The Catford Plan

Lewisham Council has launched a public consultation about the future of Catford. If any part of the borough needs re-imagining, it's Catford, which could make a vital and interesting contribution to life in the borough, but mostly doesn't.

The Council is updating its planning strategy for Catford Town Centre. The Catford Plan will guide where and how development should take place for the period to 2026, reflecting community and Council expectations, and once agreed and adopted it will be used to assess and determine relevant planning applications. 

The Council is now consulting on a ‘further options’ document for the Catford Plan, which details the emerging vision, plans and policies for Catford’s future. The purpose of this consultation stage is to ensure that anyone who is interested, particularly the local business and resident communities and affected land owners, has the opportunity to comment on what options should be taken forward, and any alternative option being considered. 

All are open for comment and you are invited to suggest other options if you feel there is another way. The Council wants to hear from local people and believes that local knowledge and opinions result in a better plan.

The Council's specific recommendations include:

  • The Catford Centre and Milford Towers to be redeveloped as mixed-use properties with a supermarket anchor tenant
  • Minor realignment of the South Circular to create a contraflow for buses
  • The Civic Centre to become another mixed use development with a range of "civic" uses
  • A new residential development (with some green) to replace Laurence House
  • More new retail on Plassey Island commercial partk
  • Housing at the Greyhound Stadium
  • Residential to replace Wickes and Halfords
In other words, the whole town centre is up for grabs. Which is as it should be. But on first inspection, the ideas advanced in the Council's preferred options aren't hugely exciting. The primary aim is to create a better shopping environment, while building more and better-quality homes. Fine, but we are in the midst of a huge consolidation in retail. The biggest and best shopping centres continue to attract big brands. The well-kept local high-streets will attract independent retail and leisure. Catford runs the risk that it will be neither grand and well-connected enough to compete with the likes of Westfield Croydon, nor interesting and charming enough to attract independent businesses. 


In BC's view, Catford needs less retail space and more and better-quality green space, housing and amenities for young families, to build on the area's traditional residential strengths. Some will call that a vision for a "dormitory" area, but there's nothing wrong with trying to build nice places to live, especially when such places command such a premium in London.

48 comments:

Ian on the Hill said...

For once, I agree totally. Green up Catford, some good quality housing, recognition of some of the nice housing it does have and give a place for the exisiting retail outlets rather than a single big supermarket.

SeaHorse said...

How about a cinema and housing on the old Greyhound site?

Michael_FH said...

The other obvious problem with Catford is traffic. Not round Rushey Green, but over and under the railways. Lewisham council should be working with TfL to improve traffic flows on this section of the south circular. Simply moving the bus stops is not enough and with the plans showing a third station for possible DLR extension, there is no joined up thinking on transport.

Helen said...

Green up Catford?! There's a huge park next to the train station! The train station that will be even busier than it already is with the introduction of more housing. We need decent shops and a cinema.

Brockley Nick said...

Helen, the planning documents acknowledge the lack of green space in the areas being considered. You might want "decent shops", but "decent shops" will only move in if there is a) a decent retail environment (nice streets, reduced traffic problems, etc) and b) a lucrative local market.  Bring more families in to the area and the shops will follow the spending power. 

Brockley Nick said...

Agreed. Do something amazing with the S Circular. eg: stick it underground.

DubaiDynamo said...

An Aquatic adventure trail with real fish, seaweed, tides and transparent subsurface vessels, with a gift shop selling seaweed shampoo would do it for us and the kids.

Brockley Nick said...

There you go! Now you're thinking! Or how about a museum? Or a performing arts school? Or a nature trail? Or a new and improved street market? Or an urban farm? Or a nightclub? Or something.

Anonymous said...

What's happened to the plan to move the south circular to behind the town hall, to create a much more pleasent shopping space?

Guest said...

a cinema would be really good news for the area. perhaps wishful thinking but a nice independent one would be nice and would help lift the area

AliAliAfro said...

How about an amazing spectator stadium where the fastest dogs in the world race around a circuit chasing a mechanical rabbit whilst the punters place bets on the winner...

oh..

sarah said...

 "but there's nothing wrong with trying to build nice places to live, especially when such places command such a premium in London."

URGH. does it always have to come back to house prices?

Brockley Nick said...

No, it comes back to creating affordable places to live in the capital.

david said...

Returning the stadium to its previous use would be very cool, as would a cinema. The theatre space could be a bit better exploited (or maybe I mean marketed, I never know what's going on there other than the annual panto). Perhaps some sort of gig venue; I'm not expecting big names to perform in Catford but a small-mid sized venue that offers opportunities to up and coming bands, maybe focussing on kids, perhaps with related workshop facilities for other enthusiastic youngsters.

Dunno on "attractions" but I have to agree that Catford has green space it just isn't always obvious. The shop-space is there but its main problem as a retail destination (if I must use that phrase) is that it sits on an intersection of two major A roads. Sort that out and it might become more enjoyable to wander round.

Brockley Nick said...

"Returning the stadium to its previous use would be very cool,"
Agreed - pardon my ignorance, but why did it close in the first place?
"The theatre space could be a bit better exploited (or maybe I mean marketed,"
Agreed.
"Dunno on "attractions" but I have to agree that Catford has green space it just isn't always obvious."
Yes, but green space that potential visitors don't know about / use is as good as useless. I'm not talking about replacing a shopping centre with a park, but some little green spaces to punctuate the retail and create nice places to stop while you're shopping, or to look out on from a restaurant or cafe would help loads. As would creating a nicer environment for pedestrians. If it doesn't create a nicer environment for shoppers, it will never pull in punters from elsewhere. If it doesn't pull in punters from elsewhere, it will never attract top retailers. Vicious circle, which needs breaking with a radical redesign.
"The shop-space is there but its main problem as a retail destination (if I must use that phrase) is that it sits on an intersection of two major A roads. Sort that out and it might become more enjoyable to wander round."
Totally.

david said...

Don't know why the dog track closed. Despite it being open when I first moved to area, I think, I never actually went - which is probably a fine example of why it closed!

I used to go to Walthamstow track when some friends lived up that way and I loved it. It would be great for Catford track to reopen, but I fear it's unlikely.

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Graham said...

Well the council plans to close the Broadway until Witherspoons take it over so closing another potential cinema space. They do not want to fund any arts provision outside of Deptford so until we all lobby the Mayor it will just not happen

Brockley Nick said...

How about a theatre that doesn't need subsidy?

Marioravieira said...

The first Line of the recommendations show how uninspiring the plans seem. This is the default position of any 'regeneration' project - supermarket plus flats. For what it is worth I think the greyhound stadium land should be made available for different models of housing such as community self-build. As for the central area, a proper civic heart to the borough focused around the town hall, library and theatre. Possibly with a large civic space connecting them. This would create a nice civic and social hub to compliment the commercial centre that is Lewisham town centre.

Max Calò said...

A sports and leisure centre with a therapeutic pool targeting the elderly and people with low mobility (I declare an interest, I'm 44, by the time this will be built I'll be 80).

Max Calò said...

By the way, Plessy Road Retail Island is a monstruosity, any plan should include its obliteration and here instead they plan to add retail to it.

Max Calò said...

This would also be a good opportunity to improve and naturalize the route between Ladywell Fields (Catford end) and the other side of Catford Bridge creating an uninterrupted green space from Ladywell to Bellingham.

Catford dogged by traffic said...

I am not sure Catford can be improved without doing something about the roads.  As a major junction, several lanes of traffic divide central Catford isolating shopping areas and social facilities.  A similar situation prevails in other areas of London (eg. Elephant and Castle) and pedestrians are left with a similar dogs dinner to negotiate.

However, I guess putting the roads underground would be an expensive option.  Maybe the centre could be moved.  It really needs a radical redesign.

Wickes said...

What's wrong with Wickes? It is handy having a reasonable size DIY store nearby

david said...

Agree with  that, Wickes, and I used the Halfords there last week for an emergency wing mirror replacement.  Stores like this locally do have their use, but they are places people head to with purpose in mind (often in a car if getting something big and heavy).  The rest of Catford retail needs a refresh in terms of how people move around it in order to support casual shopping, browsing and a nicer experience.

The less said about the collection of stuff where Dreams and McDonalds are, trapped in the middle of a massive roundabout the less.  Yes, these are similar to Wickes and Halfords, but there the former are tucked out the way this lot are smack in the middle contributing to the road chaos. 

Woodman said...

New housing isn't the magic bullet that will solve things by bringing new families to the area. Bringing new families to the area right now will add more pressure to the existing roads and rails, which already can't cope with current levels. Fix the problems first for those of us who are already here, then look to tempt new people in.
ps. If whatever they plan ends up affecting pizzeria italiana then I'll be outside chaining myself to the railings!

Anon said...

If they wish to green up how about extending Ladywell Fields over the old dog track, take a look from the air and it makes sense.

If Lawrence House goes another library gone, and the building's less than 25 years old and it's to be demolished?

If they demolish Lawrence House they could place the new buiding closer to the Broadway Theatre and create a small pizza for pedestrians, with the South Circular diverted to go roughly where Lawrence House currently stands.

Is the consultation called 'Let's Kick The Crap out of Catford'.

anon said...

Seriously the A205 is a major road. Traffic from the Harvester on Lordship Lane right down to Lawrence House becomes gridlocked. More Roadworks is not the answer.

Anon said...

Firstly demolish Lawrence House, lay a new stretch of road, join it up at both ends, close the existing stretch of road. Easy peezy.

Anon said...

Here's a possible road scheme the black line is the South Circular as the crow flies from Sangley Road to the junction of Canadian Avenue. The red line is a possible new route, leaving the green circled area free to develop.

Where the Bromley Road currently flows into the A205 could be widened to create a layby for buses to stop infront of the Town Hall & Broadway Theatre by the old loos.

louis said...

 This is an interesting document: http://www.lewisham.gov.uk/myservices/planning/policy/Documents/CatfordGyratoryModellingNoteSKMJan2013.pdf although they seem to reject the option of diverting the A205 south of Lawrence House because the spec left will be "too large
for an appropriate public open space" (?!?) but too small for development... the option they seem to recommend seems to be the worst of all wolrds.

Look forward to Catford never being properly redeveloped, the will just isn't there.

Anonymous said...

In that report it says

"6.2 There is a long-standing proposal (over 40 years) from TfL to divert the A205 (South Circular) from its current alignment north of Laurence House on Catford Road to a new alignment using the car park to the south and connecting to Plassy Road via Sangley Road. This would potentially removethe Catford Gyratory and reduce traffic flows in the town centre on Rushey Green and Catford Road. There is no clear timetable or funding strategy for this major project.6.3 However, this option would not benefit a cohesive town centre since it would create an area between the frontage of the Broadway Theatre and the new alignment of Catford Road that would be too large for an appropriate public open space and too small an area to provide a viable development opportunity. It would also reduce the development potential of the remainder of the Laurence House car park site. Consequently this option is not explored further."Ridiculous!Instead we get pages and pages of information about bus flows when the best solution is dismissed in a single paragraph!
the Catford Gyratory and reduce traffic flows in the town centre on Rushey Green and Catford Road. There is no clear timetable or funding strategy for this major project.
6.3 However, this option would not benefit a cohesive town centre since it would create an area between the frontage of the Broadway Theatre and the new alignment of Catford Road that would be too large for an appropriate public open space and too small an area to provide a viable development opportunity. It would also reduce the development potential of the remainder of the Laurence House car park site. Consequently this option is not explored further."

Ridiculous!

Instead we get pages and pages of information about bus flows when the best solution is dismissed in a single paragraph!

Anonymous said...

6.2 There is a long-standing proposal (over 40 years) from TfL to divert the A205 (South Circular) from its current alignment north of Laurence House on Catford Road to a new alignment using the car park to the south and connecting to Plassy Road via Sangley Road. This would potentially remove the Catford Gyratory and reduce traffic flows in the town centre on Rushey Green and Catford Road. There is no clear timetable or funding strategy for this major project.

6.3 However, this option would not benefit a cohesive town centre since it would create an area between the frontage of the Broadway Theatre and the new alignment of Catford Road that would be too large for an appropriate public open space and too small an area to provide a viable development opportunity. It would also reduce the development potential of the remainder of the Laurence House car park site. Consequently this option is not explored further.

Ridiculous!

Instead we get pages and pages of information about bus flows when the best solution is dismissed in a single paragraph!

Max Calò said...

Thanks Louis, Very interesting indeed. And from the paragraph above the one you quoted:"There is a long-standing proposal (over 40 years) from TfL to divert the A205 (South Circular) from its current alignment north of Laurence House on Catford Road to a new alignment using the car park to the south and connecting to Plassy Road via Sangley Road. This would potentially remove the Catford Gyratory and reduce traffic flows in the town centre on Rushey Green and Catford Road. There is no clear timetable or funding strategy for this major project."Now, this is the real news of this new plan, that they are ditching the old plan for a new road layout, and this plan has been what people have been looking for for a long time. A very evident implication of this plan are some fine and prominent yet derelict buildings around the area acquired a long time ago by TfL to be demolished to make way for the new road layout.Maybe Mayor Johnson should be asked about at tomorrow's public meeting.

Anon said...

The original scheme for the South Circular had been created by the Greater London Council as the GLC was abolished it passed to the Minister for Transport in London, Stephen Norriss (who alledgedly had a woman on every bus route).

In a question in 1993 Jim Dowd asked the Minister to confirm there had been 5 start dates given since 1986.

http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1993/jul/26/gyratory-system-catford

There was a massive government consultation regarding the South Circular and TfL bought all the houses along Plassey Road and some buildings opposite the ABC Cinema in readyness to pass the South Circular behind Lawrence House to Forest Hill and beyond.

From memory Stephen Norris announced the South Circular scheme had been dropped. At the time there was a lot of pressure from the Greens, I had the feeling this was excuse for not having the funds for the scheme.

The result was Plassey Road was blighted, eventually the houses were given over for Social housing and then demolished to make way for flats.

Despite warnings from me the TfL properties opposite the ABC Cinema were in a dangerous condition, nought was down till one began collapsing onto traffic and were demolished.   

Catford dogged said...

I always wondered how Catford ended up in such a mess.  The Catford Gyratory turns the centre of Catford into a huge roundabout, creating an obstacle for pedestrians and restricting the use of a huge amount of land in the centre of the town by isolating it behind many lanes of heavy traffic. 

Tinkering around with the bus lanes is not going to change this situation much.

The area is blighted, it needs a more radical solution.  Presumably the funds for this are held centrally.

I suspect new road schemes are way down the list of priorities.

NAT said...

Could I perhaps add a small restaurant selling crab sandwiches in thousand island dressing and  a moderately sized beach on which dogs were  not allowed from October to April.

Dubai Dynamo said...

Agreed. 6.2 sounds like the option and the reasons for dismissing it are as you say, well opaque. Another council funded study had a camp for travellers  located in the carpark, which hasn't been followed up, I understand.

Anon said...

One of the reasons the idea of a Travellers site was dropped was because the travellers were fearful of being attacked by fellow travellers from a neigbouring borough, if the site had a high profile.

Anonymous said...

Theres more information here:

http://lewisham-consult.objective.co.uk/portal/planning_policy/catford_plan?pointId=s1359458247982

It seems like the council has decided that it is no longer worth waiting for the major realignment to happen, as there is not enough political will to make it happen.

Boris should certainly be questioned on this at tonight's event given that he has  £111mn fund to invest in infra projects, which is currently not being spent.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-21622094

4.5 There is a long-standing proposal from TfL to divert the South Circular from its current alignment north of Laurence House on Catford Road to a new alignment using the Laurence House surface level car park to the south and connecting to Plassy Road via Sangley Road. This is shown in Figure 4.2. This would potentially cut out the Catford Gyratory and reduce traffic flows in the town centre on Rushey Green and Catford Road. However, this proposal has been around for about 40 years and there is still no clear timetable or funding strategy for what would be a major project.

4.6 There are reasons why this project has not happened; it would be complex, expensive and difficult to implement – requiring a real appetite on behalf of TfL, the Council and others to make it happen. In addition, the TfL proposal would not result in a cohesive town centre since it would create a significant open space area between the frontage of the Broadway Theatre and the new alignment of Catford Road that would compete with other spaces (such as Catford Broadway) and too small an area to provide a viable development opportunity. It would also reduce the development potential of the remainder of the Laurence House surface level car park site.

4.7 The Council is keen to develop a strategy for improving the Catford traffic network that is deliverable (i.e. less complex, less land intensive and less expensive) and results in a cohesive place that benefits pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users in line with the Catford Plan’s Objective 5 (see Section 3). It therefore commissioned a study by SKM Colin Buchanan consultants to investigate and review options to improve the public realm, pedestrian journey times and bus journey times along A205 Catford Road and Catford Gyratory; this includes Catford Road, Plassy Road, Sangley Road, Brownhill Road and Rushey Green, and the junction of Thomas Lane and Catford Road.

louis said...

 The PDF link is the study from the SKM Colin Buchanan consultants, the study that is restricted to not considering the diversion south of Laurence House.

Is the road diversion that side really so expensive?

I really can't understand what the problem is with having a big open space infront of the theatre - it would be perfect for a market surely? How would it compete with the Broadway space? (What does that even mean) Surely it would complement it?

The information from the council leads me to belive that the reason it isn't considered is because that plan (although leading to a much more pleasant cente) just doesn't give them any land to sell for development. Just fiddling with traffic directions / bus lanes round the gyratory will do nothing to improve the public realm.

louis said...

 I realise that i am being massively naive in thinking that a regeneration plan would be about improving a place for the people that live there

Guest said...

Catford Dogs was one of the best nights out in SE London, it was a tragedy it closed. Especially as the area of land it's on is a floodplain. With all the problems with flooding over the last few years,  which is only predicted to get worse, a flood plain is the last place you should build housing. 

Anon said...

With Lawrence House demolished it could be replaced by a bendy South Circular, leaving the car park and lorry park for development and the possiblity of a curved building to pick up with the Civic Suite to create a horsehoe.

New road would not require an island so could be spread over a narrower area at the junction with Bromley Road & Lewisham High Street. 

Anon said...

"A PREFERRED bidder has been approved by the Mayor of London to redevelop the Catford Greyhound Stadium."

Is what the News Shopper reported on 12 February, almost a month later has a name been announced?

Anon said...

The value of Catford Stadium was discussed last December by the Mayor of London....



"The asset known as Catford Stadium – Adenmore Road currently holds a net book value as at 1 April 2012 in the GLA Land & Property register at a freehold value of £5.725m. It should be noted that this valuation, undertaken by Jones Lang Lasalle as at 31 March 2012 is derived as a ‘hope value’ and assumes affordable rent."

In the same the London was supposed to have selected a preferred bidder for the stadium who would begin work onsite by October 2013

The Mayor was due to inform the bidders of his choice in early January, so did the Mayor announce his decision last night?

Just as a reminder the current Town Hall from conception to delivery took a mere 22 years.

Sheila Bradford said...

A Cinema would be a great improvement with car parking facility. But, please make a good job of it. Nothing tatty please.

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