Immediate action to improve the appearance of two buildings in Borough High Street which have been shrouded in scaffolding for more than half a decade is being demanded by Southwark councillor David Noakes.
Cllr David Noakes has raised his concerns over two buildings owned by King's College London following complaints from constituents.
The derelict shops are part of the Borough High Street conservation area.
Plans were prepared by Grant Littler Studios architects but the buildings at 129-143 Borough High Street have been shrouded in scaffolding for some time and this has prevented the pavement from being upgraded.
"This scaffolding has now been in place since at least 2006," says Cllr Noakes in a letter to the council's deputy chief executive Eleanor Kelly. He also points out that planning officers have indicated that the scaffolding is causing "significant visual harm to the heritage asset".
Council officers have urged Transport for London to consider requesting an improved appearance and limiting an extension of the scaffolding licence to no more than three months.
However, Cllr Noakes says that the suggested improvements to the scaffolding are so minor in nature that there would be an almost negligible aesthetic improvement.
He has now requested the issuing of a section 215 notice which would require steps to be taken to remedy the problem. Failure to comply with a section 215 notice can lead to prosecution.
Cllr Noakes points out that Borough High Street is a designated a secondary Olympic route and that huge amounts of money are being spent seeking to improve accessibility on Bankside and elsewhere to ensure traffic and pedestrian flows are unhindered.
Cllr Noakes has taken up the matter on behalf of residents living on the western side of Borough High Street which is in his Cathedrals ward. The scaffolded buildings are in neighbouring Chaucer ward.
"The scaffolding at 129-143 Borough High Street has been an eyesore for six years," says Southwark Living Streets secretary Erina Rayner. "The fact that it is still there means that the recent paving upgrade has skipped that stretch of footway, so its appearance is now even more derelict.
"The stalemate to getting the scaffolding removed comes as a result of the three key players: King's College, Southwark Council and TfL shifting the blame for inaction between themselves. In the meantime, residents have to put up with this ugly facade and pedestrians have to suffer the reduced area of pavement.
"This is an historic street and Southwark should immediately take planning enforcement action under section 215 powers in the interests of local residents, businesses and visitors to this area. Enough excuses – it is time for action.
Resident Jolyon Maugham believes that the scaffolding may have been in place for as long as seven years.
"In addition to it being a terrible eyesore it restricts use of an already overcrowded pavement," he says. "This is a particular problem for those, like me, with young children with pushchairs, scooters, and so on.
"Enough is enough, and Southwark must now take steps to stop KCL holding its residents ransom."
Claire Maugham of Borough Babies adds: "The scaffolding...is also offputting to the high-quality retailers and developers that Borough High Street needs to attract if it's to become truly family-friendly."
However, a spokesperson for King's College London told the London SE1 website: "Following consultation with Transport for London, an agreement has been reached regarding 129-143 Borough High Street, which will see the scaffolding modified to allow TfL to undertake work on the pavement.
"We are also in the process of applying for a pre-application meeting with Southwark Council to discuss our plans to redevelop the properties, and we expect this to take place within the next month."
The site includes historic Spur Inn Yard owned during Elizabeth I's reign by William Emerson whose son Thomas is recalled in the name of Emerson Street on Bankside.