CONTROVERSIAL plans to redevelop Greenwich Market have been DROPPED by landlords Greenwich Hospital.
The scheme which would have seen a radical revamp of the historic covered market and a new 100-room boutique hotel will not now go ahead, Greenwich Hospital confirmed today.
The news was first announced to traders and tenants last night at a meeting with Greenwich Hospital bosses in the chapel of the Old Royal Naval College. There was an outbreak of applause as the change of direction was explained by Resources Director, Edward Dolby.
Speaking to Greenwich.co.uk today, he explained that the uncertainty was "not ideal for us or the traders and shopkeepers."
"We want to remove the uncertainty and crack on" with plans to "enhance and improve" the market, he said.
Those improvements could see £10 million spent over the next five to ten years and will include:
- Lifting the cobbles and making them "a bit more level, a little more user friendly."
- Recovering the roof so that it's "lighter, brighter and easier to clean."
- Installing new seating in the market portico
- Demolishing 20 & 22 Greenwich Church Street and replacing with new buildings in keeping with neighbouring properties
"We want to get on now and make a difference. We feel that everything else has been coming together around us while our bit of the town centre has been on hold, " commented Mr Dolby.
He said the return of some leases from Greenwich Inc had enabled "new opportunities" for the naval charity such as the return of Goddard's Pies and the arrival of Jamie's Italian in Nelson Road where five new flats are planned above.
He pointed to the recession as a factor in the decision. " It's been much longer than we'd imagined and where we are today is a very different place from where we were five years ago," he commented.
But how much has Greenwich Hospital spent on the aborted revamp, that was bitterly opposed by many traders and unanimously rejected by councillors on Greenwich Council's Planning Board, only to be later overturned after a public inquiry.
"It's fair to say that there isn't a figure but it is quite normal for any of these major projects to go through a period of analysis and deep investigation. Sometimes it proceeds and sometimes it doesn't," says new Director of Greenwich Hospital, Hugh Player.
"No amount has been spent that is inconsistent with investigating a major project." The "skills and knowledge" gained from that process are helping to "get going [with the improvements] much more quickly," he added.
The decision not to proceed with the scheme was taken before Mr Player took up his role as head of Greenwich Hospital, but the former boss of St Martin in the Fields says he is happy to be announcing the decision which he is "confident is the right one."
Next week on Greenwich.co.uk - all the reaction to today's announcement by Greenwich Hospital