A block of council housing is set for demolition as part of plans for a new leisure centre in Woolwich on the site of the current Wilko store.
Greenwich Council’s cabinet will decide on Wednesday whether to flatten Troy House, which houses over-55s, as part of the scheme which will see the Waterfront Leisure Centre closed and moved to Woolwich New Road. The Bull pub and other properties on Vincent Road also face demolition. Wilko has confirmed to 853 that it is moving out of Woolwich to the Charlton retail parks in the summer.
Plans to include Troy House, which contains 24 homes, and the Vincent Road properties in the scheme were mooted at a cabinet meeting last January and passed without discussion.
The new development will also include homes – although it is unclear whether these would be new council homes, “affordable” homes or private housing. Documents about the plans have been blocked from public view because they involve future commercial deals with developers – this includes maps of the extent of the scheme. However, the one public paper does say that 14-20 Vincent Road is also due to be included – The Bull is at number 14.
It is unclear whether residents of Troy Court will be balloted on the proposals to knock their homes down. Labour’s 2019 general election manifesto stated that “we will ensure major regeneration only goes ahead with the consent of residents and that residents are offered an equivalent home on the same terms in the new development”, while London mayor Sadiq Khan made it compulsory for schemes getting City Hall funding to be supported in a residents’ ballot. However, the document going to councillors on Wednesday merely says that decisions about rehousing and compensation will be delegated to a senior council officer, the director of housing Jamie Carswell.
Speak Out Woolwich, a local lobby group, called on residents to object at Wednesday’s meeting, which takes place at 4.30pm on Wednesday. Its spokesperson John Edwards told 853: “An option the council could take would be to develop the site for the new leisure centre whist retaining the Troy Court council housing. The report rejects this option but we will be pressing the cabinet to adopt this as a way forward. This protects both existing tenants and allows the new leisure centre to be built.
“We have talked to a number of tenants in Troy Court and it’s clear there has been no meaningful consultation with them so far. We believe there should be a ballot of tenants to seek their agreement in accordance with the Labour manifesto. We will be organising a petition opposing the demolition and demanding full and proper consultation including a ballot before any final decision is taken.”
Plans to knock down the Waterfront, built in the mid-1980s, and move it to a more central location in Woolwich have been around since at least 2012, when it was first mooted in a masterplan for the area as part of a plan to extend Hare Street to the river. But progress has been slow and parts of the existing centre are to be refurbished for its final few years.
Along with the Tramshed building, the Tramshed theatre company – formerly the Greenwich and Lewisham Young People’s Theatre – is also to be given a home in the new centre. It recently moved to a nearby former bank because of electrical and mechanical problems in the Tramshed.
Asked to comment on the Troy Court proposals, a Greenwich Council spokesperson pointed 853 to a question-and-answer page on its website. It says that residents had been told of the 2019 proposal knocking down their homes 11 days before the cabinet meeting, and after the decision had been made. ” Further engagement was carried-out in September 2019,” it says.
It adds: “If it is decided that Troy Court will be redeveloped as part of the project, we will begin the process of rehousing residents. This process will be done considerately, taking into account residents’ individual needs and circumstances.
“The rehousing of Troy Court residents will take place within our housing stock and is expected to take up to two years.”
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