Thamesmead is not being demolished! I’d like that to be the take-away point to this post. I have seen so many comments to the effect that the estate is being torn down, and it’s not true. I’ve seen somebody on a Flickr group worrying about whether the area is safe to traverse and being told that if he wants photographs then he should get to the area immediately before it’s gone. I’ve seen claims that the place is being torn down on blogs, and people who used to live in the tower blocks concerned that their old home will be no more in just weeks. I’ve seen people on Facebook say that it’s impossible to sell the concrete Thamesmead homes now and they either house people who cannot move out, or are left abandoned.
It’s not true. Yes, there is heavy and extensive redevelopment going on in South Thamesmead. Yes, there is a lot of demolition happening as a part of that. Yes, there are walkways being removed and bulldozers are in operation regularly. The old backdrop for the scene from A Clockwork Orange is gone, as are some of the most iconic parts seen in A Beautiful Thing, but this is a time of change and there are plans to rebuild, redevelop and re-invigorate Thamesmead.
The Tavy Bridge area is a bit of a mess right now. The former shops are now rubble, as are many of the houses that surrounded them. One of the walkways has been demolished and the library is about to go as well. But there is a temporary library, there are new houses being created, the Lakeside Medical centre is well established in its new position and in time a new library will exist. There is money being ploughed into the area and the lighting and road crossing problems will be address. Thamesmead, in part, is being rebuilt. Some of it is just ticking along as always. There IS a whole generation growing up on a building site, but improvement is on the horizon. There will be a massive supermarket, one the the most long awaited transport links (Crossrail) on the doorstep, and the people in charge of the redevelopment (Gallions and Peabody) are interested in garnering feedback and suggestions from the public. Yes, the money is limited. Yes, Gallions has a less than sterling reputation. Yes, this is overdue.
But it’s happening. Thamesmead is not being flattened, much as some people would like it to be. Thamesmead is being repaired, rebuilt, redeveloped. Spread the word. Thamesmead is far from dead.