Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

ENJOY A SPA EVERY DAY; Bermondsey Spa Is Reinventing Itself for Young Home Buyers, Says David Spittles

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

ENJOY A SPA EVERY DAY; Bermondsey Spa Is Reinventing Itself for Young Home Buyers, Says David Spittles

Article excerpt

Byline: David Spittles

BERMONDSEY Spa: the place name is two words strangely at odds with each other. Bermondsey Spa? But history holds the answer. Victorian philanthropist Thomas Keyse created the spa on the meadowlands when a spring was found in 1770.

The area, also famous for its tanners and its leather market, feeding off the nearby Surrey Docks, swung over the decades from nice to notorious, and was later ravaged by the Blitz.

For 40 years it remained a Bermondsey backwater with railway viaducts criss-crossing an area of derelict arches and rundown council estates. Today, sandwiched between fashionable Shad Thames and a gritty pocket of Southwark, it is the focus of an upbeat 2,000 new homes regeneration initiative.

The fine Victorian architecture around an upgraded park, site of the original spa, remains, as does glorious St James Church (built in 1829 as a monument to soldiers killed in the Battle of Waterloo), while the Jubilee line Tube station on Jamaica Road has put the area on the map for young homebuyers. More than 20 individual sites across the 50-acre spa zone are being created. Several apartment schemes have been built already.

Southwark council's masterplan is for a mix of housing -- private, sharedownership and affordable-rent homes -- and striking contemporary architecture that stands out from the crowd. Housing association Hyde is Southwark's main development partner and Bellway Homes also has a big presence in the area. Being built are commercial space for small businesses, two medical centres and sports and community facilities. Railway viaducts are also being refurbished. The plan is to "punch through" the arches to improve visibility and accessibility and to encourage their re-use as restaurants and loft-offices.

St James Square is a seven-storey apartment block facing the churchyard.

Flats have large glass-panelled balconies, floor-to-ceiling windows and open-plan kitchen-living area. Prices from [pounds sterling]205,000 to [pounds sterling]215,000 for shared-ownership apartments.

Hyde has launched two new buildings; Eyot Heights and Bolanachi, named after a chocolate and coffee factory that once occupied the site. …

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