The New Deal for Communities project is nearing the final stage and is set to begin building a £35m landmark development in New Cross Gate, the chief executive of the scheme Clive Wilson told East London Lines.
The new initiative named NDC Centre is one of two key remaining regeneration schemes of the New Deal for Communities Project in Lewisham. It will be located at Besson and Briant Streets and house more than 173 residential units, a library, a fitness facility, a doctor’s surgery, retail units, and a community café.
Due to the economic downturn, previous bidders have walked off and the development of the centre has been delayed for at least 18 months. Building Better Health, winner of Design Champion of the Year 2008, was announced as the development’s preferred bidder in August.
The other regeneration scheme will see the removal of gyratories from major roads in New Cross Gate. The scheme, scheduled to last from January to May next year, will bring the ten-year £45m programme to a successful end.
NDC’s New Cross Gate programme covers the area from New Cross Gate Station to Pomeroy Street along Queens Road, an area with a population of approximately 10,000.
There are still a number of issues to tackle, such as high unemployment rates as well as poor education and health. But when the NDC was launched, Mr Wilson said New Cross Gate “was one of the bottom ten per cent of the deprived wards in the country. Now, it has moved up … so it’s an improvement.”
New Cross Gate NDC, with Lewisham Council, has initiated programs that range from revamping parks and community centres to improving employment and community developments.
The most recent programme is the restoration of shop fronts along New Cross Road, which aims to help establish businesses in the long-term. “The investment was to help sustain the current business community and to encourages new businesses to come in,” said Mr Wilson.
Although it is too early to tell how effective the project has been, Mr Wilson believes that the work will last for at least 50 years. “It is a long-term project with long-term benefits.”
It has made the high street more attractive and gestured toward the heyday of the area. “A lot of the money has gone into restoring original historical architectural features, so what we did helped safeguard the architectural heritage of the area,” said Mr Wilson.
Convenience stores, cafés and takeaway shops dominate the high streets of New Cross where retail is the main business. But NDC is trying to further improve the area to attract more diverse businesses while maintaining those already established.
Mr Wilson said: “There has been some success, I might say, as we attracted some solicitors and new age shops … [the changes] will add up to positive contribution to the area.”