Updated story: A Woolwich councillor has helped overturn plans for a new advertising screen in the heart of the historic Royal Arsenal – right opposite the area’s Elizabeth Line station.
Berkeley Homes, which is developing the Arsenal into an estate of more than 5,000 homes, said the screen would advertise the development, “local events, activities and businesses” as well as providing news updates.
Sam Littlewood, a Labour councillor for Woolwich Arsenal, said on social media yesterday that he would be objecting to the proposal, which was published by Greenwich Council earlier this week, and urged others to complain about the scheme.
“An oversized and out-of-place advertising board would ruin Dial Arch Square’s critical role as a public space,” he said. The plans were withdrawn less than 24 hours later, according to Greenwich planners.
While not a big screen like the one in nearby General Gordon Square, it would have been the equivalent of having a 136-inch TV outside the station. The 3.7-metre high structure would have been taller than the three-metre “street hubs” that BT has installed in many locations, and more than two and a half times as wide.
The military had used the riverside site since the 16th century and the original Royal Brass Foundry of 1717, which is Grade I listed, is one of many surviving buildings from its use of the Arsenal, which stayed open until the 1960s. The Ministry of Defence closed its last offices there in 1994 and Berkeley Homes began work on redeveloping the land six years later. The company bought the land from the mayor’s office in 2011.
The screen’s casing would have included motifs based on the Dead Man’s Penny sculpture which is incorporated into the design of Woolwich station. A “dead man’s penny” was a memorial plaque issued to the relatives of those killed in the First World War.
Berkeley said in documents submitted to the council that the screen “would not appear out of keeping” in the area because the listed buildings are too far away.
It also said the screen would help with wayfinding – a problem in Woolwich now that the black and yellow Legible London signposts erected nearly a decade ago are no longer maintained in the town centre and have not been updated to include the Elizabeth Line or Woolwich Works. Additional signage has been added instead, adding to the already cluttered landscape.
But Littlewood’s objection would have placed increased scrutiny on the proposals – meaning the plan would have been heard by councillors rather than being decided behind closed doors by council officers.
Documents about the withdrawn plan can be seen on the Greenwich Council planning website.
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