Old Kent Road skyscraper approved as the area sees huge change

The Old Kent Road is set to change radically in the next decade as the Bakerloo Line is extended down to Lewisham (and possibly beyond).

While that is still possibly over a decade away developers are not waiting and are submitting plan after plan for towers and high density developments along one of London’s most famous streets.


The latest to be approved is 1,100 homes in blocks up to 48-storeys on retail sheds at Cantium Park featuring B&Q, Halfords and Pets at Home. The current land use is woefully poor in an inner London area near Zone 1.

Bakerloo extension future station sites

The Old Kent Road is a vast hodgepodge of mostly post-war, low-rise buildings including numerous retail parks and huge car parks. Away from the road lies industry in parts. The challenge is to retain what works in and amongst mixed-use developments more fitting to inner London where the need for homes is great.

Courtesy Google. 12 minute cycle to London Bridge

The Old Kent Road is a bit of a mess. It’s a broad avenue riddled with planning errors of the past when the intention was to move people from inner London out to suburbs and new towns. That is now seen as a big mistake.

Ideally it will evolve in coming years into something akin to this Valencian street in terms of massing and public realm quality:

Many European cities excel at creating welcoming boulevards

The Old Kent Road doesn’t appear though to be moving into a mid-rise (yet still high-density) area however but a street of towers which some will lament. This scheme will see three tall buildings of 48, 37 and 26 storeys.

Two of the three existing retailers – Halfords and Pets at Home – will move back and B&Q have been offered space.

Developers will contribute Section 106 to push forward Southwark’s plan for Frensham Street park.

What’s interesting is how open the plans are about Section 106 money coming in and where it would go – a big difference to Greenwich Council. A s106 contribution would be made to improve local bus capacity in advance of the Bakerloo Line Extension – and boy would that be needed. At least cycling to central London should be quick – and hopefully cycle lane improvements are forthcoming.

Courtesy Google
Affordable homes

According to the planning notes, “the applicant has committed to providing 35.48% affordable housing measured by habitable rooms, which when measured at 35% would achieve 70% social rented and 30% intermediate. In total, 363 new affordable homes would be provided of which 237 would be social rented homes and 126 would be intermediate (shared ownership)”

Whilst there are questions over how many people can move in before the Bakerloo is up and running and various other controversial issues such as affordability and height, the basic concept here of mixed-use is the model to follow. Three retail warehouses and vast car parks are re-purposed to provide over 1,100 much-needed homes and all three shops potentially retained. A new square and money for a new park is on offer. The Old Kent Road could become a thriving avenue buzzing with life – as so many major streets are on the continent.

This is exactly what should be the focus in Charlton over the coming decade. People will argue about heights, form, massing and more but the concept of mixed-use on brownfield sites is essential to avoid urban sprawl and building on green sites.



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J Smith

I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

2 thoughts on “Old Kent Road skyscraper approved as the area sees huge change

  • I realise the need for affordable housing is a real one but is the answer sticking a 48 storey tower, nearly 500 feet’s worth and about the same height as the Walkie Talkie building, REALLY the answer?
    I fear that London is sleepwalking into a situation which it will regret in future years. The assumption is that London will grow and always be the centre of a service economy but this might not be the case even in ten years time.
    AI is coming to revolutionise the jobs market, many large institutions are worker heavy and if we see a movement towards AI in the financial sector, insurance, law etc that will mean less jobs and less housing demand.
    Plus if companies start shifting work abroad that will be a double whammy and London might suddenly find these buildings are as attractive to live on as a 1970s housing estate.

  • I’m a bit late in replyting to this article – this sue of the fact I’ve not been online much the last month or so as been busy,

    It is good to see, that the OKR is getting some upgrades. I’m fascinated about the road as it is such a vibrant part of London. A part of the OKR does is a ‘ghetto feel’, so the Bakerloo Line extension needs to be done as soon as possible.

    In case you didn’t knew this: OKR 1 station is at the Tesco (Humphrey St) and OKR 2 is where the Toys R Us used to be. The New Cross will be build next to Sainsbury.

    The new buildings look good but would be a better effect if they didn’t build it too high


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