The giant Lewisham Gateway building project is due to open a  year late after the company in charge of cladding quit the job.

Residents should already have been moving into the blocks, which have radically changed the look of Lewisham town centre. The project was meant to be finished this summer, but will now finish in summer 2024, the developer Muse told the trade website Construction News.

Work on the sites was disrupted when Prater, which was subcontracted by the builder Balfour Beatty to work on the cladding, pulled out of the £197 million project in a row over costs, according to Construction Enquirer, which broke the original story last month.

Prater has taken its materials off the site, meaning that they will have to be bought again, Construction News said. 

Lewisham Gateway main tower
The development has changed Lewisham town centre. Credit: The Greenwich Wire

Some work has continued on the site in the meantime, with a tall crane in place this weekend, closing the southern end of Lewisham Road.

The second phase of Lewisham Gateway contains blocks of up to 30 storeys containing 530 rented flats, 20 per cent of which will be let at “London living rent”, where rent is set at one third of average local income. It will also include 119 co-living spaces, where tenants share amenities like kitchens.

Plans for a nine-screen cinema are continuing despite the collapse of Empire Cinemas, which was due to run the site. Muse said it was in discussions with Empire’s administrators. Offices, shops and restaurants are also included.

Before the pandemic it had been believed that the project would be finished in 2021. “Given the scale and ambition of Lewisham Gateway, we are now expecting the project to be complete in the summer of 2024, in line with an updated delivery timeline,” Muse told Construction News in a statement.

In a separate statement on its website published on Friday, Muse said the development would bring “a wealth of homes, evening and weekend amenities not seen in the town for decades, ultimately bringing people and place together”.

A large crane is working on the Lewisham Gateway site this weekend. Credit: The Greenwich Wire

Muse added: “Today, where once there stood a busy roundabout, visitors to Lewisham will soon find over 1,000 mixed-tenure homes, two public squares, shops, bars and restaurants in a new night-time quarter, a future cinema, flexible workspaces and business opportunities for the local community.

“Lewisham will once again have a beating heart that brings the community together and provides what was truly needed in the town.”

The project has been nearly 20 years in the making and the first phase includes 362 private rented flats in buildings of up to 25 storeys, and involved rerouting roads around Lewisham town centre as well as a sewer and the Quaggy and Ravensbourne rivers.

Phase 1 was nominated for the Carbuncle Cup bad architecture prize in 2018, while it was still being built, with Building Design likening it to “four upturned middle fingers”.

While Muse is in charge of delivering the project, the housing will be run by two different companies: Fizzy Living runs phase 1, while the homes in phase 2 will be run by Get Living, which until recently was part-owned by Qatar’s state investment fund.