The Peek Frean factory sat at the centre of the Bermondsey community for over a century. Several generations of families from the area worked on the site, producing and packaging biscuits. When the site was operational sweet smells permeated the area, giving it the name “biscuit town”. Sadly the factory closed in 1989. Several plans have been revealed over the years aiming to regenerate the site.
The latest plan was revealed in the middle of November. It would see a “renter’s campus” created on the site with over 1,300 new build to rent homes created. In addition there would be a new secondary school, office space, shops and restaurants. This would reinvigorate the community.
A series of new buildings would be created as part of the project. The tallest of these would be up to 28 storeys. Designs call for homes of various sizes, ranging from studios to three bedroom apartments. There are also plans for green roofs or roof gardens.
The project is thought to be valued at £500million. It is currently under consideration by Southwark Council but work could start as soon as 2018 if permission is granted.
A potential sticking point with the project is the amount of affordable housing. Although the properties will be built to rent the plan suggests that 27.5% of the homes will be offered with a 25% discount on the current market rate. This could lead to some concerns, especially with new targets for building affordable housing.
The project will be a huge investment and could have the power to revitalise the community. It will be interesting to see what progress is made and if the number of affordable homes created will increase. This can be challenging with build to rent projects though as there is no income from sales.
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