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