Evening Standard - West End Final Extra - ES Homes and Property - - Regeneration -

THIS could turn out to be a piv­otal year for Lewisham. A pro­posed ex­ten­sion of the Bak­er­loo line could do for this slightly for­got­ten out­post of south-east Lon­don what the ex­tended East Lon­don line has done for Hox­ton and Dal­ston.

Mayor Sadiq Khan is com­mit­ted to the £3.6 bil­lion project that would dra­mat­i­cally im­prove lo­cal trans­port links in an area cur­rently re­liant largely on buses and main line trains. A re­port from Trans­port for Lon­don will be pub­lished later this year. Once ap­proved, work could start in 2023, and TfL hopes ser­vices will be up and run­ning by about 2028. Mean­while, house­builders — pre­sum­ably with the ex­am­ple of how Cross­rail has trig­gered mas­sive house growth — are in­vest­ing heav­ily in Lewisham, adding modern flats to its cur­rent sup­ply of af­ford­able pe­riod houses and first-time buyer­friendly pur­pose-built flats.

How­ever, a ques­tion mark re­mains about whether new trans­port links and homes are enough to trig­ger re­gen­er­a­tion, or if a more holis­tic ap­proach is needed. The largest de­vel­op­ment in the area is Lewisham Gate­way, led by re­gen­er­a­tion spe­cial­ist Muse De­vel­op­ments. This on­go­ing scheme will set the scene for the fu­ture of the area with up to 900 homes plus badly needed new shops, restau­rants, bars and cafés.

Fi­nal touches are be­ing put to £130 mil­lion Phase One of this huge project — some 226 flats, plus stu­dent digs, the re-rout­ing of the Ravens­bourne and Quaggy Rivers, new green spa­ces and a new road lay­out to im­prove ac­cess be­tween the rail and DLR sta­tions and Lewisham town cen­tre. One-bed­room flats start at £345,000.

Phase Two will cost £220 mil­lion and add hun­dreds more rental homes to the mix, with 160,000sq ft of shops and restau­rants, and a new park. Sub­ject to plan­ning per­mis­sion, work will start next year with the whole Gate­way site com­pleted by 2021.

For buy­ers want­ing a tra­di­tional fam­ily home in Lewisham, Darien Neavin, man­ager of es­tate agents RE/MAX rec­om­mends a three- bed­room Vic­to­rian ter­race house. In a leafy road such as Al­ger­non or Em­ble­ton, this will be about £550,000, and many of these homes have scope to ex­tend into the loft.

For starter home seek­ers, many of Lewisham’s houses have been con­verted into flats, which Neavin says are gen­er­ally priced at about £360,000. A two-bed­room flat in one of the area’s slightly dated pur­pose-built blocks would cost about the same.

Like many ar­eas Lewisham has a “posh” side and a more af­ford­able one. The di­vid­ing line is Lee High Road; prop­erty north and closer to Black­heath’s Com­mon and its lovely shops and cafés is more ex­pen­sive than prop­erty closer to Cat­ford and Lady­well.

Likely to be the most ex­pen­sive of all, how­ever, are homes in a glitzy new sky­scraper, which at 410ft will be Lewisham’s first se­ri­ously tall build­ing.

Plan­ning con­sent has been granted for three new build­ings in Con­ing­ton Road, sec­onds from Lewisham’s sta­tions. There will be 365 flats, of­fice space and shops, and homes on the up­per floors of the 34-storey, tallest block should have mag­nif­i­cent views of south-east Lon­don. Lewisham coun­cil has agreed one in five of the homes will be af­ford­able, aimed at first-time buy­ers and cash- strapped renters. Meyer Homes was un­able to say when work would start on this ma­jor piece in the Lewisham re­gen­er­a­tion jig­saw, but clearly a pos­i­tive re­sponse from TfL on the Bak­er­loo line ex­ten­sion will help con­cen­trate in­vestors’ minds.

Ma­jor flies in the re­gen­er­a­tion oint­ment are Lewisham’s con­gested, down-atheel High Street and its Sev­en­ties shop­ping cen­tre. Both are func­tional but dis­mal. The coun­cil has been en­gaged in long-term, slow-mov­ing talks with de­vel­oper Land Se­cu­ri­ties, and is keen to see some­one swoop in to give Lewisham Shop­ping Cen­tre a makeover.

To date there are no tak­ers, and Darien Neavin blames the cen­tre’s dreary range of mostly low-end shops and un­ap­petis­ing ap­pear­ance for hold­ing Lewisham back while neigh­bours such as Hither Green have blos­somed.

“You can bring on all the new-build flats that you like, but at the prices they want they are pitch­ing to mid­dle-class buy­ers and then of­fer­ing pretty bog­stan­dard fa­cil­i­ties,” he says.

Mayor Sadiq Khan is com­mit­ted to £3.6 bil­lion project to im­prove links in an area now re­liant on buses and the rail­way

£20 mil­lion flag­ship: opened in 2013, Glass Mill Leisure Cen­tre has two pools, gym, sauna, ex­er­cise classes and a crèche

From £345,000: one-bed­room flats at Lewisham Gate­way (020 8852 1177)

Con­ing­ton Road: 365 flats in three blocks, with the tallest at 34 storeys

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