Regeneration project: Nunhead

Nunhead has received £438,000 from Round Two of the Mayor’s Outer London Fund, matched by £673,000 from Southwark council, to help it to become an important local town centre. Nunhead’s high street is full of independent shops with a focus on fresh food. However this hidden gem has remained a local secret, failing to draw people from surrounding areas or those visiting the famous Nunhead Cemetery. Funding will provide a rich programme of arts events to attract visitors to Nunhead. This is being supported by improvements to the high street, including new lighting, better shop fronts designed by Jan Kattein Architects and a new public space at Nunhead Green designed by architects AOC.

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Animating places

Events across Nunhead are bringing a new buzz to the place and making it an attractive destination. Many different buildings and spaces are being used for events from arts and theatre, to food and festive celebrations. Highlights from 2013 include a special performance by Arbonauts in Nunhead Cemetery, with surreal and spectacular visions among the trees. In September there was a free film festival across Peckham and Nunhead with 30 events including open-air screenings on the Green. Food and drink was the focus of the ‘Appetite Festival’ and the ‘Craft Beer Festival ‘– both using Nunhead Green and local Nunhead venues for tastings and food demonstrations.

Public spaces

Nunhead Green is a prominent gateway to the high street, but is underused due to its poor layout and frequent anti-social behaviour. A new design by architects AOC is reinstating it as the heart of the high street, and celebrating its 200-year heritage as a traditional village green. The new green will have a children’s play area and a village square, able to host gatherings and events. Supporting these changes are better lighting in the surrounding streets and the railway bridge – including special festive lights – road resurfacing and better signage for pedestrians.

Building frontages

A number of changes are helping to make Nunhead’s high street a more attractive place to shop and eat. Jan Kattein Architects has produced an overarching strategy that includes decorative lighting, murals and individual shop front improvements. 22 businesses are benefiting from restoration to the architectural elements of their shop fronts, new vinyl lettering to windows, signage and awnings, repainting and shuttering that allows window displays to be visible even when closed. Local artists have also been invited to create work to adorn blank walls across the town centre. To coordinate all these improvements and to secure buy-in from traders, an empty shop on Nunhead Green is being used as a consultation hub.

Supporting business

Local businesses in Nunhead are being helped through advice and workshops, as well as a new traders’ network. The Love Nunhead website has been designed to bolster local businesses, with shopping guides and features on local shops and events. An empty shop unit overlooking Nunhead Green is being used as a business incubator, offering a series of seven-week tenancies to local start-ups, social enterprises, artists, designers and cooperatives – boosting employment and jobs. So far, it has hosted a women’s clothing brand, eco-friendly fashion, Harris Tweed furniture, a gallery for local artists and a vintage shop. Existing businesses are also being offered energy and waste audits.

Borough: Southwark

Partners/client: LB Southwark

Consultants: Jan Kattein Architects, AOC

Funding: Mayor of London £438,000, LB Southwark £673,000

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