The Future of Woolwich Arsenal and Crossrail

The next stages of Berkeley Homes development of the Royal Arsenal site are coming to light. Quite a few reasonably tall buildings will line the riverside, replacing the Waterfront leisure centre car park as well as the park next door.

Woolwich arsenal masterplan

The plans see a main thoroughfare leading through the site towards the river. The density will be high as Berkeley homes seeks to capitalise on its investment in the Crossrail station box. Greenwich Council’s Woolwich masterplan also envisages closing the existing leisure centre in future and moving to a site closer to the town centre. The site would be replaced with a mixed use development, shared space where the dual carriageway currently is, and Hare Street extended and continuing to the riverside, as it existed before the ferry moved to its existing site and the Waterfront centre built. The planned closure of the ferry would also free up riverside land. However these are aspirations, and with the planned towers next to the current ferry site not showing much sign of progress don’t expect this all to happen quickly.

A public exhibition showing the Arsenal masterplan can be seen at Royal Carriage Mews, Duke of Wellington Avenue on the Arsenal on 16th February from 12-4pm and 18th February from 3-8pm.

One of the next stages to be built is the snappily named ‘block C1′ as part of stage 5. This building is just west of the Heritage centre. The building follows the design principles of many of the previous buildings as can be seen below.

Block c1

Also on the Arsenal site the Crossrail Station Box has recently been completed.  The box is 256m long. It seems like just yesterday that the car park was closed off and the hoardings erected. 400,000 working hours and 200 jobs were created in the process of construction.  Impressive work. There will be an open day on February 27th from 3pm to 5pm to visit the site. There will also be a charity run held within the box raising money for children’s hospice charity Demelza. To register interest you can contact woolwichstationbox@berkeleygroup.co.uk

Click here for crossrail’s page with further details, a timelapse video and photographs.

Plumstead portal entrance

Tunnel boring machines are currently in the process of burrowing from Plumstead portal, as seen above, to reach the station box soon. The construction of the station box has been paid for by Berkeley Homes. Funding for the fit out of the station has yet to be agreed, and is still subject to discussions between the Department for Transport, Crossrail, Greenwich Borough and Berkeley Homes.

One of the most striking stages of the Arsenal development will be the towers above the station box. This is stage 4 of the Arsenal masterplan. Two of the buildings can be seen below. The most striking features compared with previous stages are the usage of yellow brick, the height, penthouses and glazing on the top of the buildings, and the style of balconies on the tower.

Woolwich crossrail phase 4

Royal Arsenal Stage 4

The image to the left shows the towers behind the two buildings shown above, and are in the same style. From this perspective the design appears overly ‘busy’ and quite cluttered. The image below shows the tower from the opposite angle. It appears quite lumpen. The balconies on the corners add to the bloated appearance. A better solution may be a continuous row of buildings below 10 stories with varied facades to break up bulk and monotony, with retail at ground floor level, rather than a number of stumpy towers with fussy facades and detailing.

Woolwich crossrail tower 2

 

In some ways in reminds me of the Holiday Inn in Brighton as seen below.

Brighton holiday innDirectly opposite the proposed phase 4 buildings, and very close to the proposed Crossrail station, are a row of buildings in a neglected state on the other side of the road. Some are in appalling condition and appear to be falling apart having been empty for years. The indoor Woolwich market is part of this neglected row. It would not be a surprise to see many of these buildings purchased, demolished, and new proposals for redevelopment arriving in coming years.

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About fromthemurkydepths

I'm mainly concerned with the built environment. I now live in SE London, and having travelled and stayed in many cities in the UK, I have issues with much of the public realm across Greenwich Borough and more widely across South London, and will focus upon that as well as local politics, and whatever else takes my fancy.
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5 Responses to The Future of Woolwich Arsenal and Crossrail

  1. Colin O'Donnell says:

    Thanks for the update. What do you think of the skateboard park area being built upon? Surely usable open space is essential. Area first and all that.
    .
    The skateboard park is neglected as it is currently out of way, not policed and therefore not the safest, but with the new buildings it could a real centre. The village green as it were

    • I may be wrong but I think I have read in the past that the park was only designed to be temporary? I may be completely wrong there. A small amount of parkland will be built on for Block c1 which will go ahead before the planned developments by the river, and that parkland was only recently introduced with a set life span according to the planning documents.

      A village green does sound great and would be an asset in such a high density development, but I think retaining it is a long shot. Berkeley Homes have funded the crossrail station box with the expectations of building many homes, and they are currently in negotiations with TfL and the council about who will pay for fitting it out. They could play the hand of we pay for the fit out and you allow us the towers.

  2. So Berkeley Homes have paid towards the cost of the box (do we know how much? I would be surprised if there were no contributions for other parties) but surely that’s only effectively a Section 106 contribution in advance and as such, density should still be a matter for the council to decide? It’s also disappointing that the leisure centre is going to be moved from its lovely riverside spot. True the current building turns its back on the river, but with redevelopment at the site a much more attractive facility could be developed with a public space and views across the river. Very shortsighted.

    • Berkeley funded the entire cost of the box – http://www.crossrail.co.uk/news/articles/dft-press-release-funding-agreed-for-woolwich-crossrail-station-box
      The link mentions an outline agreement for 3700 homes in 2007. If I recall correctly there were negotiations surrounding the box funding and density which would mean some tall buildings.

      It is a shame about the leisure centre. It is a great place to swim being able to look out on the river. The building overall isn’t a great design – as you say it turns its back on the river and hides the foot tunnel. It’s only aspirational though (and Greenwich have already approved plans contravening it’s peninsula masterplan). It will be a while off yet I would have thought. Tough post 2018 crossrail arrives and the ferry planned for closure meaning the whole riverside site suddenly becomes more likely to have wholesale redevelopment.

  3. Pingback: The Crossrail conundrum towering over Woolwich « 853

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