Lewisham's grand designs

As longterm BC readers will be aware, big plans are afoot for Lewisham town centre. But you may not be aware that the council has similarly ambitious ideas for other parts of the borough. BC recently stumbled across a feature outlining the council's regeneration plans in Estates Gazette (unfortunately no link as the article is behind a paywall), and thought our readers would be interested in some of the detail ...

As part of the Thames Gateway housing growth area, northern/eastern parts of Lewisham borough should see 1,000 new homes delivered per year for the next 10 years. Specifically, this means Deptford, Catford, New Cross and Lewisham town centre. These areas, therefore, are where the council's major regeneration projects are focussed.

Lewisham Gateway
This £240 million scheme aims to transform Lewisham into a 'metropolitan' shopping centre on a par with Croydon and Bromley. To do this it must deliver more than 215,000 sq ft of retail floorspace.
Funding-wise, it's heavily leveraged, with only £16 million of the total being public money. That makes it seriously vulnerable to the ongoing liquidity squeeze.
John Miller, Lewisham council's head of planning, told Estates Gazette: 'Many of our schemes rely on housing to make them happen. We are very much in the hands of the private sector and the banks in terms of bringing regeneration forward.'
The key project here is a partnership between Muse Developments and Taylor Wimpey to deliver 1 million sq ft at the northern end of Lewisham high street. The application for outline planning consent is underway now and permission is 'almost delivered', EG reports.
The first stage of the scheme will deliver 150,000 sq ft of retail space, 80,000 sq ft of leisure space, some offices and 800 homes. There will also be an urban park, a new town square and potentially an extension to Lewisham College.

The Gateway plans have attracted other developers to sites around the town centre's margins. These include the former silk mill on Conington Rd, which is being converted by St James Urban Living into 270 flats and 5,000 sq ft of office space; and Barratt Homes' £226 million regeneration proposal for Loampit Vale involving up to 800 homes, a leisure centre and a cultural centre incorporating office space for arts industries.

Deptford town centre
As reported recently on BC, the area around Deptford train station is to be re-developed to create a public piazza on the existing goods yard. According to EG the former Princess Louise community centre will also be replaced by offices and flats.

Catford greyhound stadium
Over 7,500 sq ft of shops and offices and 600 homes have been proposed by Countryside Properties and Hyde Housing Association for the 10-acre site of the former greyhound stadium. Lewisham Council is currently scrutinising the planning application for this scheme.

Other projects :
Large residential-led schemes are also under discussion for the 40-acre Convoys Wharf site in Deptford, and the area around Millwall FC's current site. Southend Village (between Catford and Bromley) is another area identified as offering development potential.
These are all considered by the council to be long-term projects that would take 10 to 15 years to come to fruition.

All this work will require a lot of private investment, something which can't be taken for granted in the current economic climate. Whether Lewisham can deliver large-scale regeneration depends on whether developers can secure funding. And that brings the global credit crunch home to Brockley Central's doorstep.


Anonymous said...

A public pizza in Deptford? I'd love a slice of that...

Anonymous said...

A pavement pizza would be more typical of the area.

max said...

What arithmetics makes "1000 new homes" mentioned in the second paragraph when it speaks of 800 for the Lewisham Gateway and 600 for the Catfrd site. The sum of those two only makes 1400 homes.

And this without considering that the sum of the developments around Lewisham Town Centre alone sum up to about 3000 new homes.

Readers of the Estate Gazette beware, figures coming out of Lewisham Council may well be picked out of a hat with much greater precision.

Anonymous said...

I think it says "1000 a year", so presumably the new homes are to be delivered over several years. The current financial climate makes all this kind of stuff look rather optimistic, to say the least. I wonder how many, if any, of them are slated to be 'affordable' homes?

Trust Rogers to come out with an idea like a "piazza" - something straight out of 60s Modernism, when all architects were obsessed with the idea of the Italian city-state.

Anonymous said...

Max - the 1,000 homes is what I believe PR types call an 'aspirational figure'. It's not intended to be the sum total of all schemes currently underway.

max said...

Ah yes, I see, it's 1000 a year. I didn't register that it was describing speed, as you say Kate, it's PR speech, one shouldn't try to read too much into it.

Anyway, as the housing market was financing all public expenditure in regeneration then now we're in trouble.

And that's also true for affordable homes, I may well be wrong but I'd rather have private homes built with private money and social homes built with public money, doesn't mean segregation, they could still be built together but as you see now, if economy grinds to a halt then social homes programs stop too.
And a housing association has bankrupted now because they can't sell properties to fund their activity.
And that could well be the underlying reason behind housing associations trying to squeeze as much money as they can out of leasholders, because without sale of assets they're in deep financial troubles.
Another housing association was bakrolled out of misery to the tune of £25m courtesy of Lewisham Council just last year.

When the market fails to provide the taxpayers are still those that pick up the pieces.

Anonymous said...

'a housing association has bankrupted now because they can't sell properties to fund their activity' - if you're talking about Ujima then that's far from accurate I'm afraid.

'Another housing association was bakrolled out of misery to the tune of £25m courtesy of Lewisham Council just last year.'
Who was that then?

Anonymous said...

Ujima were generally acknowledged to be on the brink of insolvency; it's not that far from the truth.

max said...

Yes Ujima, I just did a bit of reading and I see that there was quite a large share of mismanagement actually.

Still one wonders whether in other market conditions they could have sold a few bits and cover up the hole with nobody noticing much.
It would be interesting to know what's the share of the average housing association's income that comes purely from rentals and what share of their activity can that finance.

About the Housing Association recently bankrolled by Lewisham Council I'm searching for the details right now, it had to do with a loan guaranteed by the Council years ago that had come to an end and I think that the choice was between Lewisham Council caughing up or a lot of people made homeless.

Anonymous said...

'one wonders whether in other market conditions they could have sold a few bits and cover up the hole with nobody noticing much' - They would have had to have actually finished some schemes first! Plus there's the fact that their accountants wouldn't sign off their annual accounts so they couldn't re-finance, which caused a cash flow crisis. Market conditions had very little if anything to do with Ujima's fall.

'It would be interesting to know what's the share of the average housing association's income that comes purely from rentals and what share of their activity can that finance.'
Property sales are becoming increasingly important - 12 of the 30 largest RSLs generated their entire surpluses through property sales in the financial year 2006/07.
The Housing Corporation has recently begun handing out amber lights for financial viability like sweeties, mainly for the specific problem of subsidising maintenance expenditure through property sales. Those are exactly the organisations which are failing to cover core costs through core income (rents).

max said...

Thanks Kate, that was exactly what I wanted to know (and didn't have a clue where to look).

Still looking for that Lewisham Housing association thing, it's proving hard to find but I'm pretty sure of it. It's either the case that I dreamed of if or my memory is beating Google hands down.

max said...

Found it!

Anonymous said...

"Lewisham can deliver large-scale regeneration", my goodness me, thats about as far from the truth as you can get. It's developers toying with idle-headed councils and making money and delivering the area a guaranteed blot on the future, as is evidenced all to clearly *very* close to Lewisham centre, badly designed buildings with a trifling life span and little regard for the people they 'contain'.

And "urban Park", Kate, if you have a back garden, then it may be about the same size as the "urban park" the developers are prepared to deliver.

And don't expect facts from John Miller, expect low level council spin.

Anonymous said...

I was fortunate enough to bump into Mayor Steve Bullock a few weeks ago. He was extremely helpful with a problem I had.

The Lewisham Press Office doesn't speak to freelance reporters. The Mayor does. (Perhaps realising the value in looking after the little guy.)

However, he has a huge vision for Deptford that he really believes in. I can't see it being fulfilled in the present economic climate. In some parts of Lewisham developers' are mothballing their projects. But For how long?

Anonymous said...

Lewisham Gateway is a nightmare scheme. Lewisham residents have been stitched up by developers and planners. It has tower blocks higher than City Bank (well, what was their building)and despite the millions being spent they couldn't even manage to put a cycle path in. That in a development they have been selling as cycle and pedestrian priority. Lots of cycle racks I believe.

max said...


Do you like it?

Anonymous said...

When people refer to 'x thousand homes' are they homes for people to work towards and buy or homes for people on the dole to sit in and bear children?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that link Max (the 1st one), v interesting stuff.

max said...

You're welcome Kate. I'm interested in your take on that issue, could there be more than meets the eye there?

Could it be that housing associations of that size can't possibly pay that kind of debt without selling off a lot of assets and therefore when the loan was agreed it was put on the housing association's books to avoid putting in on the Council's but with an understanding that ultimately it belonged to the Council?

Anonymous said...

There's absolutely no reason as far as I'm aware that a RSL of that size couldn't take that debt on their books, though obviously I'd have to look at Hyde's accounts to analyse their specific situation.

I don't have that info on me at the mo but I know a man who does. Will see what he makes of it all.

Anonymous said...

Kate, if you could help max find the proof that the cia were responsible for 9/11, I'm sure he'd appreciate that too.

max said...

Hi Anon, I just find it very interesting, I think it's quite legitimate to ask oneself why would a Council take over such a risk in the first place. After all the loan was guaranteed by real estate wasn't it?
£28m is a massive hole in the flank of the Council's budget and one does wonder how it's been produced.

PS: I happily leave 9/11 conspiracies to you.

Anonymous said...

perhaps someone could turn their attention to the £16m of regeneration money given to the Council and whatever happened to that? There's a little scandal lurking in there to be sure...

Anonymous said...

oh yes, and the ex-councillor who is allegedly buying up premises along lee high road knowing full well that they're going to be knocked down some time soon

we've got 9/11 on our doorstep

max said...

I'm sure that all of those £16m of the SRB boards are accounted for.
The masterplan for the regeneration of the town centre that, whether one likes the outcome or not, still costs quite some money. Then there must be a fortune in professional fees, I'd expect that to bang together the heads of TFL, Lewisham Council, developers, architects, planners, banks, accountants and solicitors to bring up the deal acomes at a tidy cost.
£1m was spent on consultations (I had this figure out of the horse's mouth).
Then there were a number of small project funded with those money, I think that even Cornmill Gardens was paid by it.
In fact although the SRB board was heavily influenced by the Council it did have also non-council members so if malpractice had taken place it would not have gone unnoticed.
In other places where SRB boards were disfunctional things went badly pear-shaped and scandals did come to light.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

sorry Max, my last comments were obviously a bit near the knuckle for the "administrator"

I wonder why that is...

max said...

Yes they are assumptions and I wouldn't bet money on them but as I don't know of any evidence of the contrary I can't really say that money have been distracted. That doesn't mean that I agree with what they did with them but they were entitled to spend them as they wished.
I too know of controversies surrounding the spending of those money, like the community funds that were used to refurb the Leamore centre, that is a Council's property, so those money could be seen as having being appropriated by the Council and I entirely agree with that, but the fact remains that they did it lawfully.
And there were a lot of other issues on the core delivery of the board and members were bullied, but that's the way those boards work and if you are in a minority and you disagree you have to speak out and fight.
But I do agree that it's hard sometimes to deal with those people, they are distasteful, I've been at a couple of committee meetings at Council where I was really looking for a bucket.

max said...

I too wonder why it was deleted, anyway, in the meantime I had answered you.

Anonymous said...

Boys, I'd guess because if unsubstantiated allegations are made on a site like this, it's not the anonymous troll who runs the risk of getting sued. Anon, you can always create your own site.

max said...

Are you sure? Thanks to the back arrow of my browser I could go back and read the deleted post and no matter how hard I try I can't say that I can spot any defamatory content.

Anonymous said...

Well I read it and I can see why a blog admin, who's not a lawyer and just doing this as a hobby might want to err on the side of caution. To anon, if you want to blow the lid of local conspiracies, set up your own site and put your money where it's mouth is. Kate can always link to your story, can't she.

Besides, even if it's not defamatory, it was all pure speculation from an anonymous poster. Very dodgy.

The Cat Man said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

people and power...

Anonymous said...

Was mention made of the 3000 homes to be built at Convoys Wharf?

A bout a year ago I believe Peter De Savra talked about his plans for the land around Millwall football ground, housing and leisure.

Anonymous said...

On the Hyde/Blackheath loan, are their many private individuals who have £14m to lend a housing association?

For a £14m loan to have risen to £28m would indicate none of the loan was paid?

My understanding was the rent from the properties was paid to Hyde to service the debt, was that the case?

Even more surprising was the last minute realisation there was an unpaid debt.

Anonymous said...

Lewisham Leisure Centre is partially funded by Barratts being allowed to build 700-900 apartments.

At a recent event they were confident it would go ahead, although they did say no apartments no leisure centre.

I know Silkworks (by Tesco's) are designer label aspirational lifestyle properties but I was surprised how much cheaper the Barratts homes will be in comparision.

Re Lewisham College I saw a recent ad for a developer to take on a Deptford campus. Although there has been talk of Lewisham College having a building within Lewisham Gateway, as yet 4-5 years later there is nothing definate. At one point it was suggested there could be a hotel instead.

Re housing at the moment the council points to correcting the mistakes of the 60's and 70's, I'm concerned those mistakes are about to be repeated.

About 7-8 years ago Lewisham was said to be a hotspot, the DLR and East London Line, more for your money and talk of regeneration. I have noticed a number of Wimbledon/Clapham types have moved into the area, but is it still a hotspot?

Or once the regeneration starts, things in the area will hot up again?

Anonymous said...

Lewisham is in need of a refurbishment... I welcome it. It is actually not a bad place to live, it just needs a big boost.
I dont understand why people living here is against it..only good things can come of it. New people, more money..greater area. Give me starbucks..plz

The Cat Man said...

Starbucks? You're kidding right? Criky, another 'clone town centre' on its way.

It's exactly the opposite that I want for Brockley.

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