Woolwich market sits empty as little action seen on redevelopment plan

The covered market in Woolwich remains a shell as little movement seen on plans for hundreds of homes, shops and a new cinema.

An approved project in 2021 sees major redevelopment including a cinema on site as part of Woolwich Exchange which features 801 homes and shops.

Future usage

The market was firstly in line for relocation then demolition before being listed, which forced the developer to look into alternative uses. A cinema and bar/restaurant was chosen.

Since then it was the site of an ill-fated food market it’s only played host to an arts exhibit for a short period.

Woolwich Exchange project starting this year?

The wider project was supposed to start in 2024 but so far there’s no sign of any movement three years after being given the green light.

Greenwich Council are working with developer St Modwen as well as housing association Notting Hill Genesis. They were selected by the council 10 years ago.

Part of site fenced off for years. Meridian Home Start housing block hadn’t even started when photo taken

Compulsory Purchase Orders have been undertaken on some buildings, but even those long since purchased remain vacant and empty.

With a quarter of the year gone the question is will work begin before the year is out?

Proposed changes


When plans are gearing up to start a flurry of applications normally come in. That’s how we know the Catholic Club demolition was about to begin. See also an earlier post today on plans to demolish the Old Joinery in Greenwich.

None of that has been seen recently for this development.

Woolwich Exchange render

Nor have any reserved matters been submitted to Greenwich Council. None of it suggests much action soon.

The developer merely states some news soon but little details are on offer.

Macbean Street site image taken nearly six years ago. Nothing has happened

Woolwich remains littered with sites half-vacant for many years including the MacBean Street site as well as land around the nearby DLR station.

It’s now 15 years since the line arrived and three sites remain empty.

DLR site still vacant after 15 years. A number blight the town

While the Woolwich Exchange site does still have businesses operating it’s all got an air of decline yet many, many years after plans for what was called the Spray Street quarter were revealed, no firm start date is still known.

The site below saw a building literally crumble away in around 2011.

Empty sites

Let’s hope something happens soon in the area as a state of limbo doesn’t help anyone – and fine buildings like the covered market are growing ever more neglected.

And even when work does begin, will it be a glacial process so often seen?

Adverts are far from enough to cover site costs and my rent.

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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 market sits empty as little action seen on redevelopment plan

  • I’ve noticed there are ‘for sale’ signs on a few of the buildings, which is strange given they’re due to be demolished. Are the landlords just trying to scam uninformed potential investors? Does it the mean the compulsory purchases have not been finalised yet? Certainly doesn’t seem like a start date is imminent.

    • Illegal flyposting, probably. Dodgy estate agents are good at that.
      No doubt, the signs will be up for years, until the buildings finally come down.

  • I’m sure a read somewhere, possibly by the legal representation of the Shop tenants, that one of the developers had pulled out of the project?

  • It is a shame to see the market standing empty. Market traders could have used the covered market during the winter months and while the Woolwich regeneration works on Beresford Square and Powis Steet take place..
    There seems to be no mention of a start date for the Spray Street development. So cannot see any work starting any time soon. Has mentioned it could be because compulsory purchase of properties to be demolished as not been finalised or developers have withdrawn from the project..
    The Island Business Centre on Wellington Street in Woolwich is another site which has been left empty for years with no start date for redevelopment work to start.
    It would be interesting to know If anyone has any recent updates on the Spray Steet and island Business Centre developments?

    • Now that you mention it, I wonder if the connecting tunnels are still in place? Back in the 90s you could cross the various blocks under Thomas/Calderwood street. The tunnels were quite spacious and even had padded benches along the way so we had a place to sit out of the rain and relax.


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