Former Woolwich Polytechnic scheme given green light

Work included assessing the significance of various historic buildings and advising on which areas of the listed buildings could be altered without affecting their architectural and historical ‘special’ interest.
Image courtesy of Sheppard Robson and AVR London

After seven years of designs, preparation and negotiation, the Royal Borough of Greenwich has completed the award of planning permission and listed building consent for the redevelopment of the Grade II listed former Woolwich Polytechnic in south east London. This has followed a lengthy process, including the designation of a new conservation area as the scheme was being submitted to the local authority.

Donald Insall Associate’s Historic Buildings Consultancy provided strategic heritage and townscape advice on this large, sensitive site throughout the project’s many twists and turns. Work trincluded assessing the significance of various historic buildings and advising on which areas of the listed buildings could be altered without affecting their architectural and historical ‘special’ interest.

The redevelopment work at former Polytechnic is part of a wider residential scheme by Sheppard Robson. Key to the scheme’s success has been the bold move to transform the heavily-altered rear facades of two of the listed buildings into primary elevations. This allowed the listed buildings to play a key role in creating a public square lined with restaurants and workspaces, providing a focus for new housing and enhancing ‘the sense of place’ within the newly-designated Woolwich Town Centre Conservation Area.

Woolwich Polytechnic was a pioneering educational institution, located less than half a mile from historic Woolwich Arsenal. Designed to provide part-time ‘day-release’ training for apprentices, the large site contains three Edwardian/late 19th century listed buildings as well as an art school and 1930s hall included on Greenwich’s local list of buildings of interest.