Woolwich town centre revamp well underway again

Work to revamp much of Woolwich town centre is now well underway again following problems with a previous contractor.

After a delay of over a month, workers are on site at the project funded by the Future High Streets project and are laying the new surface which is set to line much of Powis Street.

The central “road” was in place before Osborne entered administration. Work is now underway on either side.

Tarmac is not the final finish

New paving is going in and street furniture will follow.

Trees will remain with new seating, landscaping and lighting.

Example of street furniture

Meanwhile work at Beresford Square is again visible with plant and machinery plus a smattering of workers on my visit.

The below shot shows the square in front of the recently closed Ordnance pub.

Taken this week in front of closed pub

Unfortunately in Woolwich it’s one stop forward and another back. Art Fix also closed with dispute between the authority and owner as to who was at fault.

The frontage benefitted from part of the town centre improvement fund as did a neighbouring site.

Artifx now closed

However the owner complained works have also hampered the organisation.

A delay in construction has also seen other shops raise issues as pedestrian space was hampered by fenced-off sections of the street while work stalled.

Photo taken more than six months ago. Progress has been slow

At the former market toilet block where a pavilion including café is approved, little progress could be seen.

Former toilet block

To the rear in the above image is where the Catholic Club once stood. It’s now entirely demolished with a future student development due on site.

If we head back to Powis Street we can see materials chosen for the forthcoming surface are extremely light in appearance and will require regular cleaning – which isn’t happening on sections installed just a decade ago. In fact, the area in front of the DLR entrance was looking pretty grotty within metres of new surafcing going down.

Existing paving is not well maintained

Why choose materials and a colour tone that requires heavy upkeep if the ability to do so isn’t there? Going for bright white surfaces?

Bonded resin is also due to go in, much as it did at Abbey Wood in the recent upgrade there.

Abbey Wood

Yep, that lasted well.

The image below was back in February on Powis Street and isn’t too uncommon. Bin bags left out and presumably foxes get at them. The old surface didn’t do a bad job of hiding ensuing stains. Lightly coloured setts?

Powis Street beside new paving

This is costing £20 million (further money is going towards Heritage aspects such as shopfront improvement) but will it last in good condition?

I really want to see it work but it is tough to have faith when the town and borough authorities have seen attempt after attempt fail in recent decades.

A previous Woolwich upgrade wasn’t maintained

You never know, things may improve.

As for now, vehicles too are a common site along the road.

Vehicle on street

Now vehicles may need to access the street at times of course and fair enough, but then design the project and utilise materials around that.

When Eltham saw an expensive upgrade in the last decade certain public areas became haphazard vehicle parking with predictable results to pricey street furniture.

Damaged street furniture at renovated Passey Place in Eltham

When a part of Barnard Close half way up Powis Street completed in an early part of this project it became a car park within days.

When Beresford Square was upgraded at great cost in the early 2010s it too became a car park within days.

Last upgrade saw granite market and pedestrian space become a car park

It’s only just over a decade since that last major revamp of Beresford Square in Woolwich and not that long since the 1990s project – then there was the 1980s pedestrianisation.

All lasted relatively short periods of time with poor upkeep.

Previous materials quickly showed dirt and grime

No town centre is perfect and no one should expect it to be sparking, but the record in both Woolwich and elsewhere as shown as Abbey Wood and Eltham (see also the £40k sign) is that keeping on top of maintenance has always proven a challenge for the authority – and it goes way back before cuts.

Is the culture, funding and management qualities there to look after what appears a high maintenance upgrade?

On the positive, work is at least back now underway and we should see an attractive area begin to take shops in coming months. Let’s hope it stays that way.

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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.

    3 thoughts on “Woolwich town centre revamp well underway again

    • Just passed Great Western Hotel in Praed Street where a contractor was spraying a protection coating on the new light coloured paving slabs. This would really be good for Woolwich.

    • Elite Landscaping the new contractor had guys working hard on site this morning.

    • Real shame about Artfix. used to work there a few days a month until I walked in one day and the new manager told me they don’t (and have never) offered coworking spaces. I pointed out the window signage – cafe, workspace – and that the website offers coworking spaces by the day, plus, you know, my own experience of paying £10 for a work space. All I got was a shrug. Really odd, that was easy money for them.


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