London's garden suburb — Thamesmead
I welcome this week’s announcements of a new Garden City at Ebbsfleet, and the publication of a garden city prospectus by the government to back it.
There is now political consensus that new towns and garden cities will not only help to tackle the housing crisis in the south-east and elsewhere, but will also create jobs and economic growth as well as thriving successful communities. Improvements in transport infrastructure will drive land values and attract investment, public and private, which will benefit everyone.
Ebbsfleet will make a wonderful garden city, but many more are needed to properly tackle London’s acute housing supply shortage. The capital’s population is forecast to increase by a million people by 2021, but last year only 18,328 homes were built for Londoners.
It is not just about volume and numbers though. Quality matters too, which is why garden cities and suburbs are so important. Londoners want to live in London, but they also want to enjoy the natural environment, fantastic green spaces and river walks, nature reserves, and places for their children to play.
Thamesmead has four lakes
They want excellent transport connectivity; rail links, decent bus routes, and proximity to river crossings. They want well designed neighbourhoods; with shops, education and community facilities, and businesses close to their homes.
All of this is possible in Thamesmead in south-east London. The town is in both the London Borough of Bexley and the Royal Borough of Greenwich and is currently home to around 40,000 people. With an abundance of canals, four major lakes and plenty of open green space, it is the ideal location for a major garden suburb on London’s doorstep.
Aerial view of Thamesmead
There is the potential for thousands of new homes and jobs, new schools, and commercial, cultural, and community based opportunities in the area. And with Crossrail coming to nearby Abbey Wood in the next few years, Thamesmead will be just 11 minutes from Canary Wharf and 20 minutes from the City.
Peabody is uniquely placed to drive the comprehensive regeneration of the area over the next decade. In January we brought Thamesmead-based Gallions Housing Association into the Group, and have committed an initial £225m investment in Thamesmead. We will invest in existing homes and the public realm, develop new homes, create jobs and generate further investment through our partnership approach.
Southmere Lake, Thamesmead
There will be challenges ahead. The ownership structure and administrative history of the area is complex, the effects of which are still being felt today. Public transport networks and local amenities are not good enough, making it difficult for people locally. And the 1960s design and layout of some of south Thamesmead will need to be reimagined and upgraded.
With others we will be working to resolve all of these issues, but the potential benefits far outweigh the problems. A garden suburb in Thamesmead represents one of London’s major opportunity areas and will be one of the largest regeneration projects in the country.
One of Thamesmead's many canals
Work is already under way, and next month we will be announcing more detail on the Peabody Group structure in Thamesmead. Later this year we will also publish our own prospectus for the future of the area.
Watch this space!