Residents of New Cross don’t want to be “next Shoreditch”

The 'Besson Street Triangle' area

The ‘Besson Street Triangle’ area. Pic: Marie Segger

Residents and housing activists are fiercely opposing a housing development plan for the so-called ‘Besson Street triangle’ in New Cross.

A Better Besson Street, a local activist group, has published their own consultation, claiming that Lewisham Council is not listening to the needs of the residents.

They said: “When it became apparent Lewisham planned to do very minimal consultation on the project, we decided to do our own consultation.”

The site next to Besson Street has been empty since the social housing estates located there were demolished in 2008. Lewisham Council now plans to build around 250 homes and a GP surgery on the site contained by Besson Street, Briant Street and New Cross Road.

Sixty-five per cent will be let at market prices and 35 per cent at ‘living rent’ levels. The ‘living rent’ should be no more than 35 per cent of the median household income in the borough.

The group of activists behind A Better Besson Street is based at The Field, an independent community centre in New Cross, close to Besson Street. Their report shows that the majority of the people approached by the group view the scheme negatively.

One local resident said about the re-development plans: “People in this area can’t really afford it. It will bring people from outside. We’ll be the next Shoreditch. It’s not fair on the people here.”

“It’s a load of bullshit – just the way it’s going. It’s gentrification,” said another.

While many local residents welcome a new GP surgery, many wish to make other use of the rest of the public land. A nursery, a garden and actual council housing are on the wishlist gathered by A Better Besson Street.

Councillor Damian Egan made it clear that the council has ruled out a community-led development model for the area. In an open meeting in July he also said: “The Council carried out a large amount of consultation with the public regarding the proposals for Besson Street, and will continue to consult with residents throughout the process.”

The borough plans to build up to 2,000 new homes by 2018.

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