Peckham could have a stream of its own celebrities in a matter of years as a new stage school opens in little more than a year.
The area was home to Star Wars star John Boyega and West Ham, Leeds, Manchester United and England footballer Rio Ferdinand.
But until now its highest-profile residents were fictional – Del-Boy and Rodney from John Sullivan’s Only Fools and Horses.
A ceremony to break the ground for the building of Mountview Academy, in Peckham Hill Road took place on Tuesday.
The school is moving from its base in Wood Green, north London. It boasts a long list of stars among its former students, including Shetland star, Douglas Henshall, Eddie Marsen, Ken Stott, Glynis Barber, Brendan Coyle, Josh Dallas and Amanda Holden.
The school’s management are already planning a string of events involving their glittering array of alumni, who also include Michael French and Don Gilet of EastEnders fame and Mina Anwar and Sally Dynevor on Coronation Street.
Dame Judi Dench is the college’s president. The £10million development will include 9,500 sq metres of training facilities, 18 dance and acting studios, two public theatre spaces, two TV studios, a radio suite, production facilities, a West End-scale commercial rehearsal space and co-working space, a café and bars, and a rooftop restaurant.
The board of the 300-student academy are planning for it to be busy with lectures and studio activity from 9am until 6pm on weekdays. Principal and artistic director Stephen Jameson hopes the facilities will be used in the evenings and at weekends by local people.
But it is the prospect of the existing students – those who started last September going on to make their names in the world of showbiz which will make a difference to Peckham.
Mountview, which is 72 years old, have been in “temporary” accommodation in Haringey for 30 years.
Jameson and artistic director Sarah Preece looked all over London, from Wood Green to Docklands to Twickenham looking for a new base. But work on clearing the site began within 12 months of their first meeting with Southwark council planning officers in February 2015.
Peckham Parliamentary candidate Harriet Harman said: “The speed this development has been amazing – it took longer to complete my kitchen.
“Mountview coming to Southwark will provide important opportunities for the hugely talented young people of Peckham to get involved in arts and theatre, open up career choices and build on Peckham’s already vibrant arts scene.
“Every child has the right to explore their artistic and creative potential, and research shows creative and cultural learning supports attainment in all subjects.
“I look forward to working with Mountview, schools and Southwark council to make this move a success for the local community and the UK’s creative industries.”
Mr Jameson said: “Mountview has been in temporary accommodation for more than 30 of its 72 years, so it’s a truly momentous occasion.
Not only do we get to realise our dream of having a state of the art facility to underpin our world-class training, but we also get the opportunity to achieve our cultural vision of embedding arts education and engagement within our community. Peckham is vibrant, exciting and proud place and we can’t wait to be a part of it.”
At the ceremony Southwark council leader Councillor Peter John said: “The future of Peckham is looking even brighter. Mountview will bring a new vitality to Southwark’s fantastic cultural ecology, and I am very pleased to mark this significant step.
“Southwark council is committed to ensuring the borough is a beacon for the arts.
“With the Central School of Ballet moving into the borough soon, we are becoming a magnet for culture.
“Southwark is the best borough in London and London is the best city in the UK and the UK is the best country in the world. That will make Mountview the best drama school in the world.”