A LONG awaited development in east Greenwich has had its official ground breaking and is finally underway.

Work on the landmark Heart of East Greenwich project has been stalled for six years due to financial reasons.

On Thursday Greenwich Council leader Councillor Chris Roberts joined developers Hadley Mace, the Homes and Communities Agency, NHS Greenwich and London and Quadrant, to break the ground marking the start of works.

The development is located at the intersection of Woolwich Road and Vanbrugh Hill, the site of the former Greenwich District hospital.

It will create 645 new homes, a range of retail and commercial units, and a community facility to be known as the Greenwich Centre.

The centre, which is scheduled for completion in 2014, will include a healthcare facility, a library, a service centre, and a brand new leisure facility, including a gym, swimming pool complex, café and crèche.

Cllr Roberts said: "It's a really significant development which will bring quality new affordable homes to the area.

"Our brand new Greenwich Centre will follow on from the new Service Centres in Woolwich and Eltham and bring our local services under one roof, creating a new, bigger library for East Greenwich and a brand new leisure centre."

Greenwich Society’s chairman Ray Smith told News Shopper: “We are absolutely delighted that it is going ahead, and it is about time too.

"What I would sincerely hope, on behalf of the Greenwich Society, is that in such different economic circumstances, the scheme involves everything that it was intended to when it was first approved.”