Plans to redevelop the Lewisham Centre to include hundreds of new homes have inched forward this week with the mall’s owner asking locals to take part in a new consultation on the scheme.
Land Securities, one of Britain’s biggest commercial landowners, first ran a consultation during the summer to get locals to tell them what they thought of the centre and shopping in Lewisham.
Now the property giant has reopened the consultation to “gather thoughts, ideas and aspirations” while it puts a masterplan together.
The mall has been a part of local life since it opened as the Riverdale Centre in 1977 after a lengthy redevelopment. Its Sainsbury’s store was once the largest in the capital and a generation of SE Londoners will remember the brightly coloured figures in the main square as well as the hippo and pelican-shaped bins, all swept away in a 1990s revamp.
But the old mall may not live to see its 50th anniversary with Landsec proposing housing as well as shops on the site as part of another dramatic redevelopment of the town centre.
While the consultation is vague on plans – “creating a location where people live, work, play, eat, and enjoy” – an appendix to Landsec’s half-year financial results, released on Wednesday, reveals that it is hoping to build 2,500 homes on the site, with retail space falling by about a third.
Landsec may not get to build that many homes, but Lewisham Council is certainly on board with adding housing to the site. Its draft local plan – which aims to set planning guidance for the whole borough – says that the shopping centre site is suitable for 1,579 new homes, which could be delivered by 2025.
Four years ago, plans were approved to turn the former Citibank tower, which is part of the shopping centre site, into 237 flats, but the scheme never went ahead.
“Comprehensive redevelopment of the site can deliver a significant amount of new housing together with modern retail and employment space, leisure, cultural and community facilities to support the long-term vitality and viability of the town centre,” the council says in its plan (from page 498).
Landsec’s firmest plans include creating north-south routes through the former Model Market site towards Lewisham station – an aspiration also called for in Lewisham’s local plan, which also calls for shopfronts on Molesworth Street, the dual carriageway which carries the A21 behind the centre.
A series of developments over the past decade have already changed the face of the town centre. Much of the area is currently dominated by the building of the second phase of the 30-storey Lewisham Gateway development next to the station, which will also include a nine-screen cinema.
On Loampit Vale, 20 and 35-storey student accomodation blocks on the old Carpetright site opened just in time for the autumn term.
However, one key aspect in Lewisham’s regeneration – the extension of the Bakerloo Line – remains in limbo because of TfL’s financial crisis. While consultants have been engaged to draw up plans for tunnels, London mayor Sadiq Khan told the Financial Times yesterday that the project was “completely out of reach” at present.
Jon Watson, Landsec’s development director, said: “Working with the Lewisham Council and the local community, we want to be able to create a thriving place that celebrates and is shaped by its local identity, a place where the quality of life and sustainability sit at its core.
“This consultation is a really exciting opportunity to influence the plans for the future of Lewisham Shopping Centre, and the role it plays in the Town Centre. We’re inviting everyone to get involved and have their say.”
The consultation can be found at lewishamcentral.commonplace.is.
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