It seems that big changes could be afoot in Abbey Wood. A large site near the railway station is in line to have a Sainsbury’s superstore, hotel, new public square and hundreds of flats as part of the Cross Quarter development. The prospect of a hotel does seem pretty astounding in a place like Abbey Wood, but then again Travelodge seem to be just about everywhere these days, and one of their documents did list it as a potential location a few months ago.
I wrote a year ago about the site being purchased. Here’s an image of what the plans looked like then -
The renders looked quite attractive and reminded me of the impressive replacement of the Ferrier estate. However the announcement of a large supermarket, hotel, public square and flats mean in all likelihood it will be a completely new masterplan.
Behind the development are Gallions Housing Association, property developer and investor Development Securities & Berkshire Investment Capital. I’m a bit wary, as Gallions have built some very poor developments in Thamesmead in recent years. Developments that are not just ugly but inapproriate, such as the circular building and slab like block near an elevated dual carriageway and major roundabout in Thamesmead. The ugly frontage of the block looms over the carriageway. Pollution must be an issue for residents.
Development Securities are behind the ‘movement’ development next to Greenwich station. They have also been involved in some hotel developments which are less than inspiring. It’s pretty much a given that the hotel proposals will be quite dull with miserly small windows. The majority of new budget hotels springing up across the country are, whether in urban areas or by motorways. All too often budget hotels are motorway service station architecture dumped in towns and cities to the detriment of the environment. Just because its a budget hotel, doesn’t mean it’s neccesary to have a blank, dull facade occasionally punctuated by small cell-like windows as happens so often. I’ve seen some half decent looking budget hotel buildings, and some that even have the small square windows along with more interesting facades using depth, decent materials, and resulting in something even approaching attractiveness. They are in a minority though, and developers and hotel chains wont do anything decent unless pressed. I hope Greenwich Council are paying attention.
So it seems as though Crossrail will make a big difference. There’s plenty of scope for more flats and shops nearby in the Village area by the station. The Harrow Inn pub was demolished a couple of years ago and the site has lain derelict ever since. Also, the main row of shops next to the station has a few single story buildings. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Tesco Express or similar with flats above in place of the single story buildings there soon.
As an aside, I was just browsing the Times Digital Archive. It’s available online through most library accounts I believe, and I was browsing using my Greenwich log in details. I searched for Abbey Wood while having a browse. One of the first results was a letter from 1849 regarding the new railway line, around the time the line through Abbey Wood was first built. The letter begins ‘Sir, what grumblers the public are’ in reference to comments about the line – some things don’t change! It also describes Abbey Wood as ‘densely populated with the vice-chairman of the line’, and ‘pleasantly studded with one barn and some trees’. Not sure how a barn made the place densely populated. I also recall reading a couple of years ago on a digital archive, possibly The Times, that the woods near the station was used a Cold War drop off point for Soviet agents. The archive is well worth a browse.