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Bermondsey Street Southwark Council Development Work Group

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Wednesday 11 July 2007 6.56pm
I'm hoping that this thread will be an ongoing thread and serve as a conduit for those people who were at the Bermondsey Street Working Group meetings to give their impressions to interested parties and also for those who can't make these meetings to make comments which will get back to the Southwark Council organisers.

Here's my summary and I hope that others at the meeting will jump in and offer additional comments and corrections if necessary.

The event was organised by Sally Crew, Principal Transport Planner in Transport Planning, Southwark Council along with 2 people from Mouchel Parkman a consultancy firm.

We met at the intersection of Bermondsey Street and Tower Bridge Road. Perhaps 15 local people were there, as far as I could tell, all of them from north of Long Lane. We broke into 2 groups and did our walking tour as basically 2 distinct groups. Seven key areas were targeted on a map as focal points for discussion:
1) The little square of shops which forms the extreme southern tip of Bermondsey Street
2) The intersecection of Long Lane, Abbey Street and Bermondsey Street
3) The area around Newham's Row
4) Tanner St. Park
5) Tyer's Gate and White's Ground
6) The intersection at Crucifix Lane/St Thomas St and the rail tunnel
7) The intersection of Bermondsey Street with Tooley Street but we never made it there and didn't really discuss it (at least in my group).

Sally had us focus our discussions on several main issues:
1) Pedestrian use of the street currently and how we might wish it to be
2) The role of vehicular traffic, parking and the options
3) Problems relating to bicycles, wheel chairs and prams
4) The streetscape, how it's unique and how to preserve that uniqueness
5) Shops and how to encourage small shops with unique character
6) Redesigning the street pavement and footpaths to increase pedestrian use and “calm” traffic.
The groups spent approximately 2 hours walking up Bermondsey Street discussing all of the above issues. Of course there were divergences of opinions, for example on car and lorrie usage (nobody was in favour of the heavy use we currently have, the diverginces were around what is an appropriate amount, eg, residence parking, business loading and unloading needs, the craziness around the Tanner Street intersection and the speed permitted on the street, traffic calming, etc).

After 2 hours we returned to the hall at the lower end of Bermondsey Street and again broke into groups. Ludvik from Marchal Parkman made a presentation. The team had already made quite a detailed study of Bermondsey Street for the past several months and had quite an array of statistics and annotated photos at hand. They had wall charts showing problems they knew about, potential solutions based on other towns and cities in the UK and abroad.. They had stats on vehicle trips per day on Bermondsey Streett (3000 plus) and pedestrian trips per day (range around 2000), growth maps of the street from 1790 and so forth.
Then we did some group discussions on topics like “What are the 3 most important areas of concern related to Bermondsey Street” “What would improve the Bermondsey Street experience for pedestrians” and “What should be the role of vehicular traffic on Bermondsey Street”.

At that point a chap from the transport section of the council talked about the project to cleanup and modernise the rail tunnels on the old Greenwich to London Bridge viaduct (for example the very interesting techniques used on Ropers Lane or the viaduct by Druid Street). Anyway the hangup with the Bermondsey Street Tunnel is its controlled by Transport for London and not the Council and TFL use it as a strategic road so closing it for 3 months to clean it has been an inter-beaurocratic arm-wrestle which may now be resolved.

The discussions went on to 17:30 when Sally closed the meeting. There will be follow up meetings in the autumn. Sally is aware that work prohibits people from attending and she will at some point try to address that issue. I've told her that I'll be starting this tread and while the rules of her job don't permit her to freely discuss council thinking on a forum, she will be aware of this thread and posting your thoughts and comments here will likely be read by her.

I think there were several people who might have approached the meeting with some scepticism but my impression was that everybody was impressed by the team's organisation, understanding of the street and its history and grasp of the problems. I wish I could remember the priorities the team has but the ones I do remember are:
To increase the enjoyment of the street to pedestrians and cyclists and limit traffic
To increase the safety for anyone on the streets and rationalise traffic flow
To encourage small unique shops which add a unique character to Bermondsey Street
To encourage human centred development and spaces

I could go on and on. Very well done IMO. I I hope some others will chip in with more points and if I erred or misstated, etc, please correct me. Hope this was cogent!

Wednesday 11 July 2007 7.02pm
This is interesting. Not a great time to have the meeting - midweek, during the day, at a time when many people may be away - but I guess it would be impossible to stage it at a time everyone found convenient.

I'm curious about the mission "to encourage small unique shops which add a unique character to Bermondsey Street". Bermondsey Street is pretty strong on this front. Is there a drive to have more shops of this sort? How will uniqueness be encouraged? How does this square with the development on the nearby Recall site? And why specifically Bermondsey Street?

The other thing I don't quite follow is this: "To encourage human centred development and spaces". What exactly does that mean in practice?

It may not be possible to answer these questions succinctly. I suppose what I am driving it is that it seems as though Bermondsey Street may be being nurtured as a kind of micro-community to draw in fashionable types from outside the area, and I would have thought a strategy that extended beyond this one street would make more sense in terms of local residents and business.
Wednesday 11 July 2007 7.05pm
Well done, you! This an excellent summary and I hope it will involve many more people.
Wednesday 11 July 2007 7.21pm
Just to add that the terminology in my post is mine, Longlaner so be aware that the vagueness of my terms like "human centred" is my fault, not the organising team.
Wednesday 11 July 2007 8.15pm

This is very public-spirited of you. Thank you for taking the trouble to report back from the meeting.
Wednesday 11 July 2007 10.10pm
Fair enough, Eric. I shall be quiet in that case, as the usefulness of your post completely prevails over any possible cavils about woolly expression!
Wednesday 11 July 2007 10.57pm
Hi Eric, thanks for the summary. I was keen to go along but work commitments got in the way.

Was there any talk about the row of shops on the corner of Bermondsey Street and Long Lane and whether they would be retained in the proposed development of the antiques market buildings?

Whilst I am unconcerned about the other antiques market buildings on the plot being demolished I feel retaining and restoring these shops is important.
Friday 13 July 2007 1.57pm
There was some talk about the row of shops on Bermondsey Street and Long Lane. It seems the council has given permission to knock them down! It's amazing to me too, they're dated 1888. Everybody on the walk was upset by this. Apparently because the developers used the Long Lane address, they got away with this. I'm not sure if anything can be done about it at this point but I agree its pathetic.
Thursday 19 July 2007 2.10pm
If the address is right, according to the council's planning application web, the initial proposal for the demolition the old antiques market building has been refused: 241-253 LONG LANE, LONDON, SE1 4PR
Thursday 19 July 2007 4.59pm
Henry wrote:
If the address is right, according to the council's planning application web, the initial proposal for the demolition the old antiques market building has been refused: 241-253 LONG LANE, LONDON, SE1 4PR

That would be brilliant. I kind of remember the street numbers being higher than that but if its the old antiques market building then that's it. Cheers!
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