Livin’ Up The Arsenal

Tiffany asks:

“Wondering if any of your devoted readers could help out on deciding whether or not to move to Royal Arsenal. My family is currently in GMV but we’d like more space. Royal Arsenal is lovely, but as we don’t know anyone there, we don’t know what it’s really like to live in Woolwich, or how the schools are, etc. Would definitely like some help!”

The Phantom replies:

I suggested the Arsenal to a friend of mine who was moving into the area recently. He ignored me, but I still think it’s not a bad choice if you’re scared off by like-for-like prices in Greenwich.

It’s a bit on the quiet side – but no more than the GMV, and there’s the throbbing (not always in a good way) hub of Woolwich town centre on your doorstep. You get great transport links – what you lose in the Jubilee line at the GMV you make up for with the DLR, fast trains into London (they don’t all stop at all the stations) and the lovely boats (though I don’t know how many actually go that far, come to think of it.)

It’s clean and fresh, with good views and the Thames Path for get-out-ness but do check that wherever you’re looking at Berkley Homes doesn’t have any plans for in-filling the gap in front of you – I vaguely remember reading somewhere that to claw back cash they lost, they’re building more blocks of houses than originally agreed and you may find your lovely river view compromised (can’t swear to that – it was back in the days when I used to get local papers – long, long ago…)

Downsides – well – it is Woolwich – though given what Greenwich town centre can be like of a weekend night, maybe it’s not so bad. You’ll miss the Sainsburys at the peninsula – if memory serves the best you’ll do until the Giant Tesco of Doom arrives is a Lidl – and, of course the market, which isn’t too bad, but is more interested in selling you a mobile phone cover than a cabbage. You mention “family” which sort of implies kiddies to me – I have no idea what the schools are like.

On the other hand, you’ll never want for pound shops or burger bars and there are some fab bargains to be had down the high street, which has a sort of provincial-town atmosphere to it. The M&S is an outlet (sadly the BHS one next door has gone the way of all undies…) and the Clarks factory store’s great – Phantom tip – take a friend – they often do two for one or three for two deals.

Don’t miss the Favourite Inn, round the back of the DLR station – a great family-run Chinese restraurant. I take a train to eat there on a regular basis.

Personally, I like Woolwich. It’s scruffy, yes, and a bit of a building site just now (isn’t everywhere..?) But you get more for your cash there and it’s on the river, which is never a bad thing.

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