A “social regeneration charter” has been published by Southwark Council, outlining a series of commitments to reduce inequality and make sure development works for everyone in new “high-density areas”.
The council also suggested that four new council estates could be built as part of the Old Kent Road regeneration scheme.
Informed by “thousands of conversations” with residents, business owners, and charities living within the boundary of the planned redevelopment, the charter lists a series of bold promises, including meeting – if not exceeding – the entire housing need for the area; creating the largest “living wage” community in London, doubling existing green space, and providing free youth services and a “cultural offer”.
Given the history of previous regeneration projects encountering widespread opposition and long-running campaigns and legal challenges over affordable housing and business space it would seem Southwark Council is acknowledging, however opaquely, that mistakes were made in the past and is endeavouring not to repeat them.
One line, in the draft document, explains: “The regeneration of Old Kent Road will take place over almost two decades. In order to ensure that this major change works for everyone and that we improve the livelihood of existing and future generations, we will work differently and better with developers…”
The project has been led by Bermondsey councillor Leo Pollak, who has overall responsibility for Tooley Street’s new homes programme. Old Kent Road is the largest regeneration site in his portfolio – 20,000 new homes in two decades.
Of the 20,000 earmarked for the Old Kent Road, 5,000 will be at social rent and 2,000 categorised as “affordable”. It is anticipated the social housing will be constructed within four entirely new council estates.
The council has been buying up brownfield sites in the area for new developments, but will also channel funding, as the News has reported, into shoehorning new homes onto old estates, whether through adding extra storeys onto rooftops or “in-filling” new homes into old estates.
Although the entire project is heavily dependent on the Bakerloo line extension going ahead, and in a prime zone one location, investment is expected to flow regardless.
The Old Kent Road social regeneration charter
- Free-to-access education, sports, culture and youth provision
- Green space doubled in size
- Emissions reduced to safe levels
- Better public transport and zero car parking
- Enough homes to meet the entire housing need for the area
- Rogue landlords eliminated, and 100 per cent of privately rented homes fit for purpose
- Invest in housing estates to make them some of the most prized spaces in London
- Entire area becomes a “living wage” neighbourhood with gender pay audits
- Offer first refusal on new employment space to existing companies
- Achieve “full employment” levels with 10,000 new jobs and fully occupied High Street