Deptford's rise: swish new riverside homes and a flagship Waitrose
* A new village of 980 homes will be built by 2014 at Deptford Creek overlooking the Thames.
* A flagship Waitrose will be opening at New Capital Quay between Deptford and Greenwich.
* Deptford train station and its surroundings are benefiting from a £42 million mixed-used development with 121 apartments and three town houses. Derelict arches are being transformed into workspaces and shops are being renovated.
* A riverside plaza, featuring an art gallery, museum, crêche, design studios, bars and resturants, will be opening at New Capital Quay.
* We find out what the Deptford locals think about the developments
Deptford is having a Waitrose moment. The middle-class retailer is moving in to offer quails eggs and stylish party canapés where once only jellied eels and jerk chicken found a market. The store’s customers — mostly new arrivals to south-east London — will be able to introduce their neighbours to other Waitrose joys, such as free glass and cutlery hire for dinner parties and those tasteful voile window blinds sold in its new homeware departments.
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And there are plenty of windows that will need covering with a new village of 980 homes being built at Deptford Creek overlooking the Thames. This is where Waitrose will open its store, at New Capital Quay, after doing its homework. The company has concluded that Deptford will offer it “ABC1” customers of the sort it already serves in Belgravia, Bloomsbury, Marylebone and Canary Wharf, Blackheath and the prosperous end of Greenwich.
If the food it sells isn’t enough of a hint as to how Waitrose expects its customers to live, the Deptford store will also offer designer furniture and homeware. And if your style palette is still faltering, its sister company, John Lewis, will show you how to put it all together in the showflats at New Capital Quay.
Galliard, the developer of the scheme, is more than content with the flagship Waitrose store being built at a former dock basin near the Cutty Sark, forging a much-needed link between Deptford and smarter Greenwich.
The peninsula site occupies a commanding position on a bend of the river and has huge historical significance. Deptford is dripping in history. In 1513 Henry VIII built his first and most important royal dockyard here; it’s where Tudor ships Mary Rose and Golden Hind were constructed and where diarist Samuel Pepys worked as clerk to the Navy Board; where Queen Elizabeth I knighted Sir Francis Drake and where Tsar Peter the Great of Russia spent three months learning the art of shipbuilding in 1698. Later the dockyard was acquired by the East India Company, then by the General Steam Navigation Company, which ran passenger and cargo ships to the Med.
New Capital Quay: duplex penthouses and flats
Stand on the riverfront and the domes of Greenwich’s Old Royal Naval College and the shiny skyscrapers of Canary Wharf are in full view. Surrounded by water on three sides, New Capital Quay has 11 blocks, including a curving 14-storey tower with duplex penthouses featuring glazed winter gardens. A tree-lined boulevard leading to a riverside plaza will create a new view of the Thames, and the complex will have an art gallery, museum, crêche, design studios, bars and restaurants. Completion is a year off. Prices from £295,000. Call 020 7620 1500.
Galliard’s David Galman calls it a “new Butler’s Wharf”, a reference to the fashionable Shad Thames quarter by Tower Bridge. Having slipped off the radar when the old commercial docks closed in the Sixties, the area was rediscovered a decade or so ago when developers targeted Creekside, a hidden industrial waterway running into the Thames. By this time, many of the old warehouses had been colonised by artists and craftworkers, giving Deptford a rough-and-tumble creativity builders were quick to latch on to.
The Goldsmith's legacy
Deptford was where the Brit Art Movement was born, powered by Goldsmiths College students Damien Hirst and Sarah Lucas. The legacy is a vibrant arts scene, with more artists per square mile than anywhere else in London.
Laban contemporary dance centre, an eyecatching building designed by Tate Modern architects Herzog & de Meuron, gave Deptford an image boost. Listed Mumfords Mill has been split into loft apartments, while the old Seagar gin distillery is being redeveloped. Cockpit Arts, based at Creekside, lets studios and incubator units to artists and design companies. Alliances are being formed between local galleries, Laban, Goldsmiths College, Albany Theatre, Trinity College of Music and the Blackheath Conservatoire.
“People talk about Deptford being the next Shoreditch but locals are cynical about that,” says gallery owner Julia Alvarez, whose current show is “Soda-stream, a group exhibition of artistic hooliganism and bad taste”.
An ex-Goldsmiths student, Alvarez set up her first space in a closed-down pub in order to show her friends’ work. It took off, so she opened Bearspace Gallery on the high street. One of her initiatives is the South London Art Map, which lists all the area’s galleries and events and co-ordinates cycle tours of the venues. She is also involved in Deptford X, a yearly arts festival that brings the area’s creatives together. “We’ve seen big changes during the last 10 years but the sense of community is as strong as ever. It’s a diverse and multi-ethnic place but not them-and-us,” she says.
Deptford High Street: £42 million investment
So gentrification is taking a different form and Deptford is clinging on to its unpretentious inner-city character. But for how long?
Lawrence Bent of estate agent New London says Deptford is now attracting white-collar business consultants and media-industry freelances from east and west London. Among the buyers at a scheme of live-work spaces at 124 Deptford High Street are a Covent Garden opera singer and a musician with the London Symphony Orchestra.
The lively high street is one of the few in London not to be cloned by familiar brands. The railway station — London’s oldest — and its immediate surroundings are benefiting from a £42 million mixed-use development with 121 apartments and three townhouses. Derelict arches are being brought back to life as workspaces for creatives, traditional shopfronts and a historic carriage ramp are being restored, and a new public piazza is being created. For more information, visitcathedralgroup.com.
The journey time to London Bridge station, the City’s main commuter hub, is just six minutes. Estate agents predict a new wave of buyers working at the Shard. The eventual aim is to unite the high street with the riverfront by providing a pedestrian flow across Evelyn Street to Deptford Strand.
Until recently, this pocket looked much the same as 30 years ago — a neglected, post-docks waterfront of derelict wharves and sheds blocking off access to the Thames.
Few people have seen the awesome façade of listed Paynes Wharf, built in 1860 for the manufacture of marine boilers which were loaded on to ships through magnificent Italianate arches. The site is being redeveloped into 247 homes, with most of the original wharf earmarked as an exhibition and commercial space. Prices from £250,000. Call 020 7087 5000. A primary school and sailing club butt up against the development, bringing a sense of neighbourhood, while the once-notorious Pepys council estate is a less-threatening presence, though an unlikely address for Ocado deliveries.
Here's what Deptford says:
“Deptford and Greenwich have faced away from each other for too long. They need to come together otherwise Greenwich risks tourist-trap stagnation and Deptford risks losing its down-to-earth character.” Darryl, local resident
“People tend to think gentrification is an inevitable force of nature, like gravity, but it’s not. I really like Deptford, even with the lowlights. I’m astonished by the pace of development and concerned about gentrification excluding certain groups.” Laura Crampsie, theatre producer
“No doubt Waitrose will be popular and busy but it will mainly attract people from Greenwich.” Richard Elliott, local resident
“I’m ambivalent about having a Waitrose nearby; I’ll still do most of my shopping in the high street because it’s convenient, fun and cheaper.” Deptford Dame, blogger
“Deptford’s rough around the edges but has bags of character and is hip and funky. I wouldn’t want that element of individuality to slip away.” Paul Wright, local resident
“When estate agents talk about ‘up and coming’, it’s shorthand for over-priced gentrification. We don’t want a place where rents sky-rocket and local businesses can’t survive.” Local trader
“The high street could do with a fresh lick of paint. The worst offenders for ripping out original features and using garish colour combinations are the chain pawnbrokers, money lenders and bookies. Waitrose will probably be more sensitive than they are.” Danielle Clare, local resident
“Deptford is a hotbed of creativity and a slice of real life, I wouldn’t want to lose that.” Julia Alvarez, gallery owner