Riverscape

How Square Roots Lewisham is set to mark construction finishing

Affordable housing provider owned by London Square will unveil show home in south-east London

A computer generated images of Square Roots Lewisham, a south-east London development built in white brick
An artist’s impression of Square Roots Lewisham

Subscribe to our free Wharf Whispers newsletter here

Incentives and pizazz are to be expected as Square Roots Lewisham celebrates completion next month.

Residents and prospective buyers are set to come together on June 15, 2024, for an event at the development on the banks of the River Ravensbourne.

There, the affordable housing provider will host buyers and guests to mark the culmination of construction work alongside a chance to view its new three-bedroom show home.  

Square Roots, which is owned by developer London Square, has created a scheme in south-east London comprising 141 apartments all with private outdoor space.

The properties themselves feature dedicated home working stations with power and high speed Wi-fi options.

Further amenities at the development include a rooftop terrace for residents, cycle storage and landscaped gardens.

A show home interior at Square Roots Lewhisham showing a grey kitchen and an open-plan living area
A new show home is set to be launched at the development in May

incentives at Square Roots Lewisham

But these aren’t the only attractions to tempt buyers.

Square Roots has put together incentive packages, with buyers able to select from a number of options worth up to £4,000 or £6,000 if reserving a one-bed or two-bed respectively.

These include window treatments from Thread And Dandy and vouchers for John Lewis and IKEA.

Annual Travel Card for Zones 1-6 or an annual parking space at Lewisham Shopping Centre are also on offer. Naturally, terms apply.

Square Roots Lewisham head of sales, Becky Boden, said: “Square Roots Lewisham offers an amazing opportunity to live close to central London in a beautifully designed, high quality new home that’s affordable.

“Look out for our Unveiling New Heights At Square Roots event on June 15 – launching new apartments and celebrating the completion of the development, plus there will be a new show home to view. 

“This will be an event for both residents and the public with cocktails, food, and sax players playing Ibiza classics.”

A computer generated image showing the skyline of Canary Wharf with Square Roots Lewisham in the foreground
An artist’s impression of the view at Square Roots Lewisham

get moving

For those quick off the mark, the new show home is set to officially launch on May 18, 2024.

Prospective buyers invited to view between noon and 4pm.

Square Roots is also able to connect those seeking to make a purchase with an independent financial adviser who can assist in securing a mortgage.

With the soaring cost of renting in London, affordable housing providers are increasingly holding up shared ownership as a mirror to renting in the capital.

At Square Roots Lewisham, a buyer taking out a 35-year mortgage on 25% of a £415,000 one-bed with a 5% deposit could expect to pay around £1,422 per month for a 544sq ft one-bed.

That figure includes mortgage repayment, rent and service charge.

A similar size property for rental in Lewisham currently costs about £1,575 – £152 more – per month.

That’s a potential saving of £1,824 a year.

Buyers would need a 5% deposit of £5,188 and a minimum household income of £46,119.

An image showing the lounge of a show home at Square Roots Lewisham
The show home will also be available to view at an event in June

local amenities near Square Roots Lewisham

Beyond price, of course, a shared ownership buyer is also free to enjoy the property as though they own the whole thing.

There will be no quibbles over decorating and – crucially – no uncertainty over whether they will be required to suddenly move out.

Living in Lewisham offers a multitude of benefits with extensive regeneration already underway in the area, which boasts many restaurants, cafés, bars and shops.

The Square Roots development is located within seven minutes’ walk of Lewisham station.

This hub offers direct connections to London Bridge in eight minutes as well as rapid access to east London via the DLR.

Those working in Canary Wharf can expect a commute of about 20 minutes.

The development will feature communal roof terrace space

need to know

One, two and three-bedroom shared ownership homes are available at Square Roots Lewisham, as well as two-bed duplexes.

Prices start at £103,750 for a 25% share of a property with a full market value of £415,000. The properties will be available to move into this summer.

The estimated service charge at the development is £3.13 per sq ft.

Find out more about the scheme here

Enter Wharf Life’s prize draw to win a cruise on a Hot Tub or BBQ Boat here

Read Wharf Life’s e-edition here

Subscribe to our free Wharf Whispers newsletter here

- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via jon.massey@wharf-life.com
Subscribe To Wharf Life

Blackheath: Why Mohamed Mohamed isn’t sentimental about his sculpture Old News

Piece depicting Boris Johnson’s face in precisely sliced newspaper can currently be seen at Blackheath’s Millennium Circle

Mohamed Mohamed’s Old News, as it appears today on Blackheath

Subscribe to our free Wharf Whispers newsletter here

As we stand beside the head of Boris Johnson on Blackheath, a young spaniel scampers up and urinates on it.

After I mention to the four-legged critic’s owners that I’m with the artist who created the sculpture, they’re immediately full of apologies and dash off with the same nervous energy as their canine charge. 

Mohamed Mohamed, however, welcomes the act.

For him, Old News, is just that.

He’s already set fire to it at Speaker’s Corner and, having been made, run its course and suffered symbolic destruction, it has now returned to the streets of Greenwich like the discarded newspaper it started life as.

He’s not sentimental about it – surprising, perhaps, given the effort that went into creating it.

“I built my own machines so that I can physically sculpt things,” said Mohamed.

“I’ve been an industrial designer since the age of 14 and, after graduating from the London College Of Communication, I’ve worked for large format fabrication companies in their research and development departments.

“When the pandemic struck I’d just signed a lease on a workshop in Greenwich and then I was furloughed.

“With Old News, I had been developing slicing capabilities – how to accurately cut an object at higher and higher resolutions.

Old News shortly after completion – 6,277 pages of newspaper

“3D printing uses this technique and it’s similar to the idea of pixels in an image. 

“The first thing I made was using sheets of cardboard, then sheets of metal and then newspaper at 0.3mm per slice.

“The first Covid lockdown was kicking off and I collected newspapers.

“I had to remove the staples from every copy and iron each sheet. While I was doing that, I was thinking about what to make and Boris’ face was everywhere.

“I produced a digital version of him using photogammetry, which uses images from many different angles to create a 3D map.” 

Mohamed used this to cut some 6,277 newspaper pages, working in layers of five to precisely reproduce the former prime minister’s head in three dimensions – stacking them on a steel base plate with precisely calibrated bars holding them in place.

Artist and designer Mohamed Mohamed

“To iron the newspaper took a week, to cut it was three weeks, and to assemble it was me in a dark room for another three,” said Mohamed.

“There’s a level of dedication – of sacrifice to be able to make something honestly like that. Before I made my own pieces, I made work for lots of other people.

“If an artist uses a 3D printer or wields a violin themselves, that’s one thing. If you’re paying someone to do it for you, to me, that’s something else. 

“I’m not qualified to judge whether it’s better or worse, but for me personally, I have to physically feel the sweat on my brow, and that links me with my work – that I have physically done it.”

During our conversation, the topics of truth and process come up consistently. Both sit very much at the heart of what Mohamed does. 

“I have been making art as a way to sharpen my skill-set for as long as I can remember,” he said.

“It’s a gymnasium for my brain – you create geometry or a thing that doesn’t have to solve a problem – I just have to challenge myself to do it.

“In an art setting, you’re just expressing what’s inside you. 

Detail from Penny for Your Thoughts – Heads, 2023 – made with found pennies by Mohamed

“While I work, I pick up litter and that’s what my sculptures are made from. I’ve always been very much into environmental causes  and we’ve got a lot of stuff going into landfill.

“If you’re creative, you can turn those objects into something else.

“So I collect lots of things – I’ve picked up coins, a toothbrush and gambling pens on the way here – I have thousands of them in a bucket and I have lots of buckets of different things.

“I listen a lot to the Quran and I see the fineness of art in the world around me.

“The purest art would be the sunrise itself – then a painting of it, a scan of that printed out and so on. 

“I know I’m not going to be at the top of that hierarchy, but I can take secondary creations like empty bottles of beer and turn them into something else. 

“For me, it’s about taking objects which have been discarded – that someone felt were worthless – and giving them worth.

“I gather things then ask what skill level I’m at and what physics and technology will allow me to do.

Mohamed’s Cleave, 2020 -made with playing cards and a #7 clamp

“I use things like CNC machines or 3D scanners, but I’m not deluding myself – they are just tools, no different than a pencil.

“They allow me to produce what I want to create better.

“The beauty of it, for me, is the engineering element. Anthony Gormley is one of my favourite artists and I like how his pieces are made, how the magic is done, which no-one ever looks at.

“People might appreciate the message of a piece, but if an artist concentrates too much on that, they end up trying to sell you a message.

“Then what’s created is no longer art, it’s just decoration. 

“When I work, I am trying to distil my skill level – my entire life’s work – into a physical object and then move on.

“I’m not then sentimental about that piece – it’s made.” 

Mohamed, who has Palestinian roots and lives and works in Lewisham, uses the example of a tree.

While its trunk, branches, leaves and blossoms might appear impressive at any one time, he says he sees the whole growing process – the complete history of the entity.

He said people looking at his art were often considering the fruit of the tree, rather than seeing this story.

It’s one reason why those viewing his work may wish to be wary of interpreting his pieces as overtly political.  

“The fact Old News features Covid and Boris is irrelevant to me, but significant to others,” he said.

“The beauty of art is that it doesn’t have to mean anything to me – I’m just the vessel for the thing and other people analyse it.

“If I was making Old News today, it would be about the Palestine conflict – 10 years ago, it would have been about weapons of mass destruction.”

Detail from Rock Paper Scissors, 2021 – made with marble, dagger and money

need to know

Old News can currently be found at the Old Donkey Pit, also known as Millennium Circle, at 0º longitude on Blackheath. 

Find out more about Mohamed Mohamed here of find his work on Instagram here

Read more: How St James’ Bow Green development is at one with nature

Read Wharf Life’s e-edition here

Subscribe to our free Wharf Whispers newsletter here

- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via jon.massey@wharf-life.com
Subscribe To Wharf Life

Property: How the cost of shared ownership compares with renting at Square Roots Lewisham in south-east London

Monthly outgoings for 25% of a property costs slightly less than comparable rental apartment

An artist’s impression of how Square Roots Lewisham when building work is complete

Subscribe to our free Wharf Whispers newsletter here

Being a tenant in London can feel like you’re on a treadmill that it’s impossible to get off.

You work hard just to stay in the same place, with money simply disappearing from your account each month. 

For that, you get a roof over your head and a property maintained, but seldom improved.

Rent’s expensive too, making saving cash for a deposit challenging at the best of times.

It’s a precarious situation, with rent rises and landlords selling up a constant reminder that a rapid house move may always be in the pipeline, with comparatively little notice.

Without capital or the means to build it up, the dream of home ownership can easily seem just that, a fantasy. 

There is, however, another way. Affordable housing providers are increasingly holding up shared ownership deals as a mirror to renting.

Buyers can purchase 25% or more of a property with a mortgage while paying a capped rent on the remainder. 

That typically means a much lower deposit than buying outright, plus lower monthly outgoings than comparable properties up for rent.

The scheme features a communal roof garden for residents to use

“It’s the biggest selling point,” said Kate McLure, regional sales manager for south London at London Square.

“As a developer that’s all about creating communities, it was quite apparent to us that there were a large number of people in the capital who want to purchase a property but aren’t able to get on the ladder.

“Your average Londoner who works in the city often isn’t able to buy on the open market.

“That’s why we set up Square Roots as an accredited affordable housing provider, so we could offer shared ownership to those people.

“The products that we’re building are similar in terms of specification – really this is about opening up opportunities for people to get access to these homes.”

Square Roots Lewisham recently launched, a scheme of 141 apartments with one, two and three-bedroom homes available on a shared ownership basis.

Prices start at £106,250 for a 25% share in a one-bed with a full market value of £425,000.

The scheme is located within walking distance of both rail and DLR services at Lewisham station beside the River Ravensbourne. 

“The products we’re building at Square Roots are similar in specification to those we’re selling through London Square,” said Kate.

“Square Roots is really about opening up opportunities for people to be able to purchase these homes.

“The aim is that they can then staircase their share in the property until they own the whole thing.

“What we find is that a lot of people come to us who are renting privately in the surrounding areas and are paying more every month than they would on a mortgage payment and rent combined through shared ownership.”

A show home interior at Square Roots Lewisham

THE MATHS

To illustrate that point, we took a deep dive into the figures to see how the entry level one-bed at Square Roots Lewisham stacks up against a similar flat available for rent in the area.

Using Square Roots’ affordability calculator, buyers of the £425,000 one-bed can expect a monthly cost of £1,531.

That figure includes a mortgage payment of £658 based on a 25 year term with a 5% deposit of £5,313.

Then there’s £730 of rent, payable on the 75% owned by Square Roots at a rate of 2.75% of its value.

The remainder – £143 – is the estimated service charge for the 551sq ft property, at £3.13 per sq ft.

In contrast, a slightly smaller rental flat (538sq ft) at a similar distance from the station costs £1,575 per month to rent. 

Square Roots Lewisham is located close. to Lewisham Station

“The other thing you get with shared ownership, which is really quite different to private rent, is security,” said Kate.

“It’s not like being a tenant. You don’t have to ask your landlord for permission to decorate or be worried about not getting your deposit back if you put picture hooks in the walls.

“It’s your property – you can do what you want with it, even though you’re sharing the ownership with the housing provider.

“You have that stability in knowing you won’t have to move and it works out as more affordable than renting.

“At Square Roots Lewisham, we’ve been very mindful not to build too many amenities into the scheme that would potentially make the service charge too expensive for people buying here.

“It’s right next to Lewisham town centre, so there are plenty of gyms, services, shops, restaurants and bars for buyers to enjoy.

“It’s a responsibility for us to attract as wide a customer base as possible and we don’t want to price people out.

“We want buyers to have the choice about what to spend their money on after they have moved in, rather than making assumptions about what they want.”

IN FOCUS
The entry-level one-bed apartment at Square Roots Lewisham comes with a fully-fitted kitchen, balcony, open-plan living area and built-in storage in the bedroom. Here are a few quick fire facts:
- Total size: 551sq ft
- Leasehold term: 990 years
- Time to Canary Wharf: 18 minutes (from station)
- Total value: £425,000
l 
- Estimated monthly cost: £1,531
 
- Time to cycle to Greenwich Park: 12 minutes
- Train travel to Cannon Street: 20 minutes

With parent company London Square’s name an homage to the communal outdoor spaces in the older parts of the city, Square Roots offers a communal roof garden on the fifth floor of its Lewisham scheme. 

As an ongoing shared ownership partner with buyers, it will also host a customer community committee so residents will have a voice in how things are run on a long-term basis.

“It’s very much a collaborative effort,” said Kate.

“People will have a say and that say matters. I think shared ownership still needs demystifying to some extent.

“The process can seem overwhelming to first-time buyers, so I would always invite them to come and talk to us.

“We can then put them in touch with independent financial advisers who can help them to see what they can afford.”

Find our more about Square Roots Lewisham here

Read more: Why MadeFor office space in Canary Wharf is a vital part of its offering

Read Wharf Life’s e-edition here

Subscribe to our free Wharf Whispers newsletter here

- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via jon.massey@wharf-life.com
Subscribe To Wharf Life

Deptford: How Dirty Apron went from student dinners to supper clubs and a cafe

Deptford Market Yard venue puts community at the heart of its menu

Suzie Pennington of Dirty Apron
Suzie Pennington of Dirty Apron – image Matt Grayson

Subscribe to Wharf Life’s weekly newsletter here

BY LAURA ENFIELD

Croissant crumbs surround Suzie Pennington. But, when you run a cafe called Dirty Apron, a bit of mess and chaos is part of the fun.

“There was a show on at The Albany, so we’ve had loads of kids descending on us,” she said as we sit down to chat about her operation.

The 18-seater venue has been part of the Deptford Market Yard community since November 2016 – more or less when the arches first started opening up – and Its customers are very much at the heart of what the business does.

“A lot of the other vendors that opened with us were from food trucks, so were one-dish orientated,” said Suzie.

“But we’re more like a classic cafe with specials, a soup of the day and a brunch that changes as tastes change.”

Dishes draw inspiration from the season, feedback from regulars and what the local greengrocer has on offer.

“We like classics with a twist, “ said the 38-year-old.

“Not just British but European and Asian and we try to keep all our mains under £10 to make sure the cafe is affordable for the length and breadth of Deptford folk.

“We’re not faddy but, if there is a trend that looks interesting, and our customers ask for it, we will make it because we like to have a two-way relationship.

“We plan the menu around what our customers’ favourites are and speak to the regulars and see if they want anything revisited.”

The Anglo-Indian said her love of cooking started during her childhood in Essex.

“My mum cooked loads of Indian food growing up and I learned how to make lots of dishes quite young,” said Suzie.

“I was about eight when she first told me to make what I wanted from the fridge.

“She also ran a nursing home and I would hang out in the kitchen and learn how to do a lasagne or a roast.

“So I have always been around food and professional kitchens and got the interest and love from there.

“She’s really proud of me. One of the good things about having a cafe is everyone knows I run one so all my friend’s parents talk to me about it.

“Everyone is always interested and I love talking about food and Deptford and I really think everyone secretly wants to open a cafe.”

Dirty Apron is located in Deptford Market Yard
Dirty Apron is located in Deptford Market Yard – image Matt Grayson

The seeds of her own venture were planted when Suzie met co-founder Holly Williams at Bournemouth University.

“I studied sports science and Holly was doing animation. We met on the ladies football team. I think I tackled her and that’s how we became friends. 

“We both just had a love of food and, when we weren’t in lectures, we would go to the local supermarket and try and do student dishes on a budget for the team and make them as exciting as possible.

“We would do big extravagant roasts and lasagne. It was a chance to cater for numbers and was really fun and this working relationship kicked off naturally.”

After graduating they both moved to London and, when the supper club wave hit, they decided to jump on board.

“We would meet up at the pub and organise these themed events over a bottle of wine,” said Suzie. 

“It picked up some traction and it was when we did an Orange Is The New Black-themed event and 200 people came to this church hall in Limehouse that we knew we were on to something.”

The cafe's interior
The cafe’s interior – image Matt Grayson

Next came a six-week stint at Brick Lane Market where they cooked “way too much food” and it was a “bit of a slog”.

But rather than taking a breather, they Googled small festivals and booked every available pitch at events in the south under £100. 

“Every weekend for one summer we were somewhere different, “ said Suzie. “It was exhausting but by the end, we decided we were up for the challenge.”

That meant getting proper kitchen experience, so Suzie ditched her job in public health and spent two years at Riley Rocket on the Kingston Road, working her way up to become manager.

When Holly saw the arches in Deptford were being developed and rented, the duo decided it was time to take the plunge.

Suzie said the name Dirty Apron summed up their humour and was a nod to classic greasy spoon cafes. 

Over the years they have built up a family of loyal regulars, one of whom has even written a poem in tribute to the £5 coffee and bap deal.

Holly, who now lives in Brighton, manages the business side of things and New Cross resident Suzie takes charge of the cooking and supplies, which come from Tony’s Daily on the High Street, Bread Bread Bakery in Brixton, Ruby’s Of London in Greenwich and Alchemy Coffee Roastery in Wimbledon.

Food at Dirty Apron
Food at Dirty Apron – image Matt Grayson

Suzie said: “Our main food is hearty brunches and we always have a vegan special, meat special and a soup of the day.

“We do a curried cauliflower, spinach and sauteed halloumi wrap served with fresh mint yoghurt and a really good tofu scramble with heavily spiced peppers and onions and lovely sourdough and salad and homemade relish.”

In winter, they serve up meat and vegan pies but, now the warmer weather is finally appearing, warm salads with ingredients such as quinoa, roasted broccoli, salsa verde and beetroot will be appearing on the menu.

“I love going out for food and cafe culture to get inspiration,” said Suzie. 

“I go to all of the places around here and we are all really good friends, that’s one of the nice things about Deptford.”

The area’s social calendar is also a pivotal part of her planning.

“When the London Marathon goes past we know that we’ll need six people a day to cope with the demand and when Amal the doll came through recently I have never seen anything like it,” she said. 

“There were tens of thousands of people. So you have to look at the schedule for what’s going on in Deptford and tailor the rota for the occasion.”

Dishes are developed with customers in mind
Dishes are developed with customers in mind – image Matt Grayson

Suzie loves to bring people together and has collaborated with Villages Brewery, creating a 150cm sausage roll for their harvest festival, with plans to hold events for the New Cross and Deptford Free Film Festival and for Lewisham London Borough of Culture 2022.

“When summer hits, capacity at the cafe will double because of the outdoor seating. 

“We are very lucky because it’s very rare in London to get such a large off-road space,” said Suzie. 

“It means we don’t have to hurry people. Food can take a while because sometimes we can be a 40-seater restaurant, but people can sit in the sun, have a coffee and enjoy themselves.

“Because it is one room and an open kitchen I’m good at spotting if someone needs someone and everyone does the same – there is lots of communication and chat and customers can basically talk to us from their table. There’s that real dynamic vibe.

“A lot of our customers are regulars so they get to know each other. 

“I’ll often be having a conversation with someone on table six and someone from table five will chime in and then they end up talking to each other and then someone else will come and join in.

“Before you know it the whole place is involved in the same conversation, which I think is just the best thing about working here.”

Dirty Apron is open Wednesday through Sunday from 9.30am-4pm.

Read more: How The Rattle is investing in crazy at Tobacco Dock

Read e-editions of Wharf Life’s print edition here

Subscribe to Wharf Life’s weekly newsletter here

Subscribe To Wharf Life