Southwark is one of Kanda’s most active Boroughs. We have achieved 29 consents to date, including 10 schemes consented so far this year – and we’ve been lucky enough to work on developments of all shapes and sizes over the past six and a half years. It’s been great to see schemes like the student accommodation at Eagle Wharf (Peckham) go from pre-app engagement to consent to completion over the space of a few years. 

If I had to choose one word to summarise the experience of engagement in Southwark over the past few years, it would have to be ‘variety’. Across its 11 square miles, from Bankside to Peckham, Rotherhithe to the Old Kent Road, Southwark boasts a diversity of character that makes it a truly fascinating place to work. 

You need only walk for a few minutes in any direction from London Bridge to get a sense of the evolution of the Borough over the past several years – new developments sitting alongside historic landmarks, with a rich mix of uses and public spaces. The river views aren’t too bad either! 

As for the people, they are extremely well-acquainted with the development process and keen above all to ensure that developments reflect local feedback and deliver for communities.  

It’s been fascinating to see the discussion about development within the Borough evolve over the time I’ve been at Kanda, both at a Council level and among communities.  

Good community engagement is a clear priority for the Council and its Development Consultation Charter is a pioneering piece of work, formally embedding – as a ‘checklist’ – the principles and expectations we’ve been working to since we started. This includes using a range of tools and activities (online and offline) to maximise reach and accessibility and sets out a clear feedback loop; demonstrating how early input has informed design development, particularly on larger schemes. 

Sustainability is rightly front and centre for the Council, with carbon impact frequently being the focus of robust discussion at Committee. For us, that means working with clients and wider project teams to ensure that there is strong justification for redevelopment over retrofit where this is the case – or that the carbon benefits of refurbishment are highlighted where this is being pursued. 

More widely, we often see construction impacts and ongoing engagement during the construction process raised by members and residents alike – a reflection of the intensity of development in the Borough’s ‘hotspots’ like Bankside and the Old Kent Road. Some of these issues raised require innovative responses. For example, we have worked with client teams to address neighbours’ amenity, including via ‘terrace management plans’ for office developments, providing reassurance on hours/conditions of use. 

From residential masterplans to office-led redevelopments, to life sciences, to student housing and hotels, there is certainly no ‘typical Southwark project’. Beyond consulting on development proposals, we’ve worked with communities and the Council to develop comprehensive community investment programmes delivering genuine social value.  

This has included providing dedicated spaces for local people, funding improvements to local green spaces and much more.  

As we speak, Kanda is engaging on plans for an exciting new LGBTQ+ cultural centre at Bankside Yards – a key legacy of one of our longest-running projects in the Borough.  

I find it fitting that Kanda’s 200th consent – at Canada Water Dockside a couple of weeks ago – and our very first (Crimscott Street) were both in Southwark. There’s every chance that the next Kanda milestone will also come in this unique part of London, and I look forward to being a part of making it happen. 

Written by Alex Sabin.

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