It is our heritage and we must treasure it.” But Dryden admits that such change is rarely straightforward – quite so in this development. “It is never easy to implement change in a community like the Blue as we all feel comfortable in familiar surroundings,” he says. “But after many years of little or no investment, the Blue was looking run down and in need of change, and maybe the best thing to do was go for a totally new look.” The next stage of this regeneration is the refurbishment of the numerous railway arches that cut through the heart of Bermondsey on their way to London Bridge Station. Network Rail has already refurbished many of its arches. Southwark Council is working with a consortium of major food wholesalers to help create over 200 new jobs by bringing redundant arches back into use between Rouel Road and St James’s Road. Neal’s Yard Dairy and Monmouth Coffee have both taken space, joining an existing community of businesses already trading. Together these businesses will occupy over 13,000sq m of space. Neal’s Yard Dairy was attracted to the site for the cool constant temperature and the slight dampness in the arches – perfect for storing cheese!
bermondsey street and bermondsey square
Neal’s yard dairy and monmouth coffee have both taken space Opening up and refurbishing the arches does not only provide space for businesses – it will also greatly improve the quality of life for people living here and lifts this part of the borough. “The railway arches were a barrier to moving around Bermondsey, so improving them has realised the potential of whole new areas,” says Seymour. “The refurbishment of the Spa Road arch has opened up the route through to Bermondsey tube station, and means that people now feel safer walking through this area.” And then of course, there is the Shard, with speculation as to the impact of the 87-storey landmark on Bermondsey. “Undoubtedly, the Shard has had, and will continue to have, a huge impact on London Bridge and its surrounding districts of Bermondsey, Borough and Southwark, in perception, profile, values and private-sector development activity,” says Simon Taylor, from GL Hearn’s planning, development and regeneration team. He adds: “The Shard is the vanguard at the centre of what promises to be London’s next major commercial office district, and the impact on the development market south of the river will be far-reaching.” 60 issue 8 winter 2011/12
It is no mean feat to turn a run down area of London into one of the capital’s most sought after areas – and all within only 20 years. But, this is what has happened in Bermondsey Street and Bermondsey Square – an area now frequented by some of London’s trendiest crowd, and with its warehouse loft conversions among the most sought after residential units in London’s 12 inner boroughs. The 1991 resurrection of the Bermondsey Street Association, along with the opening of the Jubilee line extension – which instantly boosted the neighbourhood’s appeal to young professionals, tempted by the prospect of a drastically reduced commute time and riverside living – gave a new impetus for the refurbishment and regeneration of both the street and the square.
This led to several mixed-use schemes, backed by Southwark Council, together with a raft of residential developments, with developers and agents comparing the area to Hoxton and Camden. In reality, given the history of Bermondsey Street and Square – which can be traced from the 11th century – it has forged its own separate identity. Today there are over 120 businesses operating in and around the area, where the average flat costs well over £300,000. And it is not standing still. There are now plans to open Jay Jopling’s White Cube gallery, which represents artists such as Tracey Emin, Jake and Dinos Chapman and Damien Hirst. The Bermondsey Square redevelopment by Southwark Council and Igloo Regeneration