Woolwich square dug up as work begins proper on £20m revamp

Beresford Square in Woolwich now being dug up as a multi-million pound project begins in earnest.

This site has recently covered the square being fenced off in anticipation of work but until the digging begins you can never truly be sure it will happen.

Market traders moved

But now it has. Expensive paving laid just a decade ago for the last revamp is now being dug up.

While some will be reused, much will be ground down. So long to the early 2010s project that was going to change the face of the town.

Beresford Square dug up and filled with tarmac shortly after million spent on last upgrade.

Success and failure

To be fair some things did go right and General Gordon Square has been a great spot and far better than what was there before. Believe me as someone who walked through it day and night to and from work it was pretty grim and unloved.

Yet they got a fair bit wrong last time – which was evident within days and weeks as Greenwich let their new square become a car park with vehicles driving and parking on expensive paving.

Last upgrade a decade ago wasn’t looked after from day one

That paving too required regular cleaning – which they didn’t do.

But if at first you don’t succeed, try again (and in Greenwich’s case this is the fourth attempt in places in just 40 years).

This wont be cheap to maintain.

Now we will see extensive landscaping, various raised sections and a water feature.

Though if they couldn’t keep a relatively simple space clean before, or stop cars parking on it, is there much hope in future?

Work underway

Plans for the upgrade look great but will require heavy upkeep. Have Greenwich departments and officers learnt much if anything on creating and crucially maintaining a space that works?



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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.

5 thoughts on “Woolwich square dug up as work begins proper on £20m revamp

  • It’s an interesting (if relatively expensive) ‘makeover’ project ?
    By way of comparison, the City of Inverness (Scotland) spent £6m (yes million !) on expensive streetscaping in 2009. Several streets in the ‘old town’ area were re-flagged with Caithness-style granite flags (actually Chinese supplied at a qaurter of the cost of real Caithness flagstones) and granite setts (also Chinese). Was is money well spent ? That is arguable. Personally, i felt that the ‘high street’ was already in a steep spiral decline due to a myriad of external factors. In 2023, the High Street (in Inverness) looks different. The old ‘Quality’ retailers have left the town (similar to Woolwich ?) and have been replaced by Take Away’s, Cafe’s, Betting Shops, Charity Shops, Vape Shops etc…
    John mentions lack of maintenance and cleaning in his report. yes. Same scenario in Inverness. Broken flagstones (caused by vehicles driving over them) and random patch tarred areas (by utility Contractors) in the otherwise attractive paved areas.
    It is also interesting to read that Picadilly Gardens (Manchester) is also being considered for a major makeover. This, after £21m (yes million !) was spent in 2002. So, seemingly, every 20 years or so, we need a public space makeover ?

  • It is interesting to look at towns which keep seeing streets dug up for the latest regen project.

    Bexleyheath hasn’t really seen much change for 30 years since work on the 90s except the fountain being filled in to save a few quid but the basics were done well so no need to change. Pedestrianised in a relatively simple way that has stood the rest of time.

    Then there are the bits done around the main shopping area about 5-10 years ago that I can see being all reworked again pretty soon. It was too complex in terms of materials for the environment, upkeep and busy roads with heavy buses passing.

    Greenwich town centre may be poor in terms of pedestrian space but in terms of materials and visual appearance the streets have lasted decades. No need to keep digging that up. They went fancy with Cutty Sark area and space and it’s been a problem ever since.

    When it comes to materials and design keep it simple. There just isn’t money to maintain in the best of times let alone with cuts. K.I.S.S is the way (Keep It Simple, Stupid)

  • It’s like getting an expensive light coloured sofa when you live in a house full of chocaholic toddlers.

    The £20m should have gone to a fund to clean and maintain what’s already there which is perfectly good.

  • The problem as ever is regular maintenance and cleaning of the public areas – something that Greenwich Council is hopeless at.
    This is the fourth makeover in forty years .
    Waste of yet more public money unless council officers and Cllrs ensure the improvements are maintained.
    Doubtless there will be another photo app with cllrs showing off the improvements.
    Well I hope those same cllrs take a walk around the improved areas after a few weeks and make sure they are being maintained .

  • Totally agree. It’s these town centre planners that live in a cosy, eco friendly, hug a tree world that are clueless. Who will maintain those planters? Nobody. You have an area with heavy footfall with commuters and shoppers, people with angry dogs that don’t pick up their crap, addicts and the homeless that sh£t & piss everywhere, and pubs that peeps fall out of and puke. It should be dark slabs to hide stains, less clutter to get good cleaning machines down, and no water features cos again nobody is trained to maintain this stuff. Nothing will change, it will be a waste of money cos the people with the skills & knowledge are dead.


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