Saturday 6 March 2004 1.18pm
Retail momentum is growing as the public slowly starts to perceive the London Bridge area as one where there is retail. For the last decade it has been a place where office workers 'survived', now there is growing choice. The obstacle has always been the lack of potential punters and that is changing fast.
has established itself as a 'profile' retail destination and that is contributing to the changing perception of the Borough High St area. The growth of residential use will further reinforce that changing perception. As demand for retail space rises, rents will inevitably rise.
The question that I certainly can't answer is how the picture may change in, say, the next 10 years but I'm willing to guess:
The Renzo Piano tower (if and when) will trigger a reappraisal of the Tooley St & St Thomas St frontages. On St Thomas street, the NCP parking will be redeveloped. The street level treatment of the Piano tower (canopying part of St Thomas St to protect against the wind tunnel effect) will trigger a re-evaluation of St Thomas St (and Tooley St) as retail opportunities. The link will then be made with Bermondsey St and retail will become a realistic option for owners/developers.
The Piano tower will also force a reconsideration of Railtrack/Espacia's plans for London Bridge Station
and the tower block opposite the bus station (ie not the Piano tower site) will probably also go back into development. Railtrack/Espacia will have a large part to play in the spread of retail because the arches beneath London Bridge Station
spread right through to the Northern end of Bermondsey St. If Railtrack/Espacia repeat the approach taken on the entries to London Bridge Tube then these arches offer potential for smaller scale (and cheaper) retail space.
Depending upon structural considerations, Railtrack/Espacia could develop the arches immediately parallel to Bermondsey St as retail opportunities with windows let into the Bermondsey St tunnel walls. The pavements are certainly wide enough to accomodate pedestrians and shop windows.
Time scale? 10 to 15 years minimum.
Railtrack/Espacia are the people who really need encouragement. Their original proposals for London Bridge Station
were awful and the Piano tower did everyone a favour by raising the game and causing them to reconsider.
Regards to all