Regenerate: New lifestyles in Lewisham, SE London
Project Case Study

Regenerate: New lifestyles in Lewisham, SE London

Lewisham Gateway Residential & Mixed Use £300m+

There was a time, not so long ago, when the lifeblood of the nation’s capital was thought to be its transport network. We even called its highways arteries, as if a blockage might prove terminal, when in fact it is the roads themselves that make life unbearable for many city dwellers.

Fortunately, things are changing. Measures such as the ULEZ symbolise the shift in attitude, and in new mixed developments that prioritise the needs of inhabitants, London is being reclaimed for its people—the real driving force at the heart of the city. In Lewisham, a new development illustrates how the balance increasingly favours people and good places to live.

In a symbolic victory for urban living, the Lewisham Gateway development began with the destruction of a much-loathed roundabout that cut the town off from its only decent park and its rail link to the rest of the city. The reclaimed land would heal the division of the town, and be developed to provide new styles of accommodation that are in tune with changing demographics and attitudes among the city’s inhabitants.

It was a bold vision that that took a mix of partnership and persistence to realise

In the first phase of the project, Jon Simpkin, Director, TPS was appointed project manager by MUSE, a development subsidiary of Morgan Sindall plc. The immediate challenge was to get planning permission for the site wide infrastructure and the initial development project. Part of the funding was contingent on achieving the planning go ahead on a short deadline, yet the infrastructure element presented significant obstacles. It entailed rerouting the A20, one of the top three highways heading into London, altering the course of two rivers, then moving sewers, water and gas supplies on which the whole of SE London are reliant. It was an iceberg of a project.

TPS was able to demonstrate to the developer not only that it could be done, but how it could be done in the time. Blurring the tasks of project management and development management, TPS won support for the proposal with the landowners TFL and GLA Lewisham, by mitigating the risk of disruption to existing transport networks both road and rail during the works and after completion.

There were further constraints on the project’s construction, chief amongst which was the necessity to complete the residential development to the short funding deadline. The impact on the project was that the infrastructure and the residential development projects would be concurrent, with all the difficulties of ensuring contractor access to the site even while everything around it was being dug up.

One difference of the TPS team is that it includes people with construction, design and engineering backgrounds. Rather than the more limited QS project management heritage, they know how things are built and can use that knowledge to bridge the gaps between construction, development and planning. The team was able to persuade stakeholders how to approach the development and reach important decisions to keep the project moving.

Those skills and more have been called on in phase two of the Gateway development, currently overseen by TPS project director, Katrina Briggs. The second phase is typical mixed use development—primarily residential—and adds to the forward-looking ideas for the site that reflect changing attitudes to living in the city.

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This is a high profile development where the team’s determination to see it through is instrumental

The different approach was established in first phase residential occupied by Fizzy Living, whose position as a corporate landlord with a long term view, provides tenants with more flexibility and more security of tenure. Their combination of no fees, better service, flexible tenancies, onsite services, and other perks seems to put tenants first, in contrast to private landlords given to charging the maximum and delivering the minimum.

The second phase comprises more than 600 residential units including private build-to-rent homes, London Living rent affordable homes, and more than one hundred co-living units, to be managed by Get Living. The development also includes a cinema and co-working office space. Aimed at younger residents, collective residential spaces with shared facilities and short-term renting are increasingly attractive, offering more flexibility and a greater sense of community—easy ways to live in London without the high cost of purchase.

From a project management standpoint it is not only a substantial effort due to its scale, but a change of client mid-stream, as MUSE sought outside investment, complicated the project with different ideas for the site. Accommodating the changes particularly to design required understanding and patience, working with the project team to communicate the impact of changes and trying to keep the whole project on schedule.

TPS has proven its ability on large scale projects before, but here is a high profile case where the team’s determination to see it through is instrumental. Although it has been necessary to put pressure on the project’s participants at times, TPS has equally shown readiness to listen and to elevate concerns if they are not being heard in an effort to deliver the best project possible for the client, the team, for Lewisham and for London.

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