(Pictured left to right: Cllr Teresa O'Neill OBE, Helen (resident), Lyn Colman (rehousing officer) and John Lewis (Executive Director Thamesmead)
We recently completed the new homes at Southmere along with a new library (The NEST), public square and commercial space as part of our long-term regeneration plans for the area. The new homes are 45% affordable (affordable rent, Shared Ownership, Shared Equity) and will have access to podium gardens, a children’s playground and Southmere Lake into which we've invested £2.5 million by improving the water quality with floating reed beds, a 23-metre high fountain and new wildlife habitat.
The new homes are centred around a new public square – Cygnet Square – which will have retail shops, restaurants, cafes and community amenities for residents on their doorstep. Cygnet Square will become a place where the community meets, with regular events and activities planned from July this year. Thamesmead’s first creative studio will also produce a permanent artwork for the square to be enjoyed by all.
Many of the residents will be moving from nearby Lesnes Estate where we held a ballot in March 2020 and 70% of residents were in favour of our regeneration plans. Helen Snape, who is moving from Lesnes into a new four-bed town house at Southmere, said: “I’ve lived in Thamesmead for 11 years and brought my five children up here. I’m so pleased to be staying in the area which I love and still be part of the community my family has grown up in.”
Matthew Foulis, Peabody Project Director for Regeneration, said: “These are the first new homes to be built by Peabody in South Thamesmead and it’s important that we maintain and grow the already strong community spirit with residents moving across from Lesnes as well as new people moving to the area. The work we’re doing through our cultural programme and our significant investment in the landscape and public realm is all part of our wider vision for South Thamesmead.
“This is the first step in a long-term multi-phase regeneration project and the quality of the new homes and public spaces has been one of our highest priorities. Peabody estates from the Victorian era have a reputation for being high-quality both inside and out – and we continue with this approach today.”
David Llewellyn, Peabody’s Project Director for Delivery, said: “Southmere has been an outstanding success in terms of the social value we have been able to achieve. Durkan and Peabody worked together closely from the start to make sure the local community saw real social benefits alongside the regenerated environment.
“Examples of this include recruiting 10 apprentices, one of which being Edward Afolabi, a local resident who is now part of our site management team; working with environmental charity Groundwork to help nine long-term jobseekers facing severe barriers achieve sustainable employment including one who has gone on to become a hoist engineer with one of our subcontractors; and working in partnership with the Bexley Council’s specialist employment support team to employ a local resident with a learning disability.”
Leader of the London Borough of Bexley, Cllr Teresa O’Neill OBE said: “This is great news for Thamesmead. This may be just the first phase in the longer regeneration plan but already the transformation is amazing. The mixture of new homes, businesses and amenities will change lives and make a huge difference to the community. It is a great example of the kind of growth we want in the borough.”
Russell Murphy, Construction Director at Durkan, said: “This is a real milestone in the development of Southmere Village and brings us all one step closer to realising the true potential of Thamesmead. We’re proud to have been able to play our part in delivering much-needed new homes for the area and a valuable library and community facility, and we’re looking forward to delivering the next phase of the development.
“Engaging the community and providing genuine opportunities for employment and training is central to all of our work, and of particular importance on this project. The delivery of a Construction Skills Academy as part of this phase has been a fantastic opportunity to engage local people and we have already seen 60 individuals graduate, with 90 per cent of them now in construction employment. This is testament to the long-term impact that this regeneration can, and has already, delivered.”
Find out more about our 30-year plan for Thamesmead here.