Updated story: Lewisham Library will be given a rooftop bar and the nearby market will be given a facelift after the council won £19 million in levelling-up funding from the government.
The borough’s elected mayor, Damien Egan, hailed the grant as “fantastic news” for the town centre. In total, there will be £24 million to spend on improvements, with the council chipping in an extra £5 million in match funding.
The library will become a “culture and business hub”. New workspace will be fitted in the library, as well as an area to host exhibitions and performances, while employment support and training will also be offered.
A new evening market will be introduced on Lewisham High Street as part of the council’s plans to attract more visitors to the area after dark. A green canopy will be erected over the market while stalls will also be improved. Lewisham Council hopes the improvements will allow the market to host more pop-up and seasonal events.
The Grade II listed Lewisham Clock Tower, which was erected in 1897 to mark Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee, will be renovated as part of the scheme, which includes new lighting, pavements and greenery.
New cycle lanes, pedestrian crossings and CCTV will also be installed in the area, along with electric vehicle charging points.
Egan said: “This money will enable us to make big improvements to the market, including a new canopy so it’s a nicer place to shop in all weather, a total refurbishment of our library, with plans for a new café and rooftop bar, restoring the historic clock tower, new pedestrian crossings and lots of new trees and plants. It’s going to make a significant difference.”
The town centre is already undergoing a transformation with the controversial Lewisham Gateway development emerging next to the station. LandSec, the owner of Lewisham Shopping Centre, also has plans to bulldoze the 1970s mall and replace it with a major development of shops and homes.
LandSec and Get Living, the developer behind Lewisham Gateway, supported the council’s bid, as did all three of the borough’s MPs and the Migration Museum, which is based in the town centre.
Lewisham was SE London’s only winner of levelling-up money. In total, £2.1 billion was awarded to projects across the UK.
Greenwich had planned to put in a second bid for cash to refurbish the long-neglected Winter Gardens in Avery Hill Park, Eltham, but it appears to have lost out again. Greenwich has been contacted for comment.
Additional reporting by Robert Firth, Local Democracy Reporter
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