Coin Street Background Information

Coin Street Area, South Bank – Inner City London


The13 acre site runs from Waterloo Bridge almost to Blackfriars Bridge, abutting the Royal National Theatre on one side and almost reaching the old Bankside power station, now transformed into the Tate Modern gallery, on the other.

After the opening of Waterloo Station in 1848 this area had been used for riverside wharfs, industry and housing. Much of the area was destroyed by bombs during World War II and by1970s much of the area had become derelict, with the land partly owned by the Greater London Council and partly by private companies. The few remaining buildings were largely abandoned, including the Oxo Tower which had been a meatpacking warehouse, and the open land was used for temporary car parks.  Coin Street represented one of the largest remaining undeveloped areas in central London. It was an obvious target for developers, who planned major office developments for the site.  The massive development proposal involved a parade of large office blocks, 14 - 16 stories high, from behind the National Theatre and sweeping down to the river, along the bank and up to Blackfriars Bridge.

However, these proposals were strongly resisted by local residents, who in 1977 formed a Coin Street Action Group (The Coin Street Community Builders) and went on to draw up rival plans for the site, focusing primarily on social housing and parks.  Redevelopment finally began in 1986 once the CSCB had bought the land from the Greater London Council for a modest £1million.

 the use of the locations at that time:









Car park
Empty Boots Ltd warehouse
Empty Boots Ltd offices
Car park
Empty cold store
LWT storage
Cash and carry store
Derelict warehouse
Derelict warehouse
Printing works and storage
Bank, pub, warehouse, offices, industry, workshop
National Theatre
Reuters were given office permission but they never developed the site. Now (1979), IBM wants this site.
London Weekend Television
International Publishing Corporation. Part of the Kings Reach Development.
Empty Melia Buckley Hotel. Originally 750 beds, but given permission for part conversion into offices.
Cornwall House: Government offices. Most of the building is empty as departments relocated




Coin Street Community Builders (CSCB) is a development trust

 and social enterprise which seeks to make the South Bank a better

 place in which to live, to work and to visit. Since 1984 CSCB has

transformed a largely derelict site into a thriving mixed use







1984 the site consisted of derelict buildings and temporary car parks. The old buildings were demolished – apart from Oxo Tower Wharf, the South Bank riverside was completed, and a new park was laid out between Stamford Street and the river.

By 1988, the first housing co-operative, Mulberry, had been opened and the former Gabriel’s Wharf building converted temporarily into shops and business units. The Thames-side path and a small park had also been created.

By 1994 - A second housing development, Palm, was finished.

1995 -  further housing (Redwood Co-op) in the Oxo Tower opened

1996 The commercial elements in the Oxo Tower opened - Harvey Nichols opened its restaurant on the 8th floor and   David Sainsbury and the Gatsby Charitable Foundation funded 20 scholarships to attract talented designermakers to the 33 retail studios on the lower floors. Oxo Tower

Wharf quickly became a success

2001 The latest housing co-op, Iroko, a new-build development made up of 59 social housing units (including houses, maisonettes and small flats, with car parking and a communal garden)

2007 community centre, combined with family support centre, learning and training centre and media participation space, next to the newly built Iroko Housing Co-op

A 64 place day nursery with baby unit for children from 3 months-5 years

Out of school & youth programmes

Parent and family support programmes including practical workshops

Evening and weekend activities

Conference, meeting & training spaces of the highest quality available for

business and community hire

Access to Guy’s & St Thomas’ Hospital midwifery and other specialist teams

A creche for parents/carers using the building

Access to training and employment opportunities, business & social enterprise


A neighbourhood café

Street-level restaurant and food shop

A roof garden with views over London

Offices for Coin Street staff



Other parts of the Coin Street site remain to be developed:

In other words, after approaching two decades the development of Coin Street’s thirteen acres is by no means nearly complete, though much has already been done.






   The Coin Street area forms part of the neighbourhood known as Waterloo which, like several other neighbourhoods in central London, grew up around a major rail station. Waterloo Station was completed in 1848. The main residential areas of Waterloo lie to the east and south of the station and comprise tenanted estates. Much of this housing was built on redevelopment sites between the wars, so little of the 19th-century stock remains. Where there are Victorian and Georgian terraced houses, these have attracted middle-class owner occupiers.


Working and shopping

   Most residents of Waterloo work locally or in nearby parts of central London.

   There is some local industry, particularly printing and distribution. These are mostly small firms located under the arches of the elevated Waterloo and Charing Cross railway lines.

   There are local shopping centres at Lower Marsh and The Cut.



The community

   A Waterloo district plan remarks on the 'strong feeling of community' among the remaining local population, down by half since 1961 to about 5,000 in 1981. Its main policy was to resist the development of more offices and to support housing and public space on the Coin Street sites.

 It is mainly a low-income, working-class community, with relatively high proportions of unskilled and semi-skilled workers and elderly households — typical of many inner city areas.

Waterloo as part of central London

   As well as having its local community, Waterloo is a part of central London. It includes major sites and buildings, such as:

·  County Hall

·  IBM

·  the Shell Centre

·  St Thomas's Hospital

·  Lambeth Palace

·  the South Bank arts centres — the Festival Hall, the Hayward Gallery, the National Theatre.

   Waterloo Station itself is a dominant feature, covering some seven acres.

   Consequently, most people who work in and visit Waterloo come from outside the area.

   Although this gives Waterloo its attractive metropolitan character, it is the tension between the needs of local residents and the demands of outside interests which underlies the main planning conflicts in its recent history.





The CSCB has provided: 


New Housing

All the residential accommodation so far built on the Coin Street site is social housing, available at affordable rents to people in housing need. Priority is given to certain groups such as those working in low-paid jobs in central London or those living in housing co-operatives who need transfers.

There are currently four housing co-operatives: Mulberry (1988), Palm (1994), Redwood (1995) and Iroko (2001). These co-operatives manage 220 high quality, affordable new homes.   All four housing developments are run by 'fully-mutual' co-operatives. A housing co-operative is a group of people who jointly own the houses or flats they live in and control the way their housing is run. The properties belong to the co-operative as a whole. Co-operative members do not individually own the houses and flats they live in but are tenants and pay rent to the co-operative. They do not have a right to buy. Every adult tenant must be a member of the co-operative and is expected to take an active part in running it - all decisions in the co-operative are taken by its members on the basis of one member, one vote. Each co-operative elects its own officers to represent its tenant/members. 


The inclusion of so much family accommodation in the housing developments undertaken to date has led to pressure to develop childcare, sports and leisure, education, and other community services and facilities




In 2003 Coin Street Community Builders started to develop a programme to support South Bank and Bankside families:

 An ‘out of school’ project incorporates a breakfast club from 7.30am for 4-11 year olds: a light breakfast is followed by ‘walking bus’ drop off at school and an ‘after school club’ until 6pm for 4-11 year olds.  Holiday play schemes operate weekdays during school holidays and include games and sports, and visits to local parks, museums and other central London attractions.  There is also Ozone is a weekly after school IT club for 4-11 year olds and their parents/carers hosted by City of London Boys School; and Southside Kidz youth club: football training, theatre trips and various youth-led activities.

In January 2005 a 46-place Ofsted registered nursery for 2-5 year olds was established,

A growing programme of family support includes sessions for parents and carers with pre-school children, a weekly childminder ‘drop-in’, a healthy living programme, one to one advice, and links to training and employment projects.



Over recent years Coin Street Community Builders has been developing a learning and enterprise support programme incorporating:

• signposting to training and business support appropriate to individual and organisational needs;

• delivery of high quality business support and training on a one to one or group basis as appropriate; and

• outreach, aftercare and advice on ‘next steps’.

CSCB has formalised its links with large employers in the immediate area by taking a lead in creating the South Bank Employers Group (SBEG). This body now has eighteen member organisations, including major companies based in the area such as Shell, IBM, LWT, J Sainsbury and Ernst and Young, as well as the Royal National Theatre, South Bank Centre, the London Eye and CSCB itself. With an annual turnover of £2m partly from members’ subscriptions and partly from grant funding, SBEG has been active in environmental improvements to the area, in developing transport links and in working with local schools to improve their facilities. SBEG employs a small team of staff who are based in CSCB’s offices and work closely with CSCB





The opening of Gabriel’s Wharf in 1988 began the process of diversifying sources of revenue.  Prior to this the CSCB had relied upon income from temporary carparks on the derelict site.   The restaurants, bars and designer-maker retail workshops have played a critical role in the regeneration of the South Bank, providing the first real reason for staff from surrounding office buildings to venture out and spend money in the local economy. As the place became livelier, so visitors and local residents were drawn to the Wharf.