Crossrail puts Abbey Wood on the regeneration fast track with two new housing zones

Regeneration plans are underway in Abbey Wood, in preparation for Crossrail's arrival in 2018 - bringing 12 fast trains an hour to central London. It's no wonder buyers are snapping up the good-value period houses near the station...
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When Crossrail opens in December 2018, Abbey Wood will have up to 12 fast trains an hour, taking commuters into central London in just 25 minutes and to Heathrow in 51 minutes. 

The prospect has sent the district into a spin with a raft of regeneration plans. Mayor Boris Johnson has promised an £80 million financial package for two new housing zones. The two governing councils, Greenwich and Bexley, are working with housing association Peabody to launch 3,000 new homes to be built over the next 10 years, many of which will be “affordable”.

Abbey Wood takes its name from Lesnes Abbey Woods that once belonged to the monks of Lesnes Abbey, founded in 1178, and lies 13 miles south-east of central London with Woolwich to the west, Thamesmead and the Thames to the north, Erith to the east and Welling to the south. 

It has rows of Victorian terrace houses, Thirties semis and more modern two- and three-bedroom houses. It is also home to Thamesmead South, the love-it-or-loathe-it brutalist estate of tower blocks and maisonettes built around a large lake that became the dystopian home of nihilistic Alex and his droogs in Stanley Kubrick’s controversial film from 1971, A Clockwork Orange. 

Parts of the estate close to the lake have now been demolished and  Peabody housing association is consulting residents on the future of the other blocks. Nothing has been ruled in or out at this stage, although Peabody hopes to create a new shopping street along bleak Harrow Manor Way and a new lateral park through the estate connecting Lesnes Abbey Woods with Crossness on the Thames.


What there is to buy in Abbey Wood
Abbey Wood has a mix of homes, from the popular Victorian terrace houses in the grid of streets south of the train station — on the site of a former Co-operative farm and known locally as the Co-op Estate — to semi-detached Thirties houses further south of the town centre, which estate agents now call Upper Abbey Wood.

There are also modern former council terrace houses in the area north of the train station and west of Harrow Manor Way, to modern flats in gated developments near the station.
Donna Dillon, at work in The Birchwood pub

Postcode: The Abbey Wood postcode is SE2, which includes South Thamesmead.

Best roads: Glenview in Upper Abbey Wood and anywhere in the Co-op Estate, as well as the roads radiating off McLeod Road. 

Up-and-coming areas: Upper Abbey Wood is now undervalued, with the three-bedroom, semi-detached family houses now the same price as a three-bedroom Victorian terrace house in the Co-op Estate.

What’s new
Cross Quarter ( is a mixed-use development north of Abbey Wood station in Harrow Manor Way. The first phase includes a large new branch of Sainsbury’s opening at the end of July, 32 flats that are all now sold, space for a library and coffee shop and a new public square. 

The next phase has planning permission for 190 flats, space for start-up businesses and a children’s nursery. However, the new owners Peabody are likely to put in a fresh planning application.

All of Abbey Wood’s primary schools are rated “good” or better by Ofsted. The one school rated “outstanding” is Bedonwell Infant & Nursery in Bedonwell Road (the Junior school is rated “good”). The best performing comprehensive schools at GCSE stage are St Paul’s Academy RC (co-ed, ages 11 to 16) in Finchale Road and Woolwich Polytechnic (boys, ages 11 to 18) in Hutchins Road.

There are two high-performing grammar schools in Bexley — Bexley Grammar (co-ed, ages 11 to 18) in Danson Lane and Townley Grammar (girls, ages 11 to 18) in Townley Road, Bexleyheath. 


@joertmclark The ancient ruins of Lesnes Abbey are a must-see. Good sense of community thanks to events at the Crafty Café

@joertmclark The Birchwood pub is another good place

@joertmclark ... and Abbey Arms beer garden

@RebeccaErol Lesnes Abbey woods + rare wild daffodils, few places left in UK where they’re found

@RebeccaErol Lesnes Abbey + fossil pit, Bostall Woods + bowling green, Southmere Lake + water sports

@BenCBrooks Can’t beat a walk around the beautiful Lesnes Abbey, founded in 1178. And there’s a new Sainsbury’s


Who will link Abbey Wood with the party island of Ibiza this summer?

Three things about Abbey Wood:
How did a pupil from St Paul’s Academy (formerly School) make his way to Ibiza?
Rap artist Tinie Tempah was a pupil at St Paul’s in Abbey Wood after his parents moved to Plumstead from the Aylesbury Estate, Walworth. This year, Tempah is playing in Ibiza at the Tinie Tempah Pool Party every Friday from June 30 to September 8 at the Hard Rock Hotel.

Who built an abbey as an act of penance for a murder in a cathedral?
Richard de Luci (1089 –1179), chief justiciar of England, built Lesnes Abbey in 1178. He was a supporter of Henry II in his dispute with Thomas Becket that led to his murder in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170. Richard de Luci resigned as justiciar in 1179, and it is thought that he built the abbey as an act of penance for the murder of Becket. He lived the last months of his life at the abbey and was buried in the chapter house.

Where can sharks’ teeth and seashells be found in two kilos of earth?
Lesnes Abbey Woods contains many fossils from the Eocene epoch about 54.5 million years ago. The public is allowed to remove up to two kilos from the site, which might contain seashells and sharks’ teeth from the period.

Photographs by Daniel Lynch

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