Lewisham town centre: Bid for £20m levelling up funding
Lewisham Council are preparing a £20 million bid for government funding from the “levelling up” pot of funding.
A report before the borough’s Cabinet next week states the project seeks “improvements to the street market, library, transport and public realm.”
In addition work on the library and cycling infrastructure and new cycling lanes are proposed.
In 2021 the Government announced a £4.8 billion “Levelling Up Fund” to support towns in the UK.
This latest round is the second, with a deadline of 6th July. Successful bids will be revealed this autumn and funding must be spent by 31st March 2025.
The previous round of funding saw just three in 10 bids were successful nationally, while in London only four London boroughs received funding, which accounted for 3% of the funding awarded in that round.
The bid mentions improved links from the station to the town centre:
“Specifically pedestrian routes from the railway station through to the high street and market need to be opened up and encourage more people to walk through to the heart of the town centre.
Not much to argue about there, though that is already supposed to be part of Lewisham Gateway phase 2 now under construction.
This site includes 600 homes, shops and a cinema, with a new pedestrian reroute from the station to the road crossing opposite Lewisham shopping centre.
The shopping centre owners Landsec are also planning to demolish and rebuild the entire site with 2,500 homes and increased permeability.
The report states the importance of Lewisham’s market:
“The historic street market, which provides fresh produce and goods at affordable prices, will be made more attractive to visitors and improvements will be made to the environmental impact of the market.”
If funding is successful, the aim is to help with “rejuvenating the market with improved stalls, better waste management infrastructure, improvements to the pavement and railings, new lighting and electricity, and installation of a canopy along the high street.”
A canopy? Hmm. Unless easily maintained that could be a bit of an error. Over in Peckham a canopy installed near the Peckham Centre is coming down. It didn’t age well.
The clocktower is hoped to be renovated as part of wider work, along with upgraded public realm:
“There will be more greenery on the high street, more places to sit and the clocktower will be restored as the symbol of the town centre.”
Funding would also be sought for work on the library:
“The current Lewisham Library located at the end of the high street is an important community asset.
However, it is in poor condition, has limited accessibility and the space is underutilised. At the same time, there is a lack of flexible and accessible business spaces in the area, with demand significantly outstripping the capacity.
There is also a limited cultural offer in the town centre to attract and retain visitors.”
The authority states match funding could come from Section 106 funding or the Community Infrastructure Levy. Match-funding would max at 20 per cent – or £4 million.
If successful, the council will be notified in autumn 2022.