Lewisham retail park an eyesore five years after housing approved

If we think of ideal sites in a major world city growing sharply and in need of housing then Lewisham town centre is certainly a place that fits the bill.

And while central government seems intent to cut back on rail services, Transport for London are waiting for their first new DLR trains to enter service which will boost frequencies and capacity from Lewisham station to cater for new homes.

L&G plan in Lewisham for 600 homes has gone nowhere for many years

Meanwhile just a minute’s walk away lies a retail park built for a very different city in a different times. And so five years ago plans were approved for homes and shops on site.

It’s been in the works for almost a decade. See a post from 2016 here.

Legal and General were behind plans in 2019 set to provide many jobs both during construction and upon completion in addition to 535 new homes.

Given up?

Yet here we are in 2024 and nothing has happened. Worse, nothing seems like happening to construct homes, commercial and community space.

The old Mothercare (remember them?) sits in a prominent site as part of the retail park looking in poor shape externally.

Underutilised brownfield land a minute from DLR and rail station

Why no building? Legal and General like to blame land acquisition. It’s not like they havn’t had enough time to plan and then deal with that.

It couldn’t be they took on another site in Lewisham from Meyer Homes and thus mothballed this site?

Housing crises

But what does this say about a housing situation that sees many in poor quality, overcrowded homes and more forced to leave London while companies like L&G fail to build for many, many years?

For L&G see also Peabody in Thamesmead and Abbey Wood, Knight Dragon in Greenwich and Hutchison in Deptford to name just three areas. All have had plans and vacant plots for many years as they sit and build little.

Are developers and landowners simply too big? Are they drip feeding new building extremely slowly to keep both house prices and rents high?

Great use of land in a housing crises

It certainly doesn’t benefit L&G to develop this site which could impact another where they seek £3620 per month for the most basic three-bed flat.

This cannot go on. Brownfield plots are lying waste all over London even with a desperate shortage and rapidly rising population.

Legal and General now control this site

On a wider level this is happening nationwide. Consolidation means there’s ever fewer large companies in charge of providing homes – and coupled with central government failing to fund anywhere near the level of truly affordable homes – means problems grow ever worse. And it’s costing taxpayers billions to boot.

Just this week we saw Barratt Homes propose buying Redrow Homes. They say it will help with housebuilding. Well, they would say that.

In reality why on earth would they speed up building if plots sit nearby?

What we see in Lewisham is what we see everywhere; ever fewer large developers sitting on land and the number of needed homes falling ever further behind what is needed.

Change is needed, and fast.

But will either party do it? We have the Tories (apparently the party of free markets yet one that seems perfectly happy with oligopolies and have constantly interfered to help developers raise prices) in power for 14 years and an abysmal record plus Labour (who now seem obsessed with sucking up to business and terrified to reform, much like New Labour who were utterly dismal with housing provision) is there much hope on the horizon?

 

 

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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.

11 thoughts on “Lewisham retail park an eyesore five years after housing approved

  • The old mothercare isn’t rotting away at all. It’s currently, and has been for several years, a fully operational artist studio warehouse that provides artists with access to studio space at fair rates. It’s a crucial resource and community lifeline for many local artists.

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    • If it’s an artist studios why does it look so awful? On-site artists could make a real difference to this neglected and abused facade by giving it a striking new look to enhance the public realm.

      Reply
    • No idea this existed. Good to know.

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    • The building certainly looks like its rotting away from the outside as viewed from Loampit Vale and left in a sorry state by its owners which says much about how the landowner treats the town and environment.

      Out of interest are artists willing to improve it? Have they enquired? That’d be a good step. Depends if L&Q are bothered I know.

      L&Q should speed up plans to provide housing and community space on site as long promised including future artists studios on site and in the meantime do basics on upkeep. A site like this would be developed in stages so they could easily ensure no period when artists are left homeless.

      Reply
  • I live practically next door to this particular abandoned site and while obviously it would be excellent to see something happen with it at last we *desperately* do not need yet another block of flats. Lewisham is packed with them now: thousands of soulless, identical blocks of flats and no more GP surgeries, no more schools, no more services of any kind. They’ve turned the whole place into a boring identikit wind-tunnel, half-destroyed the local community and they just *keep coming*.
    Whatever they do with this site, I hope to god it’s not yet another endless block of bloody flats.

    Reply
    • Completely agree. Squeezing as many flats as possible without providing any additional services is crazy. Also, there needs to be more green space or at least places where people can gather and sit outside. I was hoping the completed development near the station would provide this but it looks like it’ll be a wind tunnel and nobody will want to hang out there. We shall wait and see.
      I also think the developers should offer some smaller units at lower rents to independents which will help the area look less like a copy/paste job.

      Reply
      • Abi that seems a very privileged position. I’m guessing you do not rent and live in precarious housing trying to make a living or raise a family in London? London really needs new housing. The population grew from 8m to 9m+ in about the last 12 years.

        Not building on sites like this beside public transport links only ensures more car-dependent sprawl into the green belt. This is a sustainable site for housing. Sprawl isn’t. There’s also a big green over the road! That was improved and funded by previous towers and is a nice spot in summer. Agree on lower cost rents for small business which can be applied as part of planning process.

        Development brings funding for services and provides housing for key workers. By not building we keep house prices and rents high forcing many young teachers, nurses etc out of London. Refusing homes solves no issues. No one is forced to move to these sites but they do ensure those who do move in are often leaving flat shares etc for others. Blocking them while demand goes up is causing enormous issues.

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        • @Beth: none of these new privately built highrise developments in Lewisham provides housing that “families” can afford. They are either for sale at prices north of £350,000 for a tiny one bed unit, or rent.

          ‘There’s also a big green over the road!’ What road and where? I am in Lewisham town centre several times’ a week and only know about the bit of green space behind Glass Mills leisure centre and the pocket square squeezed in between the Lewisham stations.

          Reply
    • Hi Abi, it’s not abbandoned. It’s a fully functioning artists studios and gallery run by a charity that provides low cost studios. It’s a culturally important site that’s contributing to the area. It’s part of a network of studios and venues across SE London that provides space for cultural activity.

      Especially vital given that the government is constantly cutting funding to the arts.

      Reply
  • Totally agree witb you Abi. Thousands of new homes being built witb no new amenities and infrastructure. Existing GP Practices, Dental Surgeries etc are full and not acceptibg new patients. The Borough needs more GP Surgeries. More schools, more Leisure facilities etc Aliong witb an improved transport network

    Reply
  • Wasn’t Lewisham a little beauty before.

    Reply

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