Who’s gentrifying Deptford? 15 development schemes and the investors behind them


In the meeting with the Tidemill campaign, we started to make a collaborative map of major development schemes happening in the Deptford area, and to identify key players behind them. This list is still very incomplete – we want to add in more information and expand it in the coming weeks. Please send in anything you know (click here to get in touch)!

The list below is roughly in order of size, i.e., the number of homes involved. Some of these developments have recently been completed, others are yet to start.

NB: big thanks for help with this report to Crosswhatfields, Achilles Street Stop and Listen, and everyone who came to the meeting!


1. Convoys Wharf

This is perhaps London’s biggest building site. Currently an empty lot apart from one listed warehouse building, it sits by the Thames on the historic site of Deptford’s old Royal Dockyard (see drone footage of the site here). Around 3,500 homes are planned, 15% of which are meant to be “affordable”. The scheme was given outline planning approval in 2014 by former London mayor Boris Johnson, who “called it in” from Lewisham Council’s hands after the developer claimed it needed an urgent decision. But five years later, there are still no buildings ready. The building work will happen in phases, each of which needs specific planning permission. The first phase was approved in 2018 and the developer has now started consulting on phase two, which will involve 123 “affordable homes”.

Developer: Hutchison Property Holdings. Hong Kong owned developer which has built a number of big glass tower complexes along the Thames riverfront in Chelsea and Battersea.

Investors: Hutchison is owned by the CK Hutchinson group, domiciled in the Cayman Islands and largely owned by the family of Li Ka Shing, one the richest people in the world. Among other things, CK Hutchinson also own a good part of the UK’s water supply, energy networks, ports, plus Superdrug, Savers and the 3 mobile telephone network (click here to read more). The investments in these companies are often made through a tax avoidance scheme through the Channel Islands, designed to extract huge levels of profit (click here for an example).

Photo: Li Ka Shing

2. Timber Yard

The next door site to Convoys Wharf, this is another massive development on former industrial land, set to build 1,132 homes. It is being built in several phases, the first of which started in 2016.

Developer: Lendlease, notorious for their roles in the gentrification of Elephant & Castle, and the proposed Haringey Development Vehicle. Click here for our detailed 2017 profile of Lendlease.

Investors: Lendlease is a public limited company (PLC) whose shares are traded on the open stock exchange. As of the 2017 accounts, only one shareholder owned over 5% of the stock – BlackRock, the world’s biggest global investment corporation, headquartered in New York.

3. Tidemill and Amersham Vale

See our report here for detailed information. The “Deptford Southern Housing” scheme involves two sites. One is on the old Tidemill school and community wildlife garden, including the demolition of Reginald House. The other is in Amersham Vale. Together they will have 339 homes. None will be at “social rent” level, although 141 will be at the higher “London Affordable Rent” level.

Developers: Peabody and Sherrygreen Homes.

Investors: Peabody is a registered charity without shareholders. It is funded through bank loans and sale of corporate bonds. Unlike shares, bond owners are not usually publicised, but may include the same large investment funds that also buy shares.

4. Besson Street

This is Lewisham Council’s first foray into the “private rented” market. It has zero “social rented” housing. Some will be priced at the so-called “London Living Rent” — which is around two thirds of market levels, directed at “middle income households” rather than those on the council waiting list. The development will be owned by a 50/50 joint venture between the council and private “build to rent” developer Grainger, registered as Lewisham Grainger Holdings. Grainger will be in charge of day to day management. “Up to 300” homes are planned.

The main part of the site was previously an estate of 69 council homes. These were demolished by Lewisham in 2007 to make way for a new “public/private” development as part of the New Cross “New Deal for Communities” regeneration scheme.

A planning application is expected in “Summer 2019“. Currently, the council/Grainger partnership is running local consultation meetings and has set up a “consultation portal” with a map of the site and a form where people can place comments. Local campaigners have already carried out their own survey “Besson Street: the proper consultation” which found strong opposition.

The scheme will also include a health surgery and office run by the New Cross Gate trust. This is a local charity which was originally set up to run the New Cross New Deal for Communities. It is backing the new proposal and involved in managing the consultation process — although its website does note some concerns around the lack of any social housing. (NB: the trust is part-funded by the Council, and sees the scheme as a main source of its future income.)

Developer: Grainger. A developer that specialises in the fast growing “build to rent” market, i.e., developing homes for market rent rather than sale. Grainger is also in the news currently for its gentrification scheme on the site of the Latin Village “Ward’s Corner” market in Haringey. We will soon publish a company profile of Grainger.

Shareholders: Grainger’s shares trade on the stock market. Its current biggest investor is global megacorporation BlackRock.

Picture: Helen Gordon, CEO of Grainger

5. Deptford Foundry, aka “Anthology Deptford”.

A tower, eight other buildings, around landscaped grounds, off Arklow road in the west of the area. Planned to be complete by September 2019. 276 flats, all for sale. Also includes artists studios.

Developer: Anthology.

Investors: Anthology is owned by Oaktree Capital, a US based investment fund which is best known as the world’s largest “distressed debt” or “vulture fund”. Its European Capital Group, which includes its Anthology investment, also profits by buying the “distressed debt” of countries such as Greece that have been hit by financial crisis. In Deptford, Anthology has tried to win a cleaner reputation by sponsoring the Deptford X art festival. (Although they are no longer a current sponsor.)

6. Deptford Market Yard

This development, completed in 2018, is the centrepiece of the gentrification of Deptford High Street. It was initially called the “Deptford Project”. It includes a hipster retail market with 152 homes above. The so-called “affordable” element of the scheme involved eight “shared ownership” houses developed and managed by Peabody.

Developer: U and I with Peabody. (NB: the scheme was formerly run by Cathedral Homes, which was then bought by Development Securities PLC. The group then rebranded as U&I.)

NB: family connection: Ros Kerslake, chair of the Heritage Fund which manages the National Lottery money, is also now a director of U & I. She is the sister of Bob Kerslake, chairman of Peabody.

Investors: U&I is a stock exchange listed PLC, its shares are bought and sold by major investment funds.

Deptford Creek developments

A rash of new private housing developments is appearing along the waterfront at Deptford Creek, the muddy tidal estuary where the ancient River Ravensbourne meets the Thames. The creek spans the borough boundaries, and some of the developments below are in Greenwich rather than Lewisham. But the brick and glass towers named after historical or imaginary “wharves” look just the same.

Picture of Deptford Creek thanks to fromthemurkydepths

8. Union Wharf (previously called Creekside Wharf)

Union Wharf is a new complex of two 23 and 12 storey towers near the end of the Creek in Greenwich. It has 249 “premium apartments” all for market rent.

Developer: Essential Living

Investor: M3 Capital

9. Kent Wharf

Another identikit tower building project on the creek, just completed with 143 flats. The original planning application said that 18 flats would be priced for “intermediate” sale or rent.

Developer: Bellway Homes. Bellway is one of Britain’s big housebuilders.

Investors: Bellway shares are traded by numerous investment funds.

Picture: Sun Wharf design

10. Sun Wharf

Next to Kent Wharf, this is a parcel of land currently occupied by Jones Furniture and Catering Equipment (“by royal appointment”). Their lease runs out in 2022.

The land is now owned by a joint venture of two developers: Bellway (see above) and Peabody. They have just (February 2019) submitted a planning application to develop the site with 233 homes in three blocks between eight and 17 storeys. There will be zero social rented housing, but 48 homes at “London Affordable Rent” (which is 63% higher than council rents), as well as 34 for “shared ownership” at market rates. 10% of the development will be business space.

NB: these figures officially make the development “35% affordable” on Lewisham’s very loose definition of “affordability”. For example, the planning documents state that the “shared ownership” rents will be “affordable to household incomes of £51,500 – £67,500” — i.e., certainly not to most people in the Deptford area.

Click here for a detailed report on the scheme by Crosswhatfields.

See here for the planning documents on the council’s planning website (search for “Sun Wharf”). Deadline for comments is 26 March 2019 (send to planning@lewisham.gov.uk with the application number in the subject heading, and include your name & address in the content).

Developers: Bellway Homes and Peabody.

11. No. 1 Creekside

Across the roundabout from the Old Tidemill garden lies an old MOT testing centre and also a strip of fenced-up woodland owned by the council. In Summer 2018, plans were revealed to build more tall buildings instead. So, like the next door Tidemill development, this scheme will involve both a handover of public land to a private developer, and the cutting down of yet more trees. There are claims of 35% “affordable housing”, but no details of that have been specified. 60 “units” altogether.

See the crosswhatfields blog for a detailed report: “Lewisham Council are partners in the scheme, having exchanged the publicly owned strip of wild woodland adjacent to the MOT site (without any public consultation) in return for leasing commercial space in the building which they intend to rent out to provide income to fund council services.”

Developer: Bluecroft Property Development, a relatively small development company based in Shoreditch.

Investors: Bluecroft is a private limited company with two main owners, Tom Mulligan and James Gant. According to Companies House filings, each own between 25% and 50% of the shares. They will no doubt raise further funding from other investors if the scheme goes ahead.

12. Nos. 2 and 3 Creekside

These are two sites near Deptford Bridge DLR that have been owned for some years by a businessman called John Cierach. Recently he has gone into partnership with Stow Projects, also known as Artworks, the father and son business of Bill and Charlie Fulford. They were responsible for spreading the hipster boxpark invasion to Elephant & Castle, working with Lendlease to build a shipping container market by the site of the demolished Heygate estate.

In 2017, Cierach and the Fulfords announced similar boxpark plans for the Creekside sites. While No 3 has so far become a rather lacklustre cafe and “artisan” bakery space under the name Artworks Creekside, the developers face some obstacles for the planned expansion of Number 2. Transport for London forbid building under the DLR rail line which runs over the site. Also, the scheme means displacing a community of boat-dwellers who live on the water next to the site, but they are not about to be pushed out quietly.

Read this detailed account from the crosswhatfields blog. This was written in August 2017 but not so much has changed since.

Developers: Artworks

Investors: John Cierach, Charlie and William Fulford. Other financial backers behind them?

13. Achilles Street area

This is a new scheme Lewisham Council is planning around the centre of New Cross, centred on Achilles Street next to Fordham Park. “Consultation” meetings began in Summer 2016. As locals write:

“The Council is proposing to demolish all of the homes and local businesses in the Achilles Street area in order to build high rise, high density housing in partnership with private developers”

The demolitions will include 87 council homes, which Lewisham itself says don’t need refurbishing as they already meet the “decent homes standard”. They are to be demolished simply in order to create space for profitable high rise development.

The council says that the development will include new “affordable homes” — as so often, there is no clarity about what this means. The council has said current council residents will at least get a ballot on this scheme.

Developers: not yet announced.

See: Achilles Street Stop and Listen website.

14. Goldsmiths College developments

New Cross’ Goldsmiths College, part of the University of London, is often viewed as a major force in the gentrification of the area, acting as a magnet for hordes of stereotypically trendy art students who may then become involved in “artwashing” developments. Besides its cultural influence, the college is also an important property owner and developer of student housing. At our public meeting on 23 February, we heard of moves by the college to start a new development in the shops it owns on New Cross road.

Developers: Goldsmiths college and other partners.

15. Millwall Stadium area

Just on the edge of New Cross council ward towards Bermondsey lies Millwall Football Club’s stadium The Den. Although not strictly in Deptford, this needs mentioning as it is probably the most notorious example of Lewisham Council’s approach to “regeneration”.

Lewisham council’s “New Bermondsey” development plan involved seizing the land around The Den using a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO). They would kick out the local businesses based there to build more profitable housing towers. Millwall, and the club’s fans, had very justifiable concerns that this would threaten the ground’s future too, and a strong campaign opposed the scheme (see: Guardian report on “The Battle for the Den”; Association of Millwall Supporters (AMS)).

The story gets muddier: the plan was to give the land to a mysterious development company called Renewal. Structured through offshore tax havens, no one has yet got to the bottom of this company, its owners and investors. What is known is that it was set up by a former mayor of Lewisham, Dave Sullivan, and later run by a former Lewisham council manager called Mushtaq Malilk. Sullivan has denied that he still has an interest in Renewal, claiming he sold his shares in the company. (See: report by RealMedia; open letter from AMS.).

As the Millwall CPO became a major issue in the 2017 mayoral elections, the council started to back away from the original scheme. The current mayor Damien Egan opened new talks with Millwall and Renewal about the area’s future.

Developers: Renewal.

Investors: ?

NB: some local websites with much more information on Deptford developments: