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Welcome to Borough Yards, 116,000 sq.ft of style-led shopping and experiential innovation.
You'll find it alongside Borough Market, under the railway arches leading towards Cannon Street station, in the space previously occupied by the wine-based Vinopolis attraction. That closed in 2015 because it failed to make money, so a new consortium are having a go with a fresh retail-focussed approach.
It's not the capital’s most exciting cultural and retail-focussed regeneration, that's just one of the exaggerations on the development's website. Who knows what the most exciting is, just be reassured it isn't this. Other lies include the suggestion that the district's welcome is unrivalled, the allegation that a lost medieval street system is being revived and the claim that Borough is connected to everything.
The developers have carved out a pedestrianised thoroughfare inbetween Park Street and Stoney Street, partly alongside the railway viaduct and partly underneath it. They've decided to call the new 'street' Dirty Lane because this provides memorable context, although the original Dirty Lane was never on this site and is now lost beneath Borough Market.
They've also invented a small piazza called Soap Yard, because sometimes what sounds good in a brainstorming session is better than what was originally here.
It'll be good to have the railway arches opened up and well used, expanding the number of things to see and do in the immediate vicinity of Borough Market. And while it's true that you may not be especially excited by a cluster of fashion brands and refreshment opportunities, this is what passes for entertainment amongst a significant portion of the population. Flat Iron Square and Vinegar Yard already cater for a similar clientele locally, so who's to say there isn't space for one more hospitality sink?
Sometimes you just want to find the marketing team responsible and lock them away until they calm down a bit.
That is right up there with the worst sloganeering I've ever seen. Creating a buzz around something that doesn't yet exist always runs the risk of sounding like hype, and Borough Yards hits it out of the park.
Planning permission for Borough Yards was granted in 2016. The site was originally due to open last year, although peering through the railings it's still very much a building site in there. The project's currently at the 'finding tenants' stage, which'll be why one of the arches has been transformed into a sales office with comfy sofas, potted trees, colour brochures and a scale model of the development.
In case you're struggling to read the hoarding at the back, it does indeed say Retail, Dining, Community, Wit & Grit. If that's triggered a full set of buzzwords on your bingo card, be sure to claim your prize. If it's merely induced a headache, you are not alone.
Sometimes even brand conceptualisers go that one step too far. This lot are based in New York, which maybe explains a lot. And in case you're having a rotten 2021 imagine how the investors at Borough Yards must be feeling, praying that visitors to the South Bank will still have wallets in need of milking by the time their souped-up shopping mall is eventually ready. Just off Clink Street, in cathedral-like spaces where retail, community and culture collide.