The council is now consulting on an application for a revised neighbourhood area on behalf of the ‘Old Bermondsey Village Neighbourhood Forum. Consultation will run for 7 weeks from 14 December 2017 to 1 February 2018.

The Old Bermondsey Village Neighbourhood Forum was designated by the council in June 2015 to undertake and represent the local community in neighbourhood planning. For more information about Neighbourhood Planning and the revised neighbourhood area boundary, please refer to our website on this link:

 How to respond

Please visit our consultation hub and fill out our online questionnaire.

Comments can also be made in writing or via email and sent to the following addresses.


Post: FREEPOST SE1919/14 Planning Policy Chief Executive’s Department London SE1P 5EX

 We look forward to hearing from you.

 Southwark Council

0207 525 5471

OBVNF Meeting 19 July: NSP53

 Forum Meeting

6.30pm Wednesday 19 July

 Globe House | Corner of Bermondsey Street & Crucifix Lane  

High-rise -v- Heritage
in Bermondsey St/St Thomas St



For the past few weeks at our information point in Globe House we have informed and consulted widely on the Council’s plans for St Thomas St/Bermondsey St.  Unsurprisingly, their high-rise plans are no more popular now than they were when Sellar came up with his original version – the three Shard satellites – in 2010.

Following the consultation the Forum now needs to consider our next steps towards protecting this area from insensitive development.  We have invited the Council to send a representative to the meeting who can explain with some greater accuracy than the hopelessly vague NSP 53 wording, what they are seeking to promote.  Presently they can’t even explain how they worked out the ‘site’ area,  particularly whether it includes demolition of the Vinegar Yard warehouse to make way for high-rise and whether it includes wiping Vinegar Yard itself and the eastern end of Snowsfields off the map as public roads. Network Rail, who own the former St Thomas St car park, and James Sellar, who owns the vinegar warehouse and 40-44 Bermondsey St, have also been invited to attend.

Important on the agenda will be the launch of our planned local list of buildings to be protected and the broader concept of places that go beyond individual buildings and which should be extended a more generalised form of protection.  The ‘placemarks’ initiative, led by BSAP, is currently underway and our subscribers are invited to go to the website and nominate any places of their own for inclusion:
A provisional list of local buildings of significance to the area’s character will be presented at the meeting, specifically in the St Thomas St/ Snowsfields/north Bermondsey St area.  Further nominations will be welcome and we will be aiming to extend the area of coverage in the coming weeks to the whole of the OBF area – and the original area from which the Council excluded the Forum.

At the meeting we will be considering the preservation of the Vinegar Yard warehouse in the context both of local listing and potentially its designation as an Asset of Community Value [‘ACV’] (a designation established under the Localism Act).  We have written to Simon Bevan, Head of Planning, asking him if he knows of any reason why it cannot be designated as an ACV.  One of the implications of such a designation is that there would arise a community right to buy the building in the event that it is sold by the present owner. If Sellar’s high-rise ambitions do not come to fruition such a sale is likely.

All welcome.

OBVNF Meeting 6.30pm Wednesday 26 April

Globe House | Corner of Bermondsey Street & Crucifix Lane

On the agenda:

(1)  Our Neighbourhood Plan – next steps to adoption

(2)  New Council high-rise vision for St Thomas St and Bermondsey St in ‘consultation’

(3)  Beormund School sell-off

(4)  Anti-social developments – update


(1)  Neighbourhood Plan

We have now received a proposal from Liz Wrigley, supported by Honore van Rijswijk (both of who were at recent meetings) to help develop and finalise our plan.  This follows the Council feedback on our first draft which, in the case of some of our policies, requires a significant amount of time input to produce supporting ‘evidence’.  How far this is reasonable and how far it is not can only be established when some of the work is done.  In order to proceed Liz’s proposal needs to be considered by the meeting.  Liz is engaged in neighbourhood planning on a professional basis and if we are to proceed with her proposal we will need to consider how her fees are to be funded.

(2)  Area Vision

BVAG was born out of necessity in 2010 when Southwark Council was in the process of slipping past people in our area a high-rise enabling policy.  Freedom of information inquiries revealed that it had been hatched at Friday night meetings with planners ‘convened’ (in the Council’s own word) by Shard developer, Irvine Sellar.  Coincidentally, it aimed to facilitate the three 60-floor towers he was proposing at the time for Bermondsey St (opposite Globe House, at the Corner with Snowfields).  The facilitating plan was to be sneaked in to a ‘Supplementary Planning Document’ supposedly in ‘consultation’ but which virtually nobody knew about.  The map below shows how a new high-rise zone was proposed along St Thomas St and the corner of Bermondsey St and Snowsfields.
Council high-rise zone proposal, February 2010

This planning-policy-on-the-sly incensed local residents and businesses and a few individuals mobilised to raise awareness of what was going on.  A rendering was produced to show what 60 floors at the end of Bermondsey St would look like (below). This was done using Centre Point as a model as Sellar was keeping the details of his proposal a matter for himself and the Council alone.  When the ‘consultation’ was about to close with responses from only 12 people the raised local awareness and the audacity of the proposal triggered hundreds more.  The Council responded with a characteristic rearguard denial, saying the new responses were all going in the bin as they were out of time!
60 floors in Bermondsey St – as proposed by Sellar with Council facilitation

This plan was eventually abandoned at an angry public meeting at which planners had their backs to the wall.  But now the Council are back for a second bite of the cherry with their long-expected high-rise revival for St Thomas St.  This dormant, but certainly not deceased, ambition is what led them to resist, and then refuse outright, our proposed neighbourhood planning area some time ago.  The ‘Planning Notice’ below that has appeared in Bermondsey St in the last couple of weeks is another classic of disingenuousness.  It denotes very much the same area as that in the 2010 SPD and proposes very much the same treatment, namely, drive high-rise down St Thomas St and into Bermondsey St and the conservation area.  Now they know they are being watched the planners take more care with their presentation and the high-rise sub-text is kept well out of the frame – only to be found buried in the draft ‘New Southwark Plan’ on the Council’s website only to be uncovered by determined investigation by anyone who reads the notice.  The forum needs to consider a response to this new affront for submission prior to the deadline of 28n April.

(3)  Beormund School

The planners represent a shining example of how far local governments can get away with secrecy and deception when they have no meaningful opposition, but even they could learn a lesson in arrogance and complacency from the ‘regeneration’ department.

The sell-off of the Beormund School site is naked asset-stripping dishonestly justified by facile statistical misrepresentation of the requirement for schools in our area.  So arrogant is this department that they can brazenly claim that we don’t need schools because, for the most part, we do them so badly that parents all send their children elsewhere.  So whoopee, we can close the schools and sell off the sites!

The first locals knew about this plan was when in a comic extravaganza for developers hosted by the Council’s private sector marketing rejects they hailed their ‘Oven-Ready’, ‘Quick-Win’ council sites for sale.  Since then, they have just brazened it out, refusing to justify the decision to sell off the site, or even say where the initiative came from.  Bizarre denials and evasion tactics in correspondence with the Cabinet member for Children and Schools, Victoria Mills, and the Director of Regeneration, Stephen Platts, will be reviewed at the meeting.  The latter is under pressure to attend a meeting with locals but is currently refusing to attend on the basis that we are too nasty. i.e. We have exposed his methods – spoiling his plan to pull it all off behind our backs.

(4)  Anti-social developments – update

Since our last meeting there have been notable events in respect of two of the developments under scrutiny:

The Ticino proposal was approved at the planning committee meeting of 21 March.  Representations from BVAG however put the committee members in an embarrassing position.  They are instructed to vote in line with the party whip (Hence the standard formal announcement at meetings that they are all in fact independent, free thinkers.)  The planners had concocted a completely untenable theory about the age of the building which, championed by principal poodle, Nick Dolzeal, the labour members had to pretend to believe, against all logic and evidence.  Similarly, they had to pretend to believe that the developers/planning officer hadn’t misrepresented the proposed basement of the building as not requiring ‘special foundations’.  As this is an undeniable technical fact, of which the planners were fully aware, there is some egg on faces and there is some anxiety that there may be a legal challenge based on the planners’ misrepresentations.  This is graphically demonstrated by the evasiveness of Simon Bevan, Head of Planning, in correspondence with BVAG – which will be reviewed at the meeting.  Meanwhile, as of the time of writing the Council website refers to the consent as ‘pending’.  As the approval was given almost a month ago presumably something is afoot.
Ticino’s new High-Street-chain look – ‘pending’

The ‘Hatchers Mews’ proposal that massively increased the overshadowing and overlooking of Tanner St Park has been withdrawn.  We hope to find out why and whether it has been given the green light for a reincarnation – and share the information at the meeting

Tanner St Park – now
Tanner St Park – proposed

All welcome

Old Bermondsey Village Forum, General Meeting 6.30pm

The next Neighbourhood Forum meeting will be held at 6.30pm on Wednesday 9 November at Globe House.

This meeting is to discuss:

  • The New Hotel/Restaurant proposal for 176-178 Bermondsey Street previously The Ticino Bakery
  • The Draft Neighbourhood Plan and any feedback from Southwark Council

The New Hotel/Restaurant proposal for 176-178 Bermondsey Street
(Former Ticino Bakery)

Proposed front elevation:


Forum General Meeting 6.30pm

Wednesday 9 November  | Globe House | Corner of Bermondsey St & Crucifix Lane

The next Neighbourhood Forum meeting will be held at 6.30pm on Wednesday 9 November at Globe House.

This meeting is to discuss:

  • The New Hotel/Restaurant proposal for 176-178 Bermondsey Street previously The Ticino Bakery
  • The Draft Neighbourhood Plan and any feedback from Southwark Council

The New Hotel/Restaurant proposal for 176-178 Bermondsey Street
(Former Ticino Bakery)

Proposed front elevation:

OBF has been consulted by developers, Frontier Estates, on a proposed new Restaurant/Hotel in the former Ticino Bakery building at No 176-178 Bermondsey St.  Developers are now obliged in the case of major developments to consult community groups in advance of making their planning applications.  Even for less substantial developments such as the Ticino Bakery proposal it is now considered good practice and advised by the planners.  This is a welcome evolution of the planning process that has been fully embraced by Frontier Estates in this instance.  They have agreed to present their proposal, along with their architect, Ian McKnight of Hall McKnight, to an open meeting of the Forum on 9 November.

Policy concerns that arise for the Forum are:

(1)    The danger of Bermondsey St becoming home to multiple large scale restaurant premises that inevitably attract the kind of chain restaurants that threaten to undermine the small-scale, independent identity street.

(2)    The application of conservation area design considerations for street frontages in a sensitive location such as Bermondsey St itself.

In respect of (1) the draft neighbourhood plan calls for a limit on the size of new restaurant premises to some 800 sq ft.  The Ticino proposal is for some 3 500 sq ft, giving 125 covers in the restaurant with another 30? Or so in the bar area.  Clearly this size of restaurant premises is unlikely to be within the reach of small independent restaurateurs. The developers say only that it will be a high-end operator to who it will be let.

In respect of (2) the application of conservation area principles in this situation is likely to be a matter of lively debate.  The current proposal is a good case-study:  The front elevation of the Ticino Bakery building in not an example of great craftsmanship or originality.  It is however, in materials, scale and form, a (slightly adulterated) expression of the Victorian industrial vernacular of the Bermondsey St area.  The new proposal calls for a self-confident complete replacement.  The question then arises whether the replacement lives up to its assertiveness or whether a more modest intervention would be more fitting.  This is an issue that the Forum needs to confront when moving towards some guidance principles that we want to see applied in the most sensitive parts of our neighbourhood area.

The Draft Neighbourhood Plan

Following a three week consultation period with our draft plan on the OBF website we have now submitted the revised draft to the Council for feedback.  (Click here for the Neighbourhood Plan Draft Oct 2016 & Covering Letter To Council).  Thank you to those who submitted comments.  These have been incorporated where they add clarity.  Where they are matters on which opinions may differ they have been reserved for consideration collectively at an open meeting.

If we receive the Council’s comments by the date of the meeting we will move on to discuss them after the presentation and discussion of the Ticino site proposal.

Anyone interested in these issues, please do try to attend.

All welcome.

OBVNF Neighbourhood Plan First Draft

Ater a long period in gestation we have now compiled a draft neighbourhood plan for the Old Bermondsey area.  This is the product of our various working groups who have each contributed suggestions in their respective policy areas.  There is considerable further refinement still to be done but the document as it stands will be sent to Southwark Council for comment once we have received any feedback from the local community.  If you have any further suggestions for policies that you think should be included or other comments please let us have them by email to: Our intention is to pass the draft to Southwark Council by Friday 14 October so please let us have feedback as soon as possible.  There will be further opportunity to shape the plan at forthcoming meetings but anything not included at this stage will not go before the Council for their input and thus we will not have any indication on their receptivity to further inclusions.
 follow OBVNF on Twitter

Local Traffic Problems – Public Meeting 8th September


Local Traffic Problems

Public Meeting

Thursday   8 September 7pm  Southwark Council Offices  Tooley St

Local traffic and its impact on air quality have long been a concern to many local businesses and residents.  As the London Bridge redevelopment work changes focus from St Thomas St to the south of the railway line to Tooley St to the North these issues will again be highlighted.  Grange Ward councillor Damian O’Brien and others have been working hard over the past few months to bring the various bodies who dictate traffic management issues together before a public meeting in an attempt to find some strategy for improving the present deeply unsatisfactory situation.  Below is his invitation to all to attend.  We are pleased to relay this invitation and would urge anyone concerned with the current situation to try and attend.

From: O’Brien, Damian
Sent: Wednesday, August 03, 2016 2:59 PM
Subject: Invitation to have your say about traffic planning in your area


Transport and traffic flow issues around Bermondsey and London Bridge have been the cause of much discussion over the years. Residents and community groups often feel that all the different agencies operate in isolation to each other.

I am arranging a meeting to bring together all the interested parties. The specific objective is to agree how to create a traffic management plan for the area between Tooley Street, Borough High Street, Great Dover Street and Tower Bridge Road (if the group feel this is the right boundary).

Transport for London, Network Rail, Southwark Council, Team London Bridge and Guy’s Hospital have already confirmed their attendance and will give a short presentation to the audience whose input will be critical.

With this in mind, I would like to invite you to attend. Please bring along anyone else who you think would be interested in local transport issues. I hope as many interested groups in the area as possible, including schools and community groups, come along and have their say.

Thursday 8th September 2016
Ground floor meeting rooms
Southwark Council offices
160 Tooley Street

A quick RSVP back to me would be helpful for planning purposes.

Hopefully we’ll see you on the 8th.

Kind regards,

Damian O’Brien
Grange Ward Councillor
Southwark Liberal Democrats
07985 116257
020 7525 0233