Turn left out of Kidbrooke Station and follow the road round towards Sutcliffe Park. It’s a strange experience. On the right-hand side stand the huge grey concrete forms of the Ferrier Estate, with its empty homes and broken windows, waiting for the wrecking ball.
Across the road, though, next to a busy construction site, are new modern apartment blocks – large windows, balconies and smart red brick – set in immaculate landscaping with lush grass, scarlet geraniums and other brightly coloured bedding plants. It feels almost manicured.
This is the beginning of Kidbrooke Village, one of the most ambitious regeneration schemes in Europe. The masterplan will cost £1bn to deliver and transform 109 hectares of deprived southeast London, an area little smaller than Hyde Park, into a stunning modern community.
It’s immediately obvious this is no run-of-the-mill development. The attention to detail and quality in the public realm mark it out from almost any other regeneration scheme in Britain. This quality is what will help Kidbrooke emerge from a recent troubled past and create a place where people will battle hard to buy or rent, either privately or through the housing association.
Over the next 15 to 20 years, 4,800 homes of different tenures will be built – in squares, around courtyards, in apartment blocks and streets. There will be family homes, new schools, health buildings and a commercial centre at its heart with shops, hotels, restaurants and offices, as well as leisure facilities and a brand new transport interchange.
A new green spine of parkland and playing fields will flow through the centre, running from Sutcliffe Park at the south end of the site to the railway line at the north.
But what does the creation of Kidbrooke Village tell you about the process of regeneration and renewal? Could the ideas and approach taken here inform the way we create new places nationwide?
From a Berkley Homes briefing paper titled From Ferrier Estate to Kidbrooke Village: the Making of a new London Suburb