New London Architecture

Southwark steps up case for Bakerloo Line Extension housing boost

Friday 04 September 2020

David Taylor

David Taylor

Editor, NLQ

Southwark is pinning its hopes on government approving the Bakerloo Line Extension ‘in the next year or two’ in order to help it build 20,000 new homes in the borough. But it is also pressing ahead with ‘frontier’ initiatives including the biggest programme of rooftop homes in the UK and negotiations with faith groups to do ‘what Jesus would do’ over their land assets within a ‘broken housing economy’.

Southwark’s cabinet member for growth Cllr Johnson Situ said in a special borough briefing yesterday (Thursday) that Old Kent Road, which has played ‘a significant part’ of London’s history as one of its main arteries for some 2000 years, would have two main stations as part of its revised bid for the extension. The BLE has seen ‘positive soundings’ from mayor Sadiq Khan and commitment from TfL, and is seen as crucial to the full success of a two-phased programme of regeneration for the borough. Working with neighbouring boroughs Lewisham and Catford, said Situ, they had identified the potential for in excess of 25,000 new homes, with the extension acting as an upgrade that can increase job numbers too, right across south London. 

The borough’s push for the extension has been ‘a labour of love’, said Situ, but following initial campaigning for three stations along Old Kent Road, it had now identified sites for two – at the ToysRUs and Tesco sites, part of a plan bringing forth ‘genuinely affordable homes to benefit the local community’. ‘It really illustrates the importance of the Old Kent Road in the wider context of London’, Situ said, pointing too to the green space he hopes to unlock, and his pride at having the largest number of social housing starts last year – 783. The plans also include an FE College, a health centre, and attracting more light-industrial and ‘forklift’ kinds of jobs as well as office ones. ‘Our ambition is vast’, he said. ‘But to really unlock the second phase we need the Bakerloo Line Extension.’

Old Kent Road in London context, from Cllr Johnson Situ's presentation
Other speakers included Colin Wilson, head of regeneration of the Old Kent Road at the local authority on plans for the area including provision for distribution companies, where demand has gone ‘through the roof’ as online sales have risen. ‘We think you can have both things’, said Wilson. ‘Really great residential environments and commercial uses for which there is a growing demand in London’. 

Finally, Cllr Leo Pollak spoke about delivering new council housing and the ‘creative’ approaches the council had adopted to build its pipeline and help tackle the housing crisis within a ‘fundamentally broken housing economy’. This includes ‘expanding and enriching’ the borough’s estates, and looking at seven new ‘noble, heroic’ ‘frontiers’ such as building new housing estates, over roads, over water on residential moorings, on roofscapes – the UK’s biggest programme with over 50 sites, four already under construction – and working with faith groups over their assets and forming partnerships. ‘The key thing is that it’s all about locking arms with different faith groups and saying: ‘what is the moral response to a housing crisis of the scale that we have?’, said Pollak, and particularly in the kind of ecumenical kind of Christian meetings that we have. What would Jesus do in the midst of a housing crisis? You can only imagine what follows that’.

Watch the video recording here.


David Taylor

David Taylor

Editor, NLQ


London Boroughs

#NLALondonBoroughs


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