Multi-Storey Car Park

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PECKHAM MULTI STOREY

Model of cinema & car park building

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This scale model was built by Paloma Gormley, the designer builder of Franks Café. It is now on display with permission in Peckham Vision studio in the Bussey building.

The building and the place

The building is a very strong and resilient structure. It would be quite likely to survive a cataclysmic event as imagined in Nick Cobb’s dystopian model. It is striking and unusual with a highly expressive structure quite unlike the repetitive and monolithic form usually found in such car parks. See the photos. The building is set back from Rye Lane fronted by Moncrieff Place which is the forecourt to the PeckhamPlex cinema. The path to the car park goes along the south side between the building and the railway viaduct. Once the arches in the north viaduct are open to the town centre from Rye Lane (expected within the next year or two), this will transform the path between the building and the railway, linking also to the connections with the two green paths proposals for the Peckham Coal Line and the Bussey path.

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car park building fm Moncrieff St
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Current uses

The PeckhamPlex cinema occupies the front part of the building. This was built in 1983 for Sainsbury's supermarket, with the remainder of the building a multi-storey car park for the supermarket. The first three levels are in use as a car park for the town centre. The top three levels have been used since 2008 each summer from July to September by Bold Tendencies, a large scale sculpture park, and Frank's Café, a bar and restaurant. Each year further site-specific visual and performing arts have developed as part of the Bold Tendencies programme. The five levels in between are rarely used.

Planning status of the Peckham Multi Storey

July 2016 Council weblinks on this page

Council planning weblinks have all changed. It will take some time to restore all the links. If the link on this page you want is part of the PNAAP process and is broken you can find the adopted Peckham & Nunhead Area Action Plan (PNAAP) here http://www.southwark.gov.uk/downloads/download/4444/adopted_area_action_plans The Council says you can also access it from the Area Action Plans page by clicking on the relevant link, along with the supporting and background documents here: http://www.southwark.gov.uk/info/200211/area_action_plans which can be accessed from the main planning policy page on the left hand side.

Current status

The Council owns the Cinema/Multi Storey Car Park and still plans to sell it for redevelopment, in spite of the huge success of Bold Tendencies, Frank’s Café and the Peckham Plex cinema showing its potential as a permanent cultural centre. However the PNAAP Planning Inspector rejected that plan, and said “… that the Council has much work to do in order to finalise a properly substantiated proposal for this site. The pending preparation of the borough-wide New Southwark Plan provides an opportunity for this to be tackled.” Since then Peckham Vision created a public discussion about the long term future of the building. This included suggestions for the interim use of the empty levels in the car park, which has led to the initiative to create Peckham Levels, opening in August 2017 for 5 years. What is still needed is a review of the alternative uses of the building for the long term and their viability to create as the Inspector said "a fully substantiated proposal for this site". The New Southwark Plan is likely to be published for consultation again in February 2017. This will include the Council's plans for the long term future of the site. These should include how they plan to carry out the work the Inspector said should be done.
See the overall story about the site in these three display panels (click on each image to enlarge):

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click on each image to enlarge

Letter to South London Press Nov 2015

Interim Uses

Meanwhile the Council has now responded to the last few year's community calls to explore alternative uses for the empty car park. The Council asked (August 2015) for bids (prospectus here) to use the empty levels as part of managing the whole building for the next 5 years - see here. This was good news and a great way to explore other uses for the short term and for the long term. Sadly, the local community was not involved in the drafting of the brief for the bids, nor the bidders encouraged to find out what the local community might want to contribute. So far local discussions have come up with a variety of potential new uses in the empty levels including cultural event spaces, workshop spaces for crafts, makers and recycling, food growing, film and location studios, retail shops, small business and community pop-ups, and temporary accommodation units linked with work units. Now the contract has been let to Pop Community Ltd (see more below), we hope that they will have a collaborative process to finding out what the wider community wants to use the empty levels for. See Peckham Vision's statement in the letter to the press after the announcement of the contract.

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Long Term plans

But these new Council plans are just on a temporary basis. They say they are just for the next five years before the site is up for redevelopment. This means demolishing the cinema part of the building as well as the car park parts now showing their significant potential. So the big question now is to develop the long term vision and plan for saving the building for alternative long term uses, and convince the Council that is the right future for that site. We can do that by encouraging Pop Community to think about a variety of potential uses to meet local needs and also to test their feasibility and viability, as well as to engage with local councillors about the longer term potential.
Please email your ward councillors about this so they know there is widespread support for long term adaptation/conversion, and also for protecting the views while these discussions are under way. It would be very short-sighted to save the building for the long term and lose the spectacular views. Find your ward councillors here.

Background

After representations by local people at the PNAAP Public Hearings in July 2013, the Government Planning Inspector said that he was not satisfied that the Council’s plan for redevelopment of the Peckham Multi-Storey building “has been adequately justified by the evidence base. I conclude that the PNAAP is unsound in this regard and that the Council has much work to do in order to finalise a properly substantiated proposal for this site. The pending preparation of the borough-wide New Southwark Plan provides an opportunity for this to be tackled.” The Inspector’s report recommended that the multi-storey car park site be removed from PNAAP designation for further research: see report pages 28-29, paragraphs 127 - 134. The site was removed, and the PNAAP was formally approved in 2014.

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There now needs to be a thorough reassessment of the ways the building could be adapted or converted for other uses, without demolition. It is now part of our local history. There is a strong case for its conservation and adaptation. However, in the Council's draft of the New Southwark Plan, (under consultation until last March 2015), the cinema/multi storey car park site was simply listed in the schedule of development sites without any indication that the Inspector recommended further research into its capacity for adaptation or conversion for other uses. The Council has said since then that while there are no immediate plans to sell the site for redevelopment, it will be redeveloped in a few years. They have listened to local proposals that in the meantime the empty levels should be reused, and the new Peckham Levels is opening for this in Spring 2017. While this is welcome, it is not the ‘properly substantiated proposal’ for the long term use of the site that the Inspector said there should be. The Council will be consulting in early 2017 on its Preferred Options for development sites across the borough. A key issue for Peckham is what it will say about the Council's preferred option for the Peckham Multi Storey building and site, and how they are developing the substantiated proposal the Inspector said should be produced. The Council have so far said they want to sell it for redevelopment. To comply with the Inspector's recommendations, the NSP site designation must require the Council to produce a report for consultation about the future of the site, including the potential for reuse of the existing building for the long term.

Future of the building

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The striking architecture of the building, with the spectacular views and the resounding success of the summer cultural events, together with the successful independent cinema and the potential new uses, add up to a strong case for reusing the whole building all year round permanently. See above sections for details of the planning status, and other issues. We have been campaigning to encourage the Council and everyone to think widely and laterally about the way it could be adapted and reused in the long term.

Prompted by our campaign, the Council accepted in November 2015 Pop Community's bid to run the multi storey car park part to utilise the empty levels of the building for alternative uses over the next five years, maintaining the existing alternative businesses on the top three levels. But the Council still says their plan is to sell the site for redevelopment after that. It is essential that the organisation chosen has the right proposals to enable a wide variety of workspaces to operate there in the next five years to get a good demonstration of the long term potential.

The bidders were not encouraged to talk to the community and no community involvement in the process was allowed. on 6th November 2015:Pop Community Ltd, the team behind Pop Brixton, it was announced had been selected to act as interim manager of the council’s multi-storey car park in Peckham for the next five years. This is the company's statement about their plans. As we, like all other local community interests, had been allowed no voice in this process, we can only hope that they as the successful bidder will run the building over the next five years to enable the spaces to be used in the best way to demonstrate the building's potential for future long term uses.

February 2016 update Peckham Levels are holding another two consultation events on their plans considering the feedback, ideas and input at the first consultations last week. They will be showing updated plans on 18th and 20th February. It’s worth going to understand what they are planning, and to give them comments. There is still time for them to consider feedback before seeking planning permission.
See plans displayed 4+6 Feb 2016

July 2016 update

Peckham Levels have secured planning permission for their plans for converting the empty levels for use over the next 5 years. The long term future of the building remains to be decided in the context of the New Southwark Plan. So far the Council has talked just about selling for demolition and redevelopment. The Council will be consulting in early 2017 on the designation of sites across the borough including this site. Already community action has removed the site from the PNAAP for further work to explore its potential for long term uses. The current Peckham Levels project is now showing that it is possible to repurpose the building for uses in tune with the changing Peckham economy. Now we have to give time for that to be demonstrated for the long term and not just as an interim use. Read here the background to the planning issues and the current planning process.

The next five years from 2015

This is information from Pop Community who have been awarded the contract to run the empty levels in the car park for the next 5 years:
""Peckham Levels will spread across 6 levels of the carpark, converting the currently empty space into a mixture of environments designed to inspire and support a new community of artists, makers and creative entrepreneurs.

  • Levels 1 and 2 will be dedicated to artists studios and a range of shared workshop spaces with print facilities, materials workshops and photography studios.
  • Levels 3 and 4 will offer coworking space, flexible offices and shared media facilities for young creative businesses, including recording studios and editing suites.
  • Levels 5 and 6 will become a multi-purpose community and creative hub, with event space, dedicated gallery and performance areas, retail outlets for our members to promote their work, and a food and drink offering hosting local independent traders.""
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Campaign to protect Peckham's rooftop views

The Council wants to encourage development of a 20 storey building in front of the view from Frank’s Café, Bold Tendencies and the Bussey Building. A local campaign, by the Peckham Planning Network, to protect Peckham’s rooftop views has been launched. SIGN THE PETITION HERE During the summer many thousands of people flock to Peckham town centre to enjoy the open spaces that have been created on the roofs of iconic buildings by Frank's Café, Bold Tendencies and the Bussey Building, bringing a new buzz and opportunities for economic activities to the town centre. The view over London is a major draw. But that view may be threatened if a planned 20-storey building is built on the nearby Aylesham Centre/Morrison’s site. The petition asks Southwark Council to put on hold any plans for a tall building on the Aylesham Centre site, until the future of the multi-storey car park building, where Frank's Café, Bold Tendencies and the PeckhamPlex cinema operate, has been discussed and agreed. The on-line petition can be signed here. A copy of the paper petition to collect signatures in neighbourhoods can be downloaded here.

Petitions have also been available to be signed at Barry's Café beside Peckham Rye station, in Rye Lane in Khan's Bargain Store and in front of Elaine's card stall outside the cinema opposite MacDonalds. The campaign has also been present on Rye Lane outside MacDonalds and in Rye Lane in front of the Cinema with local people available to discuss the issues and with petitions to sign. The petition was presented 7th February 2015 to the Community Council, with over 4,500 signatures at that time. The Deputation explained how the view from the rooftop relates to the future of the multi storey building and research about alternative uses was explained. Deputation making its statement. There were no questions from the Councillors but one made a statement. This was in favour of discussion with the Peckham Planning Network about the future of the cinema/car park building. See here for some first pictures and comments on the meeting, deputation speaks, petition presented.The campaign is continuing while the long term future of the building is not settled.

The rooftop views - articles, quotes and pictures section under construction

MultiStory Orchestra

[photos to upload]
When the multi story orchestra is playing you can hear it from the platform of Peckham Rye Station. This multi-storey car park in Peckham was built in 1983 to serve Sainsbury’s supermarket. After less than 10 years, Sainsbury’s moved to its present site on Dog Kennel Hill. The cinema was built to occupy the space of the former supermarket and the car park at the back was significantly under used.

In 2008, the Hannah Barry Gallery, located in the Copeland Park site which was saved from demolition by the Peckham Vision campaign, started the Bold Tendencies project, on the top three floors of the car park, as an out door sculpture park. Franks Café was developed to serve the visitors to the Sculpture Park, and a programme of events developed each year to accompany the exhibitions and Café. The first orchestral performance was in 2011. It was created by the Multi Story Orchestra.

Kate Whitley and Chris the founders of the orchestra say: “2014 is the fourth year we've been in the Peckham car park. For the young professional musicians who make up the Multi-Story Orchestra it has almost stopped being a novelty! Hopefully a new generation of classical music performers, supporters, and audience members, will take on the idea, and classical music may be able to spring up in new spaces and new contexts, and continue to be a living breathing part of our contemporary culture. From the concrete expanse of level seven there are spectacular views across London, you get a powerful feeling of being detached from the rest of the world, despite being right in the middle of busy Peckham. Traditional venues for classical music are churches and concert halls. Audiences tend to dress, act, even clap, in particular ways. Classical music is often seen as something that people come to later in life, and younger audiences are in short supply. We wanted to bring classical music out of the concert hall and explore other, more exciting ways for this music to be heard and understood. By escaping the spaces that classical music normally inhabits it becomes possible to escape from its traditional associations, and potentially attract audiences who might find those associations - but not the music - alienating. The set-up is designed to create a focused listening environment, but people are free to wander. That said, there are inevitable acoustic limitations with being in a car park! During rehearsals, the space is a bit of a nightmare - an unwieldy echo creates a problematic lack of concentration of sound. The arrival of an audience essentially provides a wall around the orchestra, enclosing the sound and creating what can be a very intimate performance space. Although people are free to wander, get a drink from the bar, take a look at the view, or hang around at the back of the crowd and dip in and out of watching the performance if they like, the set-up is designed to create a focused listening environment. The audience provides a wall around the orchestra, enclosing the sound."

31st August 2013 - Brahms Symphony No1 at Bold Tendencies, MSCP

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Other material

Further info & links to incorporate

Rumours in the town centre were circulating that the Council had sold the building to developers. Southwark News (16 June 2014) reported this was not true.

Other background is on PV Planning page: http://www.peckhamvision.org/wiki/Planning. Particularly:

Adaptation of large buildings

This section collects examples of adaptations of similar large buildings. Please send links about any others to info@peckhamvision.org

Example of reusing and adapting a car park: The Remakery in Brixton.

The University of Tokyo student workshop in 2011 looked at the capacity to adapt six town centre buildings, one of which was a multi-storey car park: http://adaptablefutures.com/2012/03/converting-parking-structures/

A preliminary study, by Pollard Thomas Edwards Architects, in conjunction with an MSc course at the Bartlett in May 2011, focused on reuse as housing. https://www.bartlett.ucl.ac.uk/planning/programmes/postgraduate/mscdiploma-urban-regeneration/attachments/cerise-road

Multistorey car park in US transformed into designer micro-apartments

Picture gallery

17th July 2013 - Bold Tendencies

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28th July 2013 - London Contemporary Music Festival at Bold Tendencies

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