The Peckham Rye Lane Station Gateway Redevelopment Project by Network Rail

Google Map of Peckham Rye LaneThe Telegraph’s Alex Proud recently proclaimed that Peckham was the latest victim of ‘Shoreditchification‘ – a culture sweeping run-down areas of London, in which entrepreneurial ‘hipsters’ move in and create a hub of creativity for a while. Thus attracting like-minded hipsters to the area, raising rent prices until the original settlers can no longer afford to live there and the place becomes commercialised by Starbucks and inner-city bankers. However, as Aleks Eror rightfully asks in his defending article, “What are lowly paid creative types supposed to do?”.

No doubt Peckham, in recent years, has seen wave of creative activity, or gentrification as others like to call it, with the Peckham Liberal Club, the Bussey Building, and the multi-storey car park (of Frank’s Cafe fame, as reviewed by Time Out over the summer) all putting Peckham on the map. In addition to these, the area surrounding Rye Lane station, particularly within the Arches Studios and within the 1930’s arcade building on Blenheim Grove, have become home to some of the most attractive qualities for creative-types. To name a few, The Sunday Painter gallery situated just above the newly opened Peckham Refreshment Rooms, then Bar Story and Innovation Interiors.

Ongoing efforts to restore the station to its former glory, which have been largely campaigned for by The Peckham Society, Rye Lane & Station Action Group and Peckham Vision have culminated in a series of unfortunate events.

Rye Lane Station (1880)Rye Lane station, seen here circa 1880, boasted a grand first class waiting room at the top of the building, now affectionately dubbed The Old Waiting Room, and a large square before it reaching out to Rye Lane itself. Local architect, Benedict O’Looney, took on the restoration project several years ago, and along with Peckham Vision, has been campaigning for the space to become a community-led enterprise ever since.

However, in light of Peckham’s recent successes on the ‘hipster’ scene, it has come to the attention of Network Rail that there is money to be made here. Network Rail own the station, the land beneath the forecourt that reaches out to Rye Lane and around to Blenheim Grove, and all of the arches down to Bellenden Road (as can be seen in the image bellow). The whole area is known as The Gateway.

The Gateway AreaInitial plans to restore the square before the station, creating a community space with growing commuter traffic better managed, were welcomed by local residents. It was proposed that businesses affected by the redevelopment project, including Jenny’s Cafe, the fruit and vegetable stall on the corner, DDJ Jerk Centre and the new £400,000 Southwark Council-subsidised Cycle Hub, would all be relocated and uninhibited. Yet, as is always the case, the promise of commercial turn-overs has led to a ‘preferred option plan’ by Network Rail, which is so horrible it is making the creative community quake in their Dr. Martens.

The 1930’s arcade in front of the station is to be ripped out, and replaced by two, towering seven-storey residential buildings on either side of the proposed square, consisting of 40 units. We are reassured that the ground floor units will be use-classed as A3’s: restaurants and cafes, which rings bells of London Bridge’s torrent of card shops and Paul’s.

Preffered Plan by Network RailAs a result of the business loss – around 2000 sq ft of it – Network Rail then proposes gutting out the arches of all current, long-standing, independent businesses and replacing them with individual, lonely retail shells all along residential Blenheim Grove. Undoubtedly, the rent for these glorious new-builds will be too expensive for anyone other than Paperchase to afford. In an extraordinary coincidence, Network Rail have yet to put these illustrative plans on their website, but have still issued a weeks feedback period for all constructive comments, to be made by Sunday 26th January. The extent of the plans can only feasibly be found on the project blog, ‘Improving the Area Around Peckham Rye Station‘.

Preferred Plan by Network RailSouthwark Council have also issued a 33 page PDF entitled ‘Peckham Rye Station: the case for change‘, which details the many “cultural” and financial benefits of the redevelopment. Below are a few artist impressions of what the square will look like. Clearly the artist was in no two minds about the fate of Peckham Rye either; note the inclusion of Wagamama and Natwest.

Artist impression of Peckham Rye Lane squareArtist impression of Peckham Rye Lane squareOn Saturday 18th January, a drop-in exhibition was held in Rye Lane Baptist Chapel, in which discussion with the architects was encouraged during a Q&A session. The following blog post will report on the events that ensued.


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9 thoughts on “The Peckham Rye Lane Station Gateway Redevelopment Project by Network Rail

  1. Unashamedly driven by the balance sheet, Network rail have neither interest in the area nor a strong desire to support businesses that cannot afford the prices of their new business units. In short, they become a centralized landlord, setting the prices and determining the nature of the occupants.
    The model they are employing is a 1980’s property development model which is unfit for the 21st C. It ignores the type of mixed economy that drives Rye Lane with a strong emphasis on poverty. Pound shops, money transfer shops and black beauty products create a footfall which is unlikely to alter in the medium term and unlikely to see the big players opening up in Peckham. As you point out, their expectations are based on larger developments in stations with different footfall in less economically diverse areas. These plans are wrong for Peckham and likely to add to the many voids on the highstreet. Paddy Powers and Ladbrookes are more likely occupants than Wagamamas and Starbucks.
    Peckham has a different type of service industries largely made up of small enterprise and is non corporate. This will destroy it.

  2. Good comment, Kevin O’Brien > The council had a long term plan to change the area, no doubt. Network rail may be jumping ahead of its self.

  3. I would like to add my name to those showing grave concern over the planned Gateway Redevelopment Project of Peckham Rye Station by Network Rail. I agree that the station front elevation should be viewable from Rye Lane – but that is all.
    To disrupt any of the other businesses (creative and otherwise) either side of the station, and under the arches, would destroy the fragile cultural structure that is currently blooming in Peckham. The proposals seem only concerned with making Network Rail more money, rather than caring or listening to the residents of Peckham.
    I have lived here for 26 years and am involved in the creative industry.
    People haven’t moved here in their droves because of the promise of a “better” station – we love it like it is.

  4. I agree with Jake above. Clear the front of the station and leave the rest alone – its only recently that its begun to improve and we need to keep it mixed and meeting the needs of locals.

  5. I am angry and saddened that a development I was SO excited about, appears to heading in such a terribly wrong direction.

  6. I have lived in Peckham and i believe its time for change.
    i want to see interesting shops and I’m pleased that the focus is on developing the area.
    I’m sick of seeing pound shops and betting shops, give us a face lift and investment in the area.

  7. The point of redevelopment is not to do away with what is there but to improve on the current situation. Opening up the space to make it look more inviting and tidier will be great to improve on Peckahm’s image. However adding shops like Wagamama and other similar retail outlets will do nothing to add to the area. Instead it will undermine the uniqueness of Peckham as being the only few hubs left that promote local businesses/enterprise.

  8. Yes Angelina, we agree totally. Open up the square somehow – there are various ideas of ways to do that- keep all the existing businesses front and rear of the station- keep all rents the same and extend leases- keep and restore the 30s buildings on Blenheim and Holly Grove- make getting a bus outside the station easier, More traffic calming , pedestrianisation in front of the station. Does not need to cost a lot just a little imagination and prioritising community over profit.

  9. I’ve lived in Peckham since the late 80’s and not happy what the area has become at time I’m scared of even walking down the Rye Lane because all I can see is a pile of rubbish on both sides of the road. I’m in agreement with Angela it’s time for a change. I too want to see interesting shops and welcome that the focus should be on developing the area.
    I remember the days I could walk down Rye Lane and shop in (M&S, C&A, BHS etc.), Peckham used to be a great place to shop with good companies. Where are they now? They have all gone because of rates were too high on Rye Lane. The shops we see in Peckham Rye lower the quality of the area. Walking on Rye Lane sometimes hurt to see what it has become shops owners take over a sidewalk with additional stalls leaving no walking space for walking pedestrian.
    Also hairdresser imposing person private space and won’t take no for an answer sometime curse you out when you get annoyed with them. I’m sick and tired of seeing new pound shops and betting shops, little space cut out in the shops we need changes give us a face lift and investment in the area. It’s like a little ghetto bring back Rye Lane to what it was PLEASE PLEASE!!!

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