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Bermondsey Village Action Group has been formed by local residents and businesses as a response to poor consultation by Southwark Council regarding its Supplementary Planning Document (SPD). The document’s stated aim is to set out guidelines for limiting the impact of development in Southwark as a whole.

The SPD also establishes approved zones for tall buildings. We believe that the purpose of creating such zones is to pre-empt opposition by forming policy without the involvement of affected parties (who would otherwise have statutory consultation rights). One of BVAG’s main aims is to ensure the public is allowed to exercise its right to genuine consultation on the tall building zone.

Following demands from concerned residents of Bermondsey about the transparency of the initial consultation, a new public consultation on the SPD was held from 17th September to 29th October, 2010.  For the duration of the second consultation BVAG operated an information centre and Cafe to facilitate discussion and raise awareness among local people of Southwark’s high-rise plans for the area.

At the one and only public meeting in the area organised by the Council to coincide with the second round of consultation on the proposed SPD the Head of Planning Policy, Mr Simon Bevan, announced a retreat from the originally proposed high-rise zone boundary.  Confronted by an angry audience of now much better informed locals he quickly conceded that Bermondsey Street was not a suitable location for tall buildings after all.  A week later we received a re-drawn map showing a reduced high-rise zone, a bit unclear as to its precise delineation but certainly now excluding any sites in Bermondsey Street.

BVAG is now focused on securing a more complete retreat from the high-rise plans for St Thomas Street and promoting an alternative vision that treats the railway viaduct as an important feature of the area, both historically and aesthetically.  In our vision the viaduct is the obvious kernel of a more aware and sensitive treatment of St Thomas St as a pedestrian friendly, café/retail environment.  As CABE noted when reviewing the proposed building in 2003, the emergence of the Shard, with its expected 15 000 occupants, makes the creation of complementary associated public space a necessity.  We will be working up our plans for a different approach to St Thomas Street over the coming months.  All interested local residents or businesses are welcome to attend our meetings – normally held on Wednesday evenings.

 

INFORMATION OFFICE

14 CRUCIFIX LANE, LONDON SE1 3JW

Telephone: 0207 378 0707

 

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