Lewisham Night Surgery
The Mayor's new London Plan calls on every borough to create a Night Time Strategy. We’re working with boroughs to help them develop their strategies. Lewisham has been making huge strides, so I was delighted to hold my latest Night Surgery in Deptford, Lewisham and Catford.
Deptford Market Yard, a joint development between U+I and Network Rail, has created new public square with a range of independent food, beverage and leisure businesses. There’s also a space that broadcasts community radio online and is entirely run by Lewisham residents.
Across the high street, it was great to see how the railway arches along Resolution Way are home to local operators, such as jazz revival bar Buster Mantis and Villages Brewery. Speaking with Gordon McGowan of Buster Mantis, It was good to hear about the positive relationship he has with the council, however, he is worried about the threat to his business from rising rents. Unfortunately this is something we come across too often through our Culture at Risk Office.
Lewisham Town Centre is a place with huge potential. Around the DLR station, there is a massive amount of new housing being built and a rapidly growing community. It was good to hear about the council’s plans to connect the transport hub with the shopping area via new public spaces and retail areas. But I was struck by the lack of units open after 6pm. A cluster of gambling arcades, pawn shops and cash machines means that the area doesn't feel like an open, welcoming place to be at night. This seems like an area ripe for a new night time plan, with a diverse offer of shops, services and leisure activity that will serve the growing community where people work hard for every penny and need a healthy and well served high street open in the evening.
In Catford I met with Preston Benson, founder of the Really Local Group, who is managing the redevelopment of the former Poundland shop in Catford Mews. The focus is a new multi-screen cinema, the borough’s first for over 20 years. There will also be a live music offer, bar and food provided fresh by local vendors. There is a heartening approach here; the whole community is engaged in the changes taking place to ensure that local people can benefit from the exciting changes. I look forward to returning to Catford Mews and seeing how this building comes to life!
There is so much great work going on in Lewisham. I was able to meet everyone from venue operators to A&E staff, brewers to artists, residents to night time workers. The council is taking a grassroots-up approach to its changing cityscape. It is ensuring that local people are supported and local character is cherished and protected. When people are able to live, work and go out at night in their local neighbourhoods, the economy finds that ‘circular’ sweet spot where residents, workers and businesses all benefit.
I look forward to continuing positive partnership working with Lewisham and all London boroughs in making our city work for everyone at night.