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.