Estates Gazette: 'Laughing Stock' Lewisham Gateway back on track

This week's Estates Gazette reports that thanks to an anticipated grant from the Homes and Communities Agency's Get Britain Building fund, the long-dormant Lewisham Gateway scheme (a mixed-use commercial and residential proposal for the heart of Lewisham, which EG says had become an industry laughing stock) is back on track.

To get the controversial scheme off the ground, EG reckons that the developers Taylor Wimpey and Mace will jettison the cinema and scale back the retail space by about 40%. If all goes as expected, it would mean the first of the homes being ready by 2014.

Property company Land Securities is considering redeveloping Lewisham Shopping Centre and a cinema could form part of that scheme instead - as LandSecs notes in the article, this is the only London borough without a multiplex.

The article wraps up by suggesting the horrific possibility that Lewisham could be "the new Wandsworth".


Anonymous said...

Wandsworth is considerably nicer than Lewisham and/or Brockley.

Brockley Nick said...


Mb said...

Wandsworth does not appear on Londons definitive hipster map. It is therefore sub-Croydon.

Anonymous said...

Nor does Lewisham.

Anonymous said...

A cinema on the Gateway site was always puff from the developers - they could jettison it at will, at least they've been honest enough to admit that it won't happen (actually, it won't happen because they couldn't find anybody to run it, this they also admitted)

It's also completely understandable that it was an industry 'laughing stock' - only a complete fool, and Lewisham Council - would be able to see any benefit from it.

Will be interesting to see what route the extension to the DLR to Bromley that Boris 'would investigate' will take now.

Anonymous said...

It's also apposite that this article has appeared on the same day:

Anonymous said...

Wandsworth gave me depression.

Anonymous said...

More years of disruption and dirt as the council pursues its dream of Milton Keynes

Kevin Milburn said...

The rather wonderful soundtrack to this story:

Anonymous said...

Last June....

The delivery of the Lewisham Gateway project in south London has taken a major step forward following the successful negotiation of an extension to the development agreement...

Yet another delay was hailed as a success.

Anonymous said...

Would this be the loan that was discussed in secret by the Mayor the other day?

And is this the same muppets that screwed up the development of Catford Dog Stadium?

Anonymous said...

If what I heard recently from the political side of the council, then I think they are going to repeat the mistakes of the 60's.

Will they have to go back and re apply for planning changes or will there be be secret meetings over cups of fairtrade coffee?

local yokel said...

Nick, Sorry, off-thread, can you please post about the missing nunhead pensioner Pat Connelly, info on EDF and SEC. when the lady went missing in beckenham/bromley in december last year it was on the news. Fortunately she was found after a few weeks taking shelter in a garden shed, that story was covered nationally as her son was the actor Craig Fairbrass.

Mr Rao said...

This would be good for Lewisham town. It could do with being refreshed in some way. It is squalid and poorly organised.

Ben said...

Lewisham town centre is busy and has great transport links, it is truly testament to the effectiveness of Lewisham Council and Planning as to how it is such a steaming shithole.

It's even worse at night!

Anonymous said...

less retail and no cinema? so it's just gonna be building after building of flats .. mmm that will really improve the area at the ground level ...

Rational plan said...

I understand that the retail will be reduced from 150,000 sq ft to 70,000 sq ft.

I think the rumour of a Debenhams is dead and buried.

Anonymous said...

Good. Really good in fact.

As regards whether Lewisham is indeed the new Wandsworth, well, we are considerably closer to the City and Canary Wharf than Ww but an Edwardian terraced house of around 1500 sf is currently about a quarter of the Ww price. Let's say 400k plays 1600k - I know these nos as I was in Ww yesterday, funnily enough, seeing a friend's new house and she was telling me the eye watering nos involved.

Interestingly, when I suggested they should have moved over here, her only reason against it was that, "You're the only people we know over there". (Not exactly a great testament to our friednship on reflection!)

When the infrastructure is in your favour, the architecture positive and the services (eg schools) good, there is every reason for people to make the move. It's just a question of time and a tipping effect will happen at some stage.

YOU may find that depressing, Nick but I personally think - a construction my English teacher abhorred by the way but there it is - Ww has a great deal to recommend it, not least the lower crime and tremendous services provided by the Council. If we can take the best of both worlds, while maintaning the wonderful and amazing villagey/community feeling that we have in SE4, I will be delighted.

Anonymous said...

Ah Debenhams, how I recall a local MP announcing this on the front page of the local press.

Strange how later on she could not recall the disccussions she had instigated and there was no records.

max said...

Sorry, the article says "If all goes as expected, it would mean the first of the homes being ready by 2014".
By memory this project is sopposed to involve 6 years of works of which the first 2 to get the new road layout in place to have a site where to build at all.

Anonymous said...

If the Cinema's gone and the commercial units have been reduced how can Lewisham Gateway be back on track?

I believe our Mayor & councillors along with a long with a local MP have been less than honest with us.

The demolition of some buildings and landscaping over some pillocks was presented as moving forward rather than what it actually was, yet another delay.

Are the plans for Lewisham Gateway outdated and a fresh look required?

Anonymous said...

Max they are going to create a tented city on the grassy knolls by Rennel Street while the road scheme is built.

Danny Boyle drew his inspiration for the Olympics from Lewisham.

Robert said...

Anon (12:30). I think you made a valid point. Are the plans for Lewisham Gateway outdated?

If all we are getting is more average residential development, then why should anyone be excited about it? Let alone the Mayor.

I would like to see a fresh perspective for this site - and perhaps a design competition to see what the alternatives might be.

max said...

@ anon 12:33.
Let's also remember that Danny Boyle's first vision for London was "28 days later" (great film btw).

Rational Plan said...

A design competition won't change any fundamental facts.

The railway station will not be integrated with the town with the current road network. That means more money that has to be wrung out of the development. What can you build on the site. Not much demand for offices or it seems a lot of retail so that leaves residential.

Under current funding realities that means highrise blocks by the station. It would be nice if there was instead some nice victorian looking mansion blocks instead, but that either requires much higher sales prices for the flats or bigger subsidies.

Any other uses would require even more public funds.

On the other hand the road could be left as it is, but then all you left with is a potential extension to the shopping centre and awkward site by the bus station. Not much potential there.

Anonymous said...

The Citibank building is empty. Where is the demand for office space?

grey day said...

I've gone dizzy reading this post and feel quite sick. Having just seen the BBC2 programme, "Secret History of our Streets", I'm feeling no lessons will ever be learnt in Lewisham.

Anonymous said...

Wandsworth? No thanks.

Anonymous said...

Is this funding part of the £103m Boris Johnson announced in March?

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, today announced a vital boost for the capital’s construction industry after he revealed a £103 million funding package to kick-start building projects across London's boroughs.

As part of the government’s Get Britain Building programme, the funding has the potential to create more than 2,700 homes and thousands of jobs in Barnet, Brent, Bromley, Enfield, Hackney, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Lewisham, Wandsworth, Southwark, Croydon and Haringey.

Get Britain Building is intended to unlock stalled sites with planning permission to support construction and provide new homes for Londoners. Its aim is to address difficulties in accessing development finance faced by some housebuilders and to help bring forward marginal sites by sharing the risks involved.

Bizarrely the Mayor's website says the London division of the HCA was to transfer to the GLA in April, but their website provides a link to the Government agency website.

Anonymous said...

Apparently in London 19 sites were shortlisted in March to undergo a due diligence process, with chosen works announced in May (yeah right!) with work restarting (did it start?) in June.

If I remember correctly the cost of the road scheme was said to be about £16.5m, be interesting to see if the new funding by the public is about £20m.

Anonymous said...

Is Lewisham holding on to a bygone era?

In the late 1800's early 1900's Lewisham apparently was the Bluewater of South East London attracting shops for miles around.

With Bromley and now Westfield Stratford, is Lewisham too small to compete at that level?

With train, DLR and bus routes you'd think the council, planners and developers would come up with something that makes Lewisham centre a must goto place.

Unless the owners of the Shopping Mall having something up their sleeves Lewisham centre will only be attractive to those living in Lewisham for shopping.

Anonymous said...

If the Government, GLA and developer regard Lewisham Gateway as not financially viable should we as Council Tax payers be concerned the Mayor is negotiating secret loans?

Has Lewisham Gateway become an albatross around the directly elected Mayor's neck and the majority party will pay any price (risking our money) to get the scheme going before the next local election?

Anonymous said...

We have found following this particular thread very interesting as we own a business in Wandsworth and live in the borough (Putney). We also own a business and property in the borough of Lewisham (Ladywell).
We have been trading as Geddes for over eighteen years in Wandsworth and we are well into our fifth year in Ladywell. We love both areas but like anywhere else, they both have their pluses and minuses.
We find Wandsworth Council to be very efficient and they definitely look after the interests of home owning residents. My understanding is that they have tried to sell off much of the social housing in the borough though and have actively encouraged non-home owners to move to other boroughs. They have one of the - if not the - lowest Council Tax charges in the country - we pay less than £100 per month. The primary schools in the area are fantastic - if you can get a place for your child - we couldn't despite living less than fifty metres from our local school. As business owners we find the council to be pretty disinterested and aggressive and litigious if you question or fail to comply with their rules and amendments. We have found ourselves in the courts on a couple of occasions (we won both times) when dialogue and common sense should have prevailed.
The streets in the borough are well maintained and relatively crime free.
Planning permission is granted reasonably easily for loft/basement conversions and side returns. Their policies in this regard are user friendly and their enforcement section is efficient and rigorous.
When we first viewed the salon and property in Ladywell, Olivia said "well that was a wasted journey", It was a rainy dark late Sunday afternoon and all of the shops on Ladywell Road were either empty, derelict or closed with shabby shutters pulled down over their front windows. I said "you're kidding, we should buy it" and immediately made the owners an offer.
Five years on and we have got to know and understand the area. If we had our time again, we would have done certain things differently but we have learnt a great deal in that time. The reason I personally wanted to buy a business and property on Ladywell Road was because it reminded me of Old York Road in Wandsworth Town eighteen years ago. I could see many new people were moving into the area due to the relatively affordable housing and the excellent transport links.
We have noticed many new businesses opening locally since we arrived and there is a far greater choice of places to shop, eat and drink now.
Like Wandsworth, the shops, pubs and restaurants are beginning to reflect the mixed community now residing in Ladywell, Brockley and Lewisham.
We would like to see Lewisham Borough Council take on board some - not all - of Wandsworth's initiatives and become more efficient.
Having said all that, I would definitely recommend Ladywell, Brockley and much of Lewisham Borough as a place to live and work.
Lewisham will change as has Wandsworth and it won't necessarily be a bad thing. We would certainly be happy to live over here.

Simon and Olivia @Geddes said...

Sorry we should have put our names to that last comment.

Anonymous said...

I don't know, they come over here, primp our hair up so we look like poodles, why, in my day my wife (and I) would be perfectly happy to have a short back and sides from a barber who learnt his trade in Brixton prison . . .

. . . what is the world coming to

(that's a joke by the way)

Anonymous said...

Bromley isn't as thriving as it once was, there are plenty of empty units in the Glades. And its all because of Bluewater. People would rather drive for 20 - 30 minutes, park free, and enjoy a greater selection of shops. Drive for less than 45 minutes and you can get to Lakside. I have neighbour who'd rather drive to IKEA in Lakeside, than go to Croydon. Now there is Westfield.
Lewisham in the 1970s was booming with Chiesmans the biggest House of Fraser department store in England, you could buy just about anything in there at reasonable prices. Next door to that a huge RACS department store. Booth these institutions fell into dis-use after the shopping centre was constructed.

Brockley Nick said...

I don't think Lewisham can reinvent itself as a main retail centre - it's too easy to get to too many much better alternatives. However, as a local centre with a great market, it has potential as a place for leisure and entertainment and (a little bit) more retail, of a higher quality than is on offer at the moment. The residential development.

With regards to IKEA Croydon v IKEA Lakeside - I would always drive to the latter. Quicker and easier despite being further away and the shop is better.

Anonymous said...

In the last survey I saw 60% of those shopping in Lewisham went there by bus.

It's bad enough with buggies don't want to encourage flat packs.

Anonymous said...

If Lewisham isn't a main retail centre, what's going to put it on the map?

Leisure Centre won't be something to cross London for, the market hasn't got a niche, and as for entertainment and dinning...snooker and ?

Possibly a unique Sunday market could be created?

Anonymous said...

I Like Lewisham town centre much more than Bromley.

I'm not sure what we should be aiming for but definitely not that.

The market should be the focus of whatever is planned. Its a great shame that Lewisham Model Market was shut down as this was another part of Lewisham that made it unique.

Anonymous said...

Lewisham is a retail centre, having you seen the bloody enormous shops, arcade and high street there?

Refusal to accept such things (on mungy terms) doesn't mean they cease to exist!

Anonymous said...

When I used to be a frequent commuter one of the things I noticed at night was the increase of those in their twenties who looked like they had a job and paid their fare.

A number of them seemed to have emigrated from Wandsworth to Lewisham.

Brockley Nick said...

Of course it's a retail centre - but it's also in long-term decline and I am not convinced that it would make sense to build a load more retail space there. A bit more would be fine, especially if it's of a high quality. But I doubt there will be demand for lots - and clearly the developers don't think there will be either.

Retail is suffering generally and I think there is a general polarising trend in retail - towards giant centres like Westfield, Bluewater or the West End or towards niche destinations, like Covent Garden (client), East Dulwich or Upper Street that offer a good mix of retail and leisure or entertainment (nb. when I say "leisure" I don't mean a leisure centre). Places like Lewisham, Woolwich and Bromley are caught in the middle and are only likely to attract local people. Therefore, increasing the number of homes locally is likely to make whatever retail and leisure is created more viable.

It's nothing to do with "mungism", dumbo.

Anonymous said...

Areas change and the next new shopping mall seems to make the last one look shabby, if not immediately sooner or later. The Glades was a wonder to behold when it opened but went downhill after a few years of Bluewater.

Anon 13:08 makes a good point about free parking. Bromley and Bexleyheath are cheaper than Lewisham and both offer deals at certain times. That extends to ease of access; Westfield Stratford is a doddle to get to from Lewisham and Brockley. I'm not a fan of shopping malls but I'd rather go on the train than flog out to Dartford.

Although the Army & Navy and the Chiesman's bridge across the high street were very tatty towards the end of their lives, the death knell for me was the Lewisham 2000 road scheme. Cutting off the market like that did nothing for it despite the presence of good stalls and a variety of shops. Sadly I no longer go to Lewisham unless I have to.

Comparisons with Wandsworth aren't too far off the mark as both shopping centres are owned by Land Securities and surrounded by a horrible road system. The unlovely Arndale Centre (now Southside Wandsworth) is set to be joined by high rise developments.

I was interested to read Nick's blog on the future of high streets and thought it was very insightful, a cautionary tale for the concrete canyon that will be Loampit Vale. Plans like Lewisham Gateway are so far out of step with changing demographics and habits by the time they are started, never mind completed. The Renaissance development has a weird Stalinist-era look to it and as for that bleak little 'playground' by the da Vinci tower I can't imagine any kid wanting or being allowed to play there.

Anonymous said...

Allders that I believe begun in Catford has after 150 years has gone into administration.

oryx said...

Re Wandsworth - I moved from there to SE4 five years ago and I have to take issue with the contention that the streets in the borough are 'relatively crime-free'.

Where I lived (Battersea, and a very nice bit of it) burglaries were commonplace. Just as I was moving out there my neighbours were experiencing some pretty hefty anti-social behaviour problems and someone was murdered in the next street not long after I left.

Wandsworth is inner London and my experience of it was less positive than living in Lewisham.

If there's one thing I miss about Battersea, it's being able to walk to Clapham Junction with its multitude of shops. However, the local, independent shops around here make up for it.

But I

Ian on the Hill said...

I can't help bit think that this is a case where what should be a succesful shopping centre isn't especially, and instead of addressing the issues we will get lumbered with demolishing everything that's decent and replace it with the kind of building that cause the problmes.

Wrong place for more high density residential too.

The reason it stalled and became a joke is because it was a very, very bad idea.

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