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

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

Local Community Unaware of Council’s Plans

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.

Attachments:

1. Plan of the tram depot. 2. Photos of the meeting (sent by separate email)
Contact Details:
Peckham Vision: info@peckhamvision.org
__________________________________________________________________________
Notes for Editors

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.

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