16 January 2019

Back the Bakerloo

Following MICA’s initial strategic studies around the Bakerloo Line, Southwark Council, TfL and the mayor of London have launched a campaign to get the whole city behind the proposed Bakerloo line extension.

MICA worked with Transport for London in 2014 to run a consultation to decide on the preferred route for an extension, followed by the then-London mayor, Boris Johnson's designation of the Old Kent Road as an "opportunity area". TfL eventually landed on a preferred route which went via Old Kent Road, with the line extending to Lewisham, making it more connected to the rest of the tube network than ever before.

The current extension plan is for construction to start in 2023 and to be completed by 2028-2029, at a cost of £3.1 billion. Phase one will potentially see the line's reach expanded from Elephant and Castle to Lewisham, with three new stations built in Old Kent Road, as well as one in New Cross Gate over the Southwark borough boundary in Lewisham. The success of this initial endeavour will determine the fate of the second phase.

Input from the local community is crucial in "getting the plans right", says Councillor Johnson Situ. "This is why we ran a number of public events spanning several years, including the Old Kent Road forum, and why the Back the Bakerloo campaign was set up;' he adds. "More than 6,000 residents have already responded and their views considered."

Situ's sentiments are shared by Colin Wilson, brought in by Southwark Council to spearhead the dedicated Old Kent Road Regeneration team and put a strong plan in place. Wilson says: "We would like to work with the community to get to a point where people feel proud of what's happening and of where they live, so there isn't a sense of living in a place which is falling apart, and not being very well looked after. The regeneration will deliver new homes which are warm, well­insulated, well-designed and look good on the outside and the inside, so if you live there, or if your children live there, you feel a sense of pride about the place, rather than have negative associations with it."

So how does the proposed Bakerloo line extension fit in? "There have been plans in the past to extend it, but that never happened;' Wilson explains. "The current Area Action Plan dates from 2015, when TfL considered two principle options for the extension. One was to go to Camberwell and around to Lewisham, the other was to go down Old Kent Road. A bit like Crossrail 2, it was decided to put the alignment where the greatest potential for growth was, to maximise benefits from the investment in public transport:'

The first phase of the extension will potentially see three new stations on Old Kent Road, named Bricklayers Arms, Burgess Park and Asylum. The second phase will go further afield, reaching Ladywell, Sydenham, Catford and Hayes in Bromley.

"What the extension enables London to do is deliver its housing growth target and accommodate the growth it is predicted to experience over the next three-to-four years", explains Wilson. "The main task for our team is to make sure we take the opportunity that the value created by the Bakerloo line provides residents with better opportunities and business expansion, not just office space, but also distribution and the growth of creative businesses:'

The plan details the positive impact the extension is projected to have on businesses and communities south of the river, but its strongest selling point is the regeneration of the historic Old Kent Road.

"The plan's underpinning ethos is to say that the Old Kent Road will be very different in the future to the way it looks now;' says Wilson. "Geographically, Old Kent Road is in central London, but to a lot of people it just does not feel as such because of the out-of­town retail, the low-density nature of the development there and because there is no tube line. What the Bakerloo line extension will do is confirm its position as the central London location that it is:'
Bringing over 28 years of planning, regeneration and urban design experience into the Southwark project, Wilson points to Old Kent Road's "typical London mix" of ages, characters and styles of buildings, which define the area's character. He says: "There are some older Georgian Victorian buildings which survived second world war bombings, council-owned land with housing estates, some high rises from the 60s and 70s. There is also Burgess Park, which was built after the second world war by clearing old bomb sites:'

"While there are lots of shops [on Old Kent Road], it has never been an officially designated town centre. Part of the reason is that historically it always straddled the boundaries of two local authority administrations. Before, it was on the boundary of Camberwell and Bermondsey. The two were later joined together to make the borough of Southwark. Often on these kind of edges, you don't get civic centres or a town centre character, so what we want is an Old Kent Road as an identified town centre and the density of occupation and activity to make it a definitive place in its own right."

Southwark Council speaks of the extension as "a game changer" for the area, capable of spurring "substantial growth, with the number of homes rising from 14,500 to 34,500 and the number of jobs rising from 9,500 to 20,000".
The extension will facilitate the extra capacity on London Underground for 65,000 journeys (in the morning and evening peak). It will include investment in schools, leisure facilities, parks, walking and cycling connections, a health hub and new cultural offers, as well as higher and further education provision.

Southwark Council says the purpose of the Old Kent Road Area Action Plan is to set out how the best of the Old Kent Road can be nurtured and developed over the next 20 years."
The plan rises to the challenge of the "unique conditions and character of Old Kent Road;' as highlighted by Colin Wilson, by "mixing residential and commercial uses, so that new and existing businesses, including warehouses, shops, creative workspaces and offices will be designed to co-exist with new homes".

Hannah Gal, Southwark Magazine – Issue 20

Find out more about the plans for the Bakerloo line extension and pledge your support for the campaign at https://www.backthebakerloo.org.uk/

To read more about MICA's work on the Bakerloo Line click here

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