Our Intentions – Peckham

800px-Rye_Lane_Station_1880

Spectacle has been observing and documenting the so called “regeneration” of London over the past 20 years, which has largely resulted in the displacement of local people, the break up of communities, the creation of gated communities and privatisation of public space. This process will lead to London becoming like Paris, where only the rich can afford to live in the city centre and the poor are pushed out to the suburban perimeter, with its associated rise in social tension and social segregation. The pursuit of profits by the privileged few is achieved at the cost of social cohesion, equality of opportunity and quality of life for the many. It is time our elected representatives, instead of being the midwife to such monstrous developments, took a stand to protect their less resourced citizens. But sadly most people in politics see it as a short cut to getting their legs under the boardroom tables and sharing the spoils. They are blind to more benign, alternative ways to really socially regenerate areas.

Peckham, London

We have been closely monitoring the developments surrounding the corporate plans for Peckham Rye Station and the surrounding area. Since January this year we have been filming and interviewing many of those affected by the Network Rail, Greater London Authority and Southwark Council plans.

In mid-May we will be submitting the first edition of our findings in a short, campaign film at a community awareness meeting in central Peckham. The meeting will aim to inform as many people as possible about the events unfolding in the area, as the level of consultation so far has been weak. The film will illustrate some of the devastating effects the redevelopment will have on independent businesses, the growing arts scene in Peckham and the vibrant cohesive community as a whole.

More generally, we are in the process of making a longer documentary dedicated to the story in Peckham, which will touch on corporate redevelopment of London, gentrification and the power of community.

 

If you would like to know more, are interested in sharing your experiences, or would like to contribute to our film about the Peckham Rye Station Redevelopment Project, just email: production@spectacle.co.uk

See Peckham for more blogs and information.
Or visit PlanA, our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.

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Harriet Harman MP met the community to discuss the future of Peckham

Harriet2

A recent meeting between Harriet Harman, MP and the business owners and residents affected by the Peckham Rye Station redevelopment, highlighted some local concerns regarding the Network Rail and Southwark Council plans.

Emphasis was on moving forward since receiving an extension for the GLA (Greater London Authority) funding of £5million, and implementing a consultation/co-design process between local people and architects. Yet ‘compromise’ was also a key theme throughout the meeting, which may prove to be a tougher pill to swallow, particularly with regards to the proposed residential buildings flanking the station.

Local architect, Benedict O’Looney, currently responsible for the restoration for Peckham Rye Station, suggested that rather than stick to the constraints of the land surrounding the station, designers should should look further afield for the space for residential property. On the opposite side of Rye Lane to the station, a large, open space currently occupied by a scaffolding company might make a better place for residential flats, than the cramped and heavily occupied space currently available.

This suggestion to relieve the pressure for housing in the area may make space for some of the original businesses surrounding the station to remain included in the plans, as in the initial design ideas drawn up by Peckham Vision. However, when Southwark councillor, Nick Dolezal, was quizzed over whether these plans would now be considered in the new, co-design process, the only reassurance he could give was that all the plans to date were “relevant”. It seems clear that a lot of unnecessary (public) expenditure has been incurred with regards to the Peckham Rye Station redevelopment, which is now receiving another overhaul.

Meeting2

Unfortunately, it seems that some businesses within the Network Rail estate have little hope of being saved by Southwark Council. Steven Salter, of Innovation Interiors, and Lee Parsons, of Tara Fabrications, voiced their concerns that Network Rail has categorically told them that their businesses are “undesirable” and would not be considered for relocation into Blenheim Court, even if they could afford it. Salter went on to describe how he felt pressured by Network Rail to comply with their notices, as in private meetings he has been told to “keep [his] passions for the community separate from [his] business” otherwise he could face “difficulties”.

Nick Dolezal washed his hands of responsibility as he explained that as Southwark Council are not the landowners for the proposed plans, they are only able to give stakeholders a “greater voice” and administer “guidance” to Network Rail and the GLA on this basis. Harriet Harman empathised and agreed that Network Rail are notoriously “underdeveloped” in the landlord aspect of their empire, particularly since only 6% of their revenue is reportedly invested in the Town and Country Planning Sector. She vowed to meet with Network Rail bosses to discuss how they could “up their game on social responsibility”, in response to Salter’s statements.

Meeting3

The council tried to make it clear to concerned stakeholders that they are still responsible for issuing any planning permissions and they have some control over the rental charges once a planning application is accepted. However, some residents gave the frightening example of a local, Network Rail refurbished unit currently on offer at £45,000 per year, which they claimed was unsuitable and unaffordable for any independent, local business, such as those in Peckham. It seems that despite government and council involvement, the future of Peckham’s small and medium enterprise’s still looks bleak if Network Rail is allowed to steam ahead.

 

Please feel free to leave your comments below.

Get in touch if you would like to contribute to our film about the Peckham Rye Station and Gateway Area Redevelopment Project. Just email: production@spectacle.co.uk

See Peckham for more blogs and information.
Or visit PlanA, our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.

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Pressurisation, Orders to Quit & Private Profit – Network Rail’s Business Model

EileenClaridgeNetworkRailNetwork Rail Winter Newsletter 2012 is dedicated to “Network Rail’s small business owners”. Astonishingly, the same newsletter also features an interview with Eileen Claridge (pictured above), who’s bulldozer attitude is leading to the extinction of exactly this type of business in Peckham.

Eileen Claridge has been tasked with generating financial profit for the Network Rail estate, and she has turned her attention to Peckham. The design plans that were unveiled on 18th January, in a poorly organised consultation meeting, have caused a ruckus amongst many local residents and business owners. Particularly disturbing was the architectural insensitivity to the surrounding areas, including the Rye Lane Conservation Area, the vast redevelopment (rather than regeneration) of the town centre and the absence of any local businesses that already occupy the site.

The Gateway AreaShe wants to design and build “new and flexible buildings”, ignoring the potential of the buildings already in place, such as the 1930’s building either side of the station and belittling the historic architectural conservation of the area. This mentality is all too common in corporations tasked with generating income – rather than saving money by utilising already instated property, the mentality is to spend lots of money to make lots more money. Jane Jacobs‘ prognosis that “new ideas must use old buildings”, has fallen on deaf ears.

Similarly, the lack of acknowledgement of existing businesses within the buildings and arches again indicates how little effort is made to understand the value of Network Rail’s commercial estates, beyond just landmass. There is nothing intelligent about issuing businesses with orders to quit, buying out lease holders, investing vast amounts in glass and stainless steel “workspaces”, then selling them off to private investors for private profit.

Lastly, informants who wish to remain anonymous have told us that Network Rail has been organising individual, private meetings with the tenants and business owners that occupy the site. In these meetings, vulnerable businesses are offered ‘a more comfortable ride’ with their relocating process, in the promise that they distance themselves from a campaign against the redevelopment. The very businesses that have brought people to Peckham recently and those that have been thriving here for years, are now being bullied into leaving their sites without a fuss, so the big boys can reap the benefits of their successes.

 

Please feel free to leave your comments below.

Get in touch if you would like to contribute to our film about the Peckham Rye Station and Gateway Area Redevelopment Project. Just email: production@spectacle.co.uk

See Peckham for more blogs and information.
Or visit PlanA, our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.

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Boxpark threatens to take Peckham as its next victim

01_LRPeckham Peculiar recently uncovered the revelation that may see the end of Peckham as we know it. Not only is Peckham currently battling to protect its thriving local businesses around the station from corporate advances, but it now faces a – not entirely dissimilar – threat from Boxpark; the leading light in over-night gentrification.

Boxpark is the brain child of CEO and founder, Roger Wade, and sees refurbished shipping containers, stacked on top of each other, they claim to be the world’s first pop-up mall in Shoreditch, no less. While the idea has given opportunity to some independent businesses, the local economy is not of primary concern as it is also home to high-end brands like Nike and Puma, as well as all the novelty establishments usually reserved for Glastonbury, like gourmet falafel vendors and taxidermy classes.

The success of Boxpark has been largely driven by tourism and a white, middle-class demographic of ‘alternative’ shoppers, and unarguably it has played some part in the pandemic that is now referred to as ‘Shoreditchification‘. By parachuting this type of demographic into Peckham, so quickly and efficiently, the diverse and cohesive community and businesses that already exist will be undermined, purely on the basis of knock-on rent increases.

A Boxpark can pop-up and then just as easily pop-off leaving the local market and small shops high and dry with “enhanced” rents.

We don’t need this spray on gentrification.

 

Please feel free to leave your comments below.

Get in touch if you would like to contribute to our film about the Peckham Rye Station and Gateway Area Redevelopment Project. Just email: production@spectacle.co.uk

See Peckham for more blogs and information.
Or visit PlanA, our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.

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GLA Funding Extension for Peckham Rye Station

800px-Rye_Lane_Station_1880Following the Peckham and Nunhead Community Council meeting, Southwark Council and Network Rail have asked the Greater London Authority (GLA) for an extension to the funding they are contributing to the Peckham Rye Station redevelopment project.

The GLA had promised a sum of £5 million, which would expire in Spring 2016. For this target to be met, planning applications for the redevelopment would have to be submitted by next month. This race against the clock was partly to blame for the rushed and ill-conceived plans issued by architects Weston+Williams and Network Rail last month, which prompted fraught concern throughout the Peckham community.

Thankfully, Southwark Council last night issued a statement on their website suggesting that “although the decision needs to be finalised, the council is confident that” the GLA will agree to an extension. The acceptance of an extension is designed to allow local people to be more involved in the plans for the station, surrounding areas and businesses, as they should have been from the beginning.

The initial plans for the station square to be opened up began in 2008 and came from local people and members of Peckham Vision. Discussions continued between the community and the council until Network Rail pledged their involvement and ultimately, their investment. It was at this point that any consultation between the planning process and the community stopped and the ‘Gateway‘ Juggernaut began to pick up speed. Although this GLA funding extension is a win on the side of the residents, our council should never have let pound signs come before people.

 

Please feel free to leave your comments below.

Get in touch if you would like to contribute to our film about the Peckham Rye Station and Gateway Area Redevelopment Project. Just email: production@spectacle.co.uk

See Peckham for more blogs and information.
Or visit PlanA, our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.

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‘Gateway’: Corporate Language of Control

Preferred Plan by Network RailThe area surrounding Peckham Rye Station, set for redevelopment by Network Rail and Southwark Council, has been dubbed the ‘Gateway‘. Their intention to cash in on Peckham’s recent prosperities endangers the independent, artisan businesses within the arches and the 1930’s building surrounding the station. In January, the plans were revealed detailing commercial and retail units, and seven-story’s worth of luxury accommodation. While community efforts to halt the construction are bubbling, with council meetings being called and the local distribution of flyers, it is still important to note the strategic use of limiting language by various bodies of power and not to adopt such terms ourselves, or face being pigeonholed.

gatewaydefinitionA simple Google search produces interesting definitions for the term ‘Gateway’ – “a place regarded as giving access to another place” and “a device used to connect two different networks”. In the context of the station, the overground links and rail services certainly do give immediate access to central Peckham and all of the available industries around Rye Lane. However, by defining the area as such, limits it to being perceived only as a port of access and undermines it as an attraction in itself.

The Gateway AreaPeckham Vision illustrates (above) the locations of various creative and cultural businesses on the station redevelopment plan. Similarly, our previous blogs have tried to highlight how the Peckham ‘Gateway Area’ is in fact a place full of creative enterprises, long-standing businesses and new, independent initiatives such as bars and breweries, galleries and studios. All of which are contributing to a gradual increase in footfall and popularity of Peckham, which is attracting people from all over town. Yet the plans have chosen to ignore Blenheim Court, Blenheim Road, Dovedale Court, Holly Grove and the Station Arcade as an area of increasing enterprise and local economic advantage. Instead, the whole area has been reduced to an entry and exit point for central London commuters who will take up the unaffordable housing, and the gentrified twenty-somethings flocking to Frank’s of a summer’s eve. All of the connotations point away from existing residents, business owners and the local community who actually use, live and breathe the space every day.

The use of the term, as can be seen in the statistics above, began to peak around the 1980’s – a stark correlation with the Thatcher era and large-scale, government-funded programmes for urban redevelopment. The Thames Gateway project, of the same name, is a perfect example.

thames_gateway_470x168This was a Thatcher regeneration investment to turn brownfield land into 160,000 new homes, rejuvenate towns and create 180,000 new jobs along the Thames estuary, from east London, through Kent and as far as Southend-on-Sea and the Isle of Sheppey in Essex. The sheer size of the development meant that the entire region was looked upon not as individual, bottom-up improvements spanning three counties and 16 local government districts, but as a singular overhaul of general degradation. It was former conservative deputy Prime Minister, Michael Heseltine who defined the area as a ‘Gateway’ during a helicopter tour of east London in 1979, and in doing so reduced the home of over 3 million people to “a place regarded as giving access to another place“.

Similarly, last year’s Tower Hamlets Whitechapel Vision Masterplan aimed at the regeneration of the area to transform it “into a key destination for London“, uses the the word again. From page 8 of the ‘vision’:

The creation of “entrance gateways” will help to improve first impressions, create a sense of arrival and define Whitechapel as a place and destination in its own right. This can be achieved through high quality buildings and public realm improvements at these gateway junctions.

Despite the complete disregard that Whitechapel is a already a place of interest for many Londoners, the onus on developing the area alongside new Crossrail networks for the enjoyment of newcomer’s “first impressions”, without recognition for the people that already live and work there, just stands to show where the loyalties of our councils lie. The grandiose over-expenditure on the part of Network Rail for amenities already available in Peckham, such as bars, galleries and artisan studios, reeks of this outmoded, 80’s planning.

The same generalisations can be said for things like the Gateway Drug Theory, which suggests that drugs such as alcohol and cannabis create a pathway into harder drugs, addiction and crime. Various sporadic experiments have supported and refuted the hypothesis, but all-in-all, the term used is limiting and sees populations as a generalised whole, detracting credit from the rational, decision-making individual.

this is not a gateway

Organisation, This Is Not A Gateway, was formed to create a platform for people who care about the future of our streets to discuss, debate and critique the ever-changing urban policy of cities and towns. They argue that all too often, decisions regarding vast redevelopment of urban areas are isolated to a small population of upper-middle class, white men that will likely never step foot on the soil they homogenise. In describing the choice of name for the organisation, they put it perfectly:

There is no beginning or end of a city, there is no place of entry and exit, there is no entrance that can be opened, there are no gateway texts, no gateway knowledges. In choosing to recognise ‘gateways’ we give others the ability to create boundaries, borders and limitations to our lives.

The historical use of ‘Gateway’ has always been about management. It reduces and simplifies places and people so that they can be effectively herded and categorised, which establishes control.

EileenClaridgeNetworkRailEileen Claridge, the sarcastic Network Rail representative instructed to attend the January 18th ‘public consultation’ meeting, who kindly stated that corporation was “not a charity”, is the terrifying example of this control tactic. In Network Rail’s 2012 winter newsletter, Eileen was interviewed about her new position as one of eight “asset development surveyors who look after enhancement projects for Network Rail Commercial Estate”:

What does your job entail?

We identify and develop potential new income for commercial estates.

 

What are the challenges?

We’re tasked with raising the company’s income
by finding brand new opportunities.

 

What would you be doing if it weren’t this job?

I’d quite like to be a mounted policeman!

I can only draw comparisons to the Peterloo Massacre of 1819 at Eileen’s closing statement.

 

Please feel free to leave your comments below.

Get in touch if you would like to contribute to our film about the Peckham Rye Station and Gateway Area Redevelopment Project. Just email: production@spectacle.co.uk

See Peckham for more blogs and information.
Or visit PlanA, our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.

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A small triumph for Peckham at the Community Council Meeting

Ruth Kennedy discusses the deputationThe Peckham and Nunhead Community Council Meeting at Harris Academy Peckham on Wednesday 12th February saw Peckham residents and local business owners gather to discuss, directly with Southwark councilors, the plans for Peckham Rye Station.

A crowd beginning to gather for the Community Council Meeting, Wed 11 Feb

The chair announced the deputation that had been devised by local Peckham people, including Eileen Conn of Peckham Vision.

Chair of Peckham & Nunhead Community Council Meeting

Ruth Kennedy, a Peckham resident for over 20 years, read the Deptuation Statement to the room. It outlined the lack of communication between Southwark Council, the GLA and Network Rail, and the subsequent lack of consultation with local people regarding the developing plans. It emphasised the threat the plans pose for the local economy, in particular the cultural quarter, and disputed the size and scale of the primarily residential block developments surrounding the station. The lack of basic priorities that the public had asked for, specifically public toilets and the open square, were also brought to Southwark’s attention.

Ruth Kennedy delivers the deputation to Southwark CouncilRuth concluded by asking two questions:

Please can we meet to co-construct a process of meaningful ongoing collaboration, that will see this development through to a fantastic transformation for Peckham?

Can we begin the next phase with the curation of a robust, creative workshop, involving all three partners and the community, so everyone is hearing the same messages, and is engaged in collaborative problem-solving together?

A long applause for the deputation!…which received tumultuous applause.

Cllr Fiona Colley agrees with the issues raised in the deputation

Councillor Fiona Colley (pictured) thanked those involved for devising the deputation and enthusiastically agreed to both points. She announced that a meeting between Southwark Council and Network Rail would be taking place next week in order to discuss the plans and that the speed of the development was controlled by a deadline for the Spring 2016 GLA fund of £5million, which in order to be completed, a planning application would need to be submitted by next week. Therefore, Colley has arranged to meet with the GLA to seek an extension of the deadline.

Local Peckham resident BarryShe agreed that the issue of public toilets needed to be addressed and apologised for the way the subject was handled at the January 18th Public Consultation meeting. With regards to the threat to industry as a result of the redevelopment, Colley was wholeheartedly behind protection of these businesses and incorporation of them into new plans so they are not priced out. As such, she announced that Southwark Council would not be using compulsory purchase orders for this project and that betting shops and payday lenders would be excluded from the area. She also said that the plans for Dovedale Court demonstrated a real “lack of vision” and clarity, and that Network Rail did indeed only give generic answers to question of potential rent prices at the last meeting.

Peckham residents and business owners deliver the deputation

However, the issue of the seven-storey, residential buildings proposed around the station were keenly glossed over. Colley agreed that she saw little reason for the 30’s building to be torn down and that the height and density of the residential blocks should be discussed further with Network Rail, but she did not oppose their existence.

Peckham & Nunhead Community Council Meeting

Among the victories that Peckham has won here, we are in danger of compromising on other aspects of the redevelopment that also pose a real threat to the carefully balanced ecosystem of Peckham Rye. It certainly suits Southwark Council to shift blame to Network Rail, yet we must remember that all parties were aware of the scale of the redevelopment plans.

Nick Dolezal agrees with deputation

Please feel free to leave your comments below in answer to these questions or any other statements throughout the blog.

Get in touch if you would like to contribute to our film about the Peckham Rye Station and Gateway Area Redevelopment Project. Just email production@spectacle.co.uk

See Peckham for more blogs and information.
Or visit PlanA, our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.

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Community meets the Council – Wed 12th Feb to discuss the future of Peckham

If you are concerned about the plans for Peckham Rye Station and how they affect the arches, surrounding areas and businesses (see our earlier blogs for information), please attend the

Peckham and Nunhead Community Council Meeting
on Wednesday 12th February,
at 7:00pm,
Harris Academy Peckham, 112 Peckham Road, SE15 5DZ
with Southwark councilors.

Peckham Rye Station and the surrounding area is under threat of total redevelopment by Southwark Coucil, the GLA and most of all, Network Rail.

The local and popular initiative to open up the square has lead to a monstrous scheme that is now only set to see private profit and greatly increased rents. It is so important that as many people as possible attend to show the council that Peckham community is unhappy with the plans. Please forward the downloadable flyer onto others that may be interested.

Station-Flyer-A4-Revised-05Feb14-2Station-Flyer-A4-Revised-05Feb14-1

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The many contradictions in GLA funding proposals for Peckham Rye Station

Discussion at the public consultation event for Peckham Rye Station & Gateway Areas

In 2012, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, made available funds from The Greater London Authority (GLA), designed for the regeneration of some of the capital’s boroughs and £177 million was set aside for generally “boosting local high streets, delivering growth and new jobs and improving lives”. Within this budget a £70 million Regeneration Fund was put into action following the 2011 Summer Riots, presumably in an attempt at ‘damage-control’ of the worst affected areas. Peckham came under this title. The borough of Southwark was awarded £5.2 million by the GLA fund for the purpose of the redevelopment of Peckham Rye Station and the Gateway Area, for “new and improved commercial/retail spaces respectively and nearly 100 new jobs“.

The GLA has a very specific policy on transparency and openness, its guidelines on the subject can be found here. They aim to provide information as to how they operate, publish decisions and governance arrangements, and free up the data that they hold. However, a very specific document – the Agreement for the Provision of Funding Relating to the London Borough of Southwark Gateway to Peckham Project between GLA and The Mayor and Burgesses of the London borough of Southwark – was unpublished and untraceable. Eileen Conn, of Peckham Vision, administered a Freedom of Information request to Southwark Council in early August 2013 for the document. She received only a redacted hard copy with print so small that much of the document was illegible. Southwark Council gave the excuse that the 74 page PDF document was too large to be sent via email (questionable in itself). On the 4th October 2013, Eileen issued another request for a digital version, which was only fulfilled on the final day of the statuary 20 day target. The full PDF can be found lurking suspiciously in the GLA disclosure log; very much not accessible or transparent. The whole scenario contradicts their intended policy “to help Londoners hold us to account”.

The Agreement embodies some interesting project objectives regarding the purpose of the redevelopment plan and the aims the Mayor’s fund intends to achieve; dated, signed and sealed by Executive Director of Resources, Martin Clarke, himself. The objectives are detailed and discussed below:

Rye Lane Station (1880)

“Increase accessibility to the town centre by improving Peckham Rye station and reinstating a high quality public realm which incorporates active uses and reconnects the station with the high street”

This objective refers to the plans for the square to be reintroduced in front of Peckham Rye station, as it was in 1880. The initial plans, drawn up by Network Rail in response to a campaign by Peckham Vision, were well received and the subject of much excitement for members of the community. Despite much recent contention surrounding the expansion of the project to other areas (see our blog reporting on the public consultation meeting), the plans for a public realm (page 8) reconnecting the station with Rye Lane remain a singularly, positive aspect of the Gateway Project.

The second aim however…

“Draw new visitors to the high street to deliver economic benefits to local business including increased retail activity and footfall by providing high quality accommodation for active uses and evening economic activity”

In fact, increased retail activity and footfall has already been observed in Peckham over the last year, it being described as London’s newest “hotspot“, and people are already drawn to the area from all over town for various reasons (see our previous blog on the matter). This apparent need to fix things that are not broken is a commonality of the Agreement and Network Rail’s plans on the whole.

The description of the project activities on page 26 also details how the railway arches will be “transformed” for galleries and studios, which will support the local economy and create new jobs. The fact that all of this money is being spent on spaces that are already occupied in the trades they are trying to attract suggests either there is dishonesty or stupidity at play.

Regardless, no economic benefits will be felt by the local businesses of the Gateway Area, who are all being evicted from their premises to be replaced by “high quality accommodation”. This inevitable increase in rental value will only benefit Network Rail and will attract only the likes of Costa and M&S, who can afford such spaces. This type of corporate industry will eventually destroy the rest of Rye Lane’s independent, family-run business economy by jacking up Peckham’s rent prices, as was sadly seen in Borough Market and Clapham.

Preferred Plan by Network Rail

“Creating new jobs in the town centre”

Despite that fact that numerous current jobs are to be lost on account of these plans, new jobs will indeed be made available. However, the types of jobs created will not be ones open to much progression: ‘McJobs’. By putting in retail and commercial spaces,employment opportunities in the area are limited to shop assistants, baristas and cashiers etc. Yet the jobs lost are already ones with potential for real growth and career prospects for members of the community. Apprentices, graduates and interns alike, have passed through and beyond the Arches of Peckham, yet the new businesses are likely to flatten inspiration and aspiration.

“Bring diverse communities together to enjoy and connect with their high street and the town centre, providing a focus for community uses, socializing and events”

It is almost as if the person that wrote this objective has never even stepped foot on soil south or east of Harvey Nichs, let alone in Peckham. It is a struggle to imagine how much closer ‘diverse communities’ can be brought than as they stand on Rye Lane; Khans is largely run by Pakistanis, Afro-Caribbean barbers and hairdressers line the streets, Il Giardinio on Blenheim Grove is owned by Sardinians, and there are Irish butchers and Irish-run Canavan’s Pool Club, to name a few.

As Peckham Vision have demonstrated in their hotspot map below, many of the creative enterprises in the town centre rely on an interconnected, relationship-based infrastructure, that could not be restored by relocation. A fact that seems to be entirely overlooked by Network Rail, and one that can apparently be magically created by GLA through the use of “milestones”.

Central_Rye_Lane_area_map_-_vivid_cont_v.07_flat

“Continue engagement with the local community and bringing out what is unique about Peckham, creating character and vibrancy, and restoring and celebrating some of the high street’s historic character”

What is unique about Peckham, as discussed here, is not the same type of uniqueness that can be seen in the ‘Shorditchification of London‘. Artisan businesses have been nurtured for decades; character and vibrancy have long since been instated here. It makes no sense that a huge corporation could ever hope to instil such qualities in a place.

The emphasis and importance of appearance resonates throughout the paper, the GLA even cite evidence of correlations of quality street design and increased retail rents! These Mary Portas-style rejuvenation ideas can be observed under the ‘Town Centre Design Guide’, which proposes it will “encourage all owners of buildings in the town centre to improve the design of their shop fronts and building frontages” (page 27). Similarly, the discussion in Schedule 5 (page 45) of the “perception of crime” in the area, without factual investigation or crime statistics, and as a reason for the urban planning decisions, bases yet more on weight on aesthetics, rather than actual economic success.

“Attract private sector investment to key development sites in Peckham’s town centre and raise aspirations for design quality in the town centre, setting the standard for future developments and public realm projects.”

Attracting private sector investment into Peckham provides absolutely no community or local economic benefits whatsoever. As stated before, the only beneficiaries will be Network Rail who are hoping to improve upon their £6.2 billion revenue (2013). It also entirely contradicts all the previous statements of intent. What makes Peckham unique is it’s sprawling diversity, it’s independent, local business culture, and it’s recent creative economic boom. By inviting big-wig investors to lay their hands on unarguably the best sites in Peckham, it will become yet another mono-cultural section of London – destroyed from the inside out.

The small and medium-sized enterprises (SME’s) and cultural industries that make up Peckham’s existing economy – not limited to the Gateway Area, but the whole of the town centre – are dependent on low rents. By incurring vast expenditures on redevelopment projects, a revenue can only be brought back through increased rents, forcing out anyone currently residing in Peckham because of the lower prices.

A similar redevelopment struggle was seen at Twickenham Station a couple of years ago. Sadly, not enough could be done to save it in the anticipation for the 2015 Rugby World Cup, but there is still hope for Peckham yet. The entire plan must be rejected, because a compromise on any of the factors will mean a huge community and local industry sacrifice.

Discussion at the public consultation event for Peckham Rye Station & Gateway Areas

The questions intended to be raised here are:

Should the GLA fund, which is partly subsidised by council tax, be funding a project that will only financially benefit a huge corporation, Network Rail?

Not only that, but should the GLA be financing a project that is likely to severely damage much of the independent, local economy as it is?

Additionally, was the GLA in breach of its own transparency and openness policy in not providing the Agreement document, and only providing an online PDF version after 4 months and two Freedom of Information requests?

 

Please feel free to leave your comments below in answer to these questions or any other statements throughout the blog.

Get in touch if you would like to contribute to our film about the Peckham Rye Station and Gateway Area Redevelopment Project. Just email production@spectacle.co.uk

See Peckham for more blogs and information.
Or visit PlanA, our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.

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Peckham Rye Station & Gateway Area Development threatens what makes Peckham so great

Architects, Weston Williamson + Partners, discussing plans for Peckham Rye Station

Public Consultation event at Peckham Rye Baptist Chapel
Saturday 18th January 2014

The drop-in exhibition showcasing the latest design ideas for the Gateway Project (the redevelopment of Peckham Rye Lane Station by Network Rail, Southwark Council and our Mayor of London), was starting to fill out by 3pm. Evidently the inconspicuous, singular poster in the station window had caught the attention of more townsfolk than originally anticipated, and what was expected to be a gentle walk & talk around the concept designs by the architects, turned into something a little different. More than 200 people filled the hall, and with not enough chairs it could have been a sit-in…in fact I wish it had been.

We were first introduced to architects Weston Williamson + Partners, who are leading the operation. They talked us through the design ideas; highly contemporary mixed with Charles Henry Driver’s 19th Century, crisp metal cladding, expressive shapes and glass, but were interrupted by facetious coughing at the point of discussing the “slightly higher” seven-storey, residential blocks on Holly Grove, Rye Lane and Blenheim Grove.

The Q&A began with public toilets. Last years petition by Peckham Vision and Rye Lane Traders’ Association, which achieved 4270 signatures, to get some decent public toilets installed for the employees and shoppers of Rye Lane has, as yet, proved fruitless. It is a contentious issue that has left a sour taste in the mouths of some residents, particularly in the knowledge that Southwark Council has just given £5m (of tax payer’s money) to the redevelopment of the station square. Responsibility for the lack-of-loos was first bounced off Network Rail, as it was not seen as their duty, then was shrugged off by Southwark Council who mumbled something about the futuristic, coin-op facility on Atwell Road. It seems that the streets of Peckham are to remain pissy despite these grandiose ideas.

Discussion of the plans for Peckham Rye Station and the Gateway area during the public meeting Conversation soon turned to the matter of Peckham’s young, growing creative economy and whether the redevelopment will “encourage and support it, or would it seriously or terminally jeopardise it“. Indeed, the designs as they stand intend to eradicate all businesses – growing or not growing, creative or not creative – from the area owned by Network Rail. Replacing them with office space, glistening retail and artisan studios and commercial units – all at extortionately high rents, meaning that no original business can afford to stay in the area they grew into.

Preffered Plan by Network Rail However, on 6th January 2014, the Government Inspector at the PNAAP (Peckham and Nunhead Area Action Plan) public meeting suggested that the plans needed to consider more carefully the impact upon the creative economy in Peckham. It was advised that Peckham Plex Cinema and the multi-storey car park, home to Frank’s Cafe and Bold Tendencies, be deleted from the redevelopment in order for the council to assess their economic potential. This is a refreshing viewpoint and one that the Arches Studios on Blenheim Court are greatly in favour of, as can be seen here in Geoffrey Lang’s open letter to Southwark Council.

Discussion at the public consultation event for Peckham Rye Station & Gateway Areas

Eileen Conn, of Peckham Vision and a community activist who has lived in Peckham for 38 years, reminded us all about Southwark Council’s previous attempts to redevelop the creative ‘hot-spots’ of Peckham in 2004. The area between Copeland Road and Rye Lane was incorrectly deemed ‘derelict’, and plans were made to introduce a tramway into Peckham, using that area as the depot. However, after a campaign, led again by Peckham Vision, the economic potential of the creative industries housed there was realised and the plans were abandoned. Now the Bussey Building hosts CLF Art Cafe, artists’ studios and resident, upcoming DJs and music artists, which attract hundreds of people to the area every week.

It is evident that some form of economic forecast needs to be carried out on the Gateway Area in order to identify just how valuable these businesses are, and undoubtedly how valuable they will become if they are left to prosper. Rather than a ‘Shoreditchification‘ happening in Peckham, these creative and artistic enterprises were not manufactured or ‘popped- up’ in minutes. In fact, some of the artisan businesses along Blenheim Court have been thriving for over 20 years. These individuals have spent decades crafting their independent ventures into the spaces they have acquired with love and hard work, only to be told they may have to shut-up-shop within the year, so that a Network Rail can improve upon their £6.2 billion revenue (2013).

Discussion at the public consultation event for Peckham Rye Station & Gateway Areas

It may be that these initial design plans are a simple shock tactic, prior to a planning application due to be made in February 2014. Future designs featuring reduced heights or square-footage, may be seen as more acceptable by the community, in comparison to the originals. However, such an investment of public finances and livelihood should not be toyed with so frivolously. Additionally, compromise should not have to be made in circumstances with such obvious public disagreement. The conclusion of the meeting, which did not draw to a close until long after 5pm, was that the community (admittedly not a very fair representation of the community) were happy about the initial plans for the square and the restoration of the station in 2011. However, what they had received from Network Rail and Weston Williamson + Partners posed nothing less than a complete contradiction to what makes Peckham so great.

Discussion at the public consultation event for Peckham Rye Station & Gateway Areas

The deadline for feedback on the plans is set to Sunday 28th January in order for Weston Williamson + Partners, commissioned by Network Rail, to submit a planning application by February 2014. Write to Daisy Froud on daisy.froud@theaoc.co.uk, give her a call 020 7739 9950, or complete a feedback form, to voice your opinions before it is too late. 

 

See Peckham for more blogs and information.
Or visit PlanA, our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.

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