02 November 2005

02 November 2005

Foretelling bright future for borough

You may not have noticed but Lewisham is in the midst of a transformation and very soon parts of it will be unrecognisable. Reporter GLENN EBREY asks Mayor Steve Bullock to gaze into his crystal ball and predict what the borough will look like in 2015 ...

Imagine waking up in the morning in a new flat which provides stunning views of the London skyline and overlooks the River Thames.

Then imagine dropping your child off at a brand new school, before taking a trip on a clean, efficient train service to a top-class shopping centre.

Sounds a bit far-fetched but if you live in Lewisham in 2015 this could be just what life will be like.

The borough is currently the subject of an unprecedented programme of investment led by the £250m regeneration of the town centre.

This development will include new shops, bars, restaurants, business spaces and a multiplex cinema.

Lewisham Mayor Steve Bullock says the town-centre plans will act as the "driver" for improvement throughout the borough.

He said: "This is the single biggest thing to happen to Lewisham in a long time. The whole of central Lewisham will be transformed in the next 10 years.

"The way London has developed means Lewisham is now a lot closer to Docklands, the real hub of the city.

"This will be an area where people will want to live because of the quality of the shopping, the quality of the homes and the quality of transport links."

The transformation of central Lewisham is being mirrored throughout the borough.

In Deptford, the £168m Convoy's Wharf redevelopment will bring 3,500 new homes and a host of cultural and community facilities.

Transport links will also be improved with the extension of the East London Line through Honor Oak, Brockley and Sydenham, the DLR extension to London City Airport and the refurbishment of the Deptford station area.

The Mayor says the East London Line extension mean "a part of the borough which has been relatively neglected in terms of transport links will now be connected to the Tube network".

And every secondary school will either be refurbished or rebuilt in the next decade, thanks to the £150m Building Schools for the Future programme.

This all promises a very different Lewisham in 10 years' time but the mayor has his eyes on an earlier date - the 2012 Olympics.

Mr Bullock said: "The timing for this investment is right when you consider the Olympic factor.

"We are not an Olympic borough but there will still be a lot of exciting opportunities in terms of businesses and tourism."

However the Mayor is keen to ensure mass investment does not lead the borough's town centres to fall into the trap of becoming identikit high streets.

He added: "We do not want chain stores to come into our streets and make them just like any other. Places like Deptford have a unique appeal which we want to retain."

Mr Bullock is clearly excited about the future. So what exactly does he think the borough will look like in 2015?

He said: "Lewisham in 10 years' time will be more of a destination for people who do not live here than it is today.

"It will be a place where Londoners want to come because of its shopping, leisure facilities, schools and transport. It is a truly exciting prospect."

When will you be able to see the changes?

A host of major developments will be completed in Lewisham over the next decade at a total cost of more than £600m:

2006: Start of Lewisham Gateway town-centre development.

2007: Rebuild of Deptford Station completed.

2010: Estimated finish of the Convoy's Wharf development.

2011: New homes and a leisure centre on the Sundermead Estate, Lewisham. All Lewisham secondary schools improved under BSF.

2012: Lewisham Gateway completed.

Veterans honour long-lost hero

A COMMEMORATIVE service for a First World War hero was held after 18 years of searching for his grave.

The Royal Navy, Royal Marines and the British Army Association, were among the hundreds of representatives who paid tribute to Commander Archibald Walter Buckle at Brockley Cemetery on Sunday.

Tony Green, vice-chairman of the Royal British Legion Club in Brockley, and ex-serviceman Sergeant Jim Bassom, 82, discovered the commander's lost headstone under brambles at Brockley Cemetery two months ago.

Mr Green said: "It's an absolute privilege to have found this hero's grave and to give him a proper memorial."

Commander Buckle, who lived in Crescent Way, Brockley, commanded the Anson Battalion during the First World War and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and three bars.

He was also recommended for the Victoria Cross in 1918 and died in 1927 at the age of 38.

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