Thursday, 24 November 2005

The future of Woolwich

You may mock, but I can imagine Pizza Express in Woolwich, maybe in the Arsenal development. I do think that Woolwich has many prospects. The DLR did alot for the Lewisham housing market and that 'new money' brings alot of new energy with it as well as a new dynamic to the whole community.

Woolwich has a good down-to-earth scale about it. There's a centre to it. The square where the winos hang out. The fountain with the most unnatural looking green tint to the water, but it's a green space and it's the heart to the town centre. Where's the centre to Lewisham? We've already got a good start.

I hate pedestrianised High Streets as they are usually deserted outside of shopping hours. Admittedly, I don't frequent Woolwich on a night, but there are a couple of town centre buildings being refurbished into dwellings. This is a great thing. By the very fact of people living in the centre, the pedestrianised road is actually used, not just by shoppers in the day but by residents in the evening.

Whether the burghers of Woolwich can lure the multinationals to open stores in Woolwich is one thing. Whether Woolwich should turn into another faceless shopping precinct with the same old shops is another. I read that Tesco might come to Woolwich. On one hand, that's great, but on the other, we've already got Sainsbury. Having a huge Tesco will inevitably mean a large car park somewhere.

I like Woolwich because it's of a human scale. Taking a train to and from Woolwich Arsenal is so simple and lands you in the centre of the town. Lewisham is too imposing. The train station is cut-off from the shops, the Lewisham Centre building is hulking and superbly ugly, the only sense of human scale and personality is the Italianate church. I hope the proposed redevelopment will address this.

Most people will never look at the buildings in places like Woolwich. They get in and get out. Don't blame them, but we've got some tasty architecture here. I feel a bit of photography coming on to prove it.

Now, back to Pizza Express. Plumstead Common is a prime area for some tasty nosh. Get a map and look at the commons around London. The majority of them have either been posh since dinosaurs dined there or they've been gentrified already. As sure as day follows night, it will happen to Plumsteadshire.


Anonymous said...

I am privy to the plans for the redevelopment of Woolwich, for which purposes I must keep my identity undisclosed at this time as this information is not in the public domian yet. I understand that this is to go to public consultation in the new year.

The council plans to demolish its current buildings in Wellington Street / Love walk and rebuild a new Council HQ building on the site to house the majority of council staff. Basically they will then demolish all the buildings going up Woolwich New Road, on this plot of land it has been proposed that Europes largest shopping Mall be constructed, based around a Tesco's but with other retailers and the standard mix of Chain Stores and factory gloop resturants all due to complete by around 2015, with a bit of ace;;erateion and tarting things up for 2012

Pangloss said...

I welcome redevelopment plans. The area needs it and those poor saps who live in North Woolwich have absolutely nothing, so they need it more than we do. A mere short hop on the new DLR to the South side. That'll do them good.
Thinking aboout it, I don't like the idea of a mall. I'm thinking of the bigger picture. Look at any town centre. Take Bromley for example. People like malls because you don't get wet when it rains, but the shops outside of the malls get left out of the action. It's like a two tier shopping society. What would happen to the shop owners who can't afford the rents in the mall? And what of the buildings which would be left vacant by those shops who have migrated?
I should get on some kind of town planning committee.
Anyway, I thought Bluewater was to be the last of the mega malls?

Plum said...

Hold on a minute, how could that be possible? First of all the space there is not large enough for a big mall never mind the "Europe's biggest mall". The traffic will be a nightmare and it will kill the soul of the whole area. The area around the Town Hall has the nicest buildings in Woolwich. What will happen to them? Does Woolwich have enough people to support all those shops? If it does go ahead, it's likely to turn into chav and gang land of some sort like the one in Lewisham.

Plum said...

Is there a way of starting off a new topic even if I'm not the blog owner?

I was looking at the site. There it says that the next plahse of the Arsenal development will include shops, cafes etc. (there's you go Pangloss, Pizza Express ;)

What I don't understand is how this is going to be joined to the town centre? Are they going to knock down some walls? Are they planning to do anything for the town centre itself or is it all going to be secluded behind the walls creating two parts (an old and run down Woolwich and the hip and trendy Woolwich)?