Woolwich Street Feast shuts after botched electrical work and Crossrail delay

Woolwich Public Market
Woolwich’s covered market is lying deserted again

Street food operator Street Feast will not be reopening in Woolwich Public Market in 2019 because of the electrical work carried out incorrectly in the Grade II-listed building and the ongoing delay to Crossrail.

The firm, which has run Lewisham’s Model Market as a summer street food arena since 2015, had planned to run the Woolwich space, which it called Public, as a year-round weekend space for eating and drinking. It opened last March after obtaining a licence a year ago.

But Greenwich Council, which owns the building, says that electrical work paid for by Street Feast was carried out incorrectly and needs to be rectified before it can reopen.

The delay to Crossrail – originally due to open in December 2018 and not due to open until at least 2020 – was also a factor in Street Feast’s decision not to reopen this year, according to council leader Danny Thorpe. The station at Woolwich, across the road from the covered market, is nowhere near finished.

Thorpe – who was personally involved in bringing Street Feast to Woolwich as deputy leader – told 853: ““I am very disappointed that Street Feast will not be reopening in Woolwich this year. We worked really hard to get them in and bring the old covered market back into use, and whenever I visited it was fairly busy, with around 1,000 visitors a day in the summer. Numbers did drop in autumn and winter but we hoped that it would pick up again this year in the spring.

Denise Scott-McDonald and Danny Thorpe
Danny Thorpe with fellow councillor Denise Scott-McDonald at Street Feast’s launch – photo from twitter.com/DanLThorpe

“It is a difficult time for businesses. Employment is up, and wages are rising, but in real terms people have less money in their pocket than they did before the recession. Uncertainty around Brexit is clearly having an impact too – people are spending less than they used to.

“When I announced that Street Feast was coming to Woolwich in 2017 I said that Crossrail would pave the way for revitalising the town centre, making it a place that will be enjoyed by local families and residents as well as attracting new visitors. After two sets of delays we still do not know when Crossrail will open, which has also contributed to Street Feast’s decision not to reopen this year.

“The future is still bright for Woolwich – the Creative District will bring more people and jobs to the town, housing is being built, and new businesses are opening. Uncertainty on Crossrail does not help – I hope they can confirm an opening date as soon as possible so that the residents and businesses of Abbey Wood, Woolwich and beyond can plan and experience the benefits.

“We hope a new temporary use for the covered market can be found whilst the long term future of the site is determined.”

Street Feast has not responded to a request for comment. It website says people should “keep an eye on socials for updates”. Another of its venues, on an industrial estate at Wood Green, closed last year after just 12 weeks after a row with Haringey Council over building regulations.

Public at Woolwich
Street Feast had breathed a new lease of life into the market

The market, built in 1936, had been left to decay for years and was condemned for demolition under controversial council-backed plans to redevelop the area around Spray Street to include 742 new homes, shops, offices, a cinema and a new public square. Street Feast was supposed to use the building until work started.

However, those plans suffered a setback in October when Historic England put a Grade II listing on the market, calling it “a big, uninterrupted space for people to gather in”, noting rare architectural features.

While Street Feast’s operation has proved popular, one local councillor, Woolwich Common’s Ivis Williams, implied it was pricing out locals when she spoke at a hustings last year. “Yes, we’re seeing footfall, but the feedback is that the food is expensive, so I don’t think it’s a good investment,” she said.

“If it’s going to continue, local business needs to have a presence within that area, otherwise you’ll get a footfall but it won’t be local people coming to buy.”

Model Market is due to reopen later this year in Lewisham, while Street Feast’s other operations – Dinerama in Shoreditch, Giant Robot at Canary Wharf and Hawker House in Rotherhithe, remain open.

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