Woolwich Arsenal gatehouse revamp submitted

Plans to alter the Royal Arsenal Gatehouse in Woolwich as part of a multi-million pound town centre revamp have been submitted.

Alongside work nearby to create a pavilion and completely rebuild Beresford Square, the Gatehouse will see also see central gates opened allowing pedestrians to pass-through.

Beresford Square plans. Now only one arch will be usable and not three as in this render

A few months back I sneaked in for a few photos inside upon seeing the gate open.

A plaque commemorates the building opening in its current use back in 1996.


When pedestrian access through the main gates will be opened, areas beside the east and west wings either side of the through-route will be gated off.

Gates will be installed running left to right in this view

This in turn limits the width of usable pedestrian space. The application states “GEB require the ramped access to the east and west to remain operational and that there remains a degree of privacy and security to the accommodation within the east and west wings.”

Therefore of three arches only one will be usable as a through-route and not three as was shown in earlier renders.

New wall, railings and gate to be installed within structure

New lighting will be installed on the building’s exterior as well as cleaning of the structure.

Previous documents covering the £24 million town centre project mentioned a gallery but nothing appears in this application, and the planned installation of gates, walls and railings seems to rule that out. Though perhaps something may follow. We shall see.

Beresford Square plan

Hopefully not as some sort of commercial use in this building would be areal draw from those moving to the Arsenal site and help link both sides of Woolwich together.

The gatehouse is currently occupied by Greenwich Enterprise Board (GEB) with small workspaces on the upper floor. They will remain.


Formerly the main entrance to the vast, sprawling Woolwich Arsenal site employing tens of thousands, the Gatehouse was severed from the main site when a dual carriageway was built in the 1980s.

It’s a Grade II listed structure though has seen many changes over the years. The application states that due to previous changes “it is considered that any archaeology is likely to have already been disturbed and therefore there is a low potential for archaeology at the Gatehouse.”

Beside 1980s dual carriageway

Alterations have been constant throughout its life, with the lower part constructed in 1828-29. Then came the bell tower dating in 1859 with the upper red brick section arriving in 1891. Following that east and west footway arches were widened in 1936.

In recent years the major upgrade of Beresford Square in the early 2010s – which is now already being removed – foresaw a stage in front of the building. This never transpired.

This 2011 render shows how the space was supposed to be. Now almost all being removed again

A video featuring dozens of photos covering 150+ years from Royal Arsenal History site can be seen here.

Meanwhile outside work continues on digging up Beresford Square.

Latest revamp

Market traders have now been moved to Green’s End and General Gordon Square.

Upon completion they will be located along the left side as seen in the above image, with a water feature and landscaping to the right.

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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.

    4 thoughts on “Woolwich Arsenal gatehouse revamp submitted

    • Strange, as the gallery plan was fully developed and had already gained approval. See application here: https://planning.royalgreenwich.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?keyVal=_GRNW_DCAPR_114535&activeTab=summary

      It’s a real shame as the designs and additions to the building looked to be of a very high standard. Instead nothing changes, we just get a metal cage to walk through. Very disappointing, not to mention the money they presumably spent developing the previous plans.

      We can only hope it’s because Greenwich have realised a cafe/hospitality venue is really what the Gatehouse should be, and this cage tunnel is only temporary.

    • So it remains as tiny workspaces? What a shame. They can be located elsewhere resulting in a much better use as a bar/pub/restaurant which would work so well in this EXACT location to tie the area together.

      What a missed opportunity. Aren’t GEB somehow related to the council and councillors? Surely they can pull some strings. Why not put the workspaces in, say, the refurbished Old Library to permit leisure use here to pull people in?

    • There are plenty of less iconic and special places in Woolwich that GEB can relocate to, as already suggested the library would be perfect! I cannot understand why Greenwich Council are unable to put the gatehouse to a much more exciting and creative use so it can be fully enjoyed by the public.

      And frankly, It is beyond belief that they are caging in the entrance to protect the privacy of such a dull and utterly pointless organisation. Yet another good opportunity lost by this unimaginative and pedestrian council

    • GEB explain their role with the words “helping small businesses establish and grow”, whilst their actions prevent a link between two economic divides in the town.

      Whatever people’s views on the benefits of the Woolwich Exchange scheme, you can’t help feeling sorry for the small businesses being pushed out and the very different approach adopted by the council there.

      The symbolism of an economic board designed to break down barriers for small businesses adding more barriers to a prime transit point is laughable, and them occupying a gatehouse in the borough is bittersweet irony. The “Greenwich Gatekeepers to Growth”.


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