The redevelopment of London Bridge station is the next key chapter for the borough that can call itself the ‘regeneration capital of London’ over the last 25 years.
So said Councillor Peter John, leader of Southwark Council, at a special breakfast talk on the scheme and its likely impacts at the NLA. John said that that the regeneration of the station was a hugely important step which will open up transport connections and create easier access to large parts of the borough, in the shadow of the Shard. The construction of the Shard had already shown what can be done without throwing the whole community around it into ‘chaos and standstill’, said John – it was hoped the station construction would follow similar lines. John added that he was ‘incredibly excited’ about the new Grimshaw-designed station scheme, which will bring jobs and opportunities to the borough.
Network Rail senior sponsor Chris Drabble said that major transport improvements were needed in the area, partially because Thameslink can only handle one train per hour through London. A £6bn project will alleviate that problem, lifting it to 24 trains per hour, and London Bridge unlocks it. The scheme will remove the current ‘two station concept’, improving urban connectivity and wayfinding, with all platforms covered in its new guise.
Grimshaw Architects associate director Declan McCafferty said the new proposed roof for the station is as long as the Shard is tall – but, he admitted, being ‘picky’, it is actually 10m longer. The canopies on the wave form roof strips are lifted and twisted up in an ‘eyebrow’, he said, creating grand spaces 19m high below to accentuate a sense of arrival, and provide daylit space for retail, while flashes of the sky aid wayfinding. The scheme, which starts on site next year, also includes new entrances on Tooley Street and St Thomas Street, and will create capacity for two thirds more passengers.
WSP director Bill Price said work done thus far on London Bridge’s concourse has totally transformed it into a ‘fantastic space’ and that no more than three platforms will be taken out of service at any point during the rest of the construction process, which completes in 2018.
Team London Bridge chair James Dinwiddie said ‘We see the station changes as the jewel in the crown of the regeneration of this area. ‘We have a once in a lifetime chance, and want to get every ounce of benefit.’
David Taylor, Editor, New London Quarterly