Boosted by a new Crossrail station and a fresh, bold vision from housing charity Peabody, Thamesmead — the “Clockwork Orange” estate in south-east London — is getting a second chance to become the desirable place to live that its idealistic planners originally envisaged.
Thamesmead has been given Housing Zone status by the Mayor of London, meaning planning and infrastructure works will be fast-tracked. The masterplan will be completed in four phases starting early next year, and will generate badly needed local jobs.
Crossrail — the new Elizabeth line — will be the game changer, putting Thamesmead, via nearby Abbey Wood station, just 11 minutes from Canary Wharf, 18 minutes from Liverpool Street and 22 minutes from Tottenham Court Road.
One to watch:
HOMES FROM £155,000
Considered a largely bleak area, Thamesmead’s main draw has been its eye-catchingly low property prices. It is one of the few places in London where you can still buy a three-bedroom house for less than £300,000, while the average cost of a home in the area is £272,120, and property website Rightmove shows two-bedroom flats starting from £154,950.
Regeneration on this scale, and the knock-on effect from nearby Docklands, will almost certainly provide a big boost for local property prices.
Thamesmead was created in the Sixties on marshland that had been used as rifle ranges by old Woolwich Arsenal. The area’s name was chosen in a competition that had 565 entries. This was a Brave New World made up of high-rise flats and low-rise blocks of family homes intended to help solve the capital’s housing shortage. But it was a design nightmare.
Lakes and canals, which well-meaning architects believed would have a calming effect, reduce crime and vandalism and help an area prone to flooding, were part of the design, but were difficult to maintain and clean.
The area was also isolated, with no shops, not even a bank, and crucially with no public transport. The project became a significant failure.
Ominously, Thamesmead was used as a location for the 1971 dystopian crime film A Clockwork Orange, Stanley Kubrick’s depiction of an alienated gang of bowler-hatted, baseball bat-wielding thugs taking over an estate.
THE NEW VISION
Peabody’s plan now seeks to address the problems of the past by designing and building a mix of 1,500 new homes, a high street with a variety of shops, cafés, landscaped gardens, attractive public areas and, essentially, a library, nursery and gym alongside the water.
Pedestrians and cyclists will have improved routes to the Abbey Wood Elizabeth line station.
In a reinterpretation of traditional 19th-century Peabody estates, clusters of flats will be grouped around raised shared courtyards, creating smaller communities within the larger whole.
The tall towers had already been vacated and demolished as part of a previous plan that went nowhere. A sequence of streets and lakeside squares will replace them, one with a water clock tower and a shopping arcade.
Homes will range from one-bedroom flats to four-bedroom houses and 45 per cent will be “affordable”, either for rent or shared ownership.
The wider area has about 40,000 existing residents, and though bleak it has plenty of green space, protected wildlife habitats, 30,000 trees, four miles of waterways and five lakes. Ofsted rates all schools in the area “good” or “outstanding”.
Apart from the Elizabeth line boost, the district will almost certainly benefit from regeneration spreading along the riverbank from Docklands, Greenwich and Woolwich. New river crossings in this part of London are planned, too.
The bold who buy now could reap rewards later, as nearby Woolwich has shown. Riverside penthouses there now cost up to £2 million.
- Visit Peabody to register and find out more.