Royal Greenwich Cllrs celebrate the start of construction work with pupils from Plumstead Manor School and professional cricketer Phoebe Franklin.

Published: Friday, 16th June 2023

Construction work is underway on a top quality new leisure centre in the heart of Woolwich.

Royal Greenwich councillors celebrated the start of construction work with pupils from Plumstead Manor School and local sportswoman, professional cricketer Phoebe Franklin last week.

The new three storey building will offer space for a wealth of sports including cricket, basketball, football, squash and much more, alongside swimming pools, extensive fitness suites, spa, café, creche, soft play area and flexible community rooms.

Leader of the Council, Cllr Anthony Okereke said: “This is a flagship project for the Council and will be one of the best leisure centres in the country. I’m really proud of what we’re delivering for our residents, setting a new benchmark for high quality design. As well as facilities for lots of different sports and leisure activities, it’s been created to be truly accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities and those with dementia. I’m delighted Phoebe and the Plumstead Manor School students were able to join us and I hope more local schools will visit to see this impressive building in construction.”

Phoebe joined Cllr Okereke to break ground on the new development, which is expected to take around 30 months to build. The South East Stars’ allrounder and Royal Greenwich resident heard about the new facilities and all the different sports it will cater for.

Phoebe Franklin said: “It’s fantastic to help construction get underway on such an exciting project. This will give local people access to top quality sporting facilities, so people of any age can try out a new sport that they might find a love for. It would have been amazing to have indoor facilities like this when I was young, to have the chance to train all year round in any kind of weather. I’m looking forward to coming along and trying out the new nets.”

The building’s design also includes a range of sustainability measures which support the Council’s plans to become carbon neutral by 2030 and improve energy efficiency. Its convenient town centre location will encourage visitors to come by public transport, as it’s served by multiple bus routes and offers cycle parking.

Aidan Smith, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said: “The new leisure centre will be fitted out with modern environmental technology including an air source heat pump and solar panels to make sure the building is energy efficient and sustainable. We want the centre to achieve a BREEAM sustainability rating of Outstanding, which would make it one of only two in the UK of this standard.

“The regeneration of Woolwich is a key priority for the Council. As well the leisure centre, the refurbishment of Tramshed Theatre and opening Woolwich Works, we’re also making extensive improvements throughout the town centre to make it a more attractive place for people to visit, shop and spend their time.”

The project will create around 140 jobs, as well as apprenticeships and training opportunities including many for local people. Over 100 jobs are expected from the new leisure centre and commercial spaces when the development is complete.

Students from Plumstead Manor School joined the visit to hear from the Council’s construction company Morgan Sindall Construction about how the new leisure centre will be built. This is one of a series of visits from local schools who will have the opportunity to learn about construction and engineering, ensuring the local community benefits from the development.

Giles Smith, Assistant Head Teacher at Plumstead Manor School said: “Visiting the site has been brilliant for our students; it was a great opportunity to learn about engineering, construction and project management within a local and relevant environment. It was also inspiring for them to meet Phoebe and hear from a professional sports person about a very different type of career, and the hard work and dedication it takes to be successful.

“Plumstead Manor is a school at the heart of its community, and one committed to serving the children, young people and families of Greenwich. We are acutely aware of the positive impact sport has on people’s physical and mental well-being, and fully support the development of high quality facilities like this in our local area. We look forward to returning with more students to witness the project progress from start to finish.”

Cllr Adel Khaireh, Cabinet Member for Equality, Culture and Communities, said: “This is an excellent development for Woolwich, providing our residents with the high quality, accessible community facilities they deserve to help them get more active. Today is a major milestone for the project and takes us one step closer to the centre being open to all local people.

“Staying active benefits us all in so many ways, both mentally and physically. It’s hugely important that top class facilities are available to all members of our community, so ensuring the new leisure centre is accessible to disabled people was a priority.

“I look forward to seeing residents get active and enjoy this valuable new facility for generations to come.”

The centre is due to open in late 2025. It will play a key role in delivering the Council's priorities set out in the ‘Our Greenwich’ corporate plan, in creating vibrant, prosperous town centres, enabling people to live healthy lives, and helping to tackle the climate emergency.