Old Kent Road

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Introduction

This page gives information about the preparation of the Old Kent Road Area Action Plan. The Plan also provides the Opportunity Area Planning Framework under the London Plan. The aim is over the next 20 years to change significantly a large area on both sides of the whole of the Old Kent Road:

  • to remove large tracts of industrial land and move the businesses from there;
  • to create 20,000 new homes and 5,000 additional jobs;
  • to incorporate the area into central London with central London functions;
  • for the construction of the Bakerloo Line extension.

Consultation timetable

  • Preferred Options draft: Summer 2016
  • Final Submission AAP: late 2016
  • Examination-in-public 2017

Documents

To be kept informed

  • Join Council Old Kent Road Community Forum mailing list: ambrose.omoma@southwark.gov.uk
  • Join Council planning consultation mailing list- email: planningpolicy@southwark.gov.uk
  • Council webpage

Local voices

OKR business voices April 2017

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making a hat
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The Council has redevelopment plans for the Old Kent Road and adjacent areas along the whole of it between the Elephant area towards New Cross Gate. It is a plan to change the nature of the area quite fundamentally. Here is a letter from one of the businesses which has been taking part in the consultations and concerned about the effects locally.

Hello good people who care about The Old Kent Road area, and keeping London fully diverse and vital.
I am the proprietor of Kaymet, a tray and trolley producer that has its factory just behind the Old Kent Road Asda. We have been thriving in the area for 70 years, but now we are worried by the threat of expulsion, and of losing the wonderful network of enterprise around us. In fact there are around 1000 businesses in our part of London, giving work to over 10,000 people, yet the grim reaper now lurks, thanks to clumsy proposals for residential-led redevelopment that are outlined in Southwark Council’s Draft Area Action Plan (AAP). This plan is currently trundling through planning procedures and half-baked consultations.

Whilst changes in this part of London are inevitable, and could be positive, the Council proposals show no enthusiasm for the current economy, and suggest that most of it can be erased. Meanwhile a process of land trading and speculation has commenced, and the cost of a diminishing supply of accommodation is dramatically rising and secure tenure has become near impossible to secure.

Businesses in the area are realising that by working together they can be better informed, and more able to influence proposed developments in a constructive way. A new association has emerged, called Vital OKR. We hope this initiative can grow, and give all those hundreds of vibrant enterprises a stronger voice, creating a conduit for better than the usual consultation, prior to and during the process of change. Through the winter we have been making progress, drawing in members (today we are up to 130) and starting to engage with Southwark Council. We have got the ball rolling with a presence on Twitter https://twitter.com/vitalokr?lang=en, made first moves on a website http://www.vitalokr.com and an Instagram https://www.instagram.com/vitalokr celebration of our economy. More is to come.

We are keen to build a wider group of supporters. Can I now charm you into becoming a Friend Member of Vital OKR? That would be superb. Yes, we need all the support we can get to fight back, to make the case for a future that embraces the existing economy, gives it space to thrive and grow, allows buds to blossom.

A bigger number of members will allow us to be better heard, and build a strong network. Membership doesn't commit you to anything, nor cost a penny, but we will keep you informed. An ever growing membership makes it more likely that we will be heard. If you are willing then please do confirm. You can simply send me an email, or sign up on the (still rather minimal) Vital OKR website http://www.vitalokr.com . Good wishes. Mark, Kaymet and Vital OKR

Developing the OKR business association June 2016

Mark Brearley’s speech at Knocked 'em in the Old Kent Road event, 28th June 2016:

Southwark Council, seemingly supported by the Greater London Authority, have now revealed clumsy plans for the Old Kent Road Opportunity Area.

They have done this after nearly nil dialogue and only faux consultation. They have not communicated with residents or with businesses and the wider civic scene. They plodded through the Issues and Options stage of preparing a plan yet failed to set out the issues and did not properly define options. They have only scant knowledge of what there already is in this part of London, its physical assets, its people, its economy. It is clear that Southwark favour sweeping change, with some expulsion of residents and large scale squeezing out of the existing economy. Their version of the opportunity seems to be to build a steroided suburb, not a mixed piece of city with a diverse and vibrant economy well dovetailed with residential. Their version seems to see an opportunity to bludgeon, not to nurture. They are freely talking of their willingness to expropriate and evict.

This is not good. We all need to shout out against it.

There is indeed an opportunity here. It is a wonderful opportunity, and the way it is embraced can include dramatic growth. But the Council’s way of approaching it so far is crass, destructive, undemocratic. I believe it is also unethical, and unsound in relation to planning rules.

My particular focus is on the economy of this part of London. In the wider areas within reach of the Old Kent Road, including this end of New Cross and Bermondsey, we believe there are close to 30,000 jobs, in 15 hundred businesses, mostly small and medium sized, 77% of them independent. Impressively entrepreneurial. Even in the narrowly drawn Opportunity Area chunk there are nearly 800 businesses, around 10,000 jobs.

I’m the proprietor of one of those businesses, employing 7, making anodised aluminium trays and trolleys in a factory just behind Asda. We’ve been in this part of town since 1947. Next year will be our 70th. We make about 15,000 trays each year and export to 30 countries. We are proud of what we do here in Peckham.

I am really alarmed by what I see in the draft Old Kent Road Area Action Plan because the clear assumption is that businesses like my own are no longer relevant, are expendable, and can expect to be swept aside.

I want the Council to know that we are not keen to be pushed away and have no interest in leaving our borough and our city. I do not believe it is right, or necessary, to turn against industrial uses around here, to expel the vehicle repair businesses, the rich diversity of builders merchants, courier facilities, hirers, storers, launderers, shippers, printers and caterers. The area is stronger for its tin and plastic container makers, the shim producers, the metal polishers and finishers, the hydraulic equipment refurbishers, the waste handlers, the powder coaters, art restorers and steel fabricators, the set and prop, festive decoration and ceremonial hat manufacturers, the cutter makers, the stone carvers, terrazzo producers, bakers, potters, painters and sculptors, the leatherworkers, jewellers, garment and furniture producers, the operators of ice cream vans, and more.

All this is here, around the Old Kent Road, productive, dynamic, providing thousands of jobs, growing strongly. All this industrial activity, and plenty besides that wants to be here, should be welcomed into the area’s future, embraced as part of its transformation, accommodated in new development.

I am keen that the people who are this area’s economy speak up, shout out that we are not nothing. Therefore I am busy gathering support for a business association, we’re calling it Vital OKR, a voice for the economy of the Old Kent Road. Please help us to build our network, to gain members and support.

Patey hat

From VitalOKR July 2016

The Yeoman Warder hat, is produced in Bermondsey, near the Old Kent Road, by Patey Hats. It is one of the hundreds of businesses threatened with expulsion following issue of Southwark Council’s draft Old Kent Road AAP that proposes to replace the Ilderton Road industrial area, and many others, with housing, stating that no other uses are required. A diverse, vibrant and fast growing economy, many thousands of jobs, will be suffocated unless these plans are changed.

Letter from Mark Brearley, Kaymet London Limited, Peckham 7th June 2016

The items from our Bermondsey factory sell in shops around the world, and are found in special households, restaurants, hotels, yachts, planes, coffee shops, workplaces and family places.

Dear Councillor John and Southwark Council Cabinet members,

I am the proprietor of a business based on Ossory Road, in the Old Kent Road Opportunity Area.

We at Kaymet have been producing anodised aluminium trays and trolleys in this part of London since 1947. We are proud to be a growing company that exports to 30 countries and provides good skilled jobs. Ours is one amongst the hundreds of thriving industrial businesses in the area that contribute so much to its economic diversity and vibrancy, a great asset for the future.

I am alarmed by what I see in the draft Old Kent Road Area Action Plan because the clear assumption is that businesses like my own are no longer relevant, are expendable, and can expect to be swept aside. Please be aware that we do not want to be pushed away and have no interest in leaving our borough and our city. I do not believe it is right, or necessary, to turn against industrial uses in the area, to expel the vehicle repair businesses, the rich diversity of builders merchants, courier facilities, hirers, storers, launderers, shippers, printers and caterers. The area is stronger for its aluminium and plastic container makers, the shim producers, the metal polishers and finishers, the hydraulic equipment refurbishers, the waste handlers, the powder-coaters, art restorers and steel fabricators, the set and prop, festive decoration and ceremonial hat manufacturers, the cutter makers, the stone carvers, terrazzo producers, bakers, potters, painters and sculptors, the leatherworkers, jewellers, garment and furniture producers, the operators of ice cream vans, and more. All this is there, around the Old Kent Road, productive, dynamic, providing thousands of jobs, growing strongly. All this industrial activity, and plenty besides that wants to be here, should be welcomed into the area’s future, embraced as part of its transformation, accommodated in new development.

Our classic designs have a simple beauty and will not let you down.

I also want you to know how dismayed I am by the lack of opportunities there have been to engage with, to contribute to, the formation of this draft plan. I only heard of the few public meetings there have been because I approached the Council, wondering what was going on. No one approached me. We have had no letters and no one has come to speak with us. Other businesses I know have similar experiences. Most do not know anything about these plans. I pick up stories of similar lack of engagement with residents of the area. This is not good enough.

I note that the actual consultation to date has had little relationship with what was promised in the Council’s OKR AAP Consultation Plan. There are no signs of any conduits for dialogue having been created, even though conduits is a word used plenty in that document. There have not been any Q&A opportunities, another frequent phrase in the document. No capacity building has happened, even though the document said it would. I have not spotted a single opportunity to properly talk with the Council and their consultants, nor to readily put thoughts to them and talk through scenarios. The Council have not revealed their work to date, nor the work done on their behalf by consultants, indeed a year after work such as the audit of the area’s economy was completed it has still not been made public. I have seen no posters nor exhibitions, have not spotted any mailings or leaflets, all of which were promised.

I am a landowner yet have heard nothing about the Landowners’ Forum promised in the Consultation Plan, and I have not been asked for my views as a landowner. It was stated that the consultation would be most intensive during the issues and options stage, a stage that has now ended, yet still I can find no trace of a clear setting out of all the issues and no coherently defined options have been made public, hardly a good basis for consultation.

In all I feel marginalised and insulated. I fear for my business and for the jobs and self-respect of our team. I am still shocked by how in my only brief conversation with Cllr Williams he managed within a minute to raise the spectre of property expropriation, and how casually Council officers and consultants talk about urban change that could disrupt lives and decimate economic networks. I know that there are many others who feel the same, who want to have their voice heard.

I am aware that today you and the other members of the Cabinet will be considering the draft plan for the Opportunity Area. If the current inadequately considered version of the plan is approved by you today then the area will become the target of more intense property trading activity, will see evictions increase and lease lengths plumet. More and more properties will be held vacant and sites cleared, speculatively. Uncertainty will blight the area. The existing economy, will come under intense pressure, with all the odds stacked against it. Thousands of livelihoods are threatened, prospects for strong growth could be lost, much of the opportunity could be thrown away. I urge you to vote to defer approval of the Old Kent Road Area Action Plan.

We must shape our city together, we must all discuss and agree what a good city is like, piece by piece. Change on the scale anticipated for the Old Kent Road area should be considered with care, should be investigated and discussed at length, in dialogue with the people who have a stake in its future, including residents and all who drive forward its economic and civic life.

the Kaymet trolley

This will require time and real commitment, it will require sharing of information, collaborative investigation, nurturing of voices. It will require much more than the faux consultation of the past year. I and many others would enthusiastically engage in such a process, determined to show how transformation of the area can be inclusive, can incorporate a fully diverse economy, can seize the opportunity in a way that has wide support.
Good wishes.
Design classic: the Kaymet trolley

Mark Brearley, Kaymet London Limited, Peckham, London http://www.kaymet.co.uk
Made in London. Celebrating more than 2000 manufacturers who are part of London's vibrancy