More about the Blackfriars Road Landowners’ Forum

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February 6, 2013 by Juha Repo

As we reported before, based on information on the london-se1.co.uk website, Southwark Council has been having regular meetings with developers who have an interest in land in and around Blackfriars Road.

Now we have acquired minutes from these meetings based on a Freedom of Information request.

What the meetings have been all about is explained in the minutes from a meeting in April. Present were representatives from LB Southwark, St George, Carlyle Group, Great Portland Estates, CIT, Archlane, Development Securities, McAleer and Rushe, Linden Homes, Chris Horn Associates, Derwent London, Transport for London, Network Rail, Greater London Authority, South Bank Employers Group, Waterloo Quarter and Better Bankside. Absent were representatives from Dealfirst Ltd and Gemaco SA as well as McLaren Property.

  • Cllr Colley welcomed the group and thanked all individual projects for attending. The meeting has been organised to find ways of jointly promoting the regeneration of Blackfriars Road, co-ordinate the delivery of infrastructure, and join-up employment projects.

  • A note was circulated summarising the total permitted development along Blackfriars Road which is in excess of 100,000sqm office floorspace, 1000 hotel beds, 500 residential units, and 7000sqm of retail space – this excludes 6 additional major projects currently being planned.

The second meeting in August 2012 had as its agenda:

Vision for Blackfriars Road
The council proposed a methodology for producing a joint non-statutory vision for the street which would serve the following purposes:
1. Promotion – bring together the various landowner interests in the street and create a single unified vision to market the area to future tenants and occupiers. This could lead to brand development and other tools.
2. Community engagement and regeneration – use the vision exercise to engage locally and promote projects and programmes which will be funded by substantial section 106 agreements along the street
3. Blackfriars Road project – use the vision and it’s weight of support to sell the Blackfriars Road project at a senior level within the GLA / TFL.

Lobbying would ensure Blackfriars Road is on the TFL programme, with funding to match the various section 106 agreements coming forward andbeing delivered.
• The group debated the possible approaches to developing the vision and the
following comments were made:
o Suggestion to engage schools in the visioning exercise
o Importance of activity at ground floors and retail – the vision must articulate the aspiration by all partners that Blackfriars Road becomes a mixed use district with retail at ground floors to generate substantial footfall.
o Existing schemes under development have active frontages, with 240 Blackfriars providing a 50m frontage with multiple units, 46-49 Blackfriars creating two new hotels with cafes and restaurants, 1 Blackfriars creating a new public square with retail. 128-150 Blackfriars also proposes retail to replace a current office frontage which has been only partially let for years.
o The success of Holborn should be replicated along Blackfriars Road where a once run-down thoroughfare has been enlivened by retail and the arrival of anchor retail.
o Parallels with Park Avenue New York were drawn and Cllr John is keen that the vision process is not just delivered by the council, but is led equally by landowners with interests in the street.
o A vision illustration should be created which summarises the “end state” of all the individual development proposals and animates or provides the “icing on the cake” of the adopted framework of Transport for London’s enhancement scheme.
o The attraction of the area in terms of its (1) location adjacent to the City with rail and tube, (2) number of opportunity sites, and (3) granularity, history and mix of uses in the area should be promoted through the vision
o Potential to build on previous Jan Gehl study
o It was recommended by partners that a public realm specialist architect be employed by the group to map all the ground floor proposals from each of the developments onto the baseline TFL scheme. Initial suggests of Tibbalds and Publica were recommended to do the work.

And the decisions:

After lengthy discussion the following way forward was agreed
1. An exhibition would be held in partnership with the NLA as a tool to bring together all the projects under one roof. Target date end October / early November after St George planning decision (currently 9 October), with early pre-planning proposals by Carlyle Group, Development Securities, Linden Homes and Barratts. Partners agreed to contribute to the cost of setting up the exhibition.
2. Events would be held around the exhibition to promote the wider scheme with infrastructure partners
3. Community engagement would take place locally at the same time as the exhibition to promote the benefits of the projects and input into the visioning exercise
4. Following the exhibition a public realm specialist architect would be employed to map each proposal onto the baseline TFL scheme
5. The final plan which includes all projects and the TFL scheme would be discussed at a high level with the GLA family
6. Draft vision circulated early 2013 for final adoption in the Spring
7. A brand and other marketing materials could follow the vision exercise.

The third meeting in November added some more developers into the group, and reports that the design exercise to co-ordinate the regeneration of Blackfriars Road was tendered and Allies and Morrison were appointed on 26 October 2012. The Allies and Morrison study is funded by the developers on the forum.

Also we learn that (bolding by BARD)

The council has appointed townscape experts to carry out a characterisation study for the whole of Borough and Bankside which will review the capacity for tall buildings in the area. This study includes a sub-area for Blackfriars Road. This work will be widely consulted on and there is scope for this document to have material consideration

Developing the public realm and street scene
• Artur Carulla from Allies and Morrison introduced their approach to the project.
Understanding of the character of the area and the need to celebrate and enhance it’s quirky, fragmented nature – keen to develop a strategy which builds on and celebrate the diversity of the road
• The need for a phased approach to the street rather than a masterplan
• Ideas for celebrating the street and creating animation including temporary events and meanwhile uses. Suggested “The Blackfriars Mile” a one mile race from the river to the Elephant and Castle with opportunities to publicise the short distance of 4 minutes from one end to the other. Potential for a small festival, food stalls, pop-up cycle repair.
• The need to include connections to the side streets and historic hinterland, and map existing local projects which are funded and underway

This consultation has then included a walkabout in Blackfriars Road in January.

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