*This is a guest post written for OM by one of the residents of Woolwich Arsenal Riverside.
Woolwich is probably best known for being the original home of Arsenal Football Club, with the club inheriting its name from the Arsenal. At its peak, the 70,000 people a day would come to work at the Woolwich Arsenal with the site even boasting its own railway track. These days many may only know Woolwich for being the stop that comes after London City Airport on the DLR. This is somewhat unfair to the area, which has enjoyed somewhat of a resurgence since the expansion of the DLR to the area in 2009.
When I moved to Woolwich in 2017, I was relatively ignorant of the area and its history having grown up in North London. But Woolwich has been part of a major regeneration project spearheaded by Greenwich Borough Council. This has seen luxury home builder Berkeley Group commit to building a total of 5,000 homes on the site of the old Woolwich Arsenal. The new Berkeley Homes development has come to dominate Woolwich Riverside and should be commended architecturally for successful blending new and old together. Many of the historically valuable buildings have been preserved and converted into luxury flats while newer blocks have been designed to complement the existing buildings.
I moved to Woolwich in 2017, first renting before buying a property on the development. Both me and my wife love living on the Royal Arsenal and enjoy taking long walks down the Thames at the weekend. I have generally been very impressed with the standard Berkeley Homes have completed the development. With the quality of finish and the attention to the architectural design being superior to many other developers. I couldn’t recommend more living at the Royal Arsenal. And the upcoming opening of Woolwich Crossrail station in December 2018 is going to do a lot for the area. It will certainly make my journey to work more pleasant!
There have been some complaints that the Royal Arsenal development is a prime example of ‘gentrification’, with not enough being done for the existing community. Further plans for the development of Spray Street have been criticised for not containing enough social housing for instance. While I have sympathy with this complaint, particularly with the dire shortage of affordable housing in the capital. The new developments have brought additional disposable income to the area and created a significant number of new jobs.
It’s got to be said that the Woolwich area does have several social problems, which may put some people off moving to the area. However, from my perspective, the area suffers from no more issues than many other parts of London. The far more expensive and trendy Finsbury Park/Stroud Green has just as many social issues and problems with rental and housing prices being significantly higher.
Woolwich Moving Forward
There are significant development plans for the area which are likely to go through in the next few years which will see much-needed housing being built. Additionally, the opening of Crossrail is likely to bring significant economic benefits to the area, with it being possible to get into the very centre of the city in just 20 minutes. Additionally, estate agents have predicted that house prices in the area are likely to go up by 15% in the next five years. All of this is great news for Woolwich and its residents, but hopefully the council can make sure the existing residents aren’t left behind and can also benefit from the regeneration of the area. If the regeneration benefits everyone, it will be better for all of Woolwich’s residents. If you are not sure where you should live in London, you should definitely take some time to consider Woolwich and the Royal Arsenal.