On Saturday (21-1-06) about 200 people crowded into a small art gallery in the Bussey Building, just off Rye Lane. They were given a tour of the roof with its extensive views over London and were shown details of the proposed tram depot on Rye Lane/Bournemouth Road. This Peckham Society meeting was organised by Peckham Vision a consortium of local residents, artists and businesses.
For nearly everyone at this historic meeting, it was the first time that they had seen any plans for a maintenance depot for a tram from Peckham to Camden. Very few people at the meeting were aware of the depot proposal at all, let alone its enormous scale and impact on the Town Centre. Local ward Cllr Andy Simmons said they had not been told of the extent of Transport for London (TfL) depot plans, and too much was going on behind closed doors.
While some members of the public seemed receptive to the idea of connecting Peckham to Camden with a tram, they were surprised and concerned to hear that a very large, noisy engineering depot and marshalling yard, to repair and maintain the trams and work on them overnight, might be located in the heart of Peckham Town Centre. This would displace around 600 local jobs and 40 businesses, some 60 local artists, an entire row of Rye Lane shops, 9 established churches, and 40 brand new affordable homes.
Peckham is not the only location considered for the tram depot, nor was it the original preferred location. Yet no adequate public consultation appears to have happened in relation to Peckham or any of the 28 other sites examined. Nor, it seems, has there been an examination of the true impact and the economic, commercial, traffic and social costs of a tram depot in Peckham Town Centre.
There was overwhelming concern at the lack of information that has been made available by TfL and Southwark Council, and at being seemingly presented with a fait accompli. There were repeated requests for release of information now before the formal consultation period.
The adverse consequences for businesses, jobs, homes, traffic, planning blight, shopping and historic buildings need to be discussed now by people who live and work in Peckham. Only then will local people and the Council be able to have an informed discussion about the future of Peckham.
1. Plan of the tram depot. 2. Photos of the meeting (sent by separate email)
Peckham Vision: firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes for Editors
- The tram depot idea appeared in March 2004 in the draft UDP (Unitary Development Plan) apparently as potential mixed use combining a depot with new businesses, shops, housing, leisure and community facilities. The information secured by objectors, under the Freedom of Information Act in the course of the UDP public Inquiry in 2005, instead shows the very large site occupied only by a tram depot and a row of small shallow shops on Rye Lane the prime shopping street.
- The comparison of several possible locations for the depot implies that the Peckham site is mostly derelict with little significant activity on it. This is far from the case. In fact it is a thriving industrial park (CIP) providing a flexible and adaptable space for a variety of small businesses and community uses, a new social housing development of 40 flats just nearing completion (owned by Wandle Housing Association), and two large commercial buildings on the Rye Lane/Bournemouth Road frontage which have been refused planning permission for redevelopment, conversion and rehabilitation for shops and over 60 flats (owned by MacNiven & Cameron).
- An artists community of some 60 artists has established itself on the site and last October launched an art gallery with a month long exhibition as ‘Ruthless Peckham’. The success of this has led to the second exhibition running for a month from 19 January. This use of the site illustrates its potential for contributing to the recognised emergence of Peckham as a south London hub for creative entrepreneurs. The Peckham Society has a 30 year record of championing developments which celebrate and encourage the new alongside preservation of Peckham’s extensive historic heritage. Peckham Vision is a consortium of local residents, artists and businesses, who have come together to promote awareness of the issues.