Murky Depths

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Crayford

Gym planned in Crayford Town Centre at former Maplin site

Courtesy Google

Plans for a new gym in Crayford town centre on the former site of Maplins has been submitted to Bexley Council.

Low-cost national gym brand Energie Fitness are behind this plan. They recently opened a branch in Woolwich on Hare Street.



Last week I was strolling in Crayford town centre and wondered what what happen with the nearly 40 year old block (it opened in 1980) comprising the former Maplin and Topps Tiles. It wasn’t just that half is empty but the building is not utilising a prime town centre site all that well.

Looking through to Sainsbury’s superstore

It actually breaks up the traditional street pattern – with a handsome building to one side (seen in the pic above) and shops the other.

So we now have an answer to future plans, yet given the town centre location and dated building I’m again surprised that the retail shed site owners –  in this case TIAA Henderson Real Estate – havn’t grasped the opportunity and sought mixed-use development incorporating new homes above commercial space.



Overhead electricity wires prevent going too high – at least on part of the site but not all – though over the road a three-level building is located beneath wires so mixed-use is doable. It’d make sense to bury the wires in future given future plans for Crayford and Bexley Council’s plans though as ever cost discussions will be protracted.

Commercial space at the base of a new block would ensure continuing rental income from a gym and shop.

It’d also help Bexley Council’s housing targets. The alternative to building on brownfield town centre sites is building on greenery (well, some would rather no new building at all and people crammed into tiny converted houses or offices but that’s no real solution).



We’ve already seen Bexley Council attempting new builds on greenery and selling off parks. Old Farm Road is a prime example. To meet targets expect much more of that unless they push hard for new homes on brownfield sites and particularly town centres near good public transport links – which this site has.

Many who now seek to block new homes benefitted themselves from house building in previous decades. Fortunately some do realise their children, or younger people in general, are suffering from a lack of new homes. Where they are built is crucial alongside investment in infrastructure. This seems a missed opportunity.

Click here to view plans on Bexley Council’s website.

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