A major Lewisham town centre development continues to progress with the first residents and retail units seeing occupants move in – perhaps – before the year is out.
Most structures look pretty much complete at the final phase of Lewisham Gateway though cladding remains to be added at what was to be a cinema.
That’s now up in the air – at least in the short term – given proposed operator Empire Cinemas entered administration recently with a number of sites immediately closed.
Elsewhere in Basildon the local authority took control of an Empire Cinema.
Build to Rent developer Get Living tell me they’re still in discussions and cannot yet confirm any definitive opening for a cinema nor who would operate.
External work on the cinema side of the site seems to have halted.
Elsewhere a rather garish/bling red and gold-cladded structure closer to Lewisham station looks just about finished from the outside, at least above ground floor level.
For me this is the best frontage of any. There’s less of the chaotic mass (mess?) of colour and shapes seen elsewhere.
And if we’re talking bling and a tad chaotic then the block beside bus stops closest to the station tops it as gold and silver cladding and balconies are wedged into place.
It sits beside the tallest block on site which has been all but complete for months.
Given how long it’s appeared finished part of me wondered if the first resident shad already begun moving in. It can’t be long.
By this stage of wandering around the site it was time to poke the camera lens through small gaps in fencing to catch a glimpse behind.
This image shows public space which will lead to a pedestrian route through the site –
That will lead to the pedestrian crossing heading towards Lewisham shopping centre and High Street, which is set for a multi-million pound revamp in the near future.
It also means no need to pass through the bus stop area lessening crowding there.
That £24 million project covers a wide range of the town and images can be seen here.
It’s revealing in this area where two major stations sit against major new developments to see the difference between how Southeastern and Transport for London market their respective services.
The DLR has big and bright signage.
For rail it’s not so good. The Lewisham station sign facing bus stops and a busy area of high footfall is small, old and so faded the actual station name is barely visible.
If you didn’t know the area you may not even know there’s a station. The same can’t be said for the DLR.
Then again this is the station where Southeastern didn’t want to fund a new station entrance fit out or associated staffing after it was built as part of a tower development (see tower on the left in above photo) so it’s never opened, while another entrance/exit at Platform 4 and beside other major developments (see tower on right in above image) was shut some years ago making access far longer than was previously the case.
Putting a new gate on the previous exit which in turn made it completely and utterly clear passengers had to traipse home the long way round was actually labelled by the rail company as an improvement at the station, which tells its own story.
Then some wonder why DLR passenger numbers are recovering well as Southeastern languish under government cuts.
The rail operator are propping up pretty much every other company in the UK when it comes to transport recovery.
While long distance may suffer from changed work patterns, London is growing pretty strongly by most measures whether it be public transport, population or traffic on the roads, Given the scale of new car-free housing beside SE Metro stations they should be doing well.
Yet the Metro operation in and around London seems to be struggling amidst government cuts. As at so many Southeastern Metro stations in the midst of major developments, there often seems minimal knowledge from the company what is happening or attempting to capitalise on it.
Whether it be poor staffing levels, cut services or improving station environments, the rail network in south east London is starkly shown up by TfL who are seeing far better passenger recovery.
And Transport for London don’t even need to be that good at it. Much of it is obvious stuff, or so you’d think for a company. Any company. Decent signage, promoting services and routes, fare offers and more doesn’t cost much.
It’s something Network South East did well long ago and other Train Operating Companies still do well in places despite government cuts.
Lewisham station was predictably unstaffed when visiting to take photos for this post. Or at least none were visible. There are of course no passenger-facing staff to be seen on trains. Compare to the DLR with an on-board staff member.
At Lewisham, like so many other stations, it’s not hard to imagine a scene where those things are enacted far better.
Under a DfT-managed Southeastern and many years of neglect it seems impossible to imagine.