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Greenwich Market hotel redevelopment plan axed by Greenwich Hospital
PLANS to regenerate and rebuild Greenwich Market with a 99-bed hotel have been scrapped, its owners have announced.
The controversial original plan, rejected twice by Greenwich Council planning committees but allowed following an appeal, would have seen the market closed for long periods. Critics had claimed it would drain the famous site of its unique character.
But site owner and naval charity Greenwich Hospital told traders last night the plan was dead and, instead, smaller scale replacement of the roof and cobblestones will be carried out.
Edward Dolby from the charity told News Shopper a "different approach" was now needed which would "enhance and improve" the site rather than redevelop it completely.
He said the area had changed a lot since the plan was developed and they wanted to take advantage of new opportunities like the imminent arrival of a Jamie Oliver- branded restaurant on April 1 next year.
The recession also played a part in the decision, while admitting the area has more hotels than previously. He said they also wanted to move quickly, while the Olympics and royal borough status was still fresh in people's minds.
Mr Dolby said: "One always plans as you go along and you see the opportunities and circumstances change. It's a different world to five years ago."
He added: "If we'd persevered with it the implication would be that it would be a year from now, minimum, before we started, and then another two years."
Asked if the charity had wasted its time and money for five years on an axed project, he replied: "It's not been a waste. It's been interesting."
The charity aims to start work in late January, recovering the roof and improving ventilation and relaying the cobblestones, though not replacing them. But some market traders will have their business interrupted as the work is carried out in two phases.
Mr Dolby said: "We think we can do it half and half in about six weeks."
Some traders will be relocated in a service area, but he was unable to say how many of the 150 peak stall holders might have no pitch during the work. Original plans to relocate traders temporarily to nearby Monument Gardens have also been axed.
The new plan will also see numbers 22 and 23 in Church Street demolished and replaced with buildings that fit the road's historic facade, while fixed seating is planned for the market portico.
Mr Dolby added that traders would be kept informed of the plans but was unable to say if rents would change, saying only that they would be reviewed as normal in March.
New Greenwich Hospital director Hugh Player, who has just joined after being CEO for St Martin-in-the-Field, said traders had greeted the news with a round of applause.
He said the market would have increased promotion, and added the charity, which owns much of the town centre, wanted to keep the area unique.
Mr Player said: "We're very concerned that Greenwich remains Greenwich and not the same as any other high street."
And he claimed any future plans to go back to the original hotel idea were "unlikely", saying: "It's not our intention to do so. We've made our decision."