Now that the dust is beginning to settle in Bermondsey Spa, ordinary Bermondsey men, women and children are starting to see a little clearer.
Thank you Southwark Council for rebranding our park, ditching the much loved moniker Spa Park and replacing it with the much more cumbersome sounding Bermondsey Spa Gardens - 'park' sounds so downmarket, don't you think?
With news on Rightmove's website that a development of two and three bedroom flats (sorry, apartments) are currently for sale to local people (erm, that's investors from the Far East) for a paltry £1,300,000, it's only right to congratulate those at Southwark Council Towers for their work in creating a more diverse community: millionaires are welcome here and we're completely relaxed about them taking exclusive possession of one of the most attractive public buildings in town!
The new developers initially confused the building with the former public baths up the road renaming it Bath House Lofts! While we thought this was perhaps a cynical attempt to strip Bermondsey of yet another brick of its glorious history, thank heavens for the highly paid marketing executive who woke in the middle of the night to the realisation that it was in fact the town hall of the now defunct but once pioneering Bermondsey Borough Council. And, it's rather touching that the ordinary hardworking taxpayer will no longer be able to wonder at the ornate foyer and entrance designed and built by H Tansley in 1928. Never mind though. While it's plush entrance doors are now slammed shut in our faces, we can see the inside on YouTube instead...
This year's masterstroke was to plonk a haphazardly built estate next to and behind the former municipal offices, with the promise of a Sainsbury's supermarket next door. A mixture of flats (sorry, apartments) and townhouses, their design (bland, boring and rustled up on the back of an envelope by an architect without any knowledge of the heart and soul of Bermondsey) is just what its new residents love - after all, they're paying upwards of £1.1million for the privilege of living in 'The Exchange'. Still, at least they've thrown us a few affordable units to keep us happy.
So, well done Southwark Council, for making Bermondsey Spa (or is it just Bermondsey, we can't quite remember) such a wonderful place to live: clean, quiet and clinical. And, top marks for giving the nigh on £500,000 of affordable housing cash from the town hall's redevelopers to those living in leafy, distant Dulwich, thus preventing real Spa Road locals from mixing with the new Bermondsey Spa set. Allowing social tenants to like cheek by jowl with leaseholders inside such a magnificent building would never do...
YouTube video tour of Old Town Hall
se16.com's article on the affordable housing money
Rightmove.co.uk's listings for properties in The Exchange and the Old Town Hall