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.