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Leake Street Arches – Developing A Future For A Creative Hub

As part of the ongoing redevelopment of Waterloo Station, LCR has breathed new life into a network of street tunnels lying beneath the railway platforms.

As landlord and manager of the Leake Street Arches, LCR’s placemaking strategy is helping to create a buzzing new creative and leisure destination populated by local independent businesses and start-ups, while also protecting its status as an important location for local street art.

Respecting a unique cultural identify

Leake Street Arches features one of the UK’s only legal graffiti walls and its longstanding reputation for street art gained international recognition as the location for Banksy’s ‘Cans Festival’ in 2008. Protecting the area’s unique cultural identity is central LCR’s approach.

The land around the arches is owned by Network Rail and the Department for Transport. LCR successfully negotiated a 250-year lease from both Network Rail and the Department for Transport, and became the landlord of Leake Street Arches and the managers of the Leake Street Tunnel.

To help improve perceptions of the tunnels as a safe, cohesive environment, LCR made an early investment in public realm improvements to improve lighting and accessibility for pedestrians. Gallery-style lighting was specifically chosen to simultaneously make the tunnel more inviting to visitors and enhance its appeal for street artists.

As the sensitive development of the arches has progressed, local graffiti artists have remained an important stakeholder, with ongoing consultations carried out to ensure their aspirations are factored into the plans alongside other residents.

Creating a buzz

LCR saw the latent potential of Leake Street and the opportunity to tie its regeneration to the wider Waterloo Station redevelopment.

The project will support London’s creative community and more effectively promote the area’s reputation as a creative hub in London. Crucially, it will support wider placemaking in the Waterloo and Southbank area, driving a strong sense of local identity around a hub of activity.

So far, LCR has created eight business units in as many arches, totalling 23,250 square feet. These now house restaurants and a music venue, and will soon welcome a microbrewery.

LCR’s letting strategy targets creative, independent, London-based businesses to support the existing identity of the area. This has been achieved by active engagement with a range of brands to secure the most interesting and diverse tenants. All of the operators that LCR has attracted to Leake Street Arches to date are independent, with the majority hailing from the local South East London area.

Almost fully let, this formerly disused whiskey warehouse and storage facility is now thriving. As well as enabling the creation of 130 new jobs, the area is fast becoming a vibrant cultural destination, with a growing number of festivals and events, such as the popular VAULT Festival, held across the site.


The overarching goal of LCR’s approach is to draw visitors and London residents alike into the area, supporting the local creative community and turning Leake Street into a residential, business and tourism destination.

To realise this vision, LCR has formed long-term partnerships with both public and private bodies, engaging closely with Lambeth Council and the Southbank and WeAreWaterloo Business Improvement Districts. A Leake Street Tenant Forum has also been established where tenants can share ideas and engage with their neighbours.

The vision for Leake Street Arches is to build upon its legacy of local creative engagement and participation. To this end, LCR is increasing the use of the arches for filming for not-for-profit uses, which it allows for free, an approach that is subsidised by charging for commercial filming.

In September 2018, Leake Street Arches took home the Placemaking Awards at the first ever London Infrastructure Awards, an accolade recognising projects that integrate infrastructure with London’s wider urban fabric, unlocking development and public realm improvements.

London & Continental Railways Limited, 4th floor, One Kemble Street, London WC2B 4AN  Tel: +44 (0) 20 7391 4300  Fax: +44 (0) 20 7391 4401

Registered in England and Wales, company number 02966054 at the above address.