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Opportunity Areas – opportunity for whom?

Updated: May 13, 2021

The Old Kent Road has been designated an Opportunity Area by the GLA and as a result there are to be 20,000 new homes built on and around the Old Kent Road. Most of these homes will be in huge tower blocks, up to 48 storeys high and of the 20,000 new homes, over 13,000 are officially unaffordable to Southwark’s existing residents. The average salary of Southwark’s residents in the area is between 24k and 31k and the costs of the housing range from 500k for a 1 bed, 600k for a 2 bed rising to 750k for a 3 bed. We suspect that many of these properties will be marketed to and bought by overseas investors with no interest in our communities or to live and thrive here.

Only 5,000 of the properties are for social rent and the majority of those are small bed sizes of 1 and 2 beds. At present there are 14,000 on Southwark’s housing waiting list with many families needing larger properties destined to remain on that list for ever. We expect this number to increase because of the pandemic. The GLA’s own report in 2018 stated that the proliferation of tall buildings is failing to meet housing need in London and this is happening on the Old Kent Road.

This is all linked to the mothballing of the Bakerloo Line Extension by TfL and they have confirmed this project will not be considered for at least another 10 to 20 years. Without this critical infrastructure much of the developments that have already been given planning approval by London Borough of Southwark is likely to be financially unviable and will probably never be built.

The views, desires and wishes of local communities are being ignored and local businesses have suffered and have had to close. The Opportunity area is an excuse for land grab by developers, where their profits are the priority, and this is being enabled by London Borough of Southwark and its planning department.

Our next Mayor of London must revisit the Opportunity Area programme and provide substantive answers on who is being given what opportunities.

Keep up to date on the Old Kent Road campaign at its website and on twitter.


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