Southwark has some of the largest scale developments in London, and the council is determined to ensure regeneration provides genuine benefits for both new and existing residents. As such, it has adopted a mantra that its policy should not just be about constructing buildings, but creating strong communities. Lucy Clarke reports
In a borough storming ahead with some of the biggest development schemes in London, Southwark Council is introducing new ways to engage residents in plans for socially minded regeneration. Ensuring all stakeholders have their interests heard and considered is of paramount importance to the local authority, as it aims to create life opportunities, improve wellbeing, reduce inequality and create engaged communities.
Professor Kevin Fenton, director of health and wellbeing, says Southwark Council has identified social regeneration as a major priority. And in the midst of £1 billion works with British Land – one of the largest property development and investment companies in the UK – it is determined to ensure no-one gets left behind. "As we promote urban renewal, wellbeing will be at the centre," Fenton says. "We're not just focused on building new buildings but building more cohesive communities; shaping a place to improve health and wellbeing. "We need to learn from past experiences and that means being communicative about the positive benefits – deliberately and consistently taking everyone along with us and helping people make the connection so they can feel the benefits."
The Canada Water masterplan is a partnership between British Land and the local authority covering 18.6ha and incorporating Surrey Quays Shopping Centre, Surrey Quays Leisure Park, the Dock Manager’s Office, 1-14 Dock Offices – the SE16 Printworks. At the latter, Global Generation, the education charity which works in Camden, Islington and Southwark, is engaging residents with its Paper Garden project. "Making furniture, growing and telling stories with paper" is the idea of the project, which aims to engage both young people from surrounding schools and older people in the community so they can learn from each other. British Land's project, meanwhile, will create a new town centre at Canada Water and over the next 15 years is expected to deliver around 1,858,060sq m of office and workspace, around 3,000 new homes and roughly 929,030sq m of retail, leisure entertainment and community space, all set in a network of connecting streets and spaces. The developer has recently acquired Rotherhithe Police Station, which closed at the end of 2017. It will be integrated into plans to strengthen links between Lower Road and the masterplan area. The completed scheme expects to support around 20,000 jobs across workspace, retail and leisure, with an average of around 1,200 workers on-site each month during construction periods.
In March 2018, Southwark Council's cabinet settled on the master development agreement (MDA) for the Canada Water masterplan, after several years of consultation between British Land, Southwark Council and the local community (pictured below right). A vast number of people contributed their thoughts on the masterplan through five phases of consultation. Approximately 10,000 attendees at more than 69 consultation events took part, with over 12,000 comments submitted throughout the process. “Everyone is responsible when it comes to regeneration – the council, the developers, the borough's current residents and the people who move into the borough," Fenton says. "We all become part of a new community and must be mindful of that. Completing one of the largest consultations the council has ever seen has been so important.
It has become Southwark council leader Peter John's mantra: "This is the best borough, in the best city, in the best country in the…