OKR Urban Room

Massive change is coming to the Old Kent Road.

Southwark council are currently in the process of consulting on a major planning document (which you can read about here) that outlines their vision for the area where massive redevelopment, the extension of the Bakerloo line, and 20,000 new homes are proposed.

The headline proposals in the OKR Area Action Plan also include:

  • A commitment to three new tube stations
  • New employment space and mixing this with residential development
  • New leisure and entertainment facilities
  • Three larger new parks and further green links and pocket parks
  • One new secondary school and two new primary schools, and expansions to existing schools
  • A new university and major cultural attraction
  • All new development will be car free

Some local residents, businesses, and community groups have been unhappy with the level of consultation around the AAP that has taken place to date, despite the emergence of a local community forum.

This is what the folks behind the Urban Room Old Kent Road are seeking to address with their plans to develop a new public space for discussions, exhibitions and the collective production of plans and ideas for an area of London that will completely transform in the coming years.

Action OKR is a call to everyone with an interest in a good future for London’s Old Kent Road.

We asked Ulrike Steven, one of people spearheading the project, what motivated her to get involved, and more importantly, why you should!

Why am I doing this:

I live on Latona Road inside the Old Kent Road Opportunity Area and I’m worried about proposed developments displacing existing communities including local businesses in our area. Most of my neighbours on the Unwin & Friary Estate are not involved with the development of the OKR Area Action Plan and their voices are currently not heard. In my view it is important that plans for the future are informed by the aspirations and ideas of the diverse local communities who for many reasons at the moment don’t participate in the process.

As an architect I think it’s worth investing more thought into new building typologies that combine housing with industrial and communal use. What we need is true mixed-use developments that enrich our streets not just with more cafés, but for example, with windows into local businesses revealing manufacturing processes. It would be so exciting to walk down the street and be able to see into the different workshops and understand what is produced locally.

What benefit will the project bring:

Urban Room Old Kent Road is about making people’s voices heard and about creating many different ways of contributing to the plan making process. Having a constant base for planning the future of the Old Kent Road will allow a more diverse group of residents and businesses to take part, be informed and to connect with each other.

How will people be able to get involved:

We envisage that Urban Room Old Kent Road will be open five days a week. It will be a space where you will find historic information, current planning applications and planning documents such as the London Plan and the OKR AAP – all in printed format. Planning is something that concerns us all and we want to explore new ways of talking about the subject in a language that can be easily understood. A programme of presentations, model making, exhibitions, workshops and for example dinner discussions will be developed to encourage a discourse accessible to a broad range of people and age groups. And we want all of this to be fun! 

The crowdfunding campaign has gained momentum recently and last week received a pledge of £15,000 from the Mayor of London. Here is what the Mayor’s team said:

“Urban Room Old Kent Road aims to create a dedicated, independent space for residents, businesses, researchers, planners, the Council, developers and others to come together to debate and plan the future of the Old Kent Road ahead of the Bakerloo Line extension and associated regeneration plans that will inevitably follow. It’s a really interesting project. It’s focused on providing a locally run space for a broader, more meaningful type of engagement with the community about this future. We know that it is really, really important and it’s a real opportunity to bring more people into that process.” 

Now we need to keep going! So we would like more people to express their support by adding their name and £2 (or more) to the crowdfunding campaign. We have until the end of December to reach the funding goal. Please get involved!

If you want to find out more, or want help make the project a reality, click here.

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