Starbucks look set to return to Woolwich after an application was submitted to open at a site in the Royal Arsenal.
The unit is located in the listed Officers’ House building beside the Elizabeth line station.
Starbucks formerly had a unit on Powis Street but shut up shop around five years ago.
Now they seek to return to the north of town. It’s somewhat predictable that a major chain is moving in to one of a number of vacant units in the Royal Arsenal site.
Now I’m not averse to visiting a Starbucks on occasion but Berkeley really do seem keen to make the area a corporate blandsville.
Of course, you may say. That’s what they do. And that’s right. But its still dull. It’s a bit like having two pubs owned by Young’s nearby. Ok to visit on occasion but generally yawn-inducing.
This also brought to mind how many empty units still exist in the area – both to the rear of Officers’ House and at a new arcade where no unit has seen any applications.
As for the Officers’ House itself – a Grade II listed building – Berkeley Homes previously wanted to knock it down for a taxi stand.
One reason to knock it down given by Berkeley was that the walkway was too narrow. Now it’s wide enough for a coffee shop to be located. The original rationale was always a nonsense.
That application brought home how little they really know about place-making. Fortunately this site covered the proposal and it caused a bit of a kerfuffle as residents and politicians asked questions – and they quickly backed off.
Why on earth they would demolish a fine building that could – and now has – seen conversion to new housing and commercial space was always rather strange.
In exchange for keeping it, Berkeley gained approval for a new block with an arcade running through the site below new homes. Perhaps that was always the goal.
So far no applications for any commercial units have been seen in this area seen below.
Berkeley have a record of trying to demolish buildings of value or diminish public spaces, as seen recently with their big screen proposal which again was quickly ditched when spotted.
It’s all rather odd how they make mistakes like that as the area is a generally well designed, footfall is high and they’re certainly not lacking income as they’ve been granted permission for high density housing throughout much of the area.
So Berkeley, any chance of something a tad interesting in the area?
After all, there’s many empty units lying empty for years.
Perhaps reduce the level of rents to create a bit of interest? Try to make new businesses opening less tediously dull? Go on! You can do it.
Plans can be viewed here.