An update on a £24 million pound project to revamp Lewisham town centre has been given at a recent meeting of the borough’s Mayor and Cabinet.
A report states that construction drawing are expected this December/January with work beginning in next year.
A total of £15,690,000 has been authorised for High Street changes. Of that £24 million budget, £19 million comes from government’s Levelling Up fund with £5 million from Lewisham Council.
The meeting covered High Street changes including the market area and clock tower, with the council also creating a web page for the project.
Much like at Woolwich’s £20m town centre upgrade which has only just commenced, market stalls will have permanent canopies installed.
The Lewisham council report states “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.”
Enhancing what’s on offer into the evening is one goal of the overall project. With many new homers in Lewisham, and more planned through the shopping centre redevelopment, creating an evening economy to provide jobs is a major hope.
In recent years Lewisham has seen pubs open but close just a short time later, such as Antic’s Suttons Radio.
On the flipside it has managed to retain a number of High Street retailers such as marks and Spencer who have vacated various town centre’s in recent years, including Woolwich.
Changes along the High Street from the clocktower will comprise new street furniture, paving, landscaping and lighting.
Lewisham town centre’s lighting is operated under a PFI contract with Milestone which required alteration to the contract.
Of totals funds, £15.7 million covers the High Street with additional funding being spent on changes to Lewisham library which is currently closed while work is ongoing there.
Business space and a café are part of the plans at that site.
Since the bid was drawn up back in 2021 inflation has rose to extremely high levels thus the original budget will not stretch quite so far.
While costs are now subsiding, at one point materials and construction inflation hit 20 per cent.
So decisions will need to be made on how to stretch funding further. Of Lewisham’s £5 million contribution in match-funds, £4 million is derived from Section 106 and Community Infrastructure Levy funds related to new housing and development.
There’s also issues around the remaining £1 million, with the report stating:
“There is currently £1m of funding required that is assumed to be funded through a combination of the disposal of the Library Resource Centre and council funds, however if the proceeds of the disposal do not match the £1m funding requirement then there will be an assumed need to borrow externally.
“This borrowing would attract interest and the need to set aside Minimum Revenue Provison (MRP) and therefore would be cost to revenue.
“The council will continue to look for alternative sources of financing, such as additional grant from DLUHC, in order to reduce the potential risk of needing to borrow externally.”
The report also handily includes a timeline as seen below.
Next up we should see a planning application soon submitted covering some elements of work.
As soon as it’s up, this site will cover what it includes.