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Bermondsey Street Conservation Area

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Wednesday 30 October 2013 4.52pm
The Bermondsey Street Conservation Area is under its most significant threat since the Bickel's Yard site happened during the 1990s. The Conservation Area has existed since 1973, and has been attacked and defended many times. Some battles have been lost and others simply missed. It is not a Conservation Area because of the importance of every individual building, but because the buildings together have an integrity as a group.

The proposed demolitions at 6-16 Melior Street to make way for a new proposed development to provide 37 residential units, a community centre and flexible commercial space, etc., ticks all the planning boxes but this would be achieved by destroying the existing group of buildings and ripping out the character and centre of the Conservation Area block. The proposed 4-7 storey development is gross overdevelopment in my view - justified by the developers because they say there will be taller buildings to the North, West and East of Melior Street. That is not the point. Buildings in the Bermondsey Street C.A. are usually between 3-4 storeys and only rarely reach 5 storeys. The block must be considered as a whole and it should be respected as part of the existing Conservation Area. There has not been a concerted attack like this on the Bermondsey Street Conservation Area for a long time. Those proposing the plans are supported by massive investment and can afford to engage expensive consultants to justify a money-making project to the detriment of the future of the Conservation Area.

There are often attempts to chip away at Conservation Areas, and the success of the South Bank and SE1 has put the Bermondsey Street C.A. under considerable development pressure for some time now. The KM Heritage and Design Report on the LBS planning Applications web site talks about the setting of the Horseshoe Inn, the views down Melior Street and then states that the C.A. buildings are worthless, after all the good work to establish and maintain Conservation Areas in Southwark since 1973. The developers cite the Woolyard development on Bermondsey Street as a good exemplar (which in conservation terms all unanimously agree with - heritage meets modern), but then propose to do something completely different by inserting an overbearing alien grey brick structure that reflects little sympathy with its historic surroundings.

All the existing buildings should be retained and rejuvenated. An additional storey could be added to the low Manna Centre buildings, the top floor of the newer school block would be a fantastic duplex penthouse and a four storey residential block with shops at street level could be inserted into the gap and replace the newer presbytery on Melior Street, forming an internal courtyard. The new Manna Centre could be in the existing school block attached to the church and all could be paid for by this more modest scheme. A revised scheme, similar to that at the Woolyard, using the existing buildings, should be submitted to leave a decent legacy for the future.

If you feel moved to stop the demolition of the Conservation Area, please leave your comments at the LBS Planning web site
Planning Application numbers: 13/AP/3060 (demolitions) and 13/AP/3059

I wish to declare that I do live next to the proposed development and designed and built my building in 1989 to fit in with and respect the Conservation Area. Also I was the Chair of Southwark’s Conservation Areas Advisory Group (CAAG) from 1992 to 1997 and helped put conservation on the agenda in Southwark.
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Thursday 31 October 2013 7.23pm
Hi Michael,

Having just been on site @ your property for the BSAP Hallowe'en Party, I can visualise just how overbearing this scheme will be.

It's hard to get a sense of that grey façade, loss of light and privacy, and clumsiness of the overall new-build design just from reading your comments above.

Perhaps you could just give other SE1ers 3 bullet points about the faults of the proposed buildings to fire up their imaginations and get them to comment to Southwark.

Full Disclosure: I had two glasses of wine and a slice of pork pie at the BSAP reception. I am not bought that cheaply, so these comments represent my personal thoughts on the matter...
Wednesday 6 November 2013 3.33pm
I must say I agree with Michael - though I would perhaps be a bit more concise. The effect of granting this application would seriously undermine the whole concept of the Bermondsey Street Conservation Area. If you can ignore the principles of the Conservation Area by citing tall buildings at the boundary then all that is needed to destroy the conservation area entirely is a series of tall buildings at the edges. I have seen the plans for this development. The proposal is excessive, unsympathetic and takes no account of the neighbouring properties. I would urge people to object.
Monday 25 November 2013 2.09pm
Dear Michael,

I read your post with interest.

I own 60 Weston Street which is within the Bermondsey Street Conservation Area. The proposed development of Melior Street and Snowsfields under planning references 13/AP/3059 & 13/AP/3060 is a proposal which will alter the area to the great disadvantage of business owners and local residents.

The application, in my view, is essentially disingenuous. Buried within the application and effectively concealed is a pedestrian access route accessed via a small alleyway between 60 & 62 Weston Street which will be the only access to the commercial space within the development.

The commercial space, in my view, will also include an effective entrance for The Manna Centre. I calculate that there could be 200 or so Manna Centre clients using this alleyway 7 days a week plus 490 commercial pedestrian movements potentially 24 hours a day. This will have a dramatic and highly negative effect on the neighbourhood.

Accordingly, I would urge all your contacts to write to the local authority at Planning Division, Development Management (5th Floor - Hub 2), PO Box 64529, London, SE1P 5LX and provide cogent planning reasons why this application should be refused.

I list below what I believe would be reasons to stop this scheme:-

1) Effect on character of neighbourhood

The sheer quantum of people using this narrow alleyway and congregating on the pavement in Weston Street opposite The Greenwood Theatre would create

2) Noise & Disturbance

The proposed use of this alleyway to the rear of commercial and residential properties in Snowsfields and Weston Street will blight people's quiet enjoyment of this space.

3) Overlooking

Making what is currently a quiet alleyway into, in effect, a public pavement will result in overlooking of 60 Weston Street and the rear of properties in Snowsfields and Weston Street.

4) Loss of Privacy

The foregoing will result in a loss of privacy to all the residents in Snowsfields and Weston Street that have views of The Church and current City Banking College buildings.

5) Effect of Development on Residential Amenity

For all of the above reasons I think there will be a negative effect on amenities in the local area.

6) Overdevelopment

I think the sheer scale of this development does not respect the surrounding existing buildings within the conservation area.

7) Design, Bulking & Massing

It is noticeable and. in particular, on the Snowsfields frontage just how overbearing this development would be if granted permission.

8) Out of Character/Out of Scale/Overbearing

Due to the sheer quantum of building footprint proposed on this site, it does not sit well within the conservation area.

9) Higher Standards Within a Conservation Area

For all the foregoing reasons, any development should relate and sit sympathetically within the conservation area. This proposed development by its design and materials is alien to the locality.

10) Highway Safety

If several hundred people can enter and exit this narrow alleyway to commercial premises (including The Manna Centre clients) will result in there being inadequate space as the pavement is 2m wide or less at this point. When the modernisation of London Bridge station is completed Weston Street will be a principal route to the station and the sheer number of pedestrians will likely result in people being forced onto the road with dangerous consequences.

For any and all the above reasons I would urge all those interested in preserving and enhancing the conservation area to write to Southwark Council objecting against this scheme citing any and all of the above reasons which are cogent and material facts which the local planning authority ought to take into account when determining this application.

As a final note, maybe neighbours could contact the local councillors (Denise Capstick/Mark Gettleson/Linda Manchester) so that they in turn can make representations to the planning officers to refuse this application.

I hope we can rally the neighbourhood against this ill considered scheme.

Frank Silver
Tuesday 26 November 2013 11.26am
oh please. You don't want to see anything at all outside of your self-congratulatory conservation area? Worried about your house price? I have no idea why people like you lot live in London!

The only over-bearing thing around here is your pathetic local politics! Not only is there a housing shortage but to rub salt into the wounds these selfish demands don't even lead to a more attractive or more useful building and quite the reverse!
Monday 7 April 2014 10.56am
Having just seen the proposed photo for this - although it is a nice design, in my opinion it really does not 'fit-in' with that area. Most of the immediate buildings around there are terracotta, the guinness Trust opposite, the Church adjacent and the parade of shops in contrasting paler brick. This is an opposing designer dark grey and black - It does however marry with St Guys hospital in the background prior to cladding. It looks higher than other buildings there which could be a deceptive photos, but of course if true sets a precedent for other tall buildings to get permission immediately a well as buildings out of character. If this is a conservation area, and it should be - then of course people have the right to be upset. If you cover up pebbledash on a house in Hampstead, the council insist you re-instate it. Not Southwark - you can build a skyscraper as long as theres a back hander involved. Although not a conservation area - take a walk along Hopton Street and look at what now swallows up the delightful Alms Houses to get an idea of what is being allowed.
Southwark council seem to be give the go-ahead to whatever is put in front of them. It's frightening and prolific. The way Georgian Terraces (everyone loves) were pulled down in the 60s and high rises thrown up in their place. Once building starts backhanders are agreed to get rid of affordable housing. Chinese then buy and never move in. Again look at Neo Bankside - most of it's empty. The comment about housing shortage - is there - really?
Monday 7 April 2014 11.56am
What is the point of having a "conservation area" then if it can be continually threatened?
It makes no sense, does it?

Southwark council are wrecking the borough with their greed. I agree with koykat about the Hopton Street Alms Houses. The Neo development is wedged in behind them, crowding them out in an ugly way. Worse still is the fact that many of the flats are empty, or residents sit with the lights off every evening.
We have to find a way to stop this.
Thursday 16 October 2014 12.50pm
I know this thread was finished some time ago, but have just seen the photos of this development in last night's Standard. I am really horrified at what Southwark have given permission for; demolition of a particularly good warehouse and erection of yet another clone building, completely out of place. Why were the developers not forced to at least retain the outside of the building? these original buildings are what makes London special. Shame on you Southwark Council.
Thursday 16 October 2014 2.06pm
Another outcome might be that Southwark council blocks, estates and properties located within Conservation Areas can now be redeveloped and open spaces infilled. As the crawl continues to provide at least 11,000 New build Council homes in Southwark. Or more student digs costing hundreds of pounds a week for the university boom.

Everything in Southwark is now up for sale under the current administration Leadership who steer open clear contempt for many streets, villages, communities where they do not live themselves.

And anyone who dares to speak up is declared 'anti [something]‘ anti council, anti capitalist, anti affordable housing and so on. The usual divide and rule habit mixed with a few cult techniques. Truly pathetic.

It helps to understand that Southwark's Planning Committee is becoming toothless and powerless.

All Conservation Areas should stay very alert and seek additional protection for open spaces with CA's.

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