money from the High Street fund.

      Reply
  • March 13, 2022 at 7:12 am
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    You are not wrong Jon. The current Council Leadership often refuse to acknowledge where funding has come from i.e. Government, TFL, Developers etc. The Council treat it has their own money which is simply not the case.

    Reply
  • March 13, 2022 at 12:47 pm
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    We live in a great Borough. I am looking forward to seeing our town centres improved so that they are used.in the evenings and weekends to improve the local economy support businesses and encourage new businesses to the area.

    Reply
  • March 22, 2022 at 4:39 pm
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    Hi woowlich needs a car pack which will attract more people and proper stores aswell more food places. This could have a massive impact. I have done a presentation in school regarding everyone agreed.

    Reply
  • March 29, 2022 at 9:30 am
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    Tnere are car parks dotted all around Woolwich town centre, but there are plenty of buses and a station. There is no need to go everywhere by car.

    Reply

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