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Don’t knock us on the Old Kent Road – Businesses fear for their future over plans to regenerate area

 

Business owners have raised concerns over their future after seeing proposals to regenerate the Old Kent Road.

The draft Old Kent Road Area Action Plan is currently being consulted on by Southwark Council which would see two new Bakerloo line stations, 20,000 new homes and a redeveloped high street.

But the emphasis on new homes has left some businesses concerned that they will be left behind, as the  owners of the buildings they are tenants in may turn them into more profitable flats.

Mark Brearley, of tray manufacturer Kaymet, said: “It is shocking that Southwark Council’s draft plan for the areas around the Old Kent Road assumes that much of its economy is expendable, just a triviality to be swept aside.

“The plan, if not changed, would result in the expulsion of hundreds of vibrant industrial, workshop and studio businesses, causing thousands of job losses. It need not be like that.

“That’s why we are speaking out for a different approach. We believe that while the area evolves, welcoming in new housing, it can also accommodate a refreshed and expanded commercial life.”

Gavin Weber, of design studios Weber Industries, echoed the sentiment, saying the plans are “critical for the area” and the residential element could “push local businesses out”.

“They [Southwark Council] have little care and attention for the local businesses and how they affect them and push them all off the area. The Old Kent Road is vital in bringing industry into the city.”

Councillor Mark Williams, Southwark Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and New Homes, said: “The Old Kent Road is a key part of our plan to tackle the housing crisis head on by building new homes of all kinds that Londoners so desperately need, we also want local businesses to benefit from the regeneration of the area.

“We are consulting on building 20,000 new homes, including affordable homes, and an increase of 5,000 local jobs.

“We will do this by encouraging mixed use developments where there is currently industrial land, this will include new business space as well as new homes, new public parks, new schools and two new tube stations.

“We are working closely with the local businesses to make sure that as many as possible can benefit from the changes that will happen.

“As part of this we are already developing a business support package and we have already stated in the draft area action plan that we will be paying special attention to the unique and wide-ranging crea-tive businesses that have made the Old Kent Road their home.”

The consultation on the plans finishes on November 4. To see the plans, visit

www.southwark.gov.uk/info/856/planning_policy/3112/old_kent_road

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