£600m scheme to redevelop Old Kent Road set to go ahead

BY SEAN DELANEY
toby@slpmedia.co.uk

A £600m redevelopment scheme on one of London’s most iconic roads has been given the green light despite concerns from residents over a lack of affordable homes and the loss of industrial space.

Planning permission has been granted for the redevelopment scheme on the Old Kent Road’s Cantium Retail park.

It forms part of Southwark council’s designated Old Kent Road Action Plan which proposes to add 1,113 new homes, create 521 new jobs and provide improved connectivity for pedestrians and cyclists.

Proposals for the extension of the Bakerloo line will also pass through the area on its way to Lewisham.

The development is the second of two major skyscraper schemes in the Old Kent Road, with a similar £520m project dubbed ‘the Ruby Triangle’ having already been approved last year.

Residents have raised concerns that the latest development will fail to deliver both socially rented and affordable homes, with the plan only set to deliver 35 per cent affordable housing overall.

The development currently contains plans for 363 new affordable homes, including 237 social rented and 126 shared ownership homes. The lack of family housing in an area with great demand for it was also questioned.

It was revealed at the planning committee meeting that only 16 per cent of units would have three or more bedrooms and just three units were set aside for those with four bedrooms.

Southwark planning officers said: “The applicant has agreed to consider whether there is scope for more larger affordable units to be provided and a condition has been included to secure this.”

The proposals also include a 48-storey tower block, which will become the fourth tallest residential tower in London once completed, and other buildings will rise up to 37 storeys.

Residents said the design and height was not in keeping with the local area and would encroach upon existing properties such as the Grade-II listed buildings at Canal Grove.

A Canal Grove resident said: “While we have received assurances that this particular development will not directly overshadow us, the cumulative impact of these developments will substantially affect us and does not address local housing needs.

“We know there is a housing crisis and that the money from developers has knocked the sharp edges off austerity for the council, but we lament the loss of industry and jobs and question if this is the best and only solution.”

Concerns were raised by community action group Vital Old Kent Road over the shrinking of available retail units by up to 40,000 sq ft, squeezing out existing retailers such as B&Q and Halfords.

A member of the group and owner of a local manufacturing business, Mark Brearley condemned the lack of provision for industrial work spaces.

He said: “This scheme highlights the parallel failure to accommodate retail businesses. Officers are recommending approval of a scheme that would reduce retail floor space by around 40,000 sq ft, pushing out B&Q who have made clear that they do not want to leave.

“But we should shout back that 50 jobs here, 60 jobs there, should not be belittled, thrown away lightly, after all that’s peoples’ livelihoods and their self-respect.”

Southwark planning offers said: “Officers have been working with the applicant to ensure B&Q would be offered part of the destination space.

B&Q would be offered first refusal on the destination space, at normal market rates. The plan makes provision for 437sqm of potential space for B&Q.”

The new development will take around six years to build but developers Galliard Homes and Aviva Investors say it will contribute to wider planned regeneration when finished.

Helen Rainsford, senior director at Aviva Investors, said: “Aviva Investors is pleased planning consent has been granted for the regeneration of Cantium Retail Park.

Working with Galliard Homes, we believe we can create a superb residential-led mixed-use development that will transform the site for the benefit of the local area.”

Stephen Conway, executive chairman of Galliard Homes, said: “The regeneration of Cantium Retail Park will serve to kick-start the wider planned regeneration and transformation of the entire Old Kent Road into a vibrant new high quality commercial, retail and residential destination for South London.”

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