Housing proposal for Woolwich Catholic Club

Housing development plans in Woolwich never stop rolling in. And given the huge expanse of land suitable for housing development, that’s no bad thing at all. The newest post was going to be a write up about Berkeley Homes’ new plans for five riverside towers by the Waterfront leisure centre, but that’s been shuffled down the pecking order. Today I’ll briefly cover plans for housing on the site of the old Catholic Club. It has 68 flats, a gym at basement and street level and would be 11-storeys in height. The planning reference is 16/1975/F.

catholic club

Here’s what it will replace. No great loss, architecturally.

catholic club 3

The architects behind this planned block are Plus. It’s a decent effort – pretty understated with decent proportions, strongly defined lines and a rhythm to the facade. It’ll be located next to the forthcoming 128 room Premier Inn, which is now due to open in Spring 2017. The former developers went bust, leaving a number of containers in a half-finished structure. They’ve now gone, and Premier Inn are in line to operate the hotel, which retains the same basic form.

premier inn

The current Catholic Club has been derelict for about five years. It has stood out like a sore thumb as plans moved ahead on sites all around, including over the road where this is planned:

Sovereign House Woolwich proposals


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Woolwich church to become 14-storey housing block?

woolwich connaught

The old Connaught estate in Woolwich has been razed to the ground over the past year or two. As part of the One Woolwich scheme providing 1600 new homes, the former blocks are to be replaced with new builds. The design includes a road and park running through the site to increase permeability. The plans did not however involve Woolwich Baptist Church at the corner of the old estate, and its retention did seem a bit incongruous.

Church with old estate behind

Church with old estate behind

Church surrounded by construction site

Church surrounded by construction site

That looks to change. Developers Lovell, behind the estate rebuild, are looking to demolish the church and rebuild it below a large amount of housing. The plans see 128 homes built. It’s a good idea – the church has little architectural merit and isn’t a very efficient use of land, as the photo above shows.

Church in lower right corner

Church in lower right corner

Lovells have only submitted an “Environmental Impact Assessment Screening Opinion”, which is a basic and broad outline of intentions, so no detailed plans have been shown as yet. But it looks very likely to go ahead. 14-storeys is of similar height to planned buildings around the site, which will max out around 18-storeys according to the Lovell site.

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Revealed: the scale of forthcoming Greenwich line train cuts


As many will now know, extensive and much-needed work to rebuild London Bridge station is to cause extensive changes to rail services across south east London from August. The first stage of work last year caused a big drop in peak time capacity on the Greenwich line. Further changes will see even bigger cuts. Unfortunately a lack of mitigating work (providing more carriages, inadequate stations etc) will cause further hardship.

The next stage of work kicks off at the end of August. Here’s what we will see:

  • During the period from 5-7pm in the evening rush hour, current  service levels of 13 trains from London Cannon Street to Greenwich reduces to 8 trains. That’s a 38% cut in trains.
  • Just 1 of the remaining 8 trains on the line from Cannon Street skips Woolwich Dockyard station, reducing the ability to provide 12 carriages on remaining trains to mitigate the cuts. Woolwich Dockyard has short platforms. With most current trains in the evening peak already at maximum lengths, the scope to make up for the cuts is very limited.
  • The cuts for Deptford, Maze Hill and Westcombe Park stations see 11 trains down to 8 (27%) from 5-7pm as two out of 13 currently run fast through those stations.

This shows all departures from Cannon Street on the Greenwich line from 5-7pm:


It clearly shows the reduction in trains to Deptford (passenger numbers up 6% last year), Greenwich (up 5%), Maze Hill (up 6%) and Westcombe Park (up 6%) and the long gaps that will exist. Deptford has seen large growth over the past decade with passenger numbers quadrupling from 311k in 2004/5 to 1.24 million in 2014/15.

There’s a 22 minute gap from 17:28 to 17:50 from Cannon Street, then a 24 minute gap until 18:14. And that train in between, which is likely to be extremely busy, cannot be 12 carriages long as it stops at Woolwich Dockyard.

When looking at journey planners the changes initially doesn’t look this bad, but that’s because they also shows trains departing from London terminals heading out onto other lines that loop back onto the Greenwich line after they reach the outer extremities of London. In reality, these are no good for commuters.

It’s of course essential that the work at London Bridge is carried out and is much needed, but to not ensure extensive 12-car running to compensate for service cuts reveals a failure of planning, mainly from the Department for Transport and Network Rail. Southeastern are at their mercy.

It all comes back to long standing problems, and not rebuilding or moving Woolwich Dockyard station is one of the main ones. It compromises services across not only the Greenwich line, but all other Metro lines as trains loop around near Dartford from one line to another, or head to London terminals via Greenwich, then head out to Hayes or the Bexleyheath line etc.

It goes without saying that the area from Deptford to Westcombe Park seeing big cuts are also seeing large increases in population and many new housing developments.

Other options for travel aren’t too promising. Sending people onto other lines to then change onto the DLR at Lewisham will see them using trains already at capacity. Lewisham itself is seeing rapid growth. Incidentally, the 410 bed student block by the station will open in September and the adjacent housing block named Flora Villas is now rising.

13-storey Flora Villas

13-storey Flora Villas

The DLR itself is seeing very fast growth (8% a year) and its ability to take many more passengers is limited. Buses from central London are hopeless. Even from Deptford it’s an extremely slow and unreliable journey. 10 minutes to Cannon Street if you’re lucky or 90+ minutes by bus.

And whatever happened to that ‘imminent’ announcement of more trains for the area? The rail minister Claire Perry stated back in January an announcement would happen within a couple or months. Six months later and silence.

I don’t want to come across as someone complaining about the London Bridge project. It’s badly needed. The issue is how plans were drawn up to cope during the work, or not as it seems. There have been few additional trains for south east London and Kent’s Metro over the past 10 years, despite large growth, which has hampered the area and passengers.

Even if more do now appear, other work such as train stabling facilities which are needed alongside appear to be years behind. Simply put, provision for large population increases, plus working and leisure changes, are years behind as a succession of Governments and Ministers failed to adequately plan.

To those living further along the line past Charlton, there will be three trains from Charing Cross an hour which lessens the strain there. But those living from Deptford to Westcombe Park will have a rough time.

Posted in Dartford, Greenwich, Transport | 11 Comments

Creeking under the pressure? Another large Greenwich housing development proposed

Fairview D and A part 1

Another development is proposed along Deptford Creek. This one is from Fairview Homes, is 14-storeys high in places and located beside the listed Mumford & Co mill on the site of Booker Cash and Carry. The planning reference is 16/1792/F.

Consultation was held in March. Details of that can be seen by clicking here.

Since then advice from CABE led to changes. One of the main differences is the orientation of the pitched roofs. Roof gables are now facing the Creek. The use of red has also been reduced. It did look very 1980s but I was quite fond of it. Another change is an increased stepped effect effect down to its Greenwich High Road frontage.

Fairview 3

Of all the recent plethora of Creekside housing developments, this is probably the best. The proportions seem decent with both street and Creek frontages of a decent standard. Pitched roofs help a lot; many other nearby developments are boxy and flat roofed. Not too sure of the materials used though – it does make it look a bit like some cheap sheds plonked on top.

Kent Wharf is also now rising nearby and looks pretty generic and unsympathetic to its surroundings.

kent wharf 3

It’s also offers no interaction with the street at ground floor level if this render is accurate. Here’s the site taken from a passing train:

kent wharf construction

It also looked like the site in the foreground had recently been cleared. I havn’t seen any plans for this site but eventual use for housing seems very likely. The other side of the river shows the Jones furniture factory – or ‘Sun Wharf’. It looks like more housing will be built there with consultation in February.

Also now rising nearby is the new blocks at the Faircharm art studio site.


It’s now above ground and rising quickly:


It goes without saying that amounts of affordable housing is small across most schemes.

Some of these schemes are likely to complete before January 2018. Before then newcomers will experience gaps in peak time trains at Deptford station up to 23 minutes. Those alterations begin with the August timetable change. I imagine the DLR will be expected to pick up the strain, though it will very likely not see any additional stock until 2020.


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Woolwich market and Spray Street consultation soon – as new public realm neglected

Early render

Early render

A consultation looking at plans for Woolwich’s ‘Spray Street Quarter’ is to be held this weekend. Council papers shows plans for a cinema, up to 650 homes and a new public square. The consultation website mentions “around 600 homes”.

I covered the topic recently here. Plans look pretty positive so far, and should greatly aid connecting the Arsenal site with ‘old’ Woolwich.

The extensive Spray Street Quarter site

The extensive Spray Street Quarter site

You can find out more on Saturday 25 June, from 1 pm – 5 pm and Monday 27 June, 3 pm – 8 pm, at Greenwich & Lewisham Young People’s Theatre (The Tramshed) facing General Gordon Square.

Nearby areas unloved already

However, a trip this week to the town shows once again that Greenwich Council are squandering opportunities to lift up the long blighted town. The first impression upon leaving the station was just how filthy so much of the area was. And these were spots where £9 million were spent just a few years ago. Maintenance has been poor.


I’m not talking litter, but ground-in dirt on many pavements and much street furniture. There were plenty of street sweepers around town doing a great job but departments don’t appear to directly resources well. They need to also deep clean areas using jet washers. As I wrote before, Greenwich Council’s own paper boasted of buying some on their own cover. So why not use them? Everything just looks so scuzzy right now.

Various Greenwich council departments have issues with routine upkeep of public spaces – even in the busiest town centres. A fortnightly clean would maintain spaces which cost millions to install.

woolwich plumstead road

Paint chips across much street furniture

It leaves a crap first impression of the town when leaving the station. And first impressions count. Heading to the squares shows parts looking very unloved. The area facing Plumstead Road is again filthy. All these areas were upgraded with millions of pounds from the Greater London Authority very recently.

Much time was spent designing high quality spaces, ordering and installing high quality materials to improve the towns reputation. Then Greenwich Council’s department take charge and let it slide pretty rapidly. These simple things count. Get them wrong and problems can spread  – more people litter, shopkeepers don’t upkeep properties, the whole feel of an area can decline with negative effects spreading.

It’s not just the paving – but all the paint chips on signs, benches looking filthy etc. It all adds up to a cumulative effect and reinforces the image of Woolwich, which let’s be honest, is pretty bad among many. Rightly, or wrongly, getting these simple things right can do much to change that. And it’s so easy and cheap to fix.

Road surface broken

Road surface broken

The road surface is also a mess. Setts used for a road surface was always unlikely to work with heavy buses constantly using this stretch. It’s been the same at Bexleyheath and many other town centres. Early renders for the public space outside Abbey Wood’s Crossrail station show the same. It won’t last a year.

It’s all well and good having flagship projects but getting the basics right counts.


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900+ new homes at Plumstead and Thamesmead – consultation this week


Housing Association Peabody will be running a number of consultation events in coming days where plans for more than 900 homes close to Plumstead station can be seen.

The site is part of Peabody and Greenwich Council’s Housing Zone. In total 1500 homes are planned at various sites. There is this site, an area of land close to the Thames by the historic Royal Arsenal canal which Greenwich council are looking to in-fill and smaller sites such as ‘The Reach’, located by the Princess Alice pub opposite Belmarsh Prison.

The Reach

The Reach

The other Peabody housing zone is located in Bexley borough and comprises the vast south Thamesmead redevelopment.

Back to the 900+ homes near Plumstead station, and I’m interested in seeing how Peabody plan to reduce severance of this development from Plumstead station – which is very close by. It has previously been revealed that work into removing the gyratory which circles the bus garage is being undertaken. Not only is the walk to the station unpleasant and unappealing, but the station environment in its immediate vicinity is pretty dire. £3 million is to be spent from March 2017 improving the area.

Work on the area would also open up access to the Ridgeway, which runs atop the southern outfall sewer from Plumstead station to Thamesmead. Some money was recently spent improving access at various points but the area by the station is still far from inviting.

Consultation dates for the Plumstead and West Thamesmead development are:

  • 25 June, 10am – 2pm at Broadwater Village Hall, 1c Goosander Way, SE28 0ER
  • 28 June, 5 – 8pm at McDonald’s, 3 Pettman Crescent, SE28 0FF
  • 5 July, 3.30 – 7.30pm at Broadwater Village Hall, 1c Goosander Way, SE28 0ER
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27-storey tower coming to Abbey Wood?

abbey wood hub site

Developers HUB have submitted a scoping report to Greenwich Council for a development of 250 homes, a 90 room hotel and 350 square metres of commercial space at the Cross Quarter site at Abbey Wood. Stage one completed last year and comprises a Sainsbury’s supermarket and 31 flats.

The main standout in the proposal is for a 27-storey tower at 88 metres in height. It would be located a minute or two from Abbey Wood station, and seems an ideal spot for building tall.

HUB purchased the site last December from U&I, who are behind numerous developments at Greenwich, Deptford and Charlton Riverside. The relevant page on their website shows some low quality images and hopefully isn’t representative of final plans, as the design looks underwhelming and dated.

There’s scope for a fair few high density buildings in the area to make use of Crossrail’s arrival. The industrial estate next door is now listed as suitable for residential in draft council planning documents. Given that industrial estate has long struggled to find tenants and has seen years of illegal use, a change in classification is acceptable. The tight approach roads alone procure large vehicles from approaching which is a bit of a flaw for an industrial estate.

Peabody also have plans for building on a petrol station and light industrial buildings near the station, which they have named as ‘Sedgemere Quarter’.

cross quarter outline

Development sites in near vicinity

There’s also a large vacant site north of the supermarket that could see tall buildings, plus the travelers site beyond that. Given population increases and the demand for mass housing close to high quality transport links, is it wise to have such a low density site so close to what will be a major station?

It would be contentious and difficult to move, but assuming alternative sites are provided and suitable financial compensation offered, the site would provide housing for many more people which is badly needed as the population quickly rises to 10+ million.

There’s also the underused sites used by a single-storey Lidl, car wash and vets. All grossly under-utilise land that will be five minutes walk away from the Crossrail station.

Thameslink to Abbey Wood?

And it looks as though it won’t just be Crossrail that additionally come to the area – plans have been revealed for Thameslink services to possibly run along the Abbey Wood line. Services would run from the Medway towns in Kent along the line to various stations in central London and beyond. This would offer direct trains to central London stations such as St Pancras before heading through north London via Hampstead to Luton Airport.

Crossrail corridor June 2016

Track corridor work

crossrail station june 2016

New platform work for August completion

So by 2018/19 the station could offer trains on London Overground (assuming the proposed takeover of Southeastern in mid-2018 happens), Crossrail in late 2018 and Thameslink there or thereabouts. Transport links across London would be vastly improved.

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