Blackfriars Road

Friday 21 June 2013

Blackfriars Road

Southwark is aiming to transform Blackfriars Road into a boulevard lined with trees and high quality developments, and is planning a series of events marking the ‘Blackfriars Mile’ from the bridge at one end to Elephant & Castle at the other.

The news emerged this morning at a breakfast presentation at the NLA from Cllr Peter John, Allies and Morrison’s Peter Bishop and Maccreanor Lavington’s Kevin Logan, at which the local authority launched its Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) for the area.

Southwark council leader Cllr Peter John said that the authority’s goal was to create a landmark corridor, mirroring the ambition of the pioneering vision set out in the 18thcentury, when the Blackfriars Bridge unlocked the area. John pointed to more than 18 planned projects for the mile-long stretch today, which promise to bring 10,000 jobs, 1500 new homes and 1000 hotel rooms, with active frontages that will help unlock the potential of the Elephant and Castle area. Such schemes include Maccreanor Lavington’s 128-150 Blackfriars Road, conceived of three urban blocks with a tall element in the middle.  The broader Blackfriars Road vision includes further tall buildings – up to 70m at their highest at key nodes such as Southwark tube station and St George’s Circus, and to 30m elsewhere. But, said John, they must meet the criteria of ‘exceptional design and quality’ for ‘the most exciting borough, in the most exciting city, in the most exciting country in the world.’

Allies and Morrison Urban Practitioners director Peter Bishop said that we tend to neglect roads, even ones which are a rare planned link with a strategy behind them to open up the south of the river. The task now, he said, was to ‘rediscover the special nature of the place’ since it was ‘potentially one of the great development hubs of London’. Work on the area conducted so far has sought precedents for this ‘tough’ transport corridor in locations like New York’s West Broadway and Park Avenue, as well as Barcelona’s Diagonal, all of which have a feel, and a buzz about them. One of the emerging ideas for the road is to celebrate the fact that it is exactly one mile from the Blackfriars Bridge to Elephant and Castle, with a series of annual events, reinforcing its proximity to the centre of London.

‘We’re interested in how you turn this from a barrier, into a spine’, said Bishop. ‘The moment has arrived for Blackfriars Road. There is now the opportunity to create a really brilliant place here.’

The consultation on the SPD runs from today until 12 September. 

David Taylor, New London Quarterly

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