The Blue is Bermondsey’s historic town centre and still plays an important part of everyday life for those who live, work, or visit but for the Blue to be once more the thriving centre of civic and commercial life that can better serve the local community it needed improvements.
The funding secured by the local community from the GLA for the regeneration project centres on improvements to the Market Place and will also include better physical connections to the Blue, enhancements to some community buildings, more greening and makeovers for independent shops.
The design proposals were developed by Assemble and architects Hayatsu through a wide range of activities from June 2019 to May 2020 working in close collaboration with partner groups and stakeholders. A public consultation period held from July to October 2019 helped shape the final designs which were unveiled at a special family event in Market Place.
The design team created a simulation of the revised proposals, this included marking out the positions of stalls and planters and erecting a full-scale mock-up of the new clock tower. The event attracted significant interest with the unusual and intriguing addition of the ‘Castellers of London’ building a human tower.
Throughout the design process, the relevant council departments and other public organisations have also been consulted and in May 2020 the final designs were submitted to the GLA’s London Review Panel for feedback. Some final design tweaks were made based on the feedback from the panel and now the planning application has been sent for approval to Southwark Council.
Planning – Next Steps
It is expected that once the designs are approved the works will begin in late October 2020 and a clearer, better defined public realm and market space for the Blue Market will emerge, which will be greener and more inviting, whilst being robust and easy to maintain.
The main improvements will be:
New Layout for stalls with new electrical power points and better facilities for traders with fixed stalls which can adapt to provide cover for other uses when no market is in operation.
A new Clock Tower with public drinking fountain which pays homage to the iconic clock tower that once stood on Peek Frean’s biscuit factory.
New planting to create denser areas of green and more attractive seating areas at the rear of Market Place where visitors and shoppers can rest, have lunch or tea/ coffee, or read a book from the library. It will also have the flexibility to host events or speciality markets.
New lighting on columns which will give a better lighting at night, making the Market Place more attractive, well-lit and safer night time environment
A new pedestrian crossing and new bollards at the junction of Blue Anchor Lane and St James Road will create a connection with the Low Line and a safer environment for pedestrians.
New signage and wayfinding consisting of a distinctive graphic language for the Blue.
A new entrance route from Blue Anchor lane into Market Place to connect with Blue Anchor lane and align with the proposed new pedestrian route through the railway arch in Bombay Street to Grosvenor’s new Biscuit Factory development. This will include improvement to the rear of the Library and large sign on lift shaft.
Two new community murals on John Bull and St James Arches to brighten up these landmark arches, that are important ‘gateways’ to the Blue
The design team have listened to the voices, gone through many iterations, and given much consideration to how Market Place works during trading times for events and more generally as a public space. The final designs represent a coherent and characterful design which is also practical and cost-effective, creating a distinctive civic space which can work in multiple scenarios and is a coherent whole.
The regeneration of the market Place will benefit the commercial activity and social life of the Blue and Market Place by drawing more footfall in to the heart of The Bermondsey.
As the GLA’s area manager, Paul Harper, said recently in a design team meeting, “now, more than ever, there is an urgency for our high streets, markets and open spaces to be valued, cared for and invested in”.