Elizabeth Line delivers Sunday Times ‘best place to live’ listing for Woolwich

Woolwich Elizabeth Line station
Elizabeth Line services have been running from Woolwich for 10 months

Long-term locals might struggle to believe the news, but the Elizabeth Line’s arrival in Woolwich has helped the district be named one of the best places to live in London.

The Sunday Times has listed Woolwich as one of seven hotspots in the capital that its readers should think about moving to – announcing that “things are looking up in these parts”.

The accolade – which brackets Woolwich alongside Notting Hill – comes after decades of decline prompted by the gradual withdrawal of the military, whose barracks and Royal Arsenal once dominated the town, and the closure of local industry in the 1960s.

A low point was reached 11 years ago, when the town burned in the London riots without even being noticed by most of the media. In 2014, the Tesco store which was hailed as the area’s saviour won the Carbuncle Cup for ugly architecture. Even last autumn, Greenwich Council felt the need to seal off its main square for a fortnight fearing disorder over Halloween and Bonfire Night.

But for a district that may as well have had misery in its water supply for years, the broadsheet paper’s accolade may come as a turning point.

“More than almost anywhere else on the network, Woolwich has benefited from the advent of the Elizabeth line, with fast services to Canary Wharf, the City and the West End, and a guaranteed seat on the morning commute,” the paper notes, starting that Berkeley Homes’ Royal Arsenal development is “transforming this unheralded corner of southeast London into one of the capital’s most exciting neighbourhoods”.

Powis Street could do with some TLC, The Sunday Times said

Woolwich Works and the immersive theatre company Punchdrunk’s arrival in the Arsenal are also cited as reasons why the area is on the up, as well as the revived Tramshed, the new leisure centre, the latest revamp of Beresford Square and the Woolwich Exchange development.

Vietnamese and Nepalese food options get a mention along with the Woolwich Equitable pub’s Sunday roasts and the fortnightly farmers’ market in the Arsenal.

“The workaday high street and its surrounds could do with some TLC,” the paper admits.

Good schools and broadband are mentioned – although recent issues with getting fibre in the Arsenal aren’t.

Thameslink services to London Bridge are mentioned – Southeastern’s aren’t, possibly wisely given the Westminster government’s service cuts. The overall Best Place to Live in the UK was Wadhurst, East Sussex – on the rail minister Huw Merriman’s line, which has not suffered the same Southeastern cuts as Woolwich.

The best place to live in London was another district that isn’t on the Tube – Crouch End. Other places mentioned included Notting Hill, Earlsfield, King’s Cross and the “Hackney borders” – Haggerston and De Beauvoir Town.

Beckenham, at the other end of the 54 bus route from Woolwich, was also on the list, noting the bandstand where David Bowie performed at a festival in 1969 and the recent transformation of Beckenham Place Park by Lewisham Council.

The full list can be found at thetimes.co.uk/best-places-to-live.

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