Work to start on landmark town centre project
25 February 2013: Everything is now in place for the start of major regeneration work in Bexleyheath, with the news that the London Borough of Bexley and Tesco Stores Ltd have reached final agreement on plans to redevelop two key town centre sites.
Legal formalities were completed on Friday 15 February and preliminary work will start this week on the refurbishment of the former Woolwich building to convert it for use as Council offices. Construction will also start soon on 126 new homes on land at the rear of the building, which Tesco has sold to Bellway Homes.
When the Council moves into the Woolwich building in Spring 2014, it will vacate the current Civic Offices, paving the way for the construction of a new mixed use development on the site. This will include a Tesco superstore that will create around 400 jobs.
Bringing its office-based staff together from four ageing offices into the refurbished building will save more than £1 million a year. The project is being funded entirely from the sale or rental of the Council's current office sites.
"I am delighted that all the formalities are complete, because I believe this project is good news for Bexleyheath and the borough as a whole," said Council Leader, Cllr Teresa O'Neill. "These developments will help to revitalise the town centre and make other sites available for regeneration. The fact that we are re-using the Woolwich building is further justification for our position as London's number one borough for recycling!"
The Woolwich building is a popular local landmark, but it has been empty for seven years and its future was in doubt.
"A lot of us have felt for some time that the former Woolwich building would make a good home for the Council, but we did not own the site and it has taken time to put the right deal together," explained Cllr Colin Campbell, the Council's Deputy Leader. "I am very pleased that everything is now in place, because the scheme will give a popular local landmark a new lease of life and in the process help us save our Council Tax payers' money.
"Getting this far has involved a great deal of work by the Council and many others who have worked with us on the project, particularly Tesco, and it's the best possible news at a time when new investment and jobs are in short supply."
As part of the project, the Council has already vacated its former offices in Crayford and at Wyncham House, Sidcup. Plans are also in place for it to leave the Howbury Centre in Slade Green in 2014 as part of a major development project. This will see the construction of 380 new homes and an £8m investment in schools and community facilities. The Council's other main office site - at Hill View in Welling - has recently been put on the market for redevelopment.
Works to the Woolwich building will equip it for modern and efficient ways of working.
The Council has appointed international construction company Mace as the main contractor for the Civic Offices project, which will give them responsibility for the works, including the refurbishment of the 11,000 square metre 1980s office building.
Mace project manager Andrew Sweeney said: "Mace is very proud to deliver a project that will lead to the regeneration of a locally important and respected building within the community. On completion, the newly refurbished building will enable employees to work more effectively, together in one location, in a building that has been designed to suit their needs, as well as the needs of visitors and the local community."
The inside of the building has already been stripped out by local contractor, Libra Construction Services Ltd of Sidcup.
Update: On 8 January 2015 the Council received a letter from the Chief Executive of Tesco in which he set out their decision not to progress planned investment in a new store in Bexleyheath. The Council will be working actively with Tesco to ensure that plans come forward for the site which enable the town to continue to prosper.