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.
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.
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:
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.
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.