The Mayor of London laid some of the first bricks for around 600 new homes to be built on Catford’s former dog track.
Catford Greyhound Stadium has lain empty for more than 10 years and is now being transformed in a £117m redevelopment which will include 113 affordable homes and 60 shared ownership properties.
There will be a total 589 homes built on the 4.7 hectare site which aims to feed into the wider regeneration of Catford Town Centre and will create more than 1,000 jobs.
After the recession stalled original plans to redevelop the land in 2010, Boris Johnson seized control of the disused land under the Localism Act 2011 and secured a deal with Barratt London.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson told News Shopper: "This will be wonderful for Catford, it will be a wonderful place to live, with amazing transport links, there will be lots of affordable homes."
The Catford Green site, between Catford and Catford Bridge stations, will also boast 508 sq metres of retail space, 298 sq metres of community space, a cycle route to the park and landscaped avenue.
When asked what the fate of the iconic Catford Stadium sign would be, he said: "I will leave that to the wisdom of local people."
There are no immediate plans for the giant sign to stay on the site, but proposals include allowing local artists to revamp it.
Other suggestions include naming the new streets after famous Catford people or well-known dogs from the track.
Lib Dem prospective parliamentary candidate for Lewisham East, Councillor Julia Fletcher, queried whether the number of affordable homes was enough for a development on publically owned land.
Mr Johnson said: "30 per cent is not bad for London, we have got to have market homes for market viability."
The first houses will be sold from September in a three-stage construction plan which is due to be completed by 2017.
It comes as the Mayor is calling on the government for an amendment of the Infrastructure Bill which would allow the GLA to redevelop other empty brownfield sites.
Mayor of Lewisham Sir Steve Bullock said: "It is very good news for Catford that this site is finally to be developed. The additional homes and jobs will be very welcome in this part of Lewisham, and the development will sit well alongside our own plans for the rebuilding and improvmenet of Catford Town Centre."
Arena rich in history
• The stadium staged its first meeting on July 30, 1932, when legendary greyhound Mick the Miller was paraded around the track
• In 1973 it became the first track in Britain to stage eight-dog racing
• Catford was famous for holding a Boxing Day meeting, where up to 80 bookmakers would line up to take punters' money
• The track was closed in November 2003, due to a decline in attendance
• In February 2005, the British Greyhound Racing Board said they wanted to preserve the Tote building and "save a piece of sporting history"
• In May 2005, the sporting arena was gutted by fire which destroyed four stories of the stadium. Heritage group The Twentieth Century Society attacked the government for failing to afford it protection by making it a listed building.
• March 2010, the original redevelopment of the stadium, approved in October 2008, fell through due to the recession.