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Bermondsey Sq. Lifeblood or slippery slope?

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Tuesday 28 January 2003 7.58am
We are amidst a fantastic debate about the future of the Tower Bridge area, but the central issue as to whether we are going to be able to go to a decent deli/chill out in a vaguely decent bar/have a choice of decent eats
will be the future development of Bermondsey Square, and the ripple affect
thereafter. The development of Bermondsey Spa is intriguing, but I have heard conflicting rumours about the Square, from a fantastic example of
modern architecture coexisting with a sensitive incorporation of the
antiques market to a monstrous business/multiplex combo. What are the facts, and although on a selfish level I would love to have more choice, I don't want this fantastically mixed area to become another over sanitized Shad Thames.

Thursday 30 January 2003 11.17pm
You may find the contents of the recent Urban Catalyst newsletter of interest...


Much has happened since the issue of our last leaflet telling you about the initial archaeological investigations under Bermondsey Square. Those investigations have been successfully carried out. We have continued to consult extensively with many local people and organisations. We have listened carefully to what you have said to us - and revised our scheme to reflect your views.

Our revised planning application has now been submitted to the Council, and if you are on the Council's list of consultees, you'll shortly be receiving a letter from the planning officer letting you [know] that they have received our application.

The Council's letter will tell you where you can view the new plans. If you're out at work all day, it may not be easy to get to see the plans, so we're going to be holding an Open Day at the Watch House on the corner of Bermondsey Street and Abbey Street with models and plans for you to see and staff on hand to respond to your questions. We'll give you more details of this event very soon.

The views and ideas you have expressed over the last few months have helped us to remodel the development. We have appointed new architects, Munkenbeck and Marshall, and working with them we have made some important changes. These will greatly reduce the scheme's impact on the Bermondsey Street Conservation Area and the listed houses to the south of Bermondsey Square. These changes come after extensive discussions with local residents, market traders, CABE, English Heritage, local Councillors and the Council planning officers.

Bermondsey Street Block - We have reduced its height and massing. This has effectively opened up the view to St Mary Magdalen and the churchyard.

Tower Bridge Road Block - We have reduced its height and moved it towards the north east corner of the site - and away from the listed buildings to the south of the square - to join with the Abbey Street Block, to form a single building.

Abbey Street Block - We have reduced its height at the western end towards Bermondsey Street, rising progressively to the corner of Tower Bridge Road and Abbey Street.

We are currently in discussion with a number of potential occupiers, including a local film production and art house cinema company, Shortwave Films. With the support of the company, the new square can also be used as an open-air cinema/theatre and for arts and community uses.

Businesses and organisations occupying space in the scheme will pay a service charge to support community activities, and we plan to hold local markets on two further days a week. The square can also include fashion shows, product launches and a range of commercial projects and activities.

As you can see, Bermondsey Square is going to be a very lively and exciting place!

As well as community, hotel, retail and leisure uses, the Bermondsey Square development will also provide 40 apartments, plus 15 units of key worker housing.

The fascinating history of the site - from the construction of the 10th Century Bermondsey Abbey through to today - will be commemorated with artwork in the square or on the buildings, and local artists and schools will be developing suitable concepts and themes. Watch out for more information!

We've listened carefully and worked hard to create a scheme for Bermondsey Square, which addresses your comments and concerns and will work within the constraints of the archaeological remains.

“Our goal is a Bermondsey Square with a strong sense of belonging, a safe and welcoming place, a place where people feel proud to live and work”.

July and August 2002 First archaeological investigation - completed
January 2003 Plans submitted to Southwark Council
April 2003 Planning application considered by Southwark Council
Mid 2003 Further archaeological investigations (c. 8 weeks)
Autumn 2003 Construction begins
March/April 2005 Scheme completed

Chris Beales (020 7401 5304/07957 135593) for ideas for business or views on markets and uses for the square
Nik Dockree (020 7383 4994) for information about spaces in the new development
Alastair Gaskin, Project Director (Urban Catalyst 020 7383 4994) for more information on the project

Please call - we'd like to hear from you

Produced by Urban Catalyst and A & C Beales (Consultants) Ltd, January 2003

[apologies to UC for any errors I introduced during transcription]
Monday 3 February 2003 7.37am
Thanks zoodle!

This sounds quite convincing, but i hear there is strong opposition to the scheme, or have the recent modifications appeased the detractors? Has anyone got any thoughts on the matter- i would personally love a cinema there, but only if it was part of a development that guaranteed the antique markets survival, and is a scheme sensitive to the Square's fascinating history...

Monday 3 February 2003 10.08am
Hi Zoodle,

How can I get future copies of this newsletter?

Monday 3 February 2003 10.17am
Bart - The revised plans have only very recently been submitted for consideration, so it may be too early to gauge local reaction. I gather that the plans now include a public performance space that can be used as a cinema, replacing one of the two restaurants. I don't know of changes to the market space, but the height, mass and finish of the buildings have been modified in response to comments. The new architects have an outstanding reputation for sensitive and attractive design.

The plans may be viewed at the John Harvard Library on Borough High Street, as well as at the Council offices.
Anonymous User
Monday 3 February 2003 3.00pm
Dear Bart, Zoodle, Lady Miss Jo-Jo,

I spoke to the project manager at urban Catalyst to find out what was proposed on the site.

As for shopping, what I was really hoping for, and what I suspect you may have been hoping for too, was, amongst specialist shops and cafes, a quality local 'anchor' supermarket like Sainsbury's Local, Tesco Metro etc.

Urban Catalyst described the retail offer as 'local' in response to comments. So unfortunately it seems that SE1 residents will still have to trek a fair distance to the nearest supermarket.

A wasted opportunity?
Monday 3 February 2003 5.54pm
thanks guys,

i will check out the plans in the library- must give it an overdue visit- next door (local studies library) contains a really good archive of material if anyones interested in local history of SE1.

supermarkets? that lil chestnut! i think i saw some costcutter branding on a new shop front on tower bridge road opposite the travel inn- might be ok if its like the one in shad thames, but the one on the corner of grange walk is pretty basic.

still this development sounds promising on (blueprint) paper - they always do! so i will report on the scheme when i check it out...

Tuesday 4 February 2003 10.28pm
just been to check them out and I think the new plans are *excellent*. sure, there will be carpers from the sidelines- there always are with these projects- but I really hope the council give these revised plans the green light- it will be such an improvement for the area.


-MM- The Nature of Monkey was Irrepressible.
Wednesday 5 February 2003 7.30am
i popped in to the library yesterday too, and agree the plans look very convincing. I was encouraged by the fact that the architects (munkenbeck and marshall) are the same team behind where i live! (the newer block in the alaska factory). on that basis and other projects i have come across, they seem to manage to get an interesting Balance of modern solutions using traditional materials.

my only concern is the disruption to the traders if/when construction takes place over the two years. i see on the plans that the southern end of bermondsey street appears as if this will be used for the market when the development is complete- but is there any provision for the traders in the meantime?

Monday 10 February 2003 6.01pm
The Lady Miss Jo Jo - The newsletter just dropped through my letterbox, courtesy of Urban Catalyst. If any more appear the same way, I will copy them to this forum, otherwise call UC on 020 7383 4994 and ask for a copy.

All - I received a circular letter from Andrew Cook, LBoS Development and Building Control Manager, date 30-Jan-02, that notifies interested parties of the submission of the revised plans, the gist of which I copy below.

I believe that UC also want to hold a public exhibition, but I don't yet know where or when.

Planning & Regeneration
Council Offices Chiltern
Portland Street

Your Ref:
Our Ref: 01-AP-1710
Contact: Matthew Mason
Telephone: 020 7525 5470
Fax: 020 7525 5432
E-Mail: Web Site:

Date: 30/1/003


I recently consulted you on an application for development at: Bermondsay Square, New Caledonian Market, SE1
The application has been amended with the following alterations:


* The height of the building has been reduced from 7 to 6 storeys plus a lift core corner feature.
* The overall width and bulk of the building has been reduced on the elevation facing the market square.
* The exterior of the building has been redesigned with a mix of wood, stainless steel and glass.
* The building will accommodate an arts/film performance space on the ground floor with a hotel on the upper floors.


* The building has been combined with the Tower Bridge Road building and features an 8 storey corner feature at the junction of Tower Bridge Road and Abbey Street.
* The height of the Abbey Street elevation has been reduced from 8 storeys to part 6 and part 7 storeys.
* The exterior of the building has been redesigned with a mix of brick and zinc tiles.
* The building will accommodate a bar and restaurant on the ground floor with 42 flats above.


* The height of the building is 6 storeys.
* The distance between the Tower Bridge Road building and buildings on the south side of Bermondsey Square has been increased.
* The exterior of the building has been redesigned with a mix of wood, zinc and glass. The building will accommodate retail on the ground floor with offices above.


Construction of additional 4 storey building to provide 15 one bedroom flats as affordable housing units.

In addition to the usual arrangements mentioned below, the revised application drawings can be inspected at the John Harvard Library, 211 Borough High Street, SEI ftel 020-7407-08071 Opening hours: Mon, Tue & Thu 10-7, Wed & Fri 10-6 and Sat 10-2.

[Checklist for comments - omitted as it just repeats the above points]

The application documents and plans can be inspected at our offices between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm, Monday to Friday without an appointment. However, if you are likely to want to talk to a planning officer about the application you are advised to make an appointment with the case officer, Matthew Mason, by telephoning 020 7525 5470. If the case officer is not available when you call please leave a message and your call will be returned as soon as possible. A duty planner is also generally available between I 0:00 am and 4:00 pm to answer general questions but may not be able to talk in detail about this specific application.

Written comments of objection or support [see attached Checklist] should be sent to the Case Officer at the address shown at the top of this letter within 21 days. The application will not be decided before this 21 day period expires.

However, you should note that although the Council will still take into account comments received after this deadline up to the time that the application is determined, failure to meet this deadline could result in your comments not being taken into consideration as the Council may be in a position to decide the application after the 21 day period. Your comments will be included in the report on the application when a decision is made.

If you know of anyone, including your landlord or other occupants at this address, who you think would be interested in the proposal, please tell them of this proposal so that they may comment if they wish.

Yours faithfully

Andrew Cook
Development and Building Control Manager

[Apologies for any errors in transcription - Z]

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