The London Bridge, Borough and Bankside area is one of the fastest changing cityscapes in London and has been subject to significant levels of public and private investment in infrastructure and development over the past decade. This area of Southwark on the south side of the River Thames is home to 6,000 residents and 60,000 employees and attracts over 6 million tourists a year.
Its planning and regeneration has been pioneered through a collaborative working approach between Southwark Council, Bankside Residents Forum and Better Bankside (Bankside’s Business Improvement District). In April 2011, the DCLG announced the partnership as a pilot Neighbourhood Vanguard area which will see the creation of one of the UK’s first Neighbourhood Plans – a key part of the Localism Bill’s reforms and the Big Society Vision. This plan is seeking to provide more affordable business and shop space, improve public amenities and create more community facilities for both residents and workers, such as dentists, crèches and doctors surgeries.
As part of his two-day visit to RTPI London, Richard Summers, RTPI President was given the opportunity to see this area first hand and learn from those involved how the strategic planning of the Borough and Bankside area has been achieved through this collaborative partnership approach and how the Neighbourhood Plan will be developed.
The Tour was led by Andrew Richardson of Bankside Resident’s Forum, Valerie Beirne, Bankside Urban Forest Manager, together with Simon Bevan and Gordon Adams of Southwark Council. It gave the President an opportunity to see a range of development and regeneration initiatives taking place in the area from the small scale Urban Physic Garden – a pop up garden and café on a small area of derelict land- and Octavia Hill’s recently restored red cross garden – to the 72 storey Shard which now towers over London Bridge. The president also learnt about the Bankside Urban Forest initiative which is seeking to bring new life and uses to the outdoor spaces of Bankside, as well as learning about how the Neighbourhood Plan is coming along.
RTPI President Richard Summers said “The exciting redevelopment and renewal projects in Bankside that I was shown on this fascinating walking tour on the second day of my Presidential visit to the RTPI London Region showed how current initiatives are already demonstrating how the neighbourhood planning proposed in the Localism Bill could work in practice. I was impressed to see how local communities and local people are being actively involved in a range of small scale open space projects to major office redevelopment projects across theseareas of inner south London.”