Simon Harding-Roots on breathing new life into the biscuit factory

Resolution to grant planning consent has been awarded to Grosvenor Britain & Ireland for a transformational build to rent scheme in Bermondsey, London.

Resolution to grant planning consent has been awarded to Grosvenor Britain & Ireland for a transformational build to rent scheme in Bermondsey, London on the site of a former biscuit factory. The project will deliver 1,548 new rental homes including c.482 social rent equivalent and discounted market rental homes.

This follows the decision by the Mayor of London in May 2019 to call in the application and act as the planning authority for the scheme.

At the hearing, Simon Harding-Roots, Executive Director, Major Projects, Grosvenor Britain & Ireland, addressed the Deputy Mayor and members of the GLA on the benefits of our scheme and how it would help create a long term, positive social and economic legacy for the area.

He said:

Thank you Deputy Mayor for hearing our proposals for the Biscuit Factory today.

They will breathe new life in to this brown field site which is of strategic importance to London. Peek Freans shut its gates for the final time more than 30 years ago and the site has remained under-utilised ever since.

We have worked hard over the 7 years we have owned the site. We have committed considerable time, energy and resources, and consulted widely. Time well spent to create a masterplan that is fully integrated with the surrounding long-standing community. This has been important to us from day one.

We would like to thank the GLA officers in particular for their guidance, and the LB Southwark for its challenge and advice – all of which has undoubtedly ensured we have arrived at a better outcome in terms of the revised proposals presented to you today.

As you have heard, we will deliver more than 1500 homes that London needs urgently. All will be build to rent, a sector which I know the Mayor has recognised has a vital role to play  in London’s future and we support him in this. It will help provide a genuine alternative for people who need affordable, secure homes in the heart of our city.

Every one of our homes is well designed and will be of good quality. The tenancies will be flexible, for short or long term to suit the occupants’ requirements – and secure, with no ‘no fault’ evictions; the properties will be managed and maintained by a responsible landlord with a genuine long term interest in making the place thrive.

Grosvenor has been committed to London for nearly 350 years – and we plan on being here in Southwark for the long term.

We have worked together with your officers to ensure the changes to the masterplan reflect the best possible outcome with more homes that are more affordable but, importantly, without compromising on the benefits these comprehensive proposals deliver.


  • An integrated neighbourhood, as mentioned earlier, open to all – no fenced off areas: no gated communities;
  • Fully incorporating the new 600 pupil school at the heart of the existing neighbourhood
  • A well-lit, well planned and active neighbourhood whose public areas are safe;
  • 5 acres of space open to the public, including a large roof terrace with free access;
  • 1,400 jobs on completion (a further 1,500 alone during construction);
  • The spend from these new workers and residents will significantly boost the local economy - you heard from Russell the support local traders have voiced throughout for the scheme to progress.
  • Extensive new planting, more biodiversity, 141 new trees + roof top gardens
  • And our commitment to a long-term social and economic Legacy Plan.

These amended plans do see some taller buildings, some spaces re designated from commercial use to residential; and revised phasing.

These revisions have however enabled us to respond to the priorities of both the GLA and LBS, to provide 35% affordable housing - with 30% of these homes at social rent equivalent.

We are now also in discussions with RPs to help deliver and operate the AH and ensure its provision in perpetuity.

We have also pushed ourselves further – for instance now fully embracing a ‘zero private car parking policy’ on our site to cut air pollution, championing the bold ambitions of the GLA’s Healthy Streets agenda.

In closing, I want to re-emphasise our commitment to Bermondsey, ensuring the homes and school that Southwark really needs are delivered.

After so many years evolving the proposals we are really excited at the prospect of being able to take them from concept to reality - enabling the transformation of the old Biscuit Factory and directly supporting all the people living and working in the area.

We look forward to working closely with Southwark, local councillors, the school, the community and local businesses amongst others. They are all our long-term partners as we move forward.

So, what would success look like for us? New homes, fully occupied by those who need them, a diverse thriving mixed-use community – proud to call this their long-term home.

And finally, I am delighted to confirm that we last night signed the development agreement with the school so between us, subject to the green light today, we are committed to delivering the school in the first phase.

Find out more about the scheme and our Legacy Plan at

To find out more about Grosvenor Britain & Ireland's properties and places, click here.

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