Bexley Council have released a first draft of their new Growth Strategy that’ll guide development across the borough over the coming decade. Some tasty details are contained within.

We knew that increased housebuilding was an aim of Bexley Council. They stifled development for years which has led to their now precarious financial predicament. Bexley is Bonkers has covered much of it admirably.

Thamesmead plans commencing in months

So now they want to be on the front foot. And this document reveals some intriguing ideas. Firstly, let’s look at additional homes planned:

Thamesmead: 4,000+

Belvedere: 8,000+

Erith: 6,000+

Slade Green: 8,000+

Bexleyheath: 1,500

Welling: 400+

Sidcup: 400+

Crayford: 1000+

The City in the East report from the GLA last year projected 21,500 in Bexley borough in towns close to the riverside. This plan already increases that to 26,000, and that excludes Crayford. Yet they’ve included it in the red dotted outline below:

This is also a far higher rate of growth than seen in the council’s previous planning documents and the London Plan, which saw annual growth below 500 homes a year.

A new shopping hub

When delving down into each town a few snippet crop up. The most revealing is Belvedere. They are looking at turning Picardy Manorway into a High Street with an “outlet retail village”.

402 homes at Belvedere the first stage of many more

I’m not sure how they came to that idea. Presumably as to not duplicate Bexleyheath as a major town centre, but it would detract from it. And a major outlet shopping centre in now being constructed at the o2 in North Greenwich.

This is from page 50 of the report:

growth strategy belvedere outlet village

Belvedere certainly has scope for many more shops and homes. The station currently has massive retail warehouses and vast car parks, alongside under-used land further north which is where they talk of this planned retail outlet.

There’s also talk of being able to “release large areas of industrial land for other uses”.

Crayford sees some plans for this, though it’s housing increase of 1000 homes seems very modest.

The town centre is a mess. A big one way system, numerous giant retail sheds and wastes of land. If Sainsbury’s had any sense they’d redevelop their store beside the station and place housing above and around the retail barn and car park. A 1000 homes could be there alone without a loss of parking places nor shop floor space with better design.

The same goes for various sites nearby. It’s like Charlton and Greenwich Peninsula. But at least it’s Zone 6 and not Zone 2/3 in Greenwich borough which is even more ludicrous.

I didn’t see mention of the Greyhound track. One of the few left in London. Will it survive?

A 359 home development did recently gain approval near the site. Developer Skillcrown gained permission for a scheme with no “affordable” housing whatsoever.

Here’s the location and a render of the scheme:

359 home site

359 home site render

Crossrail

Will this ever reach Erith?

A lot of it seems based on Crossrail extending past Abbey Wood. This is a long shot, at least in the next decade or two. Abbey Wood’s new station hasn’t even completed yet and seems to block extension of one track further east.

An article at London Reconnections looks at the case for extending Crossrail beyond Abbey Wood to Gravesend or Ebbsfleet.

Whatever happens, it wont be soon. And Bexley Council want and need income fast. And London’s booming population needs housing. Waiting for a Crossrail extension is nice, but probably not feasible anytime soon, so a decent amount of homes will be built long before.

Which makes a bit more of a mockery of the Department for Transport and Network Rail’s planning for the next South Eastern rail franchise. Along with buggering up housing projections and including a figure in their consultation document which is half of what is actually planned, Network Rail project no extra carriages for the line through Slade Green, Erith and Belvedere for 30-odd years. Hmmm. Is that based on this new growth strategy or older projections?

Housing numbers at Sidcup, Bexleyheath and Crayford are lower but they are on lines meeting towns further into London with huge housing plans such as Kidbrooke, Lewisham and New Cross. Network Rail’s 5% capacity increase in seven years on the Bexleyheath line needs highlighting here.

MAY 18th 2017 UPDATE: The document is now out for public consultation. Details here.

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