This month Surrey Docks Farm started work on Phase 1 of its Riverfront Development, thanks to funding allocated by Southwark Council from levies on local developments. By the end of the year the farm will be offering a range of new and enhanced community facilities with stunning riverfront views looking across to Canary Wharf, providing new activity spaces, lettable rooms and outdoor areas all year round.

Architects PUP have designed the development and act as contract administrator; John Perkins Projects is the contractor; and Hollybrook Homes have kindly funded two cabins for the duration so the Farm can continue to run its education programmes and classes.

The farm’s River Room is being re-designed, upgraded, refitted and extended with a glass orangery to provide a quality, flexible, multi-use space for a wide range of uses – for schools’ programmes, classes, meetings, conferences, birthday parties and events. The adjacent three storey tower, burnt out in an arson attack over a decade ago, is being converted. On the ground floor: a Farm Kitchen providing a training resource for all ages promoting cooking with fresh produce, good diets and healthy eating and a catering resource for events held in the River Room. On the first floor: an office to accommodate the farm’s growing staff team. On the top floor: a calm, flexible activity space with a fine view overlooking the Thames – for meetings, arts and crafts and therapeutic sessions.

To complete the development, the farm is currently fundraising for Phase 2 to open up its river frontage in its unique setting by the Thames. Its new main entrance will then be through the gates onto the Thames Path where the public will be led along widened, paved entrances into the Farm and its new riverfront facilities. There will be new paving, landscaping and gardens providing a special space for sitting out and socialising and for community events. Gates and a retractable trellis fence will be installed to enable all the new riverfront facilities provided in Phase 1 to be available for evening classes as well as day time use by securing the rest of the Farm and its animals.

Cllr Johnson Situ, cabinet Member for growth, development and planning commented: “This is really good news for the borough’s only city farm. Here in Southwark Council we are delighted to have awarded the Farm one of the earliest Community Infrastructure Levy (CILs) amounts to enable them to make all these superb improvements. This award is a great example of the council’s refreshed approach to local CIL which will see the development of Community Investment Plans to support growth across the borough. As part of the award, the Farm will also contribute to Southwark being an Age Friendly borough with further opportunities for older and younger people alike as well as new inter-generational projects”.

Cllr Jasmin Ali, Cabinet Member for children’s and adult services commented: “Speaking personally, I cannot wait to bring my family down there to see the transformation.  We have also granted the Farm a new 35 year lease at a charitable rent so that these new education and community resources are secured for the long term and the Farm can enhance and develop its special offers for residents”.

As the borough’s only city farm, with its gates open seven days a week and free entrance, the farm will provide its 50,000 visitors a year with an enhanced visitor experience and renewed opportunities to learn about and engage with all aspects of a working farm.

A recent demonstration of cargo bikes in action near London Bridge

Businesses at the Blue will benefit from a share of a £170,000 funding pot – backed by Transport for London – for projects to reduce congestion and improve air quality.

The funding from TfL’s Healthy Streets Fund for Business will be matched by business improvement districts like the Blue Bermondsey.

In Bermondsey, the scheme will enable more cycling at the Blue marketplace by providing cargo bikes, storage spaces and other facilities to allow people to cycle to work. This will also allow traders to move more goods by bike.Z

Jack Shah, Chair of Blue Bermondsey Business Improvement District, said: “This is fantastic news for businesses at the Blue. This funding from TfL will be used to improve business cycling, including a shared cargo bike trial at the Blue, as well as better storage for market traders. Longer term, there is a huge opportunity for new cycle routes at the Blue which could link up along the Low Line with other areas such as London Bridge and Bankside.

“Business cargo bikes could use these routes for last mile zero emissions deliveries during weekday daytimes, to help reduce air pollution for our local communities. Residents and visitors could also enjoy cycling along the Low Line in the evenings and at weekends, bringing new customers to businesses at the Blue.”

Earlier this year Lambeth & Southwark London Assembly member Florence Eshalomi tabled this question to Mayor of London Sadiq Khan: “Many of my constituents are concerned about the daily overcrowding at Canada Water station and their safety when waiting for a train. What are you doing to address this?”

Mr Khan’s response has now been published by City Hall:

“The safety of customers and staff is always Transport for London’s (TfL) top priority, and TfL does all it can to ensure that customers travel safely at all times.

“Canada Water can get very busy, but staff are trained to carefully manage passenger flows at the station to ensure a safe travel environment and minimum inconvenience for customers. An additional Customer Service Supervisor is also available at the station just to concentrate on passenger flows during the AM peak.

“The London Overground currently provides a 16 trains per hour service in each direction and platform crowding is cleared as quickly as possible. TfL is also looking at a number of possible mitigation measures to help ease the crowding on escalators to the Jubilee line at Canada Water which we know can get particularly busy.

“Improvements are already addressing crowding along the Jubilee line. A timetable change in 2018 increased evening peak services between West Hampstead and North Greenwich. Jubilee line trains are now running a peak service for an extra two hours per day, easing congestion at key stations like Canary Wharf, Waterloo and Canada Water.

“TfL’s investment programme is playing a vital role in supporting London’s growth. Providing Londoners with a range of high-quality alternative travel options will also help ease crowding at key locations like Canada Water.

“For example, when the Elizabeth line opens, it will serve more than half a million customers a day and add 10 per cent more capacity in central London. It may also help ease crowding at Canada Water if passengers change at Whitechapel to get to onward destinations such as Canary Wharf, Stratford and the West End. TfL’s modernisation of signalling on vast parts of the Tube network, new and more frequent trains, and the upgrade of stations like Victoria, Bank and Elephant & Castle are also critical, to relieve pressure on the Tube, and enable London to meet growing demand. TfL is also investing record amounts in walking and cycling, to support efficient and healthy ways to get around the city and realise my vision of Healthy Streets for London.”

Earlier this year we reported on plans to introduce charges for car parking in Southwark Park and other green spaces in the borough.

The council is currently running a public consultation (till 13 May) and Cllr Rebecca Lury – the deputy council leader whose portfolio includes parks – insisted at a recent overview & scrutiny committee meeting (video above) that no final decision to introduce charges has been made.

However, income from the new fees is included in the council’s budget for the current financial year.

Plans to close the London Overground ticket offices at Rotherhithe and Surrey Quays have been abandoned.

Rotherhithe councillors were among those who objected to the proposals which were also criticised by the London TravelWatch watchdog.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “I am proud of the service the London Overground provides to hundreds of thousands of Londoners every day, and it is vital that we ensure stations across the network continue to operate in a way that best serves the needs of everyone travelling across the capital.

“Proposals were being considered that would have resulted in the permanent loss of 27 ticket offices. However, having listened closely to the views of passengers and to the hard-working staff working at our stations I have asked TfL to ensure that no ticket officers will be closed permanently, and the busiest ticket offices will remain open to passengers exactly as they do now.

“TfL will carry on working closely with Arriva Rail and transport staff to ensure any changes in how stations operate and the adoption of new technology truly has a beneficial impact for all the Londoners who rely on the service every day.”

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: “This is a significant victory for RMT members at the front line of the London Overgroundservice who led the campaign to stop this ticket office carnage and jacked up the political pressure to reverse the cuts. 

“It proves that trade union campaigning works. 

“However we remain vigilant as in our experience once a package of cuts is proposed they remain an option in the longer term. Any backsliding will result in a new blast of pressure from this trade union and our national campaign to staff our stations and retain ticket offices continues.” ‎


With a year to go, the partnership of Southwark Council, British Land and United St Saviour’s Charity has started awarding grants to local organisations for commemorating the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower sailing. 

Rotherhithe and North Southwark has a long seafaring and ship building history and was the place where Christopher Jones, the captain and part owner of the ship, and many of the crew of the Mayflower lived. 

So far, part of the £140,000 programme has gone to such diverse projects as Club Herop’s photojournalism initiative, Bermondsey  Artist Group’s two year community multi-media programme, the Illuminate Rotherhithe festival, Art in the Park’s schools programme, an intergenerational theatre piece run by London Bubble and a number of local historical talks and events.

Michael Daniels, President of Rotherhithe and Bermondsey Local History Society said he was delighted to be awarded a grant. He commented: ‘Our Local History Society organises illustrated monthly talks on fascinating subjects.  During the summer of 2020 we will stage a mini-series of talks and walks about the Mayflower here in Rotherhithe’.

Naomi N Dibum, Project Manager at Club Herop said: ‘By receiving this grant, every young person will create a range of work that represents the learning of their peers and understand the relevance of the Mayflower narrative today and the difficulties faced by the migrants during their journey’.

Cllr Rebecca Lury, Deputy Leader of Southwark Council said she was really pleased by the range and quality of the applications received so far.

‘We have had a very impressive list of applicants, but the good news is we still have over £60,000 in grants to award as part of stage two and three.  Therefore, I would encourage any local group, school or other interested party who have a project which is connected to the Mayflower, and use the application process on the Council’s website to apply for a grant’.

Sarah Thurman, Head of Community Investments, United St Saviour’s Charity said: ‘We are delighted to support eight exciting community led projects that celebrate the story of the Mayflower. United St Saviour’s was 80 years young when the Mayflower set sail from Rotherhithe, eventually for the New World.  Now 400 years later, it is great to remember Southwark’s connection to the historic voyage with our partners Southwark Council and British Land’.

Eleanor Wright, Head of Community At Canada Water, at British Land said: ‘It was fantastic to see the first round bids and see the local Mayflower 2020 programme really taking shape. Congratulations to all the successful bids and thankyou everyone who took the time to submit entries’.

The PowerPoint presentation shown at the service

St James’s Church in Bermondsey held a special celebration on Sunday to mark the completion of £600,000 of restoration works to the historic building.

The Mayor of Southwark, Cllr Catherine Rose, was among the special guests at the event.

St James’s vicar Canon Gary Jenkins shares more detail and photos on his blog here and here.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has defended plans to build a bridge across the Thames linking Rotherhithe with Canary Wharf.

Mr Khan was speaking at the People’s Question Time event in Bexley on Thursday night where he was challenged from the floor about plans for a “£400 million vanity bridge” at Rotherhithe.

The Mayor said: “I don’t apologise for wanting to make sure that we have a cycle and pedestrian bridge at Canary Wharf and Rotherhithe.

“Actually it was one of the campaigns that Caroline Pidgeon talked about during the mayoral campaign.

“I was initially not sure of my views but was persuaded during the mayoral campaign that it was a good idea.

“We have worked cross-party to get this scheme up and running.”

Liberal Democrat London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon said: “It’s so important for pedestrians and cyclists to be able to cross the Thames.

“At the moment on this side of London you have a choice: you go through the Rotherhithe Tunnel – literally taking your life into your own hands – or you have to trek further east and go through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel.

“We need to make sure that people can get across the Thames in a healthy, safe way.

“I think this is a fantastic project and it will be a real triumph for London to see a brand new bridge at that location.”

This week we reported that Canary Wharf Group is opposing the bridge and favours an improved ferry service instead.

The owners of Canary Wharf have criticised plans for a bridge across the Thames linking the Isle of Dogs with Rotherhithe.

Canary Wharf Group’s hostility to the scheme has been known for some time but is now a matter of public record thanks to the firm’s submission to the London Plan examination in public currently being held at City Hall

“We are concerned about the proposed walk and cycle river crossing between Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf,” says CWG in its written statement on transport schemes in London.

“This is a very expensive and environmentally intrusive scheme and we believe the significantly cheaper ferry proposal should be properly considered as a more viable and attractive (to users) proposition.

“With public finances heavily constrained, it is vital that investment in infrastructure is spent wisely on the most important, beneficial and deliverable initiatives.”

Last month Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “Transport for London (TfL) is continuing to develop the scheme, including aspects of design, construction and operation of this important new crossing.

“As part of this, TfL is engaging directly with a number of stakeholders, including the Port of London Authority, London boroughs, land owners and local community groups.

“This work is helping to develop greater detail on the scheme, which TfL will share as part of a formal public consultation, which is currently planned to launch in spring 2019.”

In its London Plan EIP submission, Canary Wharf also argues that greater capacity is needed on the Jubilee line in order to meet future demand.

The Bramcote Estate in South Bermondsey is one of 11 areas around the capital to receive a share of the Mayor of London and Transport for London’s £53.4 million Liveable Neighbourhoods funding.

Southwark Council bid for the funding from City Hall and TfL.

The scheme at the Bramcote Estate will reduce car use by make walking and cycling much easier for local residents and connect the area with the future Cycleway 4 and Old Kent Road.

Roads will be closed to through traffic, junctions re-designed and streets made easier to cross on foot. Links will also be improved to the Deptford Parks Liveable Neighbourhood, for which Lewisham Council was awarded funding last year.

Further details of the project are available in this report.