Lewisham demolition doesn't mean Gateway is go

Demolition work has begun on the parade of shops in Lewisham town centre, nearest Lewisham Station. This work is a pre-requisite for the Lewisham Gateway redevelopment project but it doesn't signal the start of the rebuild.

A council spokesperson said:

The demolition of the disused buildings to the north of Rennell Street is currently due to commence. This work is being carried out by the London Development Agency who are also funding the cost.

These works do not signal the formal implementation of the Lewisham Gateway scheme, which is still hampered by the current economic downturn. However, the removal of the existing buildings, some of which are in a poor state of repair, will enable a temporary landscaping scheme to be put in place and significantly improve the appearance of this part of the town centre.

The Council has appointed BDP - the designers of multi-award-winning Cornmill Gardens - as landscape architects and they are working with the LDA to keep costs to the minimum and avoid unnecessary works by the demolition contractor.

At this time is not possible to say exactly when the main Lewisham Gateway development works will commence. In the intervening period the developer will be working to ensure all necessary approvals will be in place to facilitate the main development. Discussions are continuing to take place between the Council and the LDA with LGDL with the aim for work to start sometime next year.

A more detailed report on this will be presented to the Mayor later this year following the outcome of these discussions.


patrick1971 said...

I read that as "a temporary lap dancing scheme" at first!

Worth pointing out that the reason these buildings are in a derelict and unsafe state is that the council emptied them out years ago and has left them to rot ever since. So now we're going to lose yet more Victorian buildings (precious few remain in Lewisham centre anyway thanks to Hitler) for a bit more windswept, traffic-choked open space. Great.

Brockley Nick said...

@Patrick - yes, point well made - I almost made it myself but couldn't remember whether it was Lewisham Council or the LDA who carried out the land purchases.

However, if done properly, I don't see why the open space need be windswept. The riverside park is OK.

In any case, it's only a matter of a year until the Gateway construction begins in earnest! ;)

patrick1971 said...

You know my thoughts on the Gateway...it'll be Elephant & Castle all over again. Hopefully not, but I really do think it's an overdevelopment and not to a human scale.

And point well made about council or LDA; I'm not sure which one it was either.

Brockley Nick said...

There are indeed a lot of parallels between Lewisham and Elephant & Castle.

Elephant & Castle and Lewisham both currently suffer from being built for the convenience of cars, rather than on a human scale.

Elephant & Castle is the subject of an ambitious masterplan to get rid of the roundabouts and subways and replace it with a pedestrian friendly environment. The plan would involve building high-rise to improve density and allow for more public space at ground level.

Like Lewisham, E&C masterplan has been stuck in development hell for several years. And that is despite the fact that Southwark are in charge - a Council that is regularly compared favourably with Lewisham by BC readers (and possibly with good reason).

Anonymous said...

Spending £200k on temporary landscaping is not a sign that building work will begin soon, so this news is not surprising.

Anonymous said...

Yes,why waste a lot of money on temporary work when it could be put to good use elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

One thing I'd point out about this press release.
When the Council says that the work is carried by the LDA it should also mention that the LDA is holding a sum of nearly £9m, part of the £15.9m of Single Regeneration Budget that the Council originally received from Government for the regeneration of the town centre.
These money are held by the LDA for works there, so the demolition is in effect very possibly also paid by the Council, or better, they have been paid in account some years ago.

Anonymous said...

And the wisdom of spending £200 on a temporary landscaping, even more baffling once you know that the money have been found in the "combating recession" fund.

Brockley Nick said...

Small point Max, but this wasn't a press release, it was an answer given in direct response to a question I asked.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Nick.
It's nevertheless one of the "lines to take", this element of the LDA carrying the works has been present in all communication from the Council about this.

Anonymous said...

Left derelict for 6 years and then lovingly landscaped just before an election?

The landscaping is an additional cost and no doubt required consultants?

Also being demolished is the pub near Maggie's cafe and the travellers site which has been unoccupied for some time.

Isn't the latter supposed to be where the new bus stand is meant to be, what's to prevent that going ahead?

Thurston Road Industrial Estate now seems to be derelict.

The playtower at Ladywell still derelict, the former job centre Rushey Green remains empty and the dog track is a pile of rubble.

Oh and the secondary school said to be urgently required by 2006 is still on the drawing board.

With tight public budgets forecast isn't their a risk any unused public money sitting around will be sucked back to the treasury?

Brockley Nick said...

It won't be lovingly landscaped by the time of the election, it will be a pile of rubble, I'd have thought.

Anonymous said...

Or a car park.

Anonymous said...

For £200,000 it definately won't be this....

BDP Landscape has just received planning permission for a new 1.3ha public park within the heart of Lewisham Town Centre, south-east London.

Work is due to begin on site in June 2006, with completion May 2007.

Client: London Borough of Lewisham

Budget: £1.5 million

Anonymous said...

And just to ram the point home....

The project will be the first scheme to be implemented as part of the 'Urban Renaissance' in Lewisham.


Susan said...

sorry anon, but isn't that Cornmill Gardens? It's actually quite a nice little park.

Martin F. said...

Just wandered down there this afternoon. For all it marks the loss of some buildings that undoubtedly should have been saved some time ago, it's actually almost a relief to reach the foot of the hill and see clear air in front of you (metaphorically of course, given the roundabout in question!) rather than the run-down shells that have been there for too long now.

Of course, there's still the small matter of trusting that the council will do a decent job with the landscaping - ahem - but still. It's progress of a sort...

LewishamLovely said...

interesting, i received a knock on my door a couple of weeks ago from from someone canvassing support for steve bullock in his mayoral re-election campaign. he specifically used that demolition to prove his point that the gateway scheme was finally getting underway. this was in response to my gripe about the endless delays leaving that whole area in limbo.
i was formerly an ardent believer that the gateway scheme would happen but am finding my belief seriously tested. starting to think it just will not happen in the current proposed form.

Brockley Nick said...

Hmm, interesting.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone tried contacting the LDA as to when the landscaping will be complete and it's expected life before gateway begins?

Anonymous said...

Oh, the Lewisham Gateway Developers don't seem to have updated their website since 2007?


Anonymous said...

i was doorknocked by an eager young man about steve bullock's re-election campaign. he categorically said the demolition signalled the start of the lewisham gateway project and, by implication, that the mayor was a driving force behind it.
whether this is just muddled delivery or deliberate mistruth is open to interpretation i guess.
there has been no visual sign that the gateway was progressing, so maybe it's not a coincidence that this has started weeks before an election. i'm sure many people at lewisham council would like people to assume that this demolition means things are full steam ahead.
the sad reality is that it seems there is absolutely no momentum behind this project at all. and to top it off, the developers seem to hold all the cards, with the council powerless to get things moving.

Anonymous said...

I loved that roof line, always seemed so French. The times I thought, must photograph that. Alas.

Anonymous said...

The Mercury is reporting the landmark development beside Sainsbury's at New Cross has been hit by the credit crunch.

The development potentially included a new railway station, 400 homes, community centre and student accomodation fit for a Princess.

A spokesperson for Sainsbury's said...

"Discussions are continuing with key organisations. However, due to difficulties progressing the plans we are currently reviewing our options."

Anonymous said...

Is there an economics expert out there?

The state of the art leisure cente at Loampit Vale would probably cost £20-£30m.

I believe the Leisure Centre was originally to be funded by a private developer being given the land to build 800 flats, with the council throwing in £6m(?) from the sale of Aregon/Z Tower.

Now the government has given an additional £20m of taxpayers to the private developer. The council has not announced it has withdrawn its contribution.

Is it wrong to think the leisure centre is costing the developer nothing and a chunk of public land for free, with which to make pure profit?

Put it another way, taxpayers could have funded the leisure centre, the council could have retained the site and had enough over for a new secondary school?

OR will Barratts continue with their contribution thus producing a magnificent £50m Leisure Centre the envy of Europe?

Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

Another project that seemed to have stalled is the replacement travellers site on the old Watergate School site at Ladywell.

Anonymous said...

LDA seem to know nought about Lewisham Gateway apart from they gave some dosh to it many years ago, ie they searched their website.

Their switchboard, public liason and media centre demonstrated a lack of awareness of the Lewisham Gateway.

They couldn't provide a name within the LDA who might have answers and suggested I contact Lewisham Council.

The reason I was phoning the LDA was because council officers said the LDA were taking the lead of the landscaping.

It would seem the LDA hands out £16m of public money for a £250m project and doesn't bother to check what happens to the money or the project?

Anonymous said...

When Gordon was paying of the debts of foreign countries I cheekily wrote to him suggesting he pay off £100m of the then Lewisham Council debts of £450m.

The debt repayments and interest savings would be ring-fenced for 10 years to go towards the Urban regeneration of Lewisham town centre.

If he'd listened the first 3 years of savings would have paid for the road scheme (£16m) and the rest could have funded the leisure centre or even a new school.

Thus Lewisham could have had a 'community' school outside the clutches of central government.

The LDA and government would not had to fork out £36m and long term the government would have seen a reduction in the annual subsidy it provides to the council.

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