In 2008, Cedar Rydal undertook a feasibility study for the Blackheath Society to establish whether there would be sufficient value in the ‘Library Square’ site to enable a development to be undertaken which would pay for desirable environmental improvements such as:
- Create a new pedestrian-friendly paved public square with shared vehicular routes to control speed.
- Reconfigure the public parking to separate vehicles and pedestrians and keep traffic out of the square.
- Provide an arcaded, traffic-free route from Wemyss Rd to the new square.
- Create new buildings to define the square and pedestrian route with commercial uses at street level.
- Create a new library fronting onto the square
- Maintain existing public car parking, providing additional spaces for commercial and residential uses.
- Link the centre of the village and the square with a ramped pedestrian route/ widened bridge.
Importantly, the purpose of the development was to stitch together the urban fabric of an old bomb site and in so doing improve its visual appearance, both by burying the car park but also by creating new frontages to ‘dress’ the exposed rear facades of buildings which were never intended to be viewed publicly.
The scheme comprised the following net lettable areas: 21,455 sq ft Residential (31 flats), 3,379 sq ft for the Library (including internet café) and 5,229 sq ft of retail space. The scheme was arranged over four split storeys, matching the heights of adjacent buildings. The conclusion of the feasibility study was that despite the downturn in property values, there was sufficient value in the site to make redevelopment worthwhile.
Sadly, Central Government budgetary cuts imposed upon the London Borough of Lewisham meant the existing library was scrapped, thus denying the ‘raison d’être’ for the whole scheme.