Changes afoot in Woolwich. A new travelodge is coming to the old RACs co-op, and a large retailer will be arriving.

A plan has gone in to refurbish the site of the old Burtons on the corner of Hare Street and Powis Street in Woolwich. The plan from Powis Street Estates, who own the site, will mean the tired, grotty exterior is altered. It’s one of the worst looking frontages in Woolwich and is located in the desolate part of Woolwich Town Centre near the leisure centre. That part of town has been a run down dive for as long as I can remember. Here’s one side of the building –

That exterior will change to this –

Hmmm. It seems entirely devoid of features, and is has those loathsome terracotta tiles developers stick on buildings when they can’t be arsed to spend anything on decent cladding. The pebble dashing of the 21st century. Not that the existing building is anything special though a clean up would help. It currently looks shocking but cleaned up would it be worse than that? This does suggest though that the misguided plans to demolish everything around there, that was mooted a few years ago and would have involved the great art deco co-op, are over. It also means that investment in Woolwich is slowly moving away from the areas near to the train/DLR station and General Gordon Square, which is currently undergoing renovation.

The plan is to also refurbish some neighbouring shops of the old burtons store as well, and demolish internal divisions to create one big store. Powis Street Estates are in advanced discussions with a big retailer which does not currently have a store in Woolwich to take over. Who could it be? Thing’s must be far enough along for them to draw up plans like this. The plans are here

The planning documents also state that Travelodge are planning to take over the old original RACS Co-Op building that has been used in recent years by the Council for a range of services. A planning application has just gone in for change of use to a hotel, though the documents are not online yet. This is not the wonderful art deco co-op which was threatened with demolition before the recession halted plans. I have read recently that there are plans to refurbish it thankfully.

That part of Woolwich has some stunning buildings. There’s three art deco buildings there in the old Coronet Cinema, the Granada bingo hall (another old cinema) with it’s incredible interior and the Co-Op. There’s some great old photos and history of the various cinemas and theatres of Woolwich here.

Another real asset to the town is the original victorian co-op which is planned to become a Travelodge. The ground floor of that building lost all its original features years ago ago to a bland continuous glazing frontage which extends across the whole site. With some vision that whole area could become a real asset with it’s stunning buildings. Many towns would kill for such fantastic buildings all in close proximity. The lack of any decent public realm improvement plans around there over the years is demonstrative of the abandonment of that part of town.  Hopefully with this refurbishment we will see the art deco co-op faithfully restored and occupied, and the council removing some of the clutter and grimness at ground level in the street. With a travelodge nearby and more visitors around there hopefully something will happen. The Granada has scruffy bushes and trees near the roundabout and massive advertising hording and peeling paint all over. Removing the raised planters of scruffy bushes and replacing with good paving would be a start along with cleaning and re-painting. Some LED lighting would illuminate it superbly as well.

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