Agenda item

Cabinet Member Interview - Councillor Mark Williams, Regeneration, Planning & Transport

Themes and questions:


Roads, road safety and parking


-  what progress is Southwark making towards becoming a fully 20mph borough and what is the cabinet member doing to overcome remaining blockages?


-  what more can we do to increase pedestrian road crossing times across the borough?


High street planning and street scene


The Bakerloo Lone extension


Cycling and walking


Regeneration projects


-  would the cabinet member update the committee on progress in respect of regeneration of the Elephant & Castle shopping centre?


Planning, local development framework, CIL and S106


5.1  Councillor Mark Williams, cabinet member for regeneration and transport, outlined key priorities in his portfolio.  These included increasing the number of affordable homes, getting as many people as possible into work, making Southwark a good place to live in and the councils public health of duties which he saw as being at the heart of regeneration schemes, planning and transport policy.


5.2  In response to a question from the chair, Councillor Gavin Edwards, Councillor Williams updated the committee on the Elephant & Castle shopping centre.  He explained that Delancey were currently out to consultation on the plans for the site and expected this to conclude in the spring of next year.  Councillor Williams emphasised that the council wanted a development that fitted with the wider regeneration at the Elephant & Castle and was waiting for Delancey's plans to come forward.  He added that TfL was providing £153 million towards transport improvements at the Elephant & Castle, including the Northern Line station which was a key part of the Delancey site.  The chair asked what the level of engagement was with existing retailers in the shopping centre.  Councillor Williams responded that anxiety was understandable and that a number of shopkeepers had written to him.  He stressed that the council's role in the shopping centre was as a planning authority.  It had been made clear to Delancey that they had to engage with current businesses to help them through the transition and to find a new home.  He was sure that Delancey would be happy to comment on any particular issues.


5.3  Councillor Jasmine Ali highlighted that Southwark was a very exciting place to live and that the borough was experiencing lots of regeneration.  She asked how the council could maintain the diversity of Southwark.  Councillor Williams agreed that this was a priority and gave the co-design process on the Gateway Peckham Station project as an example of the council's attempt to consult with as many people as possible living close by or coming through the area.  There would also be a need to consult on regeneration of the Aylesbury in order to ensure that what was built now would continue to work in the long term.


5.4  Councillor Tom Flynn drew attention to the two potential routes for the Bakerloo Line extension and asked the cabinet member whether he would be joining the march on 29 November coming through Camberwell.  He also suggested that other measures could be taken to ease the pressure of traffic in the local area for instance re-opening Camberwell Station.  Councillor Williams stated that he supported both the Camberwell and Peckham routes and that he would be on the march.  He agreed that it was key to re-open Camberwell Station and also to extend the 136 bus route from Peckham to the Elephant & Castle.


5.5  Councillor Claire Maugham asked the cabinet member what was being done to improve pedestrian and road safety especially around the Elephant & Castle.  Councillor Williams replied that the 20 mph zone was being rolled out and would be completed by Christmas.  Funding had been set aside to look at areas where physical interventions would slow down traffic.  The council was working with the metropolitan police to enforce this.  Councillor Rosie Shimmel was concerned whether self enforcement of 20 mph zones would be effective.  She asked what monitoring would exist and what could be done to enforce the zones.  Councillor Williams replied that there would be post implementation monitoring.  Where the average speed was above 20 mph the council was looking at physical changes to the roads.  In terms of enforcement, the council wanted the police to enforce where there were infringement hotspots.  Councillor Williams explained that pedestrian crossing times could not be changed without TFL permission but that the council was continuing to push TfL on this issue and asked for information as to any particular sites to be lobbied on.  Councillor Williams added that the council hoped to improve the look and feel of the Elephant & Castle, including the new peninsular and the northern roundabout.  Councillor Karl Eastham pointed out that, before the election, two extra pedestrian crossings had been promised for Borough High Street and the New Kent Road.  He also raised the accessibility of Elephant Park to residents on the Rockingham estate.  Councillor Williams explained that one of the two crossings would be done by the summer of next year and that he would get back to Councillor Eastham with details.  Crossings on the New Kent Road depended to an extent on the final design of the Delancey scheme.  The council was pushing for as many cycle routes crossings and pedestrian crossings as possible.


5.6  Councillor Adele Morris stressed that the borough desperately needed both new homes and new jobs.  In terms of consultation on the Southwark plan, she asked how much could be changed and how much weight would be given to the concerns of residents.  Councillor Williams assured the committee that the council would continue to listen to residents and would be looking at all consultation responses.


5.7  Councillor Rebecca Lury asked the cabinet member for his vision for the Old Kent Road and asked how businesses could be supported.  Councillor Williams stated that the council wanted to clean and improve street furniture and was looking at greening the area.  He would write to ward members with details.  The council was working with the GLA on consultation on a draft area action plan.  In terms of businesses, the council was creating a business atlas of who was operating and trading in the area.  The council’s aim was to increase jobs on the Old Kent Road.  Councillor Williams stated that his vision was for a town centre with more homes, including council homes and affordable properties, and underground stops.  The council was liaising with Lewisham Council to ensure that the area fitted together across the borders.


5.8  Councillor Anood Al-Samerai asked the timescales for the London Bridge public realm planning.  Councillor Williams clarified that the decision had to be made for the southern entrance to the station to be opened by 2016.  Additional changes were being looked at to take account of changes to Saint Thomas’ Street.  In the longer term the council was looking at links to Bermondsey Street.  Councillor Williams explained that traffic along Tooley Street would be westbound only from 2016 for 2 to 3 years to facilitate works at the station.  The public realm would be improved after these were completed. The council was looking to do a study on how best to pull economic activity into Bermondsey.


5.9  Councillor Anood Al-Samerai emphasised that borough-wide there was a desperate need for affordable housing and stated that her biggest concern was that the area did not need luxury apartments.  She felt that problems originated with relations with developers and highlighted an ongoing viability battle at the Heygate.  Councillor Al-Samerai asked the cabinet member whether he was aware that Simon Hughes MP had put in a freedom of information request (FoI) relating to correspondence between Southwark and ICO and whether he would make a commitment to looking into this.  Councillor Williams reminded the committee that the council had a strong record of delivering new affordable homes, and had delivered more than any other London Borough in the last three years.  The council had secured a very good deal on the Heygate site.  The legal process was ongoing with another hearing on the 11th or 13th of December.  The council was working very closely with local residents.  In respect of the FoI request, Councillor Williams would look at this and reply direct to Councillor Al-Samerai.


5.10  Councillor Dan Garfield commented that Walworth Road station had been closed for the same period as Camberwell Station.  The effect of regeneration would be to double housing density on the Aylesbury and increase the number of potential travellers.  He wondered how seriously network rail and TfL were taking the re-opening of the two stations.  Councillor Williams agreed that there would be a lot more homes.  Once agreement had been reached over the extension of the Bakerloo Line then the Walworth Station option and the sites of any potential underground stations could be looked at.