Lewisham Council is banking on the redevelopment of Bell Green Retail Park, supermarkets, and industrial sites to increase the number of homes in the south of the borough.

The council is consulting on its draft local plan, which sets out its long-term development strategy until 2040.   

The final version is expected to be adopted by the council between summer and autumn of 2022. 

The council is hoping that 27,267 new homes will be built across the borough by 2040. 

The plan, which will feed into planning decisions, is divided into central, north, east, south, and west. 

The council has designated the entire south, which includes Bellingham, Downham, and Bell Green, as a ‘strategic area for regeneration’. 

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The housing target for the south is between 2,228 and 4,521.    

According to the council’s vision for the area: “By 2040 the distinctive character of the South area, derived from its open spaces, river valleys and garden city/cottage estates, will be celebrated and reinforced.  

“These assets and features will provide the wider setting for regeneration, building on new and improved transport links, including the Bakerloo line extension.  

“The role and character of large tracts of commercial land in Bell Green and Lower Sydenham, along with the major roads that adjoin them, will be re-imagined to provide a high quality, mixed-use neighbourhood.  

“This new focus for community activity in Lewisham will act as a catalyst for growth and investment. 

“Stakeholders will work together and alongside communities to deliver improvements that address the causes of deprivation in the borough’s south, opening opportunities for everyone to benefit from. 

“The regeneration of brownfield sites in Bell Green and Lower Sydenham will deliver a significant amount of new housing, including a high proportion of genuinely affordable housing, workspace and jobs, community facilities and open space.  

“A new mixed-use neighbourhood will be created through the redevelopment of out-of-centre retail buildings, the former gasholders, industrial land around Stanton Way and other sites.  

“This will be coordinated by a masterplan, informed by the local community, ensuring the area is well integrated with existing neighbourhoods and communities.  

“The garden city/cottage character of neighbourhoods in Bellingham and Downham will be reinforced, with their sensitive intensification providing for area improvements, helping to ensure people have access to high quality housing and living environments.” 

The council is planning to turn Bromley Road, Southend Lane, and Whitefoot Lane into ‘healthy streets’ with the aim of making the roads safer and more convenient for walking, cycling, and public transport.  

According to the plan, Beckenham Place Park will “evolve as one of the borough’s most important green spaces and a key visitor destination in south London”.  

“The river valley network will have greater prominence.  

“Improvements to the environmental quality and amenity value of the Ravensbourne and Pool rivers will be realised through their re-naturalisation. 

“Waterlink Way and the Pool River Linear Walk, along with the Green Chain Walk, will be enhanced to form key features of a network of walking and cycle routes that link open and green spaces both within and outside of the borough,” it states.  

Key objectives for the south include delivering the Bakerloo line extension, investing in Bell Green and Lower Sydenham, redeveloping the Bell Green Retail Park, redeveloping industrial sites by Stanton Way and Worsley Road, and preventing an over-centration of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs).  

Site allocations  

Former Bell Green Gas Holders 

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The iconic Sydenham gas holders, which survived two world wars, were demolished despite objections.  

The council hopes the site, owned by Southern Gas Networks (SGN), will be home to a mixed-use development with residential, commercial, and community uses.  

New cycling and walking routes are also suggested. 

Potential new homes: 73 to 178 

Bell Green Retail Park 

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This council has identified this site, home to a retail park and carpark, has having potential for up to 1,701 new homes, along with commercial and community uses.  

New cycling and walking routes are also suggested. Development guidelines do not require the retail park to be retained.  

Potential new homes: 695 to 1,701 

Sainsbury’s Bell Green 

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This site in Sydenham, home to Sainsbury’s and its carpark, has potential for up to 1,251 new homes, along with shops and community uses, according to the council.  

New cycling and walking routes are also suggested.  Development guidelines do not require the supermarket to be retained. 

Potential new homes: 511 to 1,251 

Stanton Square, Sydenham 

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The council thinks this industrial site would be suitable for a workspace-led development.  

Potential new homes: 94 to 231 

Sydenham Green Group Practice 

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This site, home to a GP surgery, has been identified as being suitable for up to 117 new homes.  

It is unclear what would happen with the health care facility, but it must be re-provided elsewhere if demolished.  

Potential new homes: 48 to 117 

Worsley Bridge Road industrial site 

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The council believes this industrial site, home to car repair shops and a housing block, is suitable for a workspace-led development with up to 300 new homes.  

Potential new homes: 122 to 300 

Lidl, Southend Lane 

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According to the council this site, home to a Lidl and carpark, could be have 23 new homes built on it. Development guidelines do not require the supermarket to be retained. 

Potential new homes: 23 

Excalibur Estate 

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The Excalibur Estate in Bellingham is a post-war 1940s housing estate of 189 prefabricated houses in Catford. 

The estate represents the last significant collection of post-war prefabricated houses in the UK.  

The council is currently regenerating the estate, with plans for more than 300 homes.  

New homes: 305 

Bestway Cash and Carry, St Mildreds Road 

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Potential new homes: 136 

The council believes this site, home to a Bestway Cash and Carry, is suitable for redevelopment for residential use. Development guidelines do not require the supermarket to be retained. 

Homebase/Argos, Bromley Road 

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The site has been earmarked as having potential for a residential-led redevelopment.  

The council suggests “reconfiguring” the existing buildings to do so.  

Potential new homes: 141 

Downham Co-op, Moorside Road  

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Potential new homes: 42 

This site, home to a Co-op, carpark, and pub, has been earmarked has having potential for more than 40 news homes.  

The plan makes it clear the pub, the Downham Tavern, must be retained.  

Beadles Garage, Bromley Hill 

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The council believes this site, home to a Volkswagen dealership, is suitable for a mixed-use redevelopment. The plan does not mention what would happen to the dealership.  

Potential new homes: 22 

McDonalds, Ashgrove Road 

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The site, home to a McDonalds, is suitable for new homes and shops, according to the council.  

The plan suggests that the restaurant could be retained with homes built on top of it.  

Potential new homes: 31 

Catford Police station 

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Potential new homes: 39 

This police station, the front office of which closed a few years ago, could be redeveloped into nearly 40 new homes.  

According to the council: “Subject to appropriate re-provision of the Catford police station, the site offers the potential for redevelopment, with the introduction of a wider range of complementary uses.” 

Land at Pool Court 

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New homes: 6 

The council plans to make this site in Bellingham home to people from the Gypsy and Traveller community.  

The Pool Court site, which lies in Bellingham Ward, is set to house six pitches on the land, owned by the council and Network Rail.