A meeting to be held next week offers an insight into forthcoming changes across Lewisham town centre after £24 million spend was agreed earlier this year.
It’s a wide-ranging project that will change the face of the town including the market, clock tower, High Street and library. The library itself is set to soon close until 2026 as recently covered on this site.
Back in January this year the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities revealed that Lewisham Council had successfully bid for £19m in “levelling up” funding. That cash from government will be topped up with £5m match funding from the authority.
We had a few indicative renders released earlier this year but don’t read too much into them.
See, these council meetings aren’t pointless as many state. They’re a great insight into major changes affecting many people.
We know the library will close within weeks to revamp the building and the report before councillors also states that clock tower work should begin in early 2024.
As for other areas, let’s dive in.
The High Street will be changed across a wide swath of the town centre.
The report states that “there are a wide range of issues facing Lewisham High Street. These include the high volume of buses and vehicles that has a significant impact on the safety and attractiveness of the environment; difficult navigation between the key points (train station, market, shopping centre, high street); limited greenery; and limited cycling infrastructure”.
A render showed a new cycle lane though not on the High Street. Presumably one will be located through the area.
Given the importance of buses for many people reaching the town centre it seems unlikely routes will change to any great degree. Still, it’s an issue I’ll be keeping an eye on.
The council report mentions navigation between the station and High Street though the forthcoming Lewisham Gateway Phase 2 will open up a pedestrian-only route. That’s quite separate to this project.
Again, way beyond the scope of this project and it’s not imminent.
Lewisham do list aspirations including:
- Improvement of access routes to and from High Street (wayfinding and signage, redesign of junctions and pedestrian crossings, pavement improvements)
- Development of mobility hubs to encourage people to use cycling, walking and electric cars
- Improvements to cycling infrastructure and new cycling lanes (subject to TfL approval)
- Public realm enhancements and greenery, which will improve the attractiveness of the high street as well as increase biodiversity. Enhanced greening will include planting of trees, as well as surface level planting and installation of green pocket spaces.r
- Safety features such as improved lighting and CCTV.
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Next up they reference the market. The biggest change is a permanent canopy for traders.
The report highlights issues and claim an “out-dated appearance, food waste around market stalls and a lack of night time economy” hamper the town.
In terms of future hopes “the fund will support the rejuvenation of the market with improved stalls, better waste management infrastructure, improvements to the pavement and railings, new lighting and electricity, and installation of a canopy along the high street.”
Diversifying the market is one aim: “The investment in infrastructure will be paired with initiatives that complement the market’s offer and expand the diversity of groups who use the market, without losing or alienating existing customers, including an evening market, “pop up” trading opportunities and space to support food and drink, cultural and seasonal events.”.
So far, so very standard. But we’ve seen this a thousand times at many, many town centre projects. Will it work?
Well the sheer number of new homes in Lewisham does bring many potential customers and scope for change to what is a limited offering at night in particular.
Lewisham have appointed Studio Weave for the market canopy design.
As mentioned above the library is set to close in weeks until 2026.
The building is to be reworked. The report states “there is a lack of flexible and accessible business spaces in the area, with demand significantly outstripping the capacity. There is also a limited cultural offer in the town centre to attract and retain visitors.”
“One of the key challenges for the library is to adapt to changing needs and expectations of service users. There is a potential for the library to become the magnet that offers culture, business support, local history and a food/drink offer.”
And so changes include a potential rooftop café may be on the way.
Much of this town centre work won’t complete until 2026. But with the library closing soon and clocktower work beginning early next year things are moving into motion.
Much like at Woolwich where work is imminent on a £20+ million town centre redevelopment I’ll be covering what’s happening and taking a bucket load of photos to document changes.
I’ve so far taken about 200-300 of Lewisham alone n recent weeks and months. In ten years time the whole area will appear vastly different from the market to the High Street; from shopping centre to the station.
In the near term thousands more homes will complete from Silver Street to the south and a new tower to the north. And not forgetting a major estate rebuild nearby too.
A fair bit going on then. In London the only constant is change.