A worksite has been established in Woolwich town centre as preparations begin to transform the town centre.
A range of projects are set to commence including a complete rebuild of Beresford Square and marketplace, a new pavilion with café and digging up much of Powis Street.
Greenwich Council recently put out a story about work beginning in September and the establishment of the work compound confirms work is imminent. The worksite is beside a toilet block set to be demolished and replaced with a market pavilion including café –
While the structure and landscaping look great on paper, it’s an area that will require extensive maintenance – never Greenwich’s strongpoint – and may also prohibit a cycle lane through here.
Or at least limit room for one alongside the bus stops that are situated here.
For those still wondering exactly where this is, here’s how it currently looks –
It’s close to the former Catholic Club where a student block was recently approved as well as the large former site of Woolwich Polytechnic on MacBean Street where hundreds of homes will eventually be built.
Beresford Square will see the bulk of funding in its second multi-million revamp in little more than a decade.
The last project in the early 2010s never lived up to expectations –
Back then it was expected that an evening economy with cafes and bars would become established in a pleasant environment.
That never happened despite thousands more homes being built since and the Elizabeth line opening.
Again it wasn’t well maintained.
So now much of the expensive paving and lighting is being replaced. A shame as the lighting was great and a reference back to when trams ran through the site below wires.
Like much else the last expensive project saw little ongoing maintenance and became grubby very quickly.
Now they’re having another go. This time market traders are being shifted to the western side of the square with fountains, more greenery and a route leading to the Royal Arsenal Gatehouse.
The Gatehouse is due to see it’s gates opened to allow pedestrian access through when heading to and from the Arsenal site from Powis Street.
To create a successful space for an evening economy the Gatehouse could play a key role and link each side of Woolwich. Unfortunately what is planned – as nice as it is – doesn’t look like doing so.
Much like the 2011 renders we again see lovely images of outside seating and people watching the world go by.
It never really happened then, so let’s just hope it does now. That means ensuring it’s a nice place to spend time – and doesn’t degrade within months of completion.
Woolwich’s main shopping street will see comprehensive works with removal of much of the 1990s upgrade which also still included elements of a 1980s upgrade.
Yep Woolwich has seen a few. This will be the third or fourth since the 1980s depending on what area you look at.
In recent weeks and months I’ve been taking hundreds of photos documenting it before it undergoes substantial change.
Because when complete it’ll look nothing like how it as has for 20 years.
The only thing set to remain are trees. In comes extensive landscaping and seating the length of the street.
There’s more things here which brings on a tad of weariness about long term maintenance. The greenery for one. Then simple things like the shade of colour use for street furniture such as lighting posts.
It’s a somewhat unusual shade of yellow. What’s the odds that when they become damaged or scratched that shade wont be used and it’ll become patchwork of bodge jobs.
There’s other issues too such as the link between Powis Street and Murray’s yard. Used by no one now, but when the vast MacBean Street site is redeveloped this’ll be a main link for thousands of residents moving between housing, shops and transport links.
Is there sufficient space for those flows? In concept it’s going full circle back to the 1980s revamp with planters and seating that was removed in the 1990s.
Powis Street can become congested as it is as things stand, let alone with even more restrictions to usable pedestrian space and thousands of new residents moving into homes just off the street.
Note also the resin bound gravel mentioned in plans for Powis Street. Guess what Greenwich did to that in Abbey Wood shortly after an improvement project there in 2018.
You guessed it; its been covered in tarmac. Maintenance once again is extremely poor from the authority.
But let’s move on from the critiques as there is much to like and investment in Woolwich is very welcome.
If they can keep on top of changes Powis Street will be an attractive space and Beresford Square may become that long hoped for place that’s worth visiting day and night.
Throughout the work I’ll be visiting to see and photograph changes, as well as giving the usual updates on development including more towers now rising by the Waterfront as well as work on a new leisure centre facing General Gordon Square.