Campaign for openness in Peckham Tram Depot plans

Extract from SAVO NEWS – July/August 2006 issue

The Council is going ahead with its plan to impose the Cross River Tram Depot on a huge site in the middle of Peckham Town Centre before there has been adequate evaluation of its impact. The site is teeming with economic and social life, has significant potential for revival, has hundreds of jobs, dozens of businesses, several churches, scores of artists, lots of housing, and lots of adaptable buildings. So demolishing it would have serious adverse effects. These were recognised by the Government Planning Inspector after the Public Inquiry into the UDP (Unitary development Planned for the borough). He said the comparison with all the many other sites which had been examined had been based on the misinformation that the site was near derelict, and so it was a defective decision.

He recommended instead a ‘split-site’ Depot there, ie part of the Depot in Peckham and part somewhere else, and this has been put into the modified UDP coming out for consultation from 1 September to 13 October. The problem is that the words in the UDP put no limit on the size of a ‘split-site’, and it could have just as many adverse effects effect a brand new policy on land use in Peckham Town Centre, and the 6 week consultation on the UDP modifications in September/October is the first and only time to make comments before the UDP is finalised. To be meaningful there has to be information from TfL about the size and arrangements of the Depot plans they are working on now.

Peckham Vision is campaigning to get this information released. Anyone with an interest in Peckham Town Centre can help by asking their ward councillors, GLA member, and MP to press TfL for information and openness about these plans at this critical stage.

If you support this campaign, join the mailing list, and keep in touch. Please email info@peckhamvision.org.

The Peckham Society News, Summer 2006, No. 104

INSPECTOR CRITICISES BOURNEMOUTH ROAD SITE FOR TRAM DEPOT

The Southwark Council website has disclosed that the Inspector at the inquiry to Southwark�s Unitary Development Plan (UDP) has criticised Southwark Council for promoting the Bournemouth Road site for the tram depot by describing it as derelict and ripe for development.

On Saturday 18 March 2006 Peckham Vision arranged a follow-up meeting following the very successful Peckham Society meeting on 21 January. Peckham Vision is a small group comprising representatives of local residents, the Peckham Society, artists and businesses. This group wishes to raise awareness on issues concerning central Peckham.� The symposium had a similar format and venue compared to the 21 January meeting. There were exhibitions showing enlarged maps and pictures of the historic centre of Peckham. There was the opportunity to view the layout of the Bournemouth Road site from the roof of the Bussey building and also see the heritage features of Peckham Rye Station and the proposed central conservation area.
The intention of this Peckham Vision meeting was to focus on the proposed depot and maintenance sites for the Cross River Tramway from Camden. The proposed Peckham Society route for the tram which avoids the historic buildings was also demonstrated.� The Inspector�s report disclosure on the website, which neither Transport for London (TfL) nor the leader of Southwark Council knew about, was the main talking point. For many reasons the inspector turned down Southwark�s promotion of the site for a tram depot. Southwark Council have the last word and could recommend this site for the depot.

Eileen Conn introduced the meeting on the themes of:

  • Would the depot be good or bad for Peckham?
  • Where else should the depot be?
  • What are the alternative routes in Peckham?

Reference to a map indicated the size of the five acre site and the TfL route to gain access to the site. Chris Reese mentioned the other depot proposals on the tram route and that it was only in the most recent depot proposals that Peckham had been mentioned. Previously Peckham had been discounted by TfL. Peter Frost followed Chris and mentioned the splitting of both tram routes, to the north, Camden and King�s Cross and the Emirates Stadium (Arsenal FC) and to the south Peckham and Brixton. There would be a common route between Mornington Crescent and the Elephant & Castle. Adam Khan suggested alternative uses for the site and Benny O�Looney showed the Peckham Society alternative central route.

We had a long question and answer session and many people gave their views on the tram and depot proposals. The meeting of about eighty people was given as much information as we had at our disposal. Hopefully next time TfL, Cross River Partnership and Southwark Council will attend so that we can have a more meaningful dialogue.

Peter Frost

Proposed Tram Maintenance Depot – latest news

Extract from Bellenden Residents’ Group Newsletter – May 2006A few days before the Peckham Vision meeting on 18 March, the Planning Inspector’s draft report on the Council’s UDP (Unitary Development Plan) was made available. See:
http://www.southwark.gov.uk/YourServices/planningandbuildingcontrol/planningpolicy
(click on draft inspector’s report Part II) This revealed that the Inspector had rejected the Council’s plan to use the heart of Peckham Town Centre for the tram maintenance depot. The depot was to house the 48 trams of the proposed Cross River tram route between Camden and Peckham. The Inspector said that Peckham had been chosen as the preferred site on the basis of misinformation in the report comparing over 20 potential sites. He said: Amazingly the site is described as vacant and derelict  that is simply not true  it is far from derelictthe comparative evaluation and selection process have been defective the loss of existing jobs and the disruption of businesses and other uses on the site is not justified. The land provides good opportunities for new and small businesses.

Peckham Vision reported this at the meeting, along with a brief account of what had been learnt by residents through the public inquiry in 2005 about the site selection process. There was a slide show of the site showing how adaptable the buildings were because of the wide variety of uses they were capable of accommodating. Some businesses which are affected, and were present, had only recently heard about the plans and were horrified.

The Peckham Society presented at the meeting an alternative route for the tram, without the tram depot, through Peckham town centre, showing how a final stop could be located near the station at the multi-storey car park. There was also a presentation of an alternative view of the site as a significant contributor to a more organic and gradual development of the central area of Rye Lane. The new Council, after the 4 May election, will be deciding whether or not to accept the Inspector’s report. There was a call at the meeting for a petition so that local people could express their support for the Inspector’s decision. This petition is now available. Help is needed to collect signatures now. If you can help in this or just want a petition to sign yourself, or email BRG@nutbrook.demon.co.uk

Artists Exhibitions on the site

Since the first exhibition last October, by the artists with studios on the threatened site, there have been a number of exhibitions. The current series is:

 21 April – 14 May The Mouse that Roared: 12pm-6pm Thursday-Sunday
www.project133.com 17 May – 4 June Inside/Outside: Private View Thursday 17 May 6.30pm-9.30pm;
Open daily 11am-5pm, except Mondays.
Film Nights- selected artists & The Invited Cinema: Fridays 19 May, 26 May, 2 June at 7pm.
email : alicewhite@dial.pipex.com www.artistsshowart.co.uk8 June – 30 June Notions of Drawing: Private View Thursday 8 June 6.30pm
Other times unknown; contact:
email: info@artbust.co.uk www.artbust.co.uk

These exhibitions of work by artists, working (in a variety of media) on the site, have been an excellent addition to Peckham life. They further illustrate the adaptability of the buildings there. In all the exhibitions, there has been a display of information and material about the site and its potential, and the latest news on the plans for the proposed tram depot. This will continue at the coming exhibitions, which are well worth visiting

Local people flock to “Peckham Vision”

The Peckham Society News, Spring 2006, No. 103

On 21 January the Peckham Society through �Peckham Vision� arranged a historical event and meeting about the future of Peckham town centre. The venue was innovative as it was held in a CIP (Copeland Industrial Park) building which in the 19th century was a factory for making sports goods including cricket bats made from willow grown in Suffolk. This site is enclosed by Rye Lane, Bournemouth Road, Copeland Road and the Moncrieff railway viaduct.

Peckham Vision is a consortium of local residents, artists and businesses who want to raise awareness of the issues relating to central Peckham and stimulate an informed discussion. The Peckham Society is taking an active part. The significance of the site is that at the UDP (Unitary Development Plan) meetings last year it was discovered that Tfl (Transport for London) was to demolish all the buildings on this triangular site and build a huge tram maintenance depot and terminal. The site owners and owners of the Rye Lane shops knew nothing of this plan. The aims of this event and meeting were to make accessible to the public the information about central Peckham and in turn to inform the public and residents about the vision we have for central Peckham acquired during the UDP inquiry. The event also aimed to help inspire the public and residents with the vision the Peckham Society and others have for central Peckham which includes the designation of a conservation area.

An hour before the meeting, conducted tours were made to the top of the 5-storey building to see the splendid view over Peckham, and indeed the whole of central London. The beauty of Peckham Rye station, designed by Charles William Driver in 1865 was clear from above. The Peckham Society, through the Rye Lane and Station Action Group, have been instrumental in securing agreement to open up the bricked up windows of the large old waiting room. The Peckham Society�s aim, now agreed by Southwark Council and Southern Rail, is to open up the piazza, in front of the station by demolition of the 20th century buildings in the forecourt. The Peckham Society is trying for the second time to have this handsome station listed; two others designed by Charles Driver already are.

The line of the Peckham High Street buildings with several 17th century wood framed buildings can be seen from the roof, bisected by Peckham Hill Street. This is the core of the proposed conservation area, including the west side of Peckham Hill Street and 200 metres of Peckham High Street either side of the end of Peckham Hill Street. Southwards it will link with the Rye Lane West conservation area ending at Heaton Road. The conservation area would protect buildings from demolition and improve the standards and design of any new developments. Looking south over the site the tall Wandle building of 40 flats is nearing completion. This was built despite Tfl putting a hold on any new developments and could sabotage their plans for the tram depot. Just beyond the Wandle building on the corner of Rye Lane and Bournemouth Road is the Macniven and Cameron site (60-100 proposed apartments and renovated retail) which has gone to appeal with the planning department, because the first application was turned down. Additional to these homes being lost, about 600 people work in businesses and nine churches successfully worship and act as a community focus on the site.
Simultaneously with the roof tours, an exhibition of illustrated boards showed the proposed conservation area, views and maps of the site and one of the possible routes in Peckham of the Camden to Peckham tramway and proposed maintenance depot. In the one map of the tram route we have, the tram will pass through central Peckham and zig-zag its way to go beneath the Consort Road railway bridge and turn at a severe angle into the site which would also have the terminus tramway platforms. It is anticipated that one tram will pass under the bridge every two minutes. There were hand-outs of information from the Cross River Partnership (CRP) who represent the four boroughs through which the tram will pass. The exhibition hall was enlivened by a simultaneous art exhibition which added colour, from the artists working on the site. Two film documentary students from Goldsmiths College filmed the proceedings to record an illustration of community groups in action. All expectations of numbers were exceeded; the estimate was that over 200 people were present, so most had to stand. Those attending were requested to write down their contact details and leave comments and questions on post-it slips. Tea and coffee were freely available during the afternoon.

The meeting, beginning after the viewing, was chaired by the chair of the Peckham Society and co-ordinated by Eileen Conn.� The presentations were short and focussed so there was adequate time for questions. Sarah Beuden and David Ware put forward the Council�s view on the planning process for the Peckham Area Action Plan (PAAP) where the tram and depot would play a significant role. Tfl and the Council came under much criticism from the assembled gathering because of the lack of information given to the public. Eileen Conn spoke about the residents� perspectives on town centre issues and how essential it was that the local people had enough information to think about them before formal discussions began. Benedict O�Looney and Steven Robb of the Peckham Society presented an excellent pictorial view of central Peckham illustrating the proposed conservation area and historic buildings at risk. Adam Khan, a local resident and architect, showed an urban designer�s view of the site, illustrating its flexibility and adaptability � just what Peckham needs for the future. We had intended at this point to focus on the wall displays but the audience was too packed to circulate. Instead we introduced topics suggested from the floor and discussed them. Representation at the meeting was far ranging with people from all over Peckham and included ward councillors, members of sister organisations who care for the environment and the local Greater London Assembly representative Val Shawcross.

The main conclusions were that the Council had to engage the local residents in their proposals and in turn listen to them to find mutually acceptable solutions. Andy Simmons, a local ward councillor, summed up the meeting rather well and made the most telling remark that the Council knew of the scale of the tram depot proposals two years ago, but he didn�t know until last summer. The adverse consequences to jobs, homes, traffic, shopping, church worship and historic buildings needs to be addressed. The tram is proposed to run in 2016 at the earliest; this could create planning blight for a decade. Good information on all these issues needs to be available to enable informed discussions between people who live and work in Peckham.

Peter Frost

Peckham Vision Event 21 January 2006

�Extract from Bellenden Residents’ Group Newsletter – February 2006

Peckham Vision Event� 21 January 2006

On the afternoon of Saturday 21 January 2006, about 200 local people crowded into a small art gallery in the Bussey Building, an historic solidly built Victorian factory, just off Rye Lane, in the Copeland Industrial Park (CIP), which is part of the semi-hidden enclave from the railway lines to Rye Lane, Bournemouth Road and Consort Road railway bridge. They were given a tour of the roof with its panoramic views over London, visual presentations of the historic architectural treasures throughout the town centre, and some details of the proposed tram maintenance depot. Artists working on the site shared their art gallery with the event, and with the exhibition of material about the town centre (this is open to 19th February, Wed-Sun 12pm-5pm). This was a Peckham Society meeting organised by Peckham Vision, a consortium of local residents, artists and businesses who have come together to seek information about the development plans for Peckham Town Centre, raise public awareness of these issues and stimulate an informed discussion between local people and the Council about the future of Peckham town centre.

Historic Treasures and Station Renovations

People were amazed to discover the extent of the wonderful historic architecture still there in the town centre, including wooden timbered buildings on the High St from the 17th century, but dismayed to hear how vulnerable it all is. The Peckham Society is working with the Conservation Unit in the Council to develop a Conservation Area to give the buildings some protection from demolition without warning. For more information contact benedict@waitrose.com & www.peckhamsociety.org.uk In parallel, the Rye Lane & Station Action Group (RLSAG), a joint residents� & Council group, has been focusing on improvements to the station and central Rye Lane shopping area. In the next few months new lighting around the station should make an impact. Inside the station there is an exciting project to transform passengers� experience. This is the first stage of reintegration into the station of the original enormous waiting room between platforms 2 & 3. The project will unbrick the large old windows, and project light from inside to the platforms. This is just a prelude to encouraging investment to bring that magnificent space back into social and communal use, and longer term to re-open the piazza in front of the station. If you want to know more about the RLSAG and its work please contact Eileen� email� info@peckhamvision.org

Proposed Tram Maintenance Depot

On the other side of Rye Lane there is a lively, busy multi-functional and adaptable industrial square tucked away in the semi-hidden enclave behind Rye Lane and Bournemouth Road. There is a passage way into this space, rather like Harry Potter�s platform 9&3/4 at Kings Cross! This is a doorway at No 133 Rye Lane (opposite Blenheim Grove). Walking along the passage takes you into an unexpected world of industrial, trading, social and artistic endeavours, where hundreds of people are occupied. This site has been designated by the Council in the draft Unitary Development Plan (UDP) as the site for the maintenance depot for the proposed Cross River Tram between Peckham and Camden. Last year, it was revealed, through the Freedom of Information Act during the UDP Public Inquiry, that the references to a tram depot with other business, residential and leisure uses were in fact plans for a huge maintenance depot for over 40 trams in the heart of the town centre, apparently with no room left for other uses except some shallow retail units on the Rye Lane frontage.

Displays of the tram depot plans are included in the exhibition. The trams would travel from the High St to the depot behind Bournemouth Road and Rye Lane, with probably one tram every two minutes under the Consort Road bridge, competing for road space with north�south road traffic through Peckham. The information acquired as a result of the public inquiry did not indicate that there had been a thorough examination of the impact of imposing a large engineering site in the heart of the town centre and of the costs for businesses, jobs, homes, traffic, planning blight, shopping and historic buildings. One of the purposes of the event was to make the available information more accessible to the general public. There was overwhelming concern at the lack of information from TfL (Transport for London) and the Council. There were repeated requests for release of further information before the formal consultation period. This is essential for local people to have their own conversations to work out what they think. Only then can there be useful informed discussions between local people and the Council about the future of Peckham. There will be further Peckham Vision events to assist in this public conversation. The next will be on Saturday 18th March to focus on the tram and the tram maintenance depot. See details under Events, page 7. If you would like to know more, email info@peckhamvision.org