Woolwich town centre revamp set to start summer 2023

Greenwich Council have announced that a £21 million project covering Woolwich town centre is set to begin this summer.

The authority stated: “The Council is investing nearly £21 million of funding, from the Government’s Future High Street Fund and Historic England’s High Streets Heritage Action Zone complemented by its own match funding”.

Well, the majority is outside funding. A more accurate state of affairs is that outside bodies are investing most funding and Greenwich are overseeing it.

And that’s a slight concern. We’ve been here before. Sorry for repeating myself again but it’s worth noting.

£10 million was spent in the run up to 2012 at General Gordon Square, Beresford Square and surrounding streets.

To be fair, General Gordon Square is still decent in shape and a vast improvement on the old square. Well, except when they fence it off for weeks at a time.

Not so much the rest.

Road surface in Woolwich broken apart after 2012 changes. Always likely to with heavy bus use

Recently a wonderful video appeared on Youtube looking back to when Greenwich Council sought external funds in the 1990s for Woolwich.

A Woolwich town centre upgrade project was later undertaken in the mid 1990s. This may shock you, but much like the 2010s project they never maintained much of it.

Elements of 1990s upgrade remain. Paving replaced by patches of tarmac over time.

Many trees now lining Powis Street were planted at that time. They all had uplighters installed around the base. All removed within a few short years after not being maintained.

Uplighting was removed

Those trees replaced raised planters which can be seen in the above video. One reason for removal was to create more space for pedestrians.

Guess what the 2023 upgrade will include? More street furniture and landscaping limiting pedestrian space. We’ve gone full circle.

Powis Street plan see limited pedestrian space

It all looks nice on paper. The practicalities may be rather different.

Powis Street plans set to be begin this summer can be seen here.

Another apparent missed opportunity is to use the Royal Arsenal Gate House at Beresford Square as a venue that could open late to encourage a night time economy around Beresford Square.

Imagine this teeming with life and outside seating into the evening offering some nightlife for Woolwich. 2010s lighting scheme on square to be removed 

It could be a real pull for those in the Arsenal and link both halves of Woolwich together. As much as what is planned in the building sounds nice enough (a small gallery) the ability to be transformative and offer attractions day and night is lost.

A café is also planned at what is currently a toilet block but this isn’t going to open late.

Will this area be maintained? Heavy footfall beside bus stops

Beresford Square plans look good though worries remain after work in 2012 saw it to become a car park within weeks.

Cars parked on Beresford Square shortly after millions spent in 2010s

And once again paving wasn’t maintained.

Beresford Square entrance.

A bespoke lighting design was strung across the square in the early 2010 referencing tram lines formerly seen. When the lights were broken, they weren’t replaced.

Can we have much faith now it’ll suddenly be different with yet another scheme that will require heavy maintenance?

Beresford Square shortly after last multi-million pound upgrade. 

Well, let’s look at recently created public realm in the borough.

Directly outside Greenwich Council’s main civic centre sees this.

Directly outside the Woolwich Centre. Broken street light not fixed for some time. Hoardings falling down. Litter common and uncleaned for some time at cycle racks. 

Thankfully for you the stench of the area isn’t apparent online. It’s full of litter and pretty much unusable for its purpose to park a bike – and a place to give a wide berth if walking by.

If they can’t keep areas within metres of their own building in decent condition, much chance for the rest of Woolwich?

Then there’s Abbey Wood on the Greenwich side of the borough boundary. Tarmac stuck down already. A general lack of care from Greenwich Council’s Highways Department in maintaining public space:

Abbey Wood

It’s not that long since the GLA helped Bexley and Greenwich boroughs fund changes with the advent of Crossrail but it already looks very tired.

So after not looking after Woolwich changes in the 1990s and then in the 2010s, what’s the odds they will after 2023?

 

 

 

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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.

8 thoughts on “Woolwich town centre revamp set to start summer 2023

  • Is General Gordon Square full of flowers and well cared for
    Nope…looks like shit

    Reply
  • Are the council really going to be letting all those precious bollards go then? Maybe they can install them somewhere else in the borough.

    Reply
  • I take it that Council have rejected the TfL proposal to run a cycle lane down part of Powis Street.

    Reply
  • The elephant in the room here is the sort of people who use Powis Street. Obviously the majority are law abiding citizens but just this morning over the space of 5 minutes I have seen a foul mouthed hag screeching and swearing like a trooper at her partner, aggressive begging 20 yards further on, an apparently mentally disturbed woman banging on about ferries to Norway and an attempted cake snatch at Greggs. This is all in 50 yards and in the space of two minutes. Powis Street will never be attractive while the druggies, beggars, nutters and street drinkers are allowed to congregate at will there.

    Reply
    • The new police team and privatised council team not working then…

      Reply
  • You see the privatised folk in GG square occasionally but hardly ever in Powis Street. I feel sorry for the staff at Greggs by the DLR station, schoolkids regularly just steam in and pinch stuff from the displays. The staff are obviously told to just let them do it.

    Reply
  • As someone mentioned its the mentally unwell and antisocial behavior that needs to be figured out for Powis street and the squares to feel safe and comfortable. Night and day in the squares feel very different unfortunately.

    Saw a woman get punched square in the face by a man in Gordon Square last week, moments after the police team left the scene after chatting with the two. Why they didn’t break them both up and send them separately on their way was beyond me. No arrests made.

    Reply
  • Unfortunately you hardly see. A Police Officer in Woolwich unless there is a group of them speeding pass in a Police mini bus. We need the new teams to be visible on the streets and tackling the issues mentioned.. Woolwich could be a great town centre but it needs to be maintained, managed and Police properly as does all town centres and public places.

    Reply

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