Background: the area today

The south of Old Kent Road is dominated by the Cantium Retail Park (including Pets at Home, B&Q and Halfords) and the Asda superstore.

This part of Old Kent Road is very fragmented. The width of the road junction with its extensive lanes and slip roads, gives the area a very “edge of city” character.

A mix of car dealerships, builders’ merchants, self-storage businesses, small manufacturers, council depots and artists’ studios sit behind the retail park and a new industrial estate has been built at Glengall Road. In all, the area is estimated to employ more than 1,000 people.

While the Surrey canal is long gone, property boundaries which run along the old canal route prevent a direct connection from the Friary Estate or Peckham Park Road to Old Kent Road. This separates the most immediate residents from the shops and supermarkets and separates small and large commercial and retail businesses from each other. It fragments any sense of place and limits the potential for local businesses to associate.

The plan

The retail park is very much of its time, pre-dating the rapid growth of online business. Nonetheless, it provides a valuable service – not just locally but to the wider south London area – as well as being a significant local employer.

Large retail warehouses with expansive car parks will be transformed into new high street formats. Similarly, the Asda store will be retained and use of the site intensified. There’s considerable scope to expand the number of food outlets in the area (mainly limited to McDonalds and Subway at present) and  new office and residential development  will help make much greater use of the newly designated town centre.

This area will continue to provide jobs in a range of business spaces, including standalone commercial buildings, such as at the Glengall Road Industrial Estate, Space Studios and in small industrial spaces and offices integrated  with residential development.

A new park, tracing the route of the old Surrey canal, and with a series of ‘basin’ spaces for variety, will provide more direct connections between the residential and business communities and to Burgess Park. The Surrey Canal Park will have a more industrial character along Bianca Road, reflecting the uses on either side. Elements of the area’s industrial heritage will be retained, such as the bottling factory on Ossory Road, the chimneys on Bianca Road and the Travis Perkins site, and the buildings next to Space Studios.

There will be more development at the junction of Peckham Park Road and Old Kent Road, decreasing towards Burgess Park and the residential estates to the south.

The area will be a focal point for the new town centre, combining a mix of industrial, retail, entertainment and cultural uses.
Mark Brearley runs Kaymet manufacturing on Ossory Road
Mark Brearley runs Kaymet manufacturing on Ossory Road