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The inward investment magazine for the London Borough of Bexley

Prime prospect Gateway to London, the south-east and the continent, Bexley is in pole position to exploit markets in the UK and beyond

Manufacturing powerhouse From undersea cables to Caterham Cars, manufacturing is in Bexley’s industrial DNA

Trusted experts and partners in mixed tenure housing and development services Wates Living Space is dedicated to developing and maintaining mixed tenure housing. A national business with a local approach, we work in partnership to deliver effective and innovative solutions to your construction and development requirements. A personalised approach, we pride ourselves on our flexibility in responding to our clients’ evolving needs. Our close and ongoing involvement with UKCG, Business in the Community and CIH help us tailor these services to the ever changing housing and maintenance landscape.

And, for every ÂŁ1 we spend on our projects, 70p is reinvested back into the local economies in which we work.

Find out why our clients want to work with us again and again . . .

Above all, it’s about people

Bexley for Business is an initiative designed to promote the London Borough of Bexley and support inward investment. We have a team available to support all types of inward investment projects from inception to delivery. Call us now on 020 3045 4312 or visit our website


Editorial director Siobhán Crozier Head of design Rachael Schofield Art direction Katrin Smejkal Freelance editor Sarah Herbert Reporter James Wood Production assistant Joe Davies Director Paul Gussar Business development manager Rory Kettles Office manager Sue Mapara Subscriptions manager Simon Maxwell Managing director Toby Fox Cover Image The Belvedere Cob in Bexley’s industrial heartland, by sculptor Andy Scott, photographed by Michael Cockerham Images Michael Cockerham Photography, David Tothill, Bexley College, Crossrail Ltd, First Step Trust, Development Securities plc, Redrow Homes (South East), Caterham Cars, Alan Camp Architects, Simon Kennedy, Robinson Jackson, Dan Eycott Media, Steve Hickey Printed by Bishops Printers Published by 3Fox International Ltd 375 Kennington Lane London SE11 5QY 020 7978 6840 London Borough of Bexley Bexley Civic Offices, Broadway, Bexleyheath, Kent DA6 7LB Subscriptions and feedback © 3Fox International Limited 2014. All material is strictly copyright and all rights are reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without the written permission of 3Fox International Limited is strictly forbidden. The greatest care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of information in this magazine at time of going to press, but we accept no responsibility for omissions or errors. The views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of 3Fox International Limited.




A summary of stories on regeneration and economic development in Bexley.

Fast facts and figures about the London Borough of Bexley.



Bexley is within a sub-region which is at the economic heart of the UK, drawing businesses to relocate to the borough. We look at the appeal for investors.

Leaders driving regeneration in the borough discuss what companies in Bexley are doing to develop workforce skills – and what they think can be done to create opportunities to make it an even stronger location for business.

MANUFACTURING Bexley’s reputation for manufacturing is flourishing. B4B investigates the borough’s readiness for growth.

MAP AND PROJECTS What’s going up – and where.

TOWN CENTRES Regeneration projects delivering change in Bexley’s town centres.

HOUSING Bexley boasts some of the lowest property values in London. What are the advantages of the borough for people to looking to settle here? We look at residential options in some of the most popular areas.

SITEMATCH We look at a prime opportunity site available in the borough.



Bexley residents are happier! A league table published by the Office of National Statistics to determine in which areas residents are happiest has named Bexley as the second highest for “overall life satisfaction”. In a 2012 residents’ survey by the London Borough of Bexley, 74% recommended Bexley as a good place to live. The number of Bexley residents saying they were satisfied with the council rose from 51% in 2008 to 66% in 2012.

Council HQ to open in spring

Work is under way on a plan to support economic development and regeneration across Bexley and will be published this year. The London Borough of Bexley is working with Regeneris Consulting to produce an economic plan and a number of events have taken place, as part of the council’s aim to listen to and understand the needs of the business community. More than 150 business people, developers and investors visited Bexley in summer 2013 to hear about the council’s plan at the Thames Innovation Centre (TIC). The event also saw the launch of the borough’s Bexley for Business inward investment campaign, which aims to raise the profile of the borough. Kit Malthouse, deputy mayor for business and enterprise, spoke about the increasing importance of outer London businesses to the capital’s economy and in providing job opportunities. “We want to try to help small and medium-sized enterprises access finance, find premises and access

business support, helping them to increase exports. “We need to attract hi-tech, quality businesses to London and particularly places like Bexley. “By working our strategies together, we should be able to attract a wide range of occupiers.” The day also saw an announcement by London & Partners, the London mayor’s promotional organisation, about a collaborative project with the TIC and the London Borough of Bexley. The TIC will provide free office space and facilities for overseas businesses looking to establish themselves in London, to help them make a smooth transition into the capital. The East London Touchdown Centre at the TIC is the fourth site in a network of touchdown zones across the capital. Among those attending were representatives of Asda and, who used the TIC to recruit for their operations in Belvedere and Erith.

The refurbished former Woolwich Building Society’s head office in Bexleyheath is nearing completion and will become the council’s new base from this summer. Bellway Homes is developing a site at the rear of the building for the construction of 126 homes. Of the 48 houses and 78 apartments being built, 27 will be offered for shared ownership. The regeneration project is part of the council’s Bexley First programme, which will see staff from four sites move to the new headquarters, saving more than £1.5 million a year. Bexley First is also paving the way for the construction of new housing in Welling and Slade Green, as well as funding improvements to local schools. The design of the council HQ building incorporates environmentally friendly features and is being delivered by main contractor Mace – builder of The Shard. The former civic offices site will be redeveloped into a mixed-use scheme, with a Tesco store, shops, restaurants, community space and public realm. Bexleyheath town centre won the Excellence in Walking and Public Realm category in the London Transport Awards in March.




A new Bexley College campus is set to welcome students in September 2014, spearheading the regeneration of Erith. Having received planning consent from the London Borough of Bexley, the college will vacate its Tower Road site and move to the purpose-built campus at the end of this academic year. Approval was also given for the Tower Road site to be redeveloped as housing. The new college has been designed to provide modern facilities, which will help to equip students with relevant skills and qualifications for the jobs market. Principal of Bexley College, Danny Ridgeway, said: “The college is a vital part of Bexley, providing high quality education and training for more than 3,000 students.” Councillor Linda Bailey, the council’s cabinet member for economic development and regeneration, said: “The new college will provide a kickstart to the regeneration of the town centre.”

Bexley is in the top quarter of all local authority areas in England as a business location, according to analysis by the Local Futures economic consultancy. “Bexley ranks 87th out of 325 on our overall Business Location Index, scoring relatively well by national standards,” said John Fisher, director of Local Futures. He cited the factors which contribute to this performance: “Bexley is a large and productive local economy, with a high GVA per head. “However, some of its key strengths relate to environment and infrastructure, where it ranks fifth out of all English local authority areas, performing especially well on connectivity, and its large and growing stock of commercial and industrial floorspace.”

£1.8m for Sidcup Entrepreneurs and startups in Sidcup are benefiting from a £1.8 million cash injection designed to support the acceleration of growth in the town centre. A bid to the mayor’s Outer London Fund was approved in 2012. Together with match funding from the London Borough of Bexley, this provides Sidcup town centre with £1.8 million of investment over two years. The investment is being delivered through the In Store for Sidcup programme, which includes grant funding for startups and entrepreneurs, as well as businesses wanting to expand and locate in Sidcup. Other benefits include free business advice, public realm investment and marketing campaigns. Between July and October 2013, the council ran a test phase for a shared incubator space with the project’s headquarters being turned into the Box Shop, a retail hub to grow businesses, with space for workshops and events. Independent traders which received support sold goods including clothing, stationery and children’s accessories. Following the successful pilot, the project has opened a new venture, Sidcup & Co, which will act as a business startup base and provide space for events.


DRIVING AMBITION Racing driver, broadcaster and star of TV programme Fifth Gear, Vicki ButlerHenderson, has launched a social enterprise initiative at a Crayford garage. The “SMaRT” garage service was set up by the First Step Trust (FST) charity and offers job opportunities for people coping with mental health issues and other challenges. Private and corporate customers will benefit from professional services including MOT testing and vehicle repairs at the site. Butler-Henderson said: “I am delighted to lend my support to SMaRT. It’s fantastic to see business being used for such positive effect and helping people overcome disadvantage and realise their ambitions. Everyone should be given a chance to succeed.”

The TV star also launched the charity’s ‘Driving Ambition’ incentive, which offers unemployed people the chance to obtain a full driving licence. The charity’s chief executive, Ronnie Wilson MBE, said: “First Step Trust is about giving people the chance to deal with the pressures, responsibilities and obligations of ordinary working life. “The vast majority of people coming to us have been excluded from mainstream employment for many years – some have never had the chance to work. We believe business can be a positive vehicle for change. We also want to do our bit to contribute to the local economy by building up trade and using local suppliers wherever possible.” The leader of the London Borough of Bexley, Councillor Teresa O’Neill and other local politicians and business leaders were also present on the day.

FUNDING FOR ERITH PARK Funding from the mayor of London worth £6.7 million has been secured for the second phase of the £120 million regeneration scheme at Erith Park. The housing development, which is one of the largest in London, is being delivered in a partnership between the London Borough of Bexley, Wates Living Space and Orbit South. The scheme will see seven tower blocks demolished and replaced with more than 550 low-rise homes, with the capacity to house around 3,000 people. Work at Erith Park started in April 2013, with the first homes set to be ready for residents to move by late 2014. These will include a mix of homes for affordable rent, private market sale and low cost home ownership. Councillor Linda Bailey, Bexley’s cabinet member for economic development and regeneration, said: “I am delighted with the mayor’s announcement on funding for Phase 2 of Erith Park. The council has worked hard on Phase 1 to support Orbit’s plans for the regeneration of the area – providing attractive, modern homes, which meet London Design Guide standards, with a high proportion of familysized houses for our residents.” Phase 2 of Erith Park will start in 2015.

Erith Park Regeneration

The Story Continues‌

Together with Before local people and our partners, Orbit and Wates Living Space are transforming Erith Park from a dated tower block estate into an attractive new mixed tenure neighbourhood with aspirations to become the most sought after address in Erith.

This ÂŁ100m scheme will provide c. 550 high quality homes, housing around 3,000 local people.

We will be providing new and attractive green spaces for everyone to enjoy.

Residents are our active partners in this project, helping to shape our joint vision for the new neighbourhood.

The transformation of this strategic area of London will create 35 apprenticeships and dozens of long-term jobs.

For further information please visit or telephone the Orbit Erith Park Regeneration Team on 01322 338 192




At the gateway to London, Bexley is in pole position at the hub of a well-connected transport network, as an investment destination for any company planning to exploit the lucrative south-east and European markets. For this London borough, at the centre of a thriving and expanding sub-regional economy, with large tracts of land ready for development and available at competitive values, the opportunity for growth has arrived. Colin Marrs reports

In this internet age, some might believe that all business can be operated from the end of a fibre optic cable, anywhere in the world. But 21st century firms are still located in broadly the same places as in the 20th – location, as the cliche reminds us, is still everything. And Bexley is a borough set to increasingly benefit from its key position as a gateway to London. With more than 7,000 businesses of all sizes located in the borough, it is clear that the private sector is already taking advantage of Bexley’s geographical location. Well-known names include Coca-Cola, Caterham Cars, Archer Daniels Midland and Stoneham. In addition to Bexley’s working-age population of 145,000, employers have access to a labour pool of millions more living in London and north Kent – including the UK’s highest concentration of technology and engineering graduates. Bexley’s proximity to central London is one of its greatest strengths, according to Chris Paddock, director at the Regeneris consultancy, which has been engaged by the London Borough of Bexley to help draw up an economic plan. Paddock says: “London is the number one destination in the UK for foreign direct investment, and Bexley is in a great position to benefit from that.”


Around 60% of Bexley’s residents work outside the borough, with commuters enjoying the benefits of living locally but working in central London. Paddock says that the top locations for commuting are Southwark, Westminster, the City and Tower Hamlets. Businesses have easy access to central London clients with the benefit of lower property costs. And Bexley is set to cement its connections to the centre of the capital when the east-west rail line – Crossrail – arrives on the borough boundary in 2018. Passengers will be able to travel direct from a brand new Abbey Wood station to Canary Wharf in 11 minutes, Tottenham Court Road in 23 minutes and Heathrow in 51 minutes. Property prices across the board are already rising on the back of the new line, with inward investment set to follow suit. Tiffany Lynch, transport team leader at the council lists an array of transport improvements currently in development. Although the bus network is reasonably comprehensive, negotiations are ongoing with Transport for London to fill gaps, including new routes linking residents in the south of Bexley to the new Crossrail station at Abbey Wood. Options, including a rapid bus transit system, are being considered, which would help unlock development sites by the Thames. The council is also working with Southeastern to promote rail links to connect the north and south of the borough, in addition to existing east-west services which connect Bexley to central London. The borough also benefits from its strategic position in relation to the major ports linking the UK to the continent – Ramsgate, Dover and the Eurotunnel terminus at Folkstone. Buy a can of Coca-Cola in London and the likelihood is that it will have been made at the firm’s manufacturing plant in Sidcup. While its Edmonton plant concentrates on plastic bottles, in Bexley Coca-Cola produces drinks in cans, supplying France and Belgium during periods of high demand. Supply chain operations director Trevor Newman, who previously worked north of the river, says: “There is more of a community feel in Sidcup. The majority of staff live within

five miles and it feels like a family business – people look out for each other.” Infrastructure services company FM Conway also sees strategic advantages in Bexley’s location. The firm is responsible for highways maintenance in several London boroughs, including Bexley, and in 2008 purchased a site around Conway Wharf on the River Thames, where it now imports around 300,000 tonnes of aggregates from Ireland each year to turn into asphalt. Maria Pratt, marketing manager, says: “The location, which employs around 100 staff, is great for us because of its proximity to London, the M25 and our other offices in Kent.” The M25 is also a key reason why packaging firm Musgrave Retail Partners located in the area. The firm provides frozen and fresh grocery products to the Londis chain across the south-east, from its warehouse distribution centre in Erith. General manager, Adam Bassant, says: “We distribute more than 9.5 million cases from the site each year by lorry, and the location is ideal for getting on to the main arterial roads.” In addition, Bexley is making the most of its proximity to the River Thames, undergoing a revival as an industrial route. The borough has eight wharves which are protected from non-industrial development, with some already brought back into use to receive and ship metals, aggregates and cooking oils. A spokesman for the Port of London Authority says: “We estimate that over 400 full-time equivalent jobs within Bexley flow from these port and river operations, with a total economic impact of almost £40 million to the local economy.” Lying close to Kent – which is dubbed the Garden of England – brings other advantages. Paddock says that the quality of life the area offers puts it at a competitive advantage with areas with a similar industrial history, north of the river. He says: “If you are an investor and you want to bring your business to an area, then you want to know it is a good place to live. Bexley is close to Kent, the coast and importantly, has very good schools.” With prices now rising in east London in the wake of some big public sector investments, including the 2012

Olympics, Paddock says that some of the best value development opportunities are now to be found south of the river: “London will keep growing and what happened north of the river 10 years ago is now happening here.” For many years, Bexley has hidden its light under a bushel. But large-scale economic events are ensuring that it can hide no longer. The value of the pound will only increase exports to the continent, and property prices elsewhere in the capital ensure that the area provides ample growth prospects. The arrival of Crossrail will put Bexley on the fast track to increasing prosperity.

Right Bexley’s excellent road network, close to the M25 and M20.

Below The new Crossrail station at Abbey Wood will be on Bexley’s border with neighbouring Greenwich.


On the doorstep Bluewater Bluewater shopping mall provides hundreds of shops, 40 cafes and restaurants and a 13-screen cinema. Located on a 97-ha former chalk quarry near Dartford, Bluewater is the fourth largest shopping centre in the UK.

Bexley is close to Kent, the coast and importantly, has very good schools

Top Bexley’s eight wharves are currently undergoing a revival.

Above New residential developments south of the River Thames in Bexley offer good value.

Cross Quarter development The area around Abbey Wood Crossrail station is set to be transformed after the Royal Borough of Greenwich approved an £85 million regeneration scheme earlier this year. Cross Quarter will comprise 216 homes, a 100-bed hotel, nursery, public square and a Sainsbury’s supermarket. Developers Berkshire Investment Capital and Development Securities say plans will generate £125 million for the community and provide 500 full and part-time jobs. Ebbsfleet Valley Plans for a new town, designed as a series of villages, on former industrial land near Ebbsfleet are coming to fruition. Cash from the government towards infrastructure enabled work to start on the 269-ha Eastern Quarry site, which will see 6,250 homes, three primary schools, a secondary school and health facilities, along with new businesses. Developer Land Securities is investing more than £100 million. Ward Homes has started work at its Castle Hill development. Paramount London London Resort Company Holdings is preparing a planning application for an entertainment destination at Swanscombe near Dartford, with attractions based around Paramount Pictures’ films. A 1,500-bed hotel, 150 food outlets and 10,000sq m of retail space will cater for more than 26,000 guests on peak days. The facility could employ more than 7,000 staff.

DELIVERING A BETTER BEXLEY FM CONWAY IS WORKING TO IMPROVE ROADS AND REVITALISE PUBLIC SPACES ACROSS THE BOROUGH Well maintained roads, footways and attractive public areas form the heart of a thriving Bexley. That’s why we’re working in partnership with the London Borough of Bexley to ensure essential infrastructure meets the needs of local people and businesses.

From making improvements in Bexley Broadway through to delivering essential works on Welling High Street, we deliver high-quality projects while keeping the impact in the neighbourhoods where we work to a minimum.

To find out more about our work in Bexley,

please call 020 8636 8822 or visit:

B4B MANUFACTURING Texcel Technology’s Bexley plant develops advanced electronic assemblies for industry, including rail, water, military and aerospace.

BUSINESS CLASS Bexley is a wellestablished producer borough, with good connectivity giving access to markets in London, the south-east and Europe. Combined with low land values, this attracts manufacturers in food processing, hi-tech and advanced engineering. So how good is Bexley for business? Paul Coleman asks one manufacturer who relocated here


Texcel Technology staff are eating lunch on their secure roof, enjoying a view of the QE2 Bridge at Dartford Crossing on a bright sunny day. “There’s a surreal moment when big ships emerge from behind tower blocks as they come up the Thames,” says Peter Shawyer, director of Texcel Technology. Shawyer recalls how the council encouraged Texcel Technology – the specialist designer and manufacturer of advanced electronic assemblies – to locate in the south-east London borough. Exporting to California and Europe – and serving a wide UK customer base – Texcel furthers Bexley’s manufacturing tradition and contributes significantly to the local economy. Shawyer’s experience is of the council actively promoting the borough as a location for manufacturing businesses – including a growing sector of food makers and processors. “I like Bexley’s partnership approach with businesses,” says Shawyer. “The council facilitates networking so we get a chance to meet directors of businesses in other sectors. The council listens to us and addresses problems.” Shawyer says that, 15 years ago, the London Borough of Bexley greeted an expanding Texcel with open arms. “The council’s welcome was like a breath of fresh air,” recalls Shawyer. Expanding considerably, Texcel had outgrown its former home in another borough. Planning permission for a larger building on the original site was achieved – grudgingly, he thinks – only on appeal. So, Shawyer and his colleagues sold up and moved to Bexley. Shawyer met a commercial estate agent while picking up his children from ballet classes, who said she’d keep an eye out for suitable premises. Later, the agent showed him a photo of a derelict building with boarded-up windows. Shawyer decided to take a look for himself. The last occupier had manufactured missile casings and tips for international air forces. “I saw a bit of wood had been pulled off a window,” he says. “So I climbed in and tripped over a rough sleeper. ‘Sorry, mate. Mind if I wander around?’” Shawyer saw the building’s great

potential. The council helpfully resolved the site’s planning issues. “Bexley smoothed the way for us,” says Shawyer. “There weren’t any grants available but refreshingly, the council clearly wanted us in the borough.” Inside the renovated building, beneath its secure rooftop car park, heavy machinery sits on the upper reinforced concrete floors. Sufficient lower floor height allowed a half-mezzanine to be built too. The business sits near a main arterial road and while many customers deal with Texcel staff online on a daily basis, Shawyer says customers can easily reach the company either by public transport, or by car around the M25 nearby, for those vital first meetings. Delivery lorries and vans can get in and out of the area quickly too. Bexley companies also benefit from the A2 trunk road that links the borough to London and Dover. Twelve rail stations and 30 bus routes connect Bexley to other parts of London and the south-east. Many Texcel customers need low-tomedium volume supplies of hi-tech and top quality assemblies. “The majority of our customers are in south-east England – and they like knowing that Bexley is within easy reach,” says Shawyer. Some Texcel staff live nearby and walk to work, while others use the borough’s excellent transport connections to commute from Margate, Colchester and Brighton. “We have a lovely canteen,” says Shawyer. “But there’s a variety of shops up the road.” The only blip on the horizon is the possible long-term lack of supply of locally-based electronic engineers – a national problem, not confined to south-

east London. “We’ll need to get some younger blood eventually,” says Shawyer. Although Bexley has relatively low levels of worklessness, the council aims to tackle pockets of longer-term unemployment in the north of the borough. With large amounts of land ready for development, plus excellent connectivity to major markets, the council is working on its economic development plan, aiming to position Bexley as an investment location for big employers. In doing so, the council will fulfil the objective to create more jobs and stimulate growth in the local economy. Shawyer is confident in the knowledge that Bexley can accommodate Texcel’s future expansion. Bexley has available land for companies seeking purpose-built glass clad buildings with solar panels on the roof, so clean technology and food manufacturers can seriously consider it as a location to achieve their business goals. “Bexley is a really good place for us to be,” says Shawyer.


Cables, cars, colas, kitchens, oils . . . Bexley is home to a cluster of diverse manufacturers and allied businesses employing hundreds of people. Coca Cola: began production at Sidcup in 1961. With over 300 employees, Sidcup’s seven manufacturing lines produce Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Zero, Diet Coke, Dr Pepper, Sprite, Schweppes, Lilt and Fanta. The Sidcup plant fills 5,000 bottles and cans every minute – and includes the only UK site producing the sports performance Powerade drink. ADM Trading (UK): based at Erith, ADM Trading supplies edible oils and fats, including Frymax, Peerless and Wesson brands. The Erith Oil Works crushes and refines rapeseed, annually providing about 385,000 tons of refined rapeseed oil to biscuit, crisp, ice cream, margarine, soup and snack food manufacturers. Erith processes some one million tons per year at the UK’s biggest such facility, with much supplied to biofuel providers. Caterham Cars: the globally renowned specialist has manufactured its lightweight sports car, the Caterham Seven, at Crayford since 1987. The operation is producing Caterham’s newest performance road car – the carbon fibre-bodied AeroSeven Concept (below) that can reach 62.5mph in less than four seconds. Deliveries will begin in autumn 2014.

From Roman bricks to microchips

The Caterham Group, owned by airline entrepreneur Tony Fernandes CBE, comprises businesses in automotive, motorsport and specialist technology and engineering. Ferndale Foods: the Erith-based company has a history of supplying major retailers, airlines and food outlets – Tesco took over 43 million cocktail sausages in just one month! Stoneham Kitchens: skilled craftsmen manufacture stylish, traditional and modern bespoke kitchens at Stoneham’s 6,000sq m factory at Footscray in Sidcup. The family-owned business has been in production for 150 years – and its customers include the Royal family. Batt Cables: founded in 1952, this UK distributor supplies electrical, fibre optic and fire performance cables and accessories. UK and international customers include oil, gas, marine, construction, energy and telecommunications companies. Centred at its Erith head office and ‘superhub’, it employs 200 people across eight UK stock locations.

Bexley’s hi-tech, 21st-century companies maintain the area’s strong manufacturing history. Romans made bricks using Cray and East Wickham valley clays. Brickmaking kilns dotted the landscape from the 16th century. Hundreds extracted gravel and loam from Erith pits. Charcoal burners, zinc refiners and straw hat and paper makers all operated locally. Handblock, impact and then screen fabric printers worked at Crayford for several centuries. Bookbinders, blacksmiths, wheelwrights, coachbuilders, saddlers and craftspeople making barrels, baskets and brooms employed thousands in the late 19th century. Brickmaking continued at Footscray and Longland. Erith on the Thames grew first as a 17th-century port and then as a 19th-century industrial centre, initially through extracted ballast for foundries. Crayford factories made aircraft, bottles, cars, guns, silk, sewing apparatus and machines to make paint and grind valves in the 20th century. Oil and wax blending began in 1928. Vickers’ Erith plant made machine tools and gas meters. While some of these industries updated processes and remained in Bexley, others settle alongside them.

Peabody is one of London’s oldest and largest housing associations and community regeneration charities. Our vision is to create thousands of new homes and jobs, driving the physical, social and economic regeneration of Thamesmead. We want you to be involved. The potential for Thamesmead Alongside our initial investment of £225m we’re looking to attract public and private investment to fuel comprehensive regeneration over the next 15 years. Gallions Housing Association and Trust Thamesmead Community Development Trust are joining the Peabody Group. This will bring together housing and community into a well-resourced organisation with a vision for the area. Crossrail will serve Abbey Wood from December 2018, halving journey times across the capital and linking Thamesmead to areas of growth across the city. This will provide jobs and economic opportunities within a few minutes travel for the current and future residents and businesses of Thamesmead. Artist’s impression of Southmere Village

Sporting Club Thamesmead

“Our vision for Thamesmead is to create thousands of new homes and jobs. We want you to be involved.” Aerial view of Thamesmead

Regeneration is under way Southmere Village A £55m 300-home project will deliver a new library, four new shops and a public square near Abbey Wood Station. Retrofitting A £60m upgrade to the 19 tower blocks in South Thamesmead. Education and community facilities Including the opening of a new primary school, a world-class youth centre and sports club. Parks and public spaces Making the most of Thamesmead’s green spaces, creating a new walking/cycling route to the Thames.

For further information about working with us contact Ellen Halstead in the Regeneration Team on 020 7021 4133 or One of Thamesmead’s many waterways


MAJOR PROJECTS With around 80 hectares of land ready for regeneration, Bexley is rich in development opportunities, and is already on investors’ radar. Home to the third largest industrial area in London, Bexley is a strong base for manufacturing with excellent connectivity to UK and European markets. From extensive housing redevelopment in Thamesmead to the well-connected industrial estates of Belvedere, schemes are under way or coming on stream around the borough – B4B highlights some on the following pages


Crayford Town Hall


Erith Park


Erith Western Gateway


Slade Green


Southmere Village




Veridion Park (see page 46)


Vickers Green



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R iver T hames







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Bexley borough boundary

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Railway lines

KENT Major roads


Town centres


Major green spaces

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SOUTHMERE VILLAGE, THAMESMEAD One of London’s housing estates is in line for radical transformation, now that a £200 million deal has been struck between Peabody and Gallions housing associations. Gallions became a subsidiary of Peabody – which has a history dating back to 1862 – in January 2014. The combined organisations will have a total stock of almost 27,000 homes. With a Crossrail station coming to Abbey Wood in 2018, central London will be readily accessible from Thamesmead, with journey times of just 23 minutes. The estate won design awards when it was built in the late 1960s, and was famously the setting for A Clockwork Orange, but had fallen into decline after its tower blocks, overhead walkways and facilities became dated and were magnets for antisocial behaviour. The Bexley part of the estate is the oldest, built in a cubist/brutalist style. Its combination of high-rise and low-rise flats were built above ground level to avoid flood water. The comprehensive regeneration of the former Tavey Bridge estate will result in around 800 homes and community facilities being built over the next decade. Now known as Southmere Village, this area will have new facilities including shops, a library and a health centre. Phase one, in 2007, saw two tower blocks refurbished, with 96 existing homes, the demolition of some empty properties and the health centre. Phase two in 2010 included the construction of 94

affordable homes for rent and 35 homes for outright sale. In the £55 million third phase 296 homes of different sizes will be built, for rent, shared ownership and private sale, as well as a library, shops, play areas, a multi-use sports pitch, boat club and enhancements to open parks and lakes, creating the foundations for a strong and sustainable community, in a safe environment. Demolition has started on-site. Plans for further regeneration have been set out in the South Thamesmead Regeneration Framework. The scheme includes community-led projects, building refurbishments, new-build projects and improvements to parks and streets. Nearly £3.5 million has been secured from the Heritage Lottery Fund to improve Lesnes Abbey Woods, providing a premier park for the local area. Work is also under way on environmental enhancements and improvements to visitor facilities at the Crossness Pumping Station, a Grade I-listed industrial site, built by Sir Joseph Bazalgette in 1865. The wildlife reserve, Tump 53, will be regenerated, with a £50,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund awarded to Wild about Thamesmead. Tump 53 is a former munitions testing site, which contains mixed woodland, a glade, and a pond, and is surrounded by a reed-fringed moat. Over 60 bird species have been spotted there, including kingfisher, willow warbler and redpoll. London Wildlife Trust will now work with local residents, Trust Thamesmead – the community development agency for the estate – and Gallions/ Peabody to open the green oasis up to local families, school groups and volunteers.



CRAYFORD TOWN HALL Central to the regeneration of Crayford is the transformation of the town hall and library into a mixeduse scheme of 188 new homes, a library, modern community facility, health centre and shops. When the two-phase project is completed, the new buildings will be arranged around a series of courtyards, with a square linking the library to shops and restaurants, and the ground floor of the existing 1915 town hall converted into a restaurant and fronting the new public space. The development incorporates sustainable features such as photovoltaic panels and a green roof. The landscaped square will feature a sculpture by international artist Andy Scott, funded by developer R&M Projects and Sainsbury’s. Phase one, was completed in autumn 2012 and comprises 144 homes run by Gallions Housing Association, the library and community centre with a terrace. Phase two includes a doctor’s surgery on the ground floor of the town hall (completing summer 2014), with 15 flats above (completed in December 2013), while a second block, also finishing in summer 2014, will have retail units on the ground floor and 29 flats above.



VICKERS GREEN The former site of the Samas Roneo/Vickers factory on Maiden Lane is being transformed by Barratt Homes into a residential development of 200 homes, called Vickers Green. Construction of the four-phase development began in 2011, while the final phase, just released for sale, will complete in June 2014. The two, three and four-bedroom houses, and one and two-bedroom flats, have been designed to be ecofriendly, while all houses (some with integral garages), and some flats, have allocated parking. Part of the development is the Europa Centre, a state-of-the-art, multi-sports facility which offers gymnastics, weightlifting and boxing clubs, as well as a range of community recreational and sports activities. Barratt London contributed over £1.85 million to the development of the centre. Some of the new homes will be available for sale through the FirstBuy equity loan scheme, in which firsttime buyers are lent up to 20% of the property value, by Barratt Homes and the government. Demolition of the factory, which occupied the site between 1888 and 1979, uncovered a historic Vickers mosaic, which has been preserved on-site in dedication to Crayford and its rich industrial heritage.


ERITH WESTERN GATEWAY Erith, on the banks of the Thames, is a major district centre in Bexley. The Erith Western Gateway is a 7.6-ha collection of sites in the west of the town centre where the council aims to promote housing and employment growth, along with additional services, infrastructure, and educational and leisure facilities, to create a sustainable and healthier community. As part of that initiative, Bexley College is building a new campus on the site of the old Walnut Tree Depot. On-site since September 2013, and due to complete in September 2014, the new building will include a learning resource centre and leading technology infrastructure. The release of the college’s existing site on Tower Road will enable the development of 192 units by Barratt Homes. The project will see £20 million of investment into Erith town centre, as well as development of a new pedestrian walkway into Erith station.





SLADE GREEN As part of the regeneration of Slade Green, the eighthectare site is being redeveloped to include residential, commercial and community uses, with the council offices on the site (formerly known as Howbury) relocated to a more central Bexley location. Redrow Homes has begun building the Ratio development of 372 homes, including two, three and four-bedroom family houses, with private gardens, along with apartments and communal open space. Phase one will be completed in December 2014. As part of the council’s £8.5 million investment in Slade Green, the plans also include community facilities for local clubs and organisations, and additional school places to meet demand. Eco Communities will run the community centre, which includes a large flexible hall, external multi-use games area and a community library with an IT suite. It is due to open in autumn 2014. Both schools on the site – Slade Green Infants and Juniors – will be refurbished and extended, creating two ‘all through’ primary schools, taking pupils from infants to junior school. Construction of the two schools is due to complete by September 2014 and will add nine new classrooms.

The £120 million regeneration of Erith Park, formerly known as the Larner Road estate, will establish a new community in one of the largest projects of its kind in London. Work started on-site in March 2013 and will take five years to complete. Broadway Malyan is the architect for Orbit South Housing Association’s scheme, which is being built by Wates Living Space. Erith Park will replace seven high-rise blocks with more than 550 family homes for around 3,000 people. The project will deliver a mix of houses and low-rise apartments for rent, private sale and low-cost home ownership, along with a new public open space. All the new homes will have either a private garden or spacious balcony. Five of the tower blocks have already been demolished. The first phase of the scheme proposes building 66 homes for sale, 82 for shared ownership and 195 for rent, to create a mixed community, with the first homes ready in late 2014. Some of those moving in will be residents of the old flats who decided to stay on. Orbit’s medium-density development maintains the overall number of homes on the previous estate, and the existing floor space of affordable housing, while building almost 40% three to four-bedroom houses with gardens. Open green space will be improved with the existing unused Dell area turned into a new ecology park. Around 350 tonnes of carbon emissions will be saved every year and water consumption reduced by over 40%. All of the homes will exceed Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4 and meet the London housing design standards. The 1960s Larner Road Estate had become rundown and unpopular, with high levels of antisocial behaviour. Plans were developed with input from local people, who took part in a design workshop run by CABE (the former Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, now Cabe at the Design Council), and helped to select project partners. Wates Living Space is running an education and training programme, while local artists have produced films, photographs and poems about the project.

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CENTRE STAGE Bexley’s town centres are undergoing improvement, through planned regeneration projects. James Wood reports

Aspirations in the London Borough of Bexley are changing, as people consider what a contemporary town centre should offer and how it should work. A programme by the local authority to attract more investment into the surrounding towns is delivering real results – helping to sustain the momentum of regeneration in the borough. Key to this is a strong retail core, which can be found in Bexley’s five distinctive town centres. Bexleyheath is home to the borough’s largest covered shopping centre and with an offer ranging from Boots to Bang and Olufsen. The specialist audio and video manufacturer has been based in the town since 1989, with the branch winning Retailer of the Year at the Bexley Business Awards in 2013. Paul Blake, dealer principal at Bang and Olufsen, agrees that while Bexleyheath might not be an obvious place for such a luxury brand, its ongoing success story suggests otherwise. “People want a real diverse shopping offer these days and I think Bexleyheath provides that,” he says.

“This is a strong community town and that allows us to have that massive retention of customers that is so important. Despite fewer numbers in the town than in other places where there are Bang and Olufsen stores, this branch performs beyond expectations.” Blake has noticed changes in Bexleyheath since funding of £3.5 million was secured from Transport for London (TfL), following the council’s conceptual masterplan for the town centre, detailing measures to improve the public realm, minimise disruption and increase community safety. New pavements, lighting and street furniture, as well as the installation of roundabouts, and a 20mph speed limit have contributed to this. “I’m pleased that the council has procured the TfL funding and it has made for a prettier, much-improved atmosphere throughout,” says Blake. Funding for designs for a further phase of improvements has now been granted by TfL. Now home to more than 60 major retail stores, the Broadway shopping


Left Investment has made a big difference to Erith, says council chief executive, Will Tuckley.

Right The In Store for Sidcup project engages with residents over plans for the town centre.

Below left Niche electronic products at Bang and Olufsen.

Bottom left Transport for London funding of £3.5 million has transformed Bexleyheath.

centre, along with a planned Tesco superstore on the former site of the council’s civic offices, present a wide choice for shoppers, with improvements helping to meet the expectations of current and future residents. Occupiers of the Broadway include an M&S department store, along with H&M, Monsoon, TK Maxx and Sainsbury’s. There is a town centre partnership, which brings businesses together and runs events. It also has a variety of nighttime entertainment, featuring a ninescreen cinema, tenpin bowling alley, and a range of restaurants, bars and pubs. Richard Thomas, who chairs the Bexleyheath BID, considers its support and promotion for the town centre to be a success. He says: “The Bexleyheath Business Partnership supports Bexleyheath town centre through marketing and events, which have resulted in increased footfall and spend in the town, making it a thriving and vibrant place for visitors, customers and employees alike.” The town also provides excellent connectivity to London and beyond.

Rail links from Bexleyheath station, which is a bus ride from the town centre, provide frequent services to Charing Cross and Victoria via Peckham Rye, and to Cannon Street. But Bexleyheath is not the only town in the borough to benefit from regeneration projects. Located just a little more than 11 miles from Charing Cross, Sidcup is attracting the eye of investors, homeseekers and businesses. This process is helped by the “In Store for Sidcup” project, funded by the council together with a successful bid for further investment through the mayor’s Outer London Fund, worth £1.8 million between 2012 and 2014. The project aims to attract new traders to vacant units, help new and existing businesses, and encourage greater footfall through a mixture of physical works and support. A new concept store offers flexible workspace for growing businesses, with grants and support given to help these companies’ operations. It opened in March 2014.

A 20-minute bus journey north is Erith, located next to the River Thames, where a significant amount of development has taken place in recent years, and a new college site is currently under construction. Further development is proposed, offering a mix of homes, employment, retail and leisure uses. These sorts of investments are a vital element in regeneration according to council chief executive, Will Tuckley. “We have seen a significant upturn in regeneration,” he says. “Crossrail is a significant boost for Bexley’s accessibility. Investment in the town centres is critical. We need to continue to build a case around growth and investment.” Excellent links to central London and an attractive public realm are visibly changing the London Borough of Bexley’s towns for the better. These factors help to distinguish Bexley as an excellent location for investors and new residents alike, offering commercial opportunities and good quality of life in one of the capital’s wellconnected and affordable places.


BEXLEY BY NUMBERS 41% less expensive to live in Bexley – average property price, all types:

Greater London £409,881 Bexley £242,956 Land Registry, January 2014

80ha of available commercial development land

100 parks

and open spaces totalling

638 hectares,

one of London’s greenest boroughs

Europe by road and rail – Eurotunnel is just over one hour away via the M20


manufacturers in Bexley – 3rd largest London area for manufacturing IDBR 2012


Bexley has


major retail logistics bases:, Aldi, Lidl and Asda London City Airport is only eight miles from central Bexley, Heathrow is 31 miles, Gatwick is 37 miles and Stansted 44 miles

twice as many food manufacturing businesses as the national level IDBR LQ 2012

From 2018 Crossrail from Abbey Wood to Canary Wharf

11 minutes and to the West End, just

23 minutes

Connections to central London stations: Victoria, Charing Cross, Cannon Street, London Bridge, Lewisham for Docklands Light Railway

Residential land values Bexley Small sites (<5 ha) Large sites (>5 ha) Sites for flats

£4,500,000 £4,250,000 £4,500,000

Inner London Small sites (<5 ha) Large sites (>5 ha) Sites for flats

£8,580,000 £6,560,000 £8,660,000

Outer London Small sites (<5 ha) Large sites (>5 ha) Sites for flats

£4,880,000 £4,540,000 £5,350,000

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LONDON CALLING With more sites ready for development than anywhere else in the capital, and its place as Londonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s third largest industrial zone, investors are seizing opportunities in Bexley. B4B tuned in on a round table discussion, where decision-makers, developers and business leaders took part in workshops to help map out Bexleyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new economic plan. Edited by Kirsty MacAulay


Above, from left to right: Derek Harris, Andy Pike, Daphne Clifton, Andy Rumfitt, Andy Fancy and Will Tuckley (back to camera). Right: Chris Paddock (left) and Will Tuckley.


AF Andy Fancy, regional managing director, Wates Living Space WT Will Tuckley, chief executive, London Borough of Bexley AP Andy Pike, director of riverside resource recovery, Cory Environmental DH Derek Harris, chairman, Thames Innovation Centre (TIC) DC Daphne Clifton, president, South East London Chamber of Commerce AR Andy Rumfitt, socio-economic adviser, Transport for London (TfL) CP Chris Paddock, director, Regeneris economic development consultancy

WT We’ve invited you here to consider the future of Bexley’s business base, and our discussion will inform the development of the borough’s new economic plan, which will be our blueprint to guide support for the economy and regeneration. We want to explore what our target sectors should be, how we should position ourselves to attract growth, understand the challenges and most importantly, how the borough and its partners can help to support business. DH Bexley should be looking at the strengths it has in certain sectors. Particularly within logistics, the food industry or environmental areas where we could build on what we have. WT Those areas where we’re strong at the moment, we are strong for particular reasons. They reflect the advantages we have as a comparatively cheap location in London. For relatively low value businesses needing quite a lot of land at low cost and a degree of accessibility not available in some locations – we can help. We’ve had aspirations in the past for changing our business base and actually, it’s unrealistic given our particular context – we could invest millions and not make much impact. Trying to add a bit more value and skill, trying to get more enterprise is absolutely right. We should play to our strengths. For a new business to decide to come here, it’s going to be because of the site and location. Proximity to logistics networks, roads and rail – it’s going to be a basket of items that make up the business decision to choose Bexley. What Bexley needs to do is really sell the availability of land and resources. CP Does that lend itself to any sectors that perhaps aren’t currently represented? AP I think it lends itself to any sector. Bexley is one of the outlying boroughs, but London is very well connected. We’re 30 minutes from central London, that’s no distance at all, you get people travelling

two hours and more each day just to get here. I think where we are based is a bit of a red herring. It’s more what is here that will attract business. It’s really what new investment we can get in and that comes down to specifics in terms of where sites are and the potential resources to make things happen. The population will move – if you build it, people will come. And that’s more prevalent in today’s society than maybe it was 10 or 20 years ago. From the perspective of a business decision, we will go where is best for the business and call people with the relevant skills and qualifications into the area to work for us. DH I think you are absolutely right. But as far as your aim of investment and your basket, which is a very big basket, it’s not just the site – you need to think about the workforce too. DC Maybe we should look at tourism? There are beautiful green spaces and the river. I’m from the West Country where all the new towns are starting to say ‘Gateway to Dartmoor’ or ‘Port for this’ and there must be something iconic about Bexley that brings people here. CP Attracting businesses and growing businesses is one part of a bigger strategy, which will include things like bringing a different population to live in the borough, that might be attracted by a better leisure offer. WT One of the reasons London has highlevel skills is due to migration. There is a disparity in terms of unemployment between the north and the south of Bexley, but the overall level of unemployment is quite low and part of our challenge has always been raising the aspirations of the population.


DC Education would be the key, if you’ve got people who are long-term unemployed? WT Our big issue is we generate a skilled workforce through our education system and then they leave the borough to go and live somewhere else. Our housing market is very homogeneous and if you do very well, you move to buy something that Bexley can’t provide. Opening up the north of the borough through transport and extending Crossrail to Bexley, would make a huge difference. Allowing a better housing mix in the north, and bringing in a different population, will also provide opportunities for the current population. There is big potential for housing-driven regeneration in the north. Through the recession there was virtually no interest in places like Erith, but within the last six months, we have seen a significant upturn in regeneration. Thamesmead is attracting hundreds of millions of pounds worth of investment and will provide more of a market for business based on the local population. I think there is an interesting question about London’s growth and how our businesses, and new ones, can both exist and benefit from that growth. DH I think it’s a money problem. You’re not going to make a huge impact on the economy with lots of startups. You’ve got to go for large companies for investment or relocation to make a really big impact. CP Bexley had the lowest rate of startups – of any borough – in 2011. How important is it that mechanisms and projects are put in place to support these people? WT It’s a cultural thing. I think it’s part of our demographic; the tradition is to work for somebody else not to set up on your own and changing that culture is difficult. It’s an extraordinary challenge. That will change with time and obviously we have to have the support mechanisms. But we are not going to become an engine of entrepreneurship overnight.

CP What about supporting existing businesses and creating the right conditions? Andy, you have said ‘if we build it they will come’ – is there something that needs to happen, in terms of infrastructure or sites, that isn’t happening at the moment? AP Take our site in the north of the borough, it’s a technologically advanced site for which we need skilled people. We’re in an industry with particular types of products, which you can’t put into a school’s profile. We’ve taken on a couple of apprentices recently and that’s really the way to train that sort of technician. A survey could be done, in terms of schools engaging with local businesses and finding out exactly what tools are needed from a workforce, so the kids get a view of local companies and what skills they need. WT I think that’s where we do have an advantage because we have businesses like Cory Environmental and a manufacturing sector, so young people can see things being made. There is a great facility in Sidcup where kids from Bexley can learn the value of engineering, maths and a technology based future. We have a significant proportion of manufacturing in the borough. I know there’s a lot of debate about the future of specialist manufacturing, with relatively small runs of things with a high design input but when production is in high quantities they tend to go overseas where labour is cheaper. I think we’ll see a return to apprenticeships (the council has had about 40 for the past four years). The beauty with apprentices is that they are coming from local schools – we can help local kids aspire and have a career. AF I find Bexley one of the easiest councils to deal with. Everyone said we’d never get planning for the Manor Road scheme. In terms of being professional, diligent and able to convert what is a bit of drawing on paper to getting planning consent – this has been our record speed in terms of getting something through.

That’s definitely a message you can sell, some councils are not equipped to deal with commercial enterprises. That’s part of why we are looking to do further work in Erith. I think you might be doing Bexley a disservice, just thinking in terms of how attractive it is. There are good networks, it’s easy to get to yet far enough out of London that it’s not that congested – and it’s right next to the M25. DC What does your business do? AF We’re a construction company and developer. One of the things we’re looking at is how we use our investment. People are looking and thinking; ‘Where can I put my money to make sure I can actually get a return?’ And with certain councils you


Right: Andy Fancy (left) and Will Tuckley. Below: Andy Pike (left), Daphne Clifton and Andy Rumfitt.

could have two or three years of delays. Bexley was super-efficient, according to my team we had troubleshooters within the council sorting out issues. We will probably spend £100 million in the borough within the next three years. So we are investing in skills and in local employment. We have got some business apprentices joining us now and we’re trying to use 20% local labour. WT The interesting thing is why people come here? People come from inner London for a better quality of life and for cheaper housing – to get on the property ladder. The quality of life and the fact that we’re very receptive to investment and really value development are very positive and we probably ought to shout about it a bit more.


CP Is there a network of business that can communicate on behalf of Bexley? If it’s coming from the business community it counts a bit more. AP There are networks within Bexley where businesses talk to each other, but the challenge is getting them to talk to businesses beyond Bexley.

Above: Will Tuckley and Andy Fancy (left).

DC The Chamber of Commerce has around 500 members across four London boroughs, comprising a lot of smaller businesses – and we’re trying to get the bigger businesses to come in. The Chamber of Commerce has a lot to offer in terms of communicating, albeit with smaller businesses, but getting the bigger businesses to join too.


Right: Andy Pike. Below: Derek Harris and Andy Pike.

AF One of the biggest issues for developers is that people are just not prepared to take a punt. You need someone open minded enough to accept a different way of doing things, because if you’re prepared to be more entrepreneurial as a council it can unlock other things. You’re actually sitting on some great land assets. WT One of our challenges is we’ve got a relatively small landholding by the council. The big sites have never been with the council. Peabody [housing association] are quite keen to build and they’ve brought together Tilfen Land and Trust Thamesmead and Gallions to make quite a powerful component.

AF They’ve visited Erith Park, they can’t understand how we’ve been able to get things through so quickly. There’s a bit of a groundswell of opinion. WT There are some players now with significant clout that will make a difference. AR On the pro-growth agenda, from a transport point of view, the more it looks like growth is coming, the easier it is to make a case for transport investment that increasingly is linked to development values. So regarding this, we can add all this in, this is where we would like to go,

which then justifies a bigger scheme that comes faster. Certainly in TfL there are boroughs who kind of get that, saying, “Let’s rethink how we do that,” so that it’s cross-land use or cross-working. And it’s much easier then to take schemes – or whatever you want to do – forward, because it all joins up. Who are we building this for? To deliver this number of houses and this number of businesses. Why are we doing it? Because we’re committed to doing it. WT Crossrail is a significant boost for Bexley’s accessibility, also, in terms of putting us on the map – but we do need to continue to build a case around growth and investment. CP And with regard to small businesses and what they might need in terms of support, which areas are under-provided at the moment? DH The TIC provides an ideal location for growing businesses. Funding has always been a problem, particularly for small startups. And the economic climate hasn’t helped, as there has been a great reduction in European grant funding. Things like training companies have just disappeared – it’s made quite a hole in the number of businesses we have. The problem at the moment is, you are not getting enough higher-value businesses in with the startups.


we are going to do and this is the support we need. Get involved.’ Because Waitrose is very much involved in investment in communities, it’s a big part of what they do. But if they don’t know there are needs, then they can’t help.

DC We don’t have many retail members who are members of the Chamber of Commerce, which is part of the challenge. WT We’ve just got Tesco to invest in Bexleyheath town centre and we’ve persuaded Waitrose to locate a Little Waitrose in Sidcup. We need that investment. AF Perhaps you should consider letting people know what is needed; ‘These are all the aspirations of Bexley. This is what

Above: Andy Rumfitt. Right: Daphne Clinton and Dale Thomson, economic development manager at the London Borough of Bexley.

WT We’ve got quite a large aging population for London. We obviously also have quite large numbers of young people. I’m not sure we do enough about equipping our population with skills to work in the care industry. It’s also an area that we can influence because we provide social care in all sorts of ways and because we will be managing the arrangements under the changes on how care is funded. In some sense, we can stimulate that market. And with many of these sectors we, as the public sector, don’t actually have that much direct influence, whereas with this, we probably have a bit more, so actually, we can help lead things in a beneficial direction economically. DC It all comes back to communication. What is really important, is telling the world how beautiful Bexley is. WT We need to build out from our strengths and we need to make sure those strengths are known beyond Bexley.

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Top The expansive Danson Park, the largest in the borough.

Left Regeneration is benefiting Erith.

Below left One of Danson Roadâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s modernist homes.

Below The transformed Larner Road estate is known as Erith Park.


With the likes of Roald Dahl and Kate Bush among the list of former Bexley residents, those who choose to put down roots in the borough today are rewarded for their creative thinking in the form of some of London’s lowest property values. Coupled with large areas of open space, good transport links and significant improvements afoot in the form of Crossrail, the borough’s housing market packs quite a punch. Lucy Purdy finds out what draws people to Bexley

Left High Street House in Bexley Village.

Fewer than 200 years ago, Bexleyheath hosted just a few isolated buildings and had a reputation as a haunt for highwaymen who targeted travellers on the Dover Road. Stagecoaches trundled their way along the main route from London to Canterbury but it was generally known as a wild, uninhabited place which was best left alone. With the coming of the railways though, what is now the London Borough of Bexley really began to take shape, swelling to become the thriving yet green and pleasant land we know today. Kevin Wooder, Bexleyheath branch manager of estate agent Robinson Jackson, calls Bexley a “unique proposition for property buyers”. “The borough offers a quick rail connection into central London, combined with wide open spaces and good schools. It’s a blend that has always proved popular with families and professionals, especially since we have four coveted grammar schools; excellent leisure facilities and places like the 75-hectare Danson Park. “Bexley borough is unique in that its property prices are attractive when compared to elsewhere in London. “People realise their budget will stretch further in Bexley – especially when you look at what the same money would buy them in south-west or northwest London.” This is especially true for first-time buyers. The firm markets some enviable entry-level flats in the region of £160,000 but Wooder says buyers can also easily find a three-bedroom, semi-detached house for £250,000 – a pot of cash that would not get you a studio flat in many other parts of the capital. The average house price in greater London is £409,881, according to Land Registry figures for January 2014, and with the Bexley equivalent selling for an average of £242,956, it is clear how

affordable this London borough is. Despite the ready supply of solid semis, Bexley is beginning to offer examples of more adventurous contemporary architecture which is proving popular with young professionals moving into the borough, drawn to developments such as The Fold, the Studio Egret West-designed, gleaming, bronze-clad, curved block, conveniently located next to Sidcup station. Bexley also contains prosperous pockets of property brilliance where the space, specification, style and setting of houses mark them out as outstanding. Wooder says that many of the homes around Bexley Village and Danson Park can achieve in the region of £600,000 to £1 million, while enclaves such as The Pantiles, Bursted Woods and The Hollies are aspirational locations for people to move to from surrounding towns. Many of these high-end properties bear period styling – from modernism in Danson Road and Art Deco opposite Danson Park, to the Arts and Craft homes near William Morris’s historic Red House. “It’s worth remembering however, that all property across Bexley has risen in value between six and 10% this year,” points out Wooder. “Buyers far outnumber sellers, and any property we take on is usually hurtling towards exchange and completion within a month of coming on to the market. Unusually, it is both a buyers’ and sellers’ market at the moment, with the government-backed Help To Buy initiative, better mortgage rates and keen vendors looking to move up the property chain creating a fluid marketplace.” This is even before Crossrail truly makes its impact felt, with GVA predicting that Abbey Wood is one of the stations where Crossrail will bring ‘significant property investment’. The revitalisation of the former Larner


All property across Bexley has risen in value between six and 10% this year Road estate in Erith is one of the largest regeneration projects currently happening in London and when complete, will provide around 550 new homes. Housing association Orbit South is leading the project – called Erith Park – and has selected Wates Living Space as the developer and contractor partner. Broadway Malyan are the architects, Turley Associates are the planning consultants and Clarkebond are providing structural and civil engineering services. Over the life of the £120 million project, all seven tower blocks will be replaced with around 550 low-rise homes. Five blocks had already been demolished by December 2013. The construction contract cost of phase one is £60 million and in this stage of the regeneration project, 40% of the new apartments will be three and fourbedroom houses with gardens. The first homes are expected to be completed in late 2014. “To say that Larner Road will be transformed is an understatement,”

Above The Fold, one of Bexley’s more contemporary developments attracting young professionals into the borough.

Top Town Hall Place – new apartments at the former Crayford Town Hall development.

says Orbit South executive director Vivien Knibbs. Andy Fancy, regional managing director of Wates Living Space said: “Bexley was ‘super-efficient’, according to my team, we had troubleshooters within the council sorting out issues.” Another project is at Southmere Village where a £55 million, phase three investment is being brought to life by housing associations Gallions and Peabody. It is part of the wider regeneration of South Thamesmead, an area which became recognised for its concrete tower blocks in the film A Clockwork Orange but which is now one of the top 50 regeneration projects in the UK. As these schemes and others take shape in the years to come, Bexley looks set to only consolidate its reputation as a great value borough with pull factors by the dozen. Highway robbery on the Dover Road? Not in Bexley. Nothing to be found but great deals here.

Average house prices in Bexley

Average house prices in London

Detached house Semi-detached Terraced Flat

£433,504 £270,699 £215,436 £184,645

£722,794 £420,368 £374,793 £367,828

Average price



All property types Land Registry, January 2014

Superb investment opportunities across the Capital.

Fulham Riverside, Fulham

Queensland Terrace, Islington

Altitude, Aldgate

For more than 30 years Barratt London has been working across all 32 London boroughs delivering new homes, creating new communities and providing new leisure, retail and community amenities for Londoners. We create everything from exciting, ground-breaking urban regenerations to niche boutique residences, multi-million pound luxury homes to affordable housing and riverside communities to city-centre towers. We have a fantastic range of properties in great locations close to good commuter links. Many developments boast amenities like a concierge service, fitness suite and outdoor space. Our wealth of experience, exclusive* 5 year warranty † (in addition to the 10 year NHBC warranty) and in-house property management service (BRAM) means you can buy with complete confidence.

There’s never been a better time to buy in London. Visit our website for a full range of London properties. or call 0844 811 4334 Aldgate | Brentford | Brixton | Edgware | Fulham | Greenwich | Highbury | Lewisham | Royal Docks | Soho | Wandsworth | Westminster *’Exclusive’ refers to the Barratt Development Plc Group Brands. †Our 5 year warranty is available on virtually all of our developments and properties. Terms and conditions apply. See website for full details. Computer generated images shown: Fulham Riverside, Queensland Terrace and Altitude developments.


SITEMATCH: PRIME SITE Investment opportunities are abundant at Veridion Park. Sitematch researcher Huub Nieuwstadt reports on a site benefiting from good transport links, with the capacity to cater for numerous uses Veridion Park is one of Bexleyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s prime investment opportunities. The 27-ha site is being developed by Tilfen Land, with the London Borough of Bexley. The park has the potential to accommodate a range of commercial uses including office space, ICT facilities, manufacturing and logistics. The site can cater for various size requirements up to just over 13,000sq m on a leasehold or freehold basis. Also located at the business park is the Thames Innovation Centre, offering office and workshop accommodation from 14sq m to 158sq m, providing a flexible and affordable solution for small enterprises and startups. Nearby the A2016 and A206 provide quick access to junction 1A of the M25.

A new Crossrail station at Abbey Wood in 2018 will ensure the location is futureproofed in terms of public transport accessibility. It is situated almost exactly between the main lower Thames crossing points at Blackwall and Dartford â&#x20AC;&#x201C; an advantage for any company that relies on the road network to get goods to market. The masterplan is divided into three phases. Infrastructure for the first phase was completed in 2006, as well as the Thames Innovation Centre (which was developed by the council). The first phase 1 speculative units were completed in 2010 and are now home to British Loose Leaf and Versapak International. Tilfen Land has recently updated the planning permission for the remaining phases, primarily for 63,000sq m of B1 (business) and B8 (storage and distribution) uses over the three phases. Development of phases 2 and 3 has not yet commenced and timescales will be dependent on the market and occupier requirements. The London Borough of Bexley is keen to discuss this site with occupiers from the commercial, industrial and distribution sectors.

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BEXLEYHEATH MARRIOTT HOTEL. This luxury hotel in Bexleyheath boasts superb facilities, including 142 air conditioned rooms with modern amenities, 9 accommodating meeting rooms all with natural daylight, upscale restaurant, lounge and bar with complimentary Wi Fi and leisure club with swimming pool and whirlpool to unwind at the end of a busy day. The contemporary-styled luxury hotel near Bexleyheath's facilities allow you the opportunity to work, rest or play whilst we deliver great service, great food and a great experience. The Bexleyheath Marriott Hotel is ideally located off the A2 with a short drive to the M25, Dartford, Ebbsfleet or Stratford and is within walking distance to local restaurants and retail.

Discover the Bexleyheath Marriott and uncover unparalleled hospitality and service from the area's top luxury hotel. To reserve your room, call 020 8298 1000 or visit


Bexley has made us Bexley has welcomed Bellway Homes and now we feel part of the community. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s why we have invested in no less than four developments within the borough to provide quality housing. The Mill, Heathside, Belvedere Park and Pinnacle Square are all evidence of our commitment to the borough, as are the twenty - two affordable units to make home-owning a reality for lower income local residents.

ide Heaths ad, Bexley DA5 2AH ide Ro Heaths

The Mill @Old Be xley

45 High Street, B exley Vil lage DA 5 1JZ

Belvedere Park Nor man Road, Belvedere DA17 6LD


re Pinnacle Squa 6 7JZ xleyheath DA Erith Road, Be

We also believe in backing Bexley in more ways than building exciting new homes. We have made contributions of over ÂŁ140,000 to local communities and services, open space improvements, public realm improvements, local sports and leisure, and transport improvements.

B4B Issue 01  

The Inward Investment Magazine for the London Borough of Bexley

B4B Issue 01  

The Inward Investment Magazine for the London Borough of Bexley