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Green light for Pilbrow & Partners’ 48-storey Old Kent Road tower

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Pilbrow & Partners has secured permission for a 724-home mixed-use scheme featuring a 48-storey tower on London’s historic Old Kent Road

Councillors on London Borough of Southwark’s Planning Committee voted to approve plans for Southernwood Retail Park near Burgess Park.

Full planning permission was granted for phase one of the scheme, featuring a huge building rising to 161m above sea level, containing 541 apartments; a 195-room hotel; 940m² of retail use; 541m² of retail and restaurant space; and car and cycle parks.

Outline consent was also give to phase two, which includes a building stepping to 12 storeys to host a further 183 homes, plus a cinema and other facilities.

Earlier in the year Historic England had warned that the high-rise development would damage conservation areas and key vistas, claiming the design would ’have a major townscape impact in a wide range of views […] which we consider to be harmful to the historic environment’.

Although planning officers accepted several views would be harmed by the tower plans they insisted the ’degree of harm would [not] warrant refusal’ and that the ‘harm would be outweighed by the other substantial regeneration benefits’ of the scheme.

Pilbrow & Partners’ scheme includes 219 affordable homes and 75 adaptable/wheelchair units. A new public square will be created.

Existing buildings on the site will be demolished under the scheme, which is backed by investors the Strathclyde Pension Fund.

While not set within a protected zone itself, the site is within 1km of six – the Coburg Road, Trafalgar Avenue, Liverpool Grove, Pages Walk, Bermondsey Street and Peckham Hill Street conservation areas.

Southernwood mix of uses ©pilbrow & partners

Southernwood mix of uses ©pilbrow & partners

Planning officers said there would be some harm caused to the setting of some of these areas – but decided this would be outweighed by the wider regeneration benefits of the proposals. They added that the plans ‘demonstrate the highest standards of architectural design and incorporate the highest-quality materials’.

Pilbrow & Partners senior founding partner Fred Pilbrow said: ‘Set adjacent to the future Bakerloo Line station and facing Burgess Park, the site is a natural heart to the new town centre proposed in the Southwark Area Action Plan.

‘Our vision is to create a vibrant and inclusive urban quarter around a new public space, which will act as the catalyst for the wider regeneration of the Old Kent Road.’

The practice said its proposals ‘respond to the existing and emerging characteristics of one of London’s most dynamic districts’.

It added: ‘Well-defined urban blocks underpin a robust and clear sequence of new public routes and spaces.

‘This will greatly improve connectivity within the opportunity area, with the development becoming an important gateway between the station and the new public square at the heart of the neighbourhood.

‘These spaces are brought to life by the ground-floor frontages of the new buildings and will transform the currently unwelcoming pedestrian environment.’

Pilbrow & Partners' Southernwood Retail Park scheme on Old Kent Road - residential garden

Pilbrow & Partners’ Southernwood Retail Park scheme on Old Kent Road - residential garden

Source: Pilbrow & Partners

Pilbrow & Partners’ Southernwood Retail Park scheme on Old Kent Road - residential garden

Project data

Location Southernwood Retail Park, Old Kent Road
Type of project Mixed-use including residential, a public square, retail, leisure and a hotel
Client Strathclyde Pension Fund
Architect Pilbrow & Partners
Landscape architect Gillespies
Planning consultant JLL
Structural engineer Walsh
M&E consultant Whitecode
Quantity surveyor Gardiner & Theobald
CDM adviser Multiplex 

Pilbrow & Partners' Southernwood Retail Park scheme on Old Kent Road - masterplan

Pilbrow & Partners’ Southernwood Retail Park scheme on Old Kent Road - masterplan

Source: Pilbrow & Partners

Pilbrow & Partners’ Southernwood Retail Park scheme on Old Kent Road - masterplan

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