Berkeley appoints team of local practices after former plans provoked public backlash


Aerial view of the 2.7ha shopping centre site

Sheppard Robson has been replaced by dRMM on a controversial redevelopment of Peckham’s Aylesham Shopping Centre following a local backlash.

Developer Berkeley’s initial plans for the 2.7ha site, unveiled in December 2022, consisted of more than 1,000 homes in 14 blocks including towers up to 27 storeys in height.

In May this year, Berkeley said it would revise its plans after a petition by local campaign group Aylesham Community Action opposing the scheme received more than 7,000 signatures.

Southwark council had also weighed in, calling the scheme “not good enough” and describing its design as having “significant issues”.

The council criticised the scheme for breaching guidance for the site limiting buildings to 20 storeys, adding: “Officers would consider one of these buildings being taller than twenty storeys… Beyond that none of the buildings should generally exceed ten storey in height.”

Former plans by AHMM for the site’s former owner, BlackRock, were also never submitted and the plot was sold after the proposals provoked local ire during an early consultation.

Berkeley and Southwark council have now appointed a dRMM-led team through an invited competition to design a new scheme which appears to reduce the number of homes to around 850, although it still aims to include two blocks taller than 20 storeys.

dRMM said: ”We are keen to reiterate that the height of our development has not yet been set in stone and is subject to consultation with the local community.”

The team will also include emerging local practices Jas Bhalla Architects and nimtim architects, chosen by dRMM for their understanding of the south London area and its “diverse spirit”.


Aylesham shopping centre

The two small firms will be “invaluable in shaping the project and ensuring it resonates with the community it serves”, dRMM said.

Berkeley’s brief calls for an “iconic and transformative” mixed-use development that will represent Peckham’s “unique identity as a diverse and inclusive community”.

The developer also wants to include “meaningful” public realm areas and space for retail, leisure, cultural and creative uses.

The revised plans are said to be in early stages with the design team “excited to commence a discovery phase with the local community to capture their perspective on the character of Peckham and identify their needs and wants.”

dRMM is based in Southwark and is currently working on a redevelopment of the 1960s Tustin Estate on Old Kent Road for the local council.

Director at the practice Judith Stichtenoth said: “We see huge opportunity to build from the lessons learned on Tustin Estate - where a process of active listening and engagement with the residents and community has helped us design an estate with social longevity. 

“We look forward to working with Berkeley Homes and the Peckham community to create a new piece of city that promotes social cohesion and is inclusive by design.”

Jonas Lencer, another director at the practice, added: “dRMM have always been inspired by the architecture of circumstance – looking at the existing context and community and working from the ground up, editing rather than replacing wholesale. 

“This fine grain approach suits Peckham. Peckham is a successful place, which would benefit from more green space, additional affordable family housing and opportunities for local businesses to grow.”

Chloe Young, development director at Berkeley Homes said: “We have enjoyed working with Southwark Council on the appointment of dRMM for this important project in Peckham. We look forward to working collaboratively with the local community and all key stakeholders for the future success of the site.”

Sheppard Robson has been contacted for comment.