Shunned by national chains and large retailers that prefer to harness the foot-fall of bustling Peckham Rye nearby, a precious collection of shops has survived. Amongst them a baker, a butcher, a florist, a deli, a café, a grocer and a newsagent. Despite faithful regulars avidly supporting their high street, the fragility of the status quo had started to manifest in the proliferation of retail vacancies and the deterioration of building facades and shopfronts. In 2013 Southwark Council rolled out a co-ordinated programme of measures to support the town centre. Initiatives included improvements to the village green, a new community centre, a film festival, the installation of a cash machine and public artwork commissions. JKA were appointed to deliver retail improvements and to convert a vacant, council-owned unit into a pop-up shop.
The people of Nunhead are committed to their neighbourhood. Consultation established a design strategy that would put retention and repair before replacement and renewal. Over the period of two years, we delivered improvements to 20 shopfronts and building facades and supported Southwark to establish an innovative retail incubator, Nunhead Corner. A competitive application process provided garage entrepreneurs aspiring a high street presence with a no strings opportunity to trial their business in a prominently located and carefully designed shop for a six week period. Nunhead corner hosted an antique shop, a collaborative makers’ outlet, a specialist vinyl shop and a flower shop before a permanent tenant was found.
The project has helped to further strengthen the bond between the high street and its residential catchment. It has helped high street businesses to transition and has led to new businesses taking up vacant premises. A careful and considered design strategy has uplifted the visual appeal of the town centre as a whole.