Sustainability case study: Lewisham Gateway

19.10.23 10 min read by Robert Allan

The vision for Lewisham Gateway was conceived over 20 years ago. Lewisham Gateway was transformed from a disjointed roundabout into a new destination that is focused on community, connectivity, sustainability, and social impact.

We delivered a new beating heart for Lewisham: over 1,000 new homes, 25,000 sq ft of shops, cafes, and restaurants, 15,000 sq ft of affordable office space, a gym, a 9-screen multiplex cinema, and new public amenity spaces.

Lewisham People's Day, Lewisham Gateway, Lewisham

Re-thinking the gateway into Lewisham

We take pride in making the complex simple, and Lewisham Gateway was complex. Despite being adjacent to Lewisham train station and a bus interchange, the site was originally a roundabout. It was a pivotal part of South East London’s transport infrastructure, an immovable urban artery that served thousands of vehicles a day. A major sewer system also intersected the site, along with two culverted rivers – the Ravensbourne and the Quaggy.

Success depended on creating a coalition of partners and binding them together with a collective, long-term vision. We needed to demonstrate public-private working at its best, with partners including Homes England, the Greater London Authority, Lewisham Council, Transport for London, and Thames Water.

Prioritising people and place

Despite a wealth of public transport options, over decades the opportunity to create a truly connected place at Lewisham Gateway was never seized. Instead, the area became heavily influenced by the private car. It offered little to the community but poor air quality, noise, and a hostile pedestrian experience.

By changing the highways configuration, traffic flows, and removing the established roundabout we not only unlocked the site for regeneration, we re prioritised sustainable travel. A new pedestrian link running from the station to the high street entrenched this. We maximised this potential.

By delivering new homes, alongside workspace and a retail offer not seen in the town centre for years, we have created a more sustainable and connected place for people to live. The new neighbourhood will use public transport as the first, and perhaps only, choice.

Lewisham People's Day, Lewisham Gateway, Lewisham

Working with nature, not against it

For too long, the Ravensbourne and the Quaggy rivers had been hidden beneath Lewisham. Buried under Lewisham’s roads, these rivers were treated as burdens for the infrastructure above.

However, we understand the power of the natural environment in enhancing urban living. We were determined to sensitively uncover these ecological refuges by re-routing them and creating a new public park – Confluence Park – where the rivers meet at the heart of Lewisham Gateway.

We formed the park by the river’s edge and the community can now enjoy clear waters flowing towards the Thames in a wide open green public space. Representing a significant biodiversity gain, flora and fauna is now thriving where concrete was once present.

The park has become a place for people to meet and spend time. It forms a key part of our ambitions at Lewisham Gateway, to create a vibrant place for people to live, work and enjoy.

Green roofs and other private amenity spaces were provided. These areas deliver wellbeing benefits, alongside significant enhancements to biodiversity. This includes a diverse mix of plants which will support insects and bees and contribute to urban biodiversity across Lewisham.

Delivering tangible social impact

Lewisham Gateway has created millions of pounds in social value, including in local employment and in local spending.

We worked with the Circle Collective, a local charity supporting young people to find jobs and careers, opening the site so they can find out more about construction. We also worked with a local school to bring World Cup winning rugby star Jason Robinson to Lewisham to provide training and mentorship.

Providing opportunities for young people is a shining example of the real value Lewisham Gateway has created.

Lewisham Gateway

Innovation in sustainable development

Working with construction partners over multiple phases, we prioritised delivering better, considered design and waste minimisation.

Carefully judging what we build, and how we build it, has been inherent to Lewisham Gateway. We used quality, sustainable, materials through
applying a fabric first approach and modern methods of construction at every opportunity.

Sustainability also means longevity. The two energy centres on site, along with solar panels, are examples of this. They generate renewable power whilst producing efficient heating and hot water. This is much more sustainable than traditional power supplies, producing low-carbon energy where excess heat is not lost and electricity doesn’t have to travel long distances.

Waste minimisation has been key to our process too. Site-specific traffic management meant we saved 845,000 car miles in the second phase of the project alone. We also carefully considered our supply chains, to minimise the impact we have on the environment while maximising the positive impact we can have. This means supporting jobs in the community of Lewisham, and nationally

Lewisham Gateway today

Lewisham Gateway is transformed. Rather than blocking connectivity and growth, it is a place to live, to spend time, and to drive prosperity. It is making a meaningful contribution to the social fabric of Lewisham and local biodiversity.

We have shown the art of the possible when the public and private sector come together in partnership, alongside communities, to overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges and deliver meaningful legacies.

Read more about our sustainable approach.

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