New Bermondsey: Millwall rebranded and set for change as Boris Johnson fast tracks new homes

Mayor Boris Johnson’s push to revamp a run down-area sandwiched between Peckham and Rotherhithe, and call it New Bermondsey after its fashionable riverside neighbour, is paying big dividends. Expect to see big changes within six years...
Bermondsey’s residential rise has been unstoppable in the past decade, with buyers and renters flocking to its fashionable riverside neighbourhoods, such as Shad Thames.

Now change is spreading to the gritty hinterland — Millwall Football Club territory — where Mayor Boris Johnson has stepped in to fast-track regeneration of a run-down, semi-industrial tract, renaming it New Bermondsey.

Even posh Grosvenor Estates, the Duke of Westminster’s property company, has set its sights on this promising patch, buying up the former Peek Frean’s biscuit factory for new homes and workspaces for small businesses.

Turbo boost the Home Zone
The area under the spotlight is sandwiched between Peckham and Rotherhithe, and is so close to central London that it gets into the large print pages of the A-Z. By designating it as a housing zone, the mayor is giving  the area a turbo-boost, accelerating development. What was initially planned as a 12-year initiative is now expected to take half that time.

A new Overground station, already partly built due to the recent East London line upgrade, is expected to open within two years. It is located at Surrey Canal Triangle, a 30-acre site wrapping around railway viaducts, where developer Renewal will soon unveil the first phase of 2,400 new homes — high- and low-rise, a mix of apartments and family houses.

Other planned developments include shops, parks and squares, cycleways and footpaths, a “creative quarter” with galleries, artists’ studios and live-work units, plus the biggest new sports complex since Crystal Palace National Sports Centre was built in 1964. Derelict railway arches will be refurbished and re-let as commercial premises and some will be opened up as part of new pedestrian routes.


Big Green Giant
Green architecture plans focus on community gardens and allotments on  top of apartment blocks, while an estate recycling system will link into a neighbourhood heat and energy centre that incinerates rubbish. Rainwater will be collected and used for fountains and street sculptures. To register, call 020 7358 1933.

Currently raw and uninviting, this Zone 2 area is relatively cheap and likely to attract lower-budget buyers — certainly investors — as the new  station will open up quick commutes to the City, West End and Canary Wharf. The proposed Bakerloo line extension runs through this swathe of Bermondsey, too.

There is also a proposal to reinstate Grand Surrey Canal, built in 1807 as a trade route to the docks, but concreted over in 1971. This opens up the possibility of popular waterside homes. Much of the land is being sold off by Lewisham council. Builders are past masters at talking up rough urban areas and glossing over the negatives, peppering brochures with gyms, concierges and car clubs, so do your homework before you rush in to buy off plan. Is this the location for you?

From £250,000: Chevron Apartments has 37 loft-style flats behind a Fifties factory façade. Call 20 7749 3810

Launching in June
Bermondsey Works, in Rotherhithe New Road, is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2017. It is being  built above a new free school and  City of London sixth form academy — another improvement to the area’s infrastructure. There will be 148 homes, mainly apartments, but  also two-storey “villas”. Prices start from £342,500. Call Telford Homes  on 01992 809800.

Chevron Apartments, in St James’s Road, comprises 37 loft-style flats behind a Fifties factory façade, with an impressive double-height entrance foyer created from the original loading bays. A warm-brick warehouse-style extension at the rear links with a landscaped cobbled courtyard. Prices start from £250,000. Call estate agent Stirling Ackroyd on 020 7749 3810.

Old Kent Road, which forms the western boundary of this patch being sold as an “opportunity area”, is also getting a facelift. One of the oldest routes in England, it was created by the Romans and famously used by Chaucer’s pilgrims travelling from Southwark to Canterbury. In Victorian times, it was a handsome thoroughfare lined with famous pubs and music halls, later converted to cinemas. A sprinkling of heritage buildings survive amid the large retail stores, which are now being bulldozed for homes.

A former car showroom has been demolished to make way for Park View, occupying a prominent corner site overlooking 140-acre Burgess Park, recently refurbished. Under  way nearby is Old Kent Road, a scheme of 27 flats by Higgins Homes. Call 020 8508 6000. Spark, a development by Hyde housing association, has apartments for sale or rent. Shared-ownership options start at £101,500 for a 35 per cent share. Call 0845 6061221.
New look: one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments at Old Kent Road. Call 020 8508 6000.

Grosvenor: the people’s Lord
Grosvenor’s foray into this traditionally working-class area is highly significant, as the company normally confines its activities to the gold-plated territory of Mayfair and Belgravia, where it owns 300 acres. Peek Frean closed in 1989  and the site became an industrial estate. Grosvenor paid £51 million for the 11-acre site and lobbied Boris Johnson to make the area a high-density development zone.

The company is working on fresh plans for a mixed-use scheme of homes and small business premises.Grosvenor has a track record in “place-making” — creating and  enhancing neighbourhoods — and says that it is “starting the process at  Bermondsey by getting to know the people and the area”.

Community initiatives include planting a new orchard in nearby Southwark Park and support for Old Vic Workrooms, an outpost of the famous theatre company, while a new secondary school is proposed as a way of enticing more families to the area.

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