Having read part of Southwark Council's London Bridge Planning Framework covering Bermondsey Village and the Bermondsey Street Conservation Area I feel that the council are too accommodative to the desire of large scale developers at the expense of the character of our neighbourhood.
Southwark Council makes plenty of relevant and worthy observations about the area:
*The fine grain character and scale of the medieval street pattern remains largely intact... particularly in the Bermondsey Street Conservation Area.
*A series of alleyways and courtyards lead off Bermondsey Street. The narrow arched entrances along Bermondsey Street are a distinctive feature of the area.
The general planning recommendations appear constructive too:
*The scale and setting of historic buildings... should be protected and improved. The dominant building type is 19th century warehousing of small to medium scale. Historic warehouse buildings should be adapted and reused.
*The conservation area is quite sensitive to buildings heights and the impact of tall buildings on the appreciation of the area needs to be carefully considered, in particular the view down Bermondsey Street.
*Development should respect the established building height of the area. The predominant building height is 2 to 5 storeys.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the council recommends that consideration should be given to a building of on St. Thomas Street of 100 metres(!!!) in height, at the Weston Street end of the current car park site, which steps down significantly towards the Bermondsey Street Conservation Area.
Why? Given everything the council has written about the important historical character of our neighbourhood why should consideration be given to anything other than a 2-5 storey building? Recently local residents vocally objected to a high-rised development on the site of the former Recall warehouse, why doesn't the council take into account these kind of local objections when formulating new planning frameworks?
I can't make it, but I would like to know why the warehouse between Snowsfields and Vinegar Yard is on the cards for demolition by the same people that think it's so much part of the landscape that they've used a photo of it on the Shard hoarding.
The council have done it simply to grab an "opportunity" with the building of the Shard at London Bridge Station, hoping few will object as tall buildings are being built in the neighbouring area (I am strongly of the opinion that the area to the West of Weston Street is different to that East of it and should remain so). Its one of those things where the council will see development in this area as a way of creating a way of subsidisng the other parts of the borough through a rise in such things as Council Tax or Business Rates. The whole scheme to recalssify the area basically along St Thomas Street should be vigorously opposed.
The area to the West of Weston Street between St Thomas Street and Snowsfield is basically Guy's Hospital including a related tall housing block. The architecture is modern(ish)and not very attractive. South of Snowsfield there is more residential building, a Ronald McDonald House and some small business units. Again most of this architecture is new and of no particular merit, with some of the housing being tall buildings. To the East of Weston Street the architecture is generally of a much lower height, varies in age but is generally much older, and where its is new some of it has been more sympathetically repalced. The nature of the 2 areas is very very different and to anyone who visits will be immediatley obvious. This is why I cannot see the reason to extend the remit for high buildings further East than the London Bridge Station area with the Shard and Guy's being that areas prominent high buildings. Also a row of high buildings, basically along the St Thomas Street corridor, will emphasise the divide between the area and the river, already a problem with the railway lines into the station, creating a "wall" and to a point creating a type of low rise ghetto to the South of it where people may feel cut off from the busy area to the North.
I'm sure i'll get shouted down....but am I the only person that likes the idea of these 3 towers at the end of bermondsey st ??!! I love the juxta position of shiny new skyscrapers and old warehouses....
The idea of old next to new is very visible on Bermondsey Street. Some good examples, some average examples and some bad. There are also a number of just bad looking buildings on Bermondsey as they are run down and otherwise needing a lot of attention.
The idea of tall buildings is not even a bad one. Maybe there needs to be some accommodation in terms of how the transition is handled. A common requirement placed on an architect.
At this time there is no plan being proposed so there is no way to know what the two might look like when placed together. There is a proposal to in effect zone or designate a specific area as a suitable for high buildings. No definition of high, what they might need to look like or how they could be used.
Frankly the ugly buildings that are high in the area are the two residential tower blocks plus Guy's Hospital. As they already exist the only thing that can be done is to improve the standard going forward if and when it makes sense to go up.