Planning permission has been granted unanimously by the Royal Greenwich Planning Board for an impressive new leisure centre, high quality homes, commercial space and a community square in Woolwich.
The state of the art leisure centre will provide space for a wide range of sports and leisure facilities, including swimming pools for serious swimmers, learners and those who just want to have fun. The centre includes a gym and spa, sports hall, squash and badminton courts, and five-a-side football pitch, along with a café, creche, soft play area and flexible community spaces. It offers larger and more modern facilities to replace the Waterfront Leisure Centre.
The scheme will also provide 482 one, two and three bedroom apartments on the land between Vincent Road and Wilmount Street, which will be built by the Council’s development partner, The Hill Group. This includes 168 affordable homes, made up of 117 homes for shared ownership and 51 homes for rent by local people on the Council’s housing list.
In addition, the approved plans include new commercial space which will offer places to eat and work, complemented by carefully landscaped public spaces, including a community square for a range of performances and events.
Councillor Aidan Smith, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said: “Securing planning permission for the project is an important milestone in our investment in the town centre. It’s a demonstration of the Council’s ongoing commitment to improve the lives of our residents and make Woolwich an attractive and sustainable place to live and work. There are many vital benefits for local people: accessible, high quality leisure facilities and open spaces, affordable new homes, valuable jobs and more besides. Along with a series of significant public realm improvements taking place in Beresford Square and Powis Street, and the recent arrival of the Elizabeth line in the borough, it’s going to open up a wealth of new opportunities for our residents and businesses.”
The project is an important part of the Council’s ambition to make Woolwich a thriving town centre with high quality public spaces and buildings. The leisure centre will achieve the highest environmental rating of any in the country. Its town centre location makes the site easily accessible by foot, cycle or public transport, supporting the Council’s drive to become carbon neutral by 2030.
The Council’s planning board voted unanimously to approve the scheme at a meeting on 20 September. The decision is subject to completion of a legal agreement and referral to the Mayor of London for final approval before construction can begin.
The construction phase is estimated to create nearly 140 jobs, as well as apprenticeships and training opportunities. Over 100 jobs are expected from the new leisure centre and commercial spaces when the development is complete.
Andy Hill, Chief Executive at the Hill Group said: “We are delighted to receive approval from the Planning Committee for the delivery of the Woolwich Leisure Centre Scheme and look forward to working in partnership with the Royal Borough of Greenwich, helping to deliver their exciting masterplan. This landmark scheme will deliver significant improvements to the built environment, which will benefit the mental and physical well-being of the local community. Utilising our extensive experience in urban regeneration, we will bring forward energy efficient, sustainable new homes, and new public realm to support the development of the leisure centre and the wider regeneration plans for the area.”
Next door to the leisure centre site, the Council’s refurbishment of the Tramshed building is nearly complete and will provide high quality, accessible spaces for performing arts and community use. The work will provide greatly improved facilities for the Tramshed Theatre, the much-loved theatre and arts hub, including performance space with seating for 150 people, new rehearsal studios and flexible office space for local start-ups.
Councillor Adel Khaireh, Cabinet Member for Equality, Culture and Communities, said: “I’m excited to see the final stages of work taking place at the Tramshed and to see the new leisure facilities get approval. With top quality venues like Woolwich Works and the improved Tramshed theatre, Woolwich’s cultural scene has so much to offer, both to local families and visitors from across London. It gives everyone an opportunity to take part in sport, exercise and community activities in modern, purpose built facilities. However you like to spend your free time – from football to flumes, watching dance or drama – we’ve got something for everyone.”
The refurbished Tramshed is due to reopen this autumn and will continue to offer a varied programme of activities for young people and adults, including those with learning difficulties.
The site will now be prepared for development, whilst waiting for permission from the Mayor of London. The public toilets on Vincent Road will close shortly, with alternative toilets available close by in Beresford Square. Demolition of Viscount House and the toilets will begin in October, with construction of the leisure centre expected to follow in spring next year. The work will be carefully managed to minimise the impact on local residents and businesses as much as possible.