Southwark Council has appointed a new Community Review Panel, made up of local people, to comment on plans for future development in Old Kent Road.
Old Kent Road is undergoing a major transformation which the council wants to ensure, first and foremost, will benefit the 35,000 people who already live in the area. So it’s essential that the views of the community are heard and that local people have a strong voice in decision-making.
The Community Review Panel is just one of the ways in which this will be done.
The panel, which is independent of Southwark Council, comprises 12 members plus a Chair, Gurmeet Sian.
The members were chosen for their knowledge of the area and for representing a good cross-section of the local population, including their skills, age, ethnic origin etc. As a result, they reflect the current demographics of the neighbourhood and, with younger members and members with young families included, they reflect the immediate future of Old Kent Road too.
All the panel members know the area well and all (bar one) live locally.
Although the Chair, Gurmeet is an experienced architect, the panel members themselves are not expected to have any specialist knowledge about planning or development.
Gurmeet was selected for his experience in public engagement and community related design, while the other 12 members were recruited by Frame Projects, who have already set-up similar panels in other parts of London.
Interested participants submitted applications between March and May this year and went through a selection process which culminated in a series of three practice and training sessions held (via Zoom) in June. These sessions included input from council officers and local Old Kent Road ward councillor, Evelyn Akoto.
The panel will look at various proposals for development in and around Old Kent Road before these proposals reach the council’s planning committee for a decision. This means that local planning applications can be shaped and adapted in response to input from the panel before getting to committee stage and should ensure better quality applications which better reflect local needs.
The panel will produce a report for every scheme it reviews. These reports will then be used to supplement the planning applications put forward by developers.
Gurmeet Sian, Chair of the OKR Community Review Panel
Gurmeet Sian, Chair of the Old Kent Road Community Review Panel said:
“As an architect who has run a design studio delivering projects in similar London neighbourhoods for more than a decade, I’m thrilled to be asked to help guide the regeneration of Old Kent Road and to ensure that it delivers on its promise to improve the lives of the local community.
I’ve been impressed by the enthusiasm and local knowledge brought to the table by our new panel members and I’m looking forward to working with them over the year ahead.”
Cllr Johnson Situ, Cabinet Member for Growth, Development and Planning, said:
“Our vision for Old Kent Road is to build on its unique creative character, as a place where industry can thrive alongside new homes and quality open spaces.
It’s important that the regeneration benefits the local community who live and work here today as well as the generations to come. So I’m delighted that this new panel will feed into the planning process with the kind of insight that only those who really know the area can provide.
We know that neither councillors, architects nor developers have all the answers and that authorship of the built environment – our streets, estates, offices, parks and homes – is a collective endeavour. This panel, the first of its kind in Southwark, will help to ensure we harness the breadth of knowledge and experience that already exists in Old Kent Road to get it right.”
The new panel will hold its first meeting on 27 July and will meet roughly once a month for the next year, at which point there will be an opportunity to take stock and recruit new members if necessary.
Hear more from the local community
Read more about the benefits of regenerating Old Kent Road
Read more about the panel and the recruitment process