Greenwich Market - how approved redevelopment went from 'ghastly' to 'joyous'

An artist's impression of the plan

What Fry's Court could look like

2010 protests against the hotel plan

What could have been - a vision of the old, scrapped plans

First published in News News Shopper: Photograph of the Author by , deputy news editor

Greenwich's world-famous market was under threat from a "ghastly" hotel redevelopment five years ago - but new plans approved this week have left planning chiefs "joyous".

Traders, the public and councillors reacted with anger and public protests to original plans for a 99-bed boutique hotel at Greenwich Market - twice turned down at planning boards but allowed following an appeal.

But scenes at a Woolwich Town Hall planning meeting this week could not have been more different as revised proposals to refine the market rather that redevelop it wholesale, ditching the hotel idea, were praised from all sides.

Owners Greenwich Hospital could now start work as soon as September, with improvements including a new glass roof, relaying of the cobblestones, a new public space and hot food area at the Fry's Court service yard and extra commercial space to the rear of the Durnford Street buildings.

Planning board member Councillor Steve Offord said: "It's such an improvement over that original scheme, it makes it quite difficult to look at it objectively in a way."

And veteran committee member Councillor Dermot Poston, standing down at this election, said: "As someone who was very depressed by the proposals to build a boutique hotel on this site I have to say that I feel really quite joyous about these proposals."

Only ward councillor Coun Maureen O'Mara, arriving late to the meeting with a drink in hand, raised concerns about the plans, asking for conditions on the opening hours of Fry's Court.

She told the meeting: "I believe that protecting the World Heritage Site is more important than satisfying the demands of the developer, no matter how important that developer thinks they are."

Despite her fears, the plans - set to take around 18 months - were voted through unanimously by the planning committee and Greenwich Hospital property manager Gillie Bexson admitted to getting quite emotional over the praise.

She said: "We're looking forward to getting started.

"We've spoken to all our traders and retailers. They know it will be a fairly chaotic ride."

Greenwich Hospital director High Player said: "We will continue to work closely with traders, retailers and the council to keep disruption to a minimum as we deliver the market enhancements in phases over the next couple of years.

"We want to preserve the character and atmosphere of the market and its unique range of shops and stalls whilst encouraging new visitors to come here from across London, the UK and the world."

Phases of development

1. Fry' court - new storage building and lift built. Temporary market rood installed. Durnford Street - new market service area and workshop built.

2. Northern half of market - some traders temporarily relocated to Fry's Court, new roof and lighting, cobbles relayed and in-ground services installed.

3. Southern half of market - some traders temporarily relocated to Fry's Court, new roof and lighting, cobbles relayed and in-ground services installed.

4. Fry's Court - new pavilion, soft and hard landscaping. Durnford Street - new retail units, restoration of 1 Durnford Street, new hard landscaping.

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