South Thamesmead is situated within the Plumstead and Erith Marshlands on the banks of The Thames amongst an abundance of open green spaces. Proctor and Matthews were appointed to lead a team of designers including architects Mecanoo and landscape architects Turkington Martin, to design a scheme that would help Peabody achieve their ambitious plans to begin regeneration of the wider area of Thamesmead.
The design concept focuses on strengthening a linear connection from Abbey Wood Station to Southmere Lake and beyond. A new laneway – Southmere Lane – meanders across the existing urban grid, forming an enlivened sequence of streets, squares and active frontages improving the area’s sense of place, whilst offering a safe and logical route for cyclists and pedestrians.
As part of the first phase of works, the design proposes a new Civic Square alongside 525 homes, a library and new commercial uses. A new housing typology consisting of building ‘ensembles’ arranged around a shared raised garden divides the wider scheme into a number of smaller communities. At ground level each ‘ensemble’ enlivens the public realm with café and retail uses, entry lobbies and embedded courtyard spaces that provide glimpses into the raised gardens set within.
A sequence of new public spaces leads towards a much larger Civic Square adjacent to the iconic Southmere Lake. A new civic building, designed by Proctor and Matthews, houses a library, nursery and gym. Situated centrally at the edge of the Lake it acts as a social hub whilst also further emphasising the neighbourhood’s relationship with the Lake.
The public realm proposal includes landscape elements that feed into the natural water attenuation system. Rain gardens, water channels, canals and ephemeral pools help to connect Southmere Lake with Abbey Wood Station. This design theme in reference to ‘water,’ is used to celebrate and enhance the area’s pre-existing relationship with the Thames and other nearby lakes and canals.
The overall development, set over four phases, proposes to deliver more than 1,500 homes, new public spaces and approximately 10,000 sqm of commercial retail and leisure space.