Peabody present Thamesmead development update

Peabody have given an online presentation regarding progress in Thamesmead as new homes at Southmere Village approach completion.

The Zoom talk brought together a number of people to offer some insights at various sites. They covered the former Tavy Bridge area now rebranded Southmere Village and stated 83 “affordable” homes should be ready for occupation in May this year, alongside an update on the adjacent new square and the first private homes. The new library will not open this year with Bexley aiming for early 2022. Other new homes will follow in 2022. There was no mention of flats costing £558,900 to buy.

New square – buildings simplified since original planning approval

Images of the new public space – named Cygnet Square – show a small water feature. Originally Peabody submitted plans for a much larger feature heading towards the lake, then appeared to remove it. This smaller area is perhaps a compromise. New images in the presentation show simplified architectural designs of housing blocks approved in 2020 remain – with characterful features removed.

The new square will have between 13-17 commercial units though how many will be occupied – or viable – with few homes completed in the area in coming years and minimal footfall is an unknown. When homes both here and beyond are completed this should be a nice area for a drink, shop and place to meet up, with Southmere Lake plus a new library, tet slow build-rates could hamper business viability for some time. Rents are key alongside footfall levels.

This brings us on to other sites. A strip along Southmere Lake was demolished and Peabody state 330 homes are planned here, and are looking at a late 2022 start.

Site of 330 homes

The former Coralline Walk area was one area I was keeping an eye out for. It’s been flattened without so much as an outline planning application. It was promised last year. Now it appears an outline plan could appear next month – and with detailed plans to follow we could be looking at 2024 before any construction begins. Coralline is part of a wider plot for rebuilding. While some of the site is still occupied, areas along Harrow Manorway are now entirely demolished. Despite this, tit will be some time before any building work begins.

The slow build rate appears as though it will continue while there’s a severe shortage of truly affordable homes in Bexley borough. The area in the image below – which saw a shop, takeaway and homes demolished – is due to be the last area of this section built. They expect it to take up to 15 years which could mean this area not seeing occupation until 2039 if building starts in 2024.

This really doesn’t seem good enough. This is a prime spot near Abbey Wood station and surely they will not leave this spot empty apart from a sales centre for so long?

There were images of outline ideas in the presentation yet little different to what was publicly shown about five years ago.

Future housing ideas

It was irritating to hear talk about a “resident ballot”- as they did last night – when private renters are specifically excluded from having any input. No compensation or help with moving costs too when forced out. They are reserved for homeowners, landlords and social renters. There was also an employment service mentioned for Peabody tenants. Private renters excluded. Much like at the adjacent Abbey Wood estate where Greenwich Council appear to think most residents are social tenants when most are now homeowners or private renters, modern changing tenure mixes seem to have passed many in authority by. There’s a far greater mix in many areas. Many social homes are now privately owned or rented. Many former private homes are now converted into private lettings. Authorities need to work with everyone.

Art

While the worst of Peabody (extremely slow build rate) was on show again, the better elements of the group were apparent including events planned later this year such as light shows, public art and murals. There’s some excellent projects around.

What we do see though with conflicting elements of Peabody is how their slow build rate-hampers other good ideas. There was some perhaps fanciful talk of buskers in the new square. No busker is going to pitch up this summer with just 83 homes completed. There was talk of pedalos to rent on Southmere lake – but again they’ve demolished many homes around the lake. The Lakeside Centre was somewhat isolated even when homes were standing – but now many are gone there’s even less custom for the cafe on site. An arts festival is planned on 29-30 May:

Revamped centre – but few homes nearby to enjoy

How many will turn up for certain public events given Peabody have moved many residents out, flattened large areas, then failed to build year after year in many areas? Starting homes along Harrow Manorway in 2024 is not going to help that.

There was a question about a cinema (none planned) and new schools. None are forthcoming soon as current schools are undersubscribed they stated, which given how many have moved away isn’t a surprise. One potential issue in future is new homes just over on the Greenwich side of the borough boundary in Abbey Wood going up as Peabody eventually start on thousands of new homes which could combine to put pressure on services. Cross-borough working is key.

Borough boundary: Homes on left in Abbey Wood. Blocks on right by Peabody in Thamesmead

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John Smith

I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

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