The Mayor of London’s “Night Czar” has announced that Woolwich will receive money to put on events in the evening.
On the face of it it’s something to be applauded. Much of south east London’s nightlife is pretty dire, lacking good clubs, late night pubs, restaurants and music venues.
The total for Woolwich from the Mayor is £130,000.
However recent experience may lead one to be a tad wary. Why?
Well, £166,000 was also recently awarded for Greenwich town centre. It clearly stated late night events was one aim. Except one big event put on ended at 9pm. That wouldn’t be late in a rural hamlet let alone a busy town in a major world city.
And then last night Greenwich Council hosted a lantern parade in Greenwich town centre which saw entertainment plus the Christmas market lights switch on – yet only ran from 4pm to 6 pm thus excluding many who may have wanted to attend after work.
Back to business as then usual with early closing.
Maybe the authority will put something on in Woolwich when not fencing off the town’s busy main square and in effect telling the world its not a safe place to visit. Guess we’ll see.
The “Night Czar” (a truly terrible name) also stated a “new lighting scheme connecting the town centre and Royal Arsenal”.
All a bit odd as the town’s forthcoming multi-million upgrade already plans to rip out some nice continental-style lighting put in just 10 years ago at Beresford Square for new lighting as part of a multi-million public realm project.
The bigger issue by far when it comes to each side of Woolwich is the bloody great road that splits the town.
The road which has seen numerous developments built and approved either side with no money to improve links between each side of Woolwich.
Woolwich Exchange is to be built on the southern side:
On the northern side of the road we see plans for Armourers Court:
Like many other projects in Woolwich which have brought substantial income to council coffers, next to no thought has been given to reducing the impact of this road on linking two sides of the town.
Severance was actually increased when they placed guard railing along the middle of the street ensuring it resembled a rural A-Road to an even greater extent.
Landscaping was ripped out having never been cleaned for years.
Another way to limit severance between the two parts of Woolwich could be to bring some life to the Royal Arsenal Gatehouse to create a focal point for Beresford Square.
It’s a prime spot just over from the Arsenal entrance.
This was included in the original idea of Beresford Square last year, then removed when plans were recently submitted.
Now you’ll have to excuse the dazzling graphic design prowess on display here – and no all windows would be possible – but this could be a real asset to the area bringing footfall.
It’d be great to see a little bar or coffee shop at ground floor level bringing life to the area.
There’s similar space the other side of the structure. They’d also be far more “natural surveillance” of the area into the evening with such a venue.
A cool little bar or pub could do much to help foster a late night economy and perhaps bring about those hopes of nightlife in Beresford Square seen in 2011 renders:
Now the vast majority of what was installed just 10 years ago at great cost is to be ripped out at part of the £20 million Future High Streets project, but have the authority really learnt much at all in how to create and maintain an area people want to visit and spend time in both day and night?
Anyway I’ve gone way off-piste again, but Woolwich is chock full of potential.
I will contact Greenwich Council for comment on their lighting plans, but as they dislike scrutiny they now flat out fail to respond to queries. Still, will try again.