Lewisham has decided to redirect funding secured from the redevelopment of the former Catford Greyhound Stadium, now Catford Green, to pedestrian improvements around Catford Bridge Station rather than a promised replacement footbridge over the Hayes railway line.
The council said a replacement bridge had proved “unfeasible having carefully considered the complexities and costs associated with making such a crossing accessible”.
The decision comes as a blow to campaigners who have been pressing for a replacement footbridge and cycleway since housebuilder Barratt removed the old one when it developed Catford Green in 2017.
The Catford Green planning application made provision for a replacement footbridge and cycleway. The bridge would have been funded by a section 106 community infrastructure levy on Barratt.
Austen Jones, chair of Ravensbourne Park Gardens user group and a longtime campaigner for the bridge, says the council has reneged on its previous commitments.
Under the original agreements, Barratt was obliged to cost and install a new public highway over the rail line. He says the council has now publicly announced that it has given up on its own Catford Masterplan.
“Many Catford Green residents will remain cut off from Catford town centre. They will be forced to use the South Circular route to reach the centre,” said Austen.
He says the council has no proven, legal right to divert the Footbridge Funds from Barratts for any other purpose other than delivering the proposed Footbridge under planning application DC/07/067276.
But Cllr Paul Bell, Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning, said the council believed the station area improvements would be far more beneficial to Catford residents.
“Providing a footbridge with an accessible ramp proved to be impossible as the length of the ramp would have extended too far along Doggett Road to be a viable option.
“Other design options were tested, one of these considered a footbridge with lift access at either end however the development and maintenance costs of the footbridge far exceeded the available funding.”
Campaigners for a footbridge, which include the Ladywell Fields user group, say Barratts should still be required to fund the bridge through the s106 levy for Catford Green.
The council says it will share its 15-year vision for the Catford town centre – the draft Catford Framework Plan – with the local community in autumn 2020.
The framework plan seeks to transform the town centre by rerouting the south circular road freeing up more space for pedestrians; redeveloping the Catford Shopping Centre for new retail space and providing new homes across the town centre as well as creating pedestrian-friendly areas, open spaces and new community facilities.
To find out more about the next steps for the Catford Framework Plan and these initial projects visit teamcatford.com Sign up for updates and to be informed of the dates for public consultation via – https://catfordtowncentre.commonplace.is/news