Proposals for a “bold new centre for Lewisham” have been unveiled in a pop-up exhibition displaying the most detailed redevelopment to date.
The masterplan outlines a complete transformation of the existing 1977 Shopping Centre into a mixed-use retail space, public meadow, music venue, cultural hub and up to 1,700 homes.
The pop-up, which opened over the weekend, includes models of the development, a timeline of the project and an interactive audio archive of Lewisham town centre curated by Goldsmiths, University of London, which is based in New Cross.
Since consultation began almost three years ago, initial plans for around 2,500 homes have been scrapped. The latest events mark the last opportunity for local residents to have their say before outline planning application is submitted in Spring 2024.
On the latest release, Jon Watson, Development Director of Landsec, said: “The local community made it clear to us that they didn’t want only a shopping centre or only a park, they wanted both.”
As a result, current proposals raise the park above retail sites and alongside residential units which reach 35 storeys at their highest. It is understood these will include shared student accommodation, 15-20% affordable housing and varied commercial units.
No plans have been made to replace the existing multi-storey carpark.
The exhibition space opened for preview on November 10, where Eastlondonlines spoke to lead architect Joshua Thomas about the project: “I’ve lived in Lewisham for over a decade now and for me it was really important that public space was delivered. That we consider how to kickstart this part of Lewisham which has been neglected for many years.”
Thomas said designers would “learn from mistakes made across the road” where construction is currently underway in the second phase of the Lewisham Gateway development and be more sympathetic to the needs of the community.
Speaking to ELL at the public opening of the exhibition on November 12, one Blackheath resident said he thought the development would help “bring a more contemporary feel to the whole shopping centre”, while other locals had a more mixed response.
Juliet Johnson, a recently retired architect who has lived in Lewisham for over 40 years said she had: “some reservations, some pluses. Greenery is good yes, and the fact it is west-facing but the tall buildings above?” In her view, these would undoubtedly cause higher wind.
Another Lewisham resident who lived a few roads over from the planned development was also unhappy when asked to share her thoughts: ”I will wait to see where my child will go to secondary school and then, as much as I love my street, I’ll be moving.”
She cited construction noise, pollution, overshadowing, commuter influx and wind tunnels as reasons why she felt compelled to leave her home of 16 years.
A mother with her young daughter also voiced her concerns: “I don’t feel like it’s family friendly” she told ELL, despite agreeing that the shopping centre was in need of a makeover.
“No one is going to want to do a lot of shopping and then get on public transport. So, the fact they are not going to offer parking is a little strange.”
If planning is approved, phased construction will start towards the start of 2025 and is likely to span over a decade.
The current period of public consultation will run for six months and the exhibition at No.25, Lewisham Shopping Centre will be open to the public every Wednesday until Christmas between 3pm and 6:30pm, as well as for dedicated community events.
Kate Balding reports for ELL from the shopping centre and the reaction of local people to the plans: