The wider world: Bermondsey, Greenwich, Canada Water and beyond...

Part of a series of articles about South East London's other delights...


In a way, we will be very sorry when the Peninsula is fully developed. It's not that we don't like what's planned or appreciate what's been achieved already, but from the Yacht Club and the amazing wildlife centre to the Anthony Gormley statue in search of some viewers and the marooned Pilot Inn, it's a truly unique place. Part ghostly wasteland, part Vegas-upon-Thames, part Scandanavian model for 21st Century living. We could devote a whole blog to the area's eccentricities, except there'd be no residents there to read it.

One tube-stop from Canary Wharf, change to the Peninsula is inevitable.

Five billion pounds are being spent to create 10,000 homes, 150 shops and restaurants and 48 acres of green space. Office space too - with TfL recently announcing that they will be anchor tenants, to hasten the area's regeneration. The new TfL offices [pictured] will be open next year.

Why is it important?

Try getting a job in South East London at the moment. There aren't any.

Bermondsey Square

Bermondsey Square is a little island of something interesting in a sea of not very much. By this summer, the regeneration work it's currently undergoing, centring around a new market square, should be complete. Developers Igloo summarise it as follows:

"A mixed-use property development scheme comprising 76 apartments, 35,000 sq ft of offices which will be multi-let to a number of creative occupiers, a 79-bed boutique hotel to be operated by Bespoke Hotels and a 55-seat community cinema, a Sainsbury’s local store and other adjacent retail units all set around a new landscaped square which will continue to host the long-established Bermondsey Antiques Market as well a number of other events such as Farmers Markets and fashion markets. The scheme is due for completion in July 2008, with the hotel set to open later in September 2008."

Why is it important?

Somewhere new to potter around, only a few minutes from London Bridge station.

Canada Water

Canada Water doesn't work. An incoherent residential area tacked on to a dying retail park (although no-doubt someone will now pop up to tell us that Surrey Quays shopping centre is actually home to a thriving and charming collection of independent retailers from Puerto Rico or the Cook Islands or something).

So they are starting again.

After seven years of consultation, construction starts in a couple of months on a new masterplan that, if it doesn't exactly excite, should represent an improvement.

Why is it important?

Only a short hop away on the new East London Line service.

Ballet School for Southwark

The Central School of Ballet is moving south from its current home in Clerkenwell to a new home in Southwark, to a purpose built centre and halls of residence on a currently derelict site.

The development is awaiting planning consent, but could be ready by 2010 if approved.

Why is it important?

Together with Laban, would make South East London the home of London dance.

14 comments:

ElijahBailey said...

Greenwich 'Peninsula' (I think of it just as North Greenwich) will be rather in odd in some ways as as far as I can tell it will be one of the few truely new areas of London built close to the centre of London. Right so much of it is just wasteland and industrial estate served by a rather fancy tube station that seems so out of place.

There are some odd stretches of housing round there to which have managed to survive eveything the 20thC decided to throw at them.

Monkeyboy said...

Had our Christmas doo at The Pilot a while back, when i worked at Alcatel in Greenwich.

By the way some local history if your a geek... Alcatel Submarine Systems in Greenwich built SEe-ME-We 3 & 4 which is a big subsea optical cable that stretches from Europe to Japan - recently cut by a stray anchor (So no porn in Egypt for a while) Monkeyboy helped design it.

All the optical repeaters were made in the little factory at the end of Christchurch Way. The original company built the first trans atlantic cable, layed by the Brunel ship the Great Eastern.

Who said nothing useful ever came out of SE London

MB said...

told you….

Kate said...

Bermondsey Square seems to be suffering from terminal up-its-own-arse syndrome; my barometer for this is whether the development's website bothers to give comprehensible directions to its location. BS manifestly fails on this count, clearly assuming that its hip n'happening audience somehow psychically know where it's located.
Therefore - in my books - a massive FAIL.

Anonymous said...

I sometimes take visitors on a walk along the river from the Cutty Sark to the Thames Barrier.

When I pass Alcatel I tell them solemnly that on this spot Victorian gentlemen first fashioned cables to America out of wire coated with the stuff inside golf balls.

This was the beginning of the Victorian Internet, the undersea telegraph and it happened in SE London.

Tamsin said...

I regret the demise of the once thriving Bermondsey antique market killed off by this development. Setting up from five o'clock of a Friday morning, specialist stalls selling printers blocks, carpentry tools, shells, scientific instruments, etc. etc. Used to be dozens of them, now down to a bare twenty or so. But worth visiting while the remnants are still there.

Brockley Nick said...

@Tamsin, when you say "killed off" - do you mean permanently or simply during the construction period?

ElijahBailey said...

That Gren Pen site seems to be missing rather key information regarding dates.

Tamsin said...

In theory it is being kept going throughout the construction period (and, to give the devil his due, undoubtedly at great inconvenience to the planners and contractors)and there are nice pictures of the pretty stalls the antiques dealers can have afterwards. However in reality the existing traders are so fed up with the years of disruption that they are voting with their feet and will almost certainly not come back (even if the rents were not increased) and so what will be there in the future will be a completely different sort of enterprise.

Brockley Jon said...

The Surrey Quays shopping centre is good for one thing in my eyes, the sports behemoth that is Decathlon! Even a gym slacker like me can get inspired down there.

Brockley Jon said...

Btw, @Elijah: "Gren Pen" - love it. I have now coined that phrase, and intend to drop it into my next property conversation and confuse even more North Londoners.

Brockley Nick said...

@Jon, True, although only effete 'outsiders' pronounce it "Gren"wich - true Greenwichers know it should be called Grin Pin.

patrick1971 said...

I wonder why it has taken so long for GrenPen (love it) to be developed. Back in 1998 when the Dome was being built, all the talk was of the whole peninsula being developed for housing immediately. Obviously this hasn't happened, wonder why not.

Canada Water/Surrey Quays are exactly how NOT to do regeneration IMHO. A whole set of flats lived in by people who contribute virtually nothing to the local community; Lower Road must be one of the most miserable high streets in London. What's planned? It hopefully couldn't be worse.

Pete said...

Yes Surrey Quays is pretty miserable. I lived there (until very recently) for 6 years and it was developed almost exclusively as a dormitory town. It isn't just that the people who live there don't contribute, there is nothing for them to contribute too. Things have very slowly started to improve organically with the opening of one or two better restaurants on Lower Road.

The redevelopment plan is really more of the same with a few new things. There will be a new library by Canada Water tube station and they plan to put in a canal type thing through the giant car park which will be covered and lined with shops and restaurants. Otherwise its more high rise apartment buildings.

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