Many people remember the old Biscuit Factory as the headquarters of Peek Frean’s, an institution in Bermondsey life until 1989 (You can read more about their history here). More recently the Biscuit Factory has become a hive of business life in the area, housing Workspace‘s buildings with light industrial, studios, workshops and offices for over 400 businesses. Now much of the site has been bought by Grosvenor, a privately-owned property company together with the neighbouring site of the former Lewisham and Southwark College. The two sites are being conceived together as a new mixed development by Grosvenor and this week, the initial sketch plans for it are being displayed for the first time.
“…We hope to create a textured place that feels both stimulating and rooted – generating opportunities for learning and enterprise in a close knit community that everyone can enjoy and belong in…” (from Grosvenor’s principles)
The site lies between Drummond Road and the railway line starting at Southwark Park Road and stretching up the west side of Drummond Road to Clements Road (the old Biscuit Factory site) and then along Drummond Road toward Bermondsey Station as far as Tranton Road in the north (the old College site). Whilst Grosvenor own much of the Biscuit Factory site, Workspace continue to own and run a number of buildings as light industrial and studio spaces.
The Grosvenor part of the Biscuit Factory is mostly warehousing at the moment with some vacant land and the viaduct route alongside the railway arches. Before Grosvenor purchased the property, Workspace had successfully gained planning permission to demolish the buildings and rebuild 800 new homes on the Biscuit Factory site. In 2013, Grosvenor bought the adjoining College site and since 2014, have begun to conceive of the two as a single development. That has allowed them to considerably rethink the original plans and to consider in greater depth how the development might contribute to Bermondsey’s life.
“…We invest in community facilities and are an active member of community groups; encouraging social entrepreneurs and strong local partnerships…” (from Grosvenor’s principles)
Homes for Bermondsey
The emerging plans for the Belong in Bermondsey site include a mix of complementary uses. The focus will be more than 800 new homes, many for rent. Grosvenor plans to remain the landlord of many of the newly constructed homes and to build a mix of tenures, with a minority being homes for sale. They speak of “homes to suit different life stages and needs, including studios, apartments and maisonettes.” Grosvenor also promise on-site professional management and intend to raise the standard of the private-renting in London.
School, space and routes
The early thinking is that in the north-west of the Biscuit Factory site – and probably in the first phase to be completed – Grosvenor could build a new secondary school for 600 pupils. They already house the new Compass School in temporary accommodation on the College site but a new school building would set them up for the future. The development will include new public spaces to help create community amongst the new residents and several new routes to better connect for example the Bermondsey tube station with The Blue. Many people are interested in what can be created along the line of railway arches in terms of a thriving retail and social corridor too.
“…Brighter, broader pavements, linking key amenities with footpaths, providing secure bicycle storage…and supporting car clubs…” (from Grosvenor’s principles)
For many in Bermondsey, the heritage of the Biscuit Factory site is deeply important. Grosvenor are keen to ensure that the industrial past of the site is reflected in the designs for the new buildings. They refer to the old street plan which was once more blocked and suggest that they might return to a clearer pattern for their rebuild of the area. They are looking to include reference to a landmark clock tower in memory of the famed Peek Frean’s one and to use generous window openings, extensive brickwork with detailing and fine metalwork. The public art for the site may have a strong heritage reference and Grosvenor are looking for other ways to encourage understanding of the importance of Peak Frean’s to Bermondsey.
The initial consultation – which looks at the broad-brush approach Grosvenor are taking to the development – has already been shown off twice but you can get a final chance to discover more and ask your own questions about the plans on Wednesday 7 October 16:00-19:00 at the Community Hall which is just by the Clements Road entrance to the Biscuit Factory site. There are things for kids to do if you want to take yours along as well, places to sit down and chat and plenty of people to discuss the plans with. If you are interested in the developments, you can find more on the development’s website or give Kate Nottidge a call.
Grosvenor – Belong in Bermondsey
Kate Nottidge M: 07884 738503 E: email@example.com