Proposals to create a sustainable new neighbourhood and transform the Grade II-listed Former Covered Market in Woolwich, SE18, have been approved by the Royal Borough of Greenwich’s Planning Board.
The Planning Board showed overwhelming support for the plans, with five out of seven councillors voting in favour of St. Modwen and Notting Hill Genesis’ vision for the important town centre site
A sustainable development, designed for the community
Woolwich Exchange will deliver 801 high-quality homes, designed for flexible living, with space to live and work at home. 158 of the new homes will be offered as affordable tenures of which 56 will be family sized homes. The scheme will also provide new facilities for the community to use, including a nursery, children’s play areas and workspaces.
The regeneration will feature new green, public spaces at the heart of the site, with extensive planting, benches and outside seating available for cafés, bars and restaurants – offering a new, outdoor environment in the middle of Woolwich town centre, as well as promoting urban biodiversity.
A new green buffer will be created along Plumstead Road, forming a pleasant pedestrian route separated from vehicle traffic.
The development will be one of the most sustainable in London, with innovative heating and cooling systems, which will see savings in CO2 emissions of over 50% compared to the requirements defined by building regulations.
Preserving Woolwich’s heritage for future generations
The approved plans for Woolwich Exchange retain the historic Former Covered Market on Plumstead Road, transforming the Grade II listed building into a new five-screen Picturehouse cinema, cafés, bars and restaurants. The reimagined space will allow visitors to experience the expansive Lamella roof structure, which was the main focus of the decision to list the building in 2018.
Picturehouse, which has confirmed its commitment to the scheme, will open Woolwich’s first cinema in a generation following the closure of the Coronet in 1999.
Creating new connections across Woolwich town centre
Woolwich Exchange sits between the Royal Arsenal Riverside development, which includes the forthcoming Elizabeth Line’s Woolwich Station , and the Woolwich Arsenal DLR and National Rail stations. New, people-friendly pedestrian and cycle routes across the car-free development will create pleasant connections to different parts of the town centre.
Engaging the community and local businesses
Businesses currently based on the site have been engaged in detailed dialogue about the plans and their relocation over the past few years, and this will continue as the project team aims to begin construction in 2023.
Extensive consultation with the Woolwich community helped shape the plans from the start and, as a result, there has been a high level of local support for the regeneration. The community requested historic elements of existing buildings were incorporated into the design, to help tie the new development’s identity to Woolwich’s heritage. In line with the Woolwich Conservation Area, several of the historic buildings on Woolwich New Road will be preserved and enhanced as part of the approved plans.
Creating jobs and boosting the local economy
The regeneration will generate over 600 temporary jobs during construction and nearly 200 permanent jobs in the retail, leisure and new employment spaces.
The site represents a major investment and commitment in the future of Woolwich, with the development estimated to add £60 million per year to the local economy during construction, and £10 million a year once complete.
Woolwich Exchange has been developed by a joint venture partnership between developer St. Modwen and housing association Notting Hill Genesis, which was appointed by the Royal Borough of Greenwich to deliver the scheme.
John Hughes, group development director at Notting Hill Genesis, said: “The Council’s approval is fantastic news for Woolwich, its community and for London, offering something for everyone. Woolwich is growing and the transformative plans for Woolwich Exchange are part of its sensitive evolution which will bring a huge range of benefits to the area and help unite the town centre.
The regeneration will deliver many new, well-designed affordable homes, as part of a sustainable development that is truly fit for the future.
Gary Morris, development director for St. Modwen Strategic Land and Regeneration, added: This is great news for the future of Woolwich. Woolwich Exchange is an ambitious regeneration that will transform this part of the town centre, while also respecting the area’s rich heritage. Adding a new cinema within the historic covered market building is going to be a spectacular addition to the area.
"From the beginning, it has been critical that we bring the community with us as we evolved our plans and we would like to thank local residents who have shown our proposals such incredible support.
"Securing planning permission is a major step forward in making Woolwich Exchange a reality. There is still much hard work ahead of us and we will continue to closely engage with local residents and businesses.”