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Southwark throws out KPF’s £500m Bermondsey biscuit factory plans


Southwark Council has rejected KPF’s proposal for a £500 million redevelopment of a former biscuit factory site in Bermondsey because of its lack of affordable housing

The south London authority’s planning committee unanimously voted against plans for the 1,342 build-to-rent scheme on the 6.2ha site near Bermondsey tube station. 

The council had become locked in a disputed with project backer Grosvenor over the affordable housing contribution for the so-called Bermondsey Project.

The developer argued that the most it could offer was for 27.5 per cent of the units to be let below market rents, but the council’s independent viability consultant disagreed. 

Southwark said the offer came in below its policy target of 35 per cent affordable and the discounted units would ‘not realistically’ allow for any significant provision of social rent or London Living rent units.

As well as housing, the scheme would have delivered 10,000m² of office space, retail and leisure space and a replacement secondary school, all in buildings up to 28 storeys high.  

One Southwark councillor said it could have been a ‘fantastic scheme’ but it failed on the ‘absolutely key thing’: providing some benefits for existing residents. ‘I understand the private rented sector and the need for that, but the fact we’ve got no properly affordable housing and no social housing is regrettable.’

Grosvenor chief executive Craig McWilliam said he was ‘obviously disappointed’ by the committee’s decision, adding: ‘Our proposals are for a neighbourhood accessible to the growing majority of Londoners who simply cannot afford to buy, do not qualify for social housing and want the many advantages of a secure, professionally managed home to rent.

‘This includes Southwark’s many health, education, public order and fire-service workers who can, through our proposals, afford to live close to where they work.’

The hybrid application included detailed permission for 16 new buildings, including a proposed 600-place secondary school by Cottrell & Vermeulen Architecture at the heart of the neighbourhood. 

Grosvenor appointed KPF as lead architect on the project following a review of its design team, effectively replacing Karakusevic Carson, which had been appointed to that role in 2015.

Grosvenor - Project Sunbeam

Grosvenor - Project Sunbeam

Grosvenor - Project Sunbeam


Readers' comments (2)

  • Southwark Council getting tough with a developer - surely understandably - but risking getting criticized for blocking major 'improvements', and who's to adjudicate on the obvious disparity between the council's notion of affordability and viability and that of the developer? Who, pray, is the council's 'independent viability consultant? - and where is the government in this increasingly familiar situation - nowhere to be seen?

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  • MacKenzie Architects

    Good questions, everyone knows London needs homes for the people who work there, and especially who don't pull in financial-sector wages and bonuses. Where they might live, and in what conditions they live, should be under constant debate.
    If any of these Councils were serious, they should be compulsory - purchasing land to a Masterplanned solution, or central government should be handing over publicly-owned Railway, Gasometer, Post Office, waste-land etc. etc. for proper neighbourhoods.
    Blackmailing the private developers to modify rubbish greedy schemes to shoehorn in 35% social housing is pretty much a guarantee to get random and daft ideas. If you are going to tax them to get the funds, just do it openly.

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