Old Kent Road needs a Tube station say residents and workers

By Robert Firth, Local Democracy Reporter

Residents and traders on London’s cheapest street on the Monopoly board say the only thing the area lacks is a London Underground station.

Houses on Old Kent Road cost just £60 in the 1930s edition of the classic board game, but in recent years the average property on the two-mile street costs just under half a million.

Those who live and work around the road that runs from Elephant and Castle to Peckham love it for its international restaurants, buzzing nightlife and closeness to central London – as buses to London Bridge station take less than 20 minutes.

The Old Kent Road on October 26, 2023 (Picture: Facundo Arrizabalaga)

In the coming years the Old Kent Road’s sprawling retail parks and warehouses are set to be cleared for huge skyscrapers with hundreds of flats.

Southwark council believes the area could accommodate 20,000 new homes going forward, with plans for some tower blocks, including a 48-storey skyscraper on the Southernwood Retail Park already approved.

Despite this, the area still lacks one essential piece of infrastructure – a London Underground or railway station to connect it to the rest of the capital.

While plans to extend the Bakerloo line through the Old Kent Road have been in the pipeline for over a decade, nothing has yet to come of them.

Residents say the lack of a station can turn simple-looking journeys to other parts of London into a trek, while local businesses in the area struggle to attract customers from further afield areas because of the limited transport.

Amir Abader, 25, owner of Abader Store, a shop that specialises in Ethiopian products in Old Kent Road, said he loved the street but was missing out on shoppers from further afield because of the lack of a local Tube or railway station.

Amir Abader in his shop on the Old Kent Road (Picture: Facundo Arrizabalaga)

He said: “For me to be honest the Old Kent Road it’s my place. I recognise people around here. I get regular customers too. If there was a train station that would be nice because the business I think would get more people from everywhere.

“If anyone sees our products on Instagram, if they want to come and buy it, they ask what’s the nearest train station? I have to say Elephant and Castle or Bermondsey. And they have to walk or get a bus and many people don’t want to do that.”

Soraya Yamava, 56, a data analyst who has lived around Old Kent Road for more than 10 years, said an Underground station would make her journeys to other parts of South East London easier.

She said: “The buses are generally good but there’s sometimes problems with traffic and the buses are not very good then, especially going to Lewisham and Peckham. They said there was going to be a Tube station and that would be good.”

Ms Yamava said that the area’s selection of restaurants, shops, and nightlife had improved in the last decade. “The businesses are really good and I have a lot of friends who live nearby. There are people from all over the world: Latin America, Africa, the Middle East. It’s a nice mix,” she added.

Ahmed Mechtoub, 72, who has lived in Old Kent Road for almost a decade, said he wasn’t bothered by the lack of a station because of the street’s regular buses. Mr Mechtoub, who is originally from Algeria, said crime in the area was more of an immediate concern.

He said: “I feel I’m not safe when I walk around, especially during the night. I’ve seen a gang of 13 with masks stealing from the shops here.”

In 2019, Transport for London found that 89 per cent of people in the area supported the idea of extending the Bakerloo line to Old Kent Road.

Pictured top: Ahmed Mechtoub, 72, has lived on the Old Kent Road for more than a decade (Picture: Facundo Arrizabalaga)

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