Visions for Peckham

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The Council's Plans

Plans to regenerate Peckham Rye Station are one of several current council projects.

The Council are in the midst of developing their planning policies for Peckham town centre. They have completed the Unitary Development Plan (UDP) for the borough's land use, and this includes a statement about certain commercial areas, including Peckham town centre. The next stage is the development of the PAAP (the Peckham Area Action Plan). The Council originally said that this would begin in February 2007, and then several dates subsequently. But it finally began in March 2008 by the release of Future Peckham - a ‘vision paper’ and the PAAP Consultation Strategy - for public comment between 14 March 2008 and 25 April 2008. The long delayed PAAP formal consultation on the 'Issues and Options papers' was to start on 3rd November to 15th December 2008, but this was also postponed. It finally took place between 30 March 2009 and 25 May 2009. The papers,and latest news, are available on the Council's website. On that page click on the PNAAP consultation report. (Nunhead is now included so it is now PNAAP (Peckham & Nunhead Area Action Plan) The Council is now working on their 'Preferred Options' report which will be available for consultation in June 2010. This wil be followed by a Public Examination Hearing probably in 2011.

Detailed background on the Council’s policies for Peckham and the PAAP are available here and pp 49-50 Core Strategy Secn 4: Spatial Planning to Improve Places and Future Peckham

See here for Peckham Vision initial comments.

Peckham Area Action Plan and Opportunity sites.

Town Centre Opportunity Sites

The Council has extended the coverage of the PNAAP to include not just the Peckham town centre but also what appears from the map in the report to be the whole of the SE15 area, taking in all Peckham, Nunhead and most of Peckham Rye. See also the PAAP map. This map identifies what the Council calls ‘Opportunity sites’ and also called Development sites’, three of which were identified in the UDP–

  • Peckham Rye station, off Rye Lane to the west;
  • the multi-storey car park and cinema, off Rye Lane to the east, behind Woolworths
  • Peckham Square, Peckham Pulse, and Peckham Wharf, near the High Street.

Two new ones have been identified–

  • The Aylesham Centre, near the High Street, including Morrison’s and the car park;
  • Wooddene Estate, on Queen’s Road.

The largest site identified in the UDP as a development site, named site 63P/71P in the UDP, was omitted from the ealier map, see Tram depot proposals for its location, but has now been included.

Tram proposals

The proposed Cross-River Tram, originally scheduled for operation from 2016 at the earliest, has been a main feature of the Council's plans for Peckham town centre. While the London Mayor said in November 2008 that there is no funding for the tram project and so tfL is doing no further planning worrk, the Council has reconfirmed its commitment to the tram project or something similar to improve transport links to central London. It is therefore suspended, and not dead, though the timing is now very uncertain. The Issues and Options report out for consultation in April/May 2009 commented on this and the issues raised for the detailed planning of sites in the town centre. The tram is promised to improve public transport to and from Peckham, help to create employment prospects for Peckham people both locally and elsewhere in London, and help to stimulate trade and businesses in Peckham. The Council also wanted the tram depot located on a major strategic site (Site 63P/71P) in the heart of the town centre, on the seven acre site stretching from Rye Lane to Consort Road and Brayard's Road, click here for map. The Council originally claimed that this also would regenerate the town centre by creating jobs, but the UDP Planning Inspector said that this was based on 'misinformation' that the site was derelict, and he said that the tram depot would remove many more jobs than it created (click here for Inspector's report).

Peckham Vision and others pointed out that the plan was already causing blight and degeneration which could continue for the 10 years or more before it was completed. In addition the tram depot, which would be a high security site for 24 hours a day would if built:

  • close off and sterilise a very large area of the town centre, and could hardly help in its regeneration;
  • lose the opportunity that this huge site presents for providing a wide variety of spaces for the continuing developments in creative industries, small businesses, and community uses, which are now occurring in central Peckham.

Latest News

Just before the Mayor stopped further tram planning, in october 2008, TfL had received a report (see summary at pages 5&6) showing that the Peckham town centre site was the wrong location for the tram depot. Thus Peckham Vision's call throughout the campaign, for a review of the flawed location investigation and report, had proved justified. The new report showed that Peckham town centre was at the bottom of a list of 6 sites investigated, and as a location failed for technical, operational and cost reasons as well as the detrimental effect on the town centre. Moreover the new report identified a suitable location elsewhere. So even when the tram becomes a live project again there will be no need to safeguard land in the town centre for the depot. In the April/May 2009 consultations the Council's Issues and Options paper included the alternative Options for the site, and began to consider for the first time the potential major contribution that site 63P/71P can make to the regeneration of Peckham Town Centre, and also to greater Peckham as a whole. This site is indeed a major Opportunity Site which needs to be considered as such in the PNAAP. See here and below for Peckham Vision's suggestions for this.

The further postponement of the PNAAP process, so that the next stage of consultation on the Council's Preferred Options report will be in January 2011, gives a welcome space to work with the Council and all interested in the revitalisation of Peckham town centre.

An alternative vision for Rye Lane Central

See also: Transforming Central Rye Lane

The Council’s original plans rested on the assumption that the town centre can be only a long narrow linear shopping street, with relatively isolated opportunity/development sites. But the case for viewing it in a very different way as an integrated matrix with old and new buildings interlinked with a network of open pedestrian spaces and pathways is now reflected in the Issues & Options report. A variety of aspects of this is covered in the following sections.

Open Spaces – Peckham Rye Station

Main article: Peckham Rye Station

The potential is already evident in the agreement in 2008 between all key stakeholders to examine the feasibility of opening up the piazza in front of Peckham Rye Station.

This would create an open public space in the central part of Rye Lane, changing radically the nature of the town centre space there. No longer would it be experienced as a long narrow crowded shopping space, but would transform the area into one of open spaces linked to other parts of the town centre currently hidden from view on the west side of Rye Lane - the historic station itself, recently listed as a Grade 2 building by English Heritage, and the access routes into the Holly Grove residential area, and the naturally evolving cultural area along Blenheim Grove.

A new vision for Peckham Rye station: the plan would involve removing the buildings in front of the station and replacing them with a public square and improved facilities for local businesses.
The station as it was c. 1880.
Artists impression of Blenheim Grove with cultural/A3 uses.
Artists impression of the rear courtyard of Peckham station as a market (note new entrance through the station).

Open Spaces – central Rye Lane east

Rye Lane Central development/opportunity sites. Click map for larger version.

Right across the road on the east side of Rye Lane are three sites with the same potential to transform the central part of Rye Lane: the multi-storey car park area, and site 63P/71P ‘safeguarded’ for the tram depot, which are identified in the UDP as ‘development sites’, and the area between the railway lines, which lies between them.

The links that these three sites already have with Rye Lane, and with each other, could also be opened up in imaginative developments to create a new cultural quarter in this central part of Rye Lane. The sites could be interconnected through the pedestrian open spaces leading to rehabilitated historic buildings integrated with new modern buildings. These developments would be encouraged by the planning policy set out in the PAAP and emerge from the organic developments already occurring in and around site 63P/71P and Blenheim Grove. Site 63P/71P already has a significant role in the organic growth of Peckham Town Centre.

Peckham is an expanding and flourishing south London community, and the site is an active and interesting contributor to the economic, social and cultural life of Peckham. This positive change has been occurring organically and naturally over the last decade. It is made possible because the site is characterised by a mixture of commercial and industrial buildings, with scope for additional new developments, including office, housing and retail. It is a natural place for Peckham to expand into and develop for mixed uses, building on the commercial and cultural presence on the site, as part of the strategic vision to open up the space in front of the magnificent Station buildings, and thereby transform that central part of Rye Lane.

This huge site could provide the flexible kinds of spaces that Peckham needs in the changing times over the next several decades. Without it, Peckham would be seriously short of spaces for the creative industries in their wide variety of forms to expand, from mainstream artists and post-modern artists, to creative training and leisure projects for young people, together with new forms of entertainment, leisure and business facilities. The space offers exciting potential to re-vision the central core of Rye Lane away from the long narrow linear crowded shopping street well past its heyday, to a wider town centre with a busy shopping area intermixed with a cultural and business facilities quarter and open pedestrian spaces. Read more...

Creative Developments - Re-using old buildings

The former Billiard Hall, Peckham Rye Station, showing renewed south elevation, March 2009.
Main article: Open House Weekend

This is already taking place, led naturally by the local property market meeting emerging new demands for accommodation, and also by the regeneration of the historic old billiard room in Peckham Rye Station. This huge room above the ticket office was originally the old waiting room and then for many decades a billiard room, but has been derelict for many years. But now, with collaboration from the Council, Southern Rail, the Peckham Society and the Rye Lane & Station Action Group, a project managed by local architects Morris & O'Looney, the original windows have been successfully unbricked and renovated. This has opened up the beautiful space showing its significant potential. The Peckham Society have now in April 2009 submitted proposals to the Council for the next stage to restore the wooden floor to enable the room to be used.

Sassoon Gallery behind the station illustrating creative new uses of old buildings.

On the weekends of 15th/16th September 2007, and 20/21 September 2008, as part of the annual all-London Open House weekends, Peckham Vision and the Peckham Society arranged several walks to show the variety of organic changes which are already happening in this central part of Rye Lane. This revealed to all the immense scope and opportunities there are for reusing the historic industrial and commercial buildings in Peckham Central within modern developments for creative 21st century uses. Over 140 people flocked each year to take the walks led by The Peckham Society. Everyone enjoyed the magnificent views of Peckham and central London from the roof of the Bussey building. They enjoyed the refreshments in the CLF Arts Café and the Peckham Vision exhibition of the latest information about the tram & tram depot plans, and the ideas for new opportunities for this central area of Peckham town centre if the tram depot is not located there. There was much demand for more tours, indicating that these kinds of developments could attract visitors to Peckham, who would not visit a high security tram depot.

A sketch of a possible addition to the Bussey Building on site 63P.

The tours looked at:

  • the huge size and good solid condition of the historic Bussey Building and how it is already providing spaces for new creative arts and music businesses;
  • the scope for creative development of the whole business site which would otherwise be demolished for the proposed tram depot;
  • the historic gems of Holdron’s Victorian arcades which, currently hidden by shop fittings, could be restored for commercial town centre use;
  • the way all that would complement the opening up of the piazza in front of the station, now agreed as the aim by Southwark Council, the train companies and Southwark’s London Assembly representative;
  • the restoration of the historic waiting room and Old Billiard Room above the ticket hall in the station;
  • how Bar Story and the Sassoon Art Gallery in Blenheim Grove behind the station show further signs of the burgeoning creative re-uses of the historic buildings.


The Copeland Cultural Quarter

This section is under construction.
Draft CCQ masterplan.

Half of site 63P/71P, the part between Rye Lane and Copeland Road, is already a thriving mixed area of artists' studios, art galleries, a variety of small businesses, retail and creative industry, housing and other community uses, and has the emerging feel of a Cultural Quarter. A major part of the land is owned and operated by Copeland Industrial Park (CIP), and so the area and its immediate surrounds is becoming known as the Copeland Cultural Quarter (CCQ).

See a satellite view of the Copeland Cultural Quarter, showing its location, and the streetplan and masterplan showing its links with the Peckham Rye station area, which is also emerging as a cultural quarter.

The draft masterplan here illustrates the concept of a mixed organic development with the gradual rehabilitation of historic buildings integrated with new build, creating linked squares and courtyards, and the Copeland Cultural Quarter providing a comfortable transition between the town centre in the west and housing to the east.

This plan complements the similar vision for Peckham Rye station and its adjacent environment behind and in front, which Southwark Council are developing following the agreement to explore opening up the piazza in front of the station see here.

A number of ideas have already been produced for the potential development of the Copeland Cultural Quarter. These illustrate the variety of schemes that there may be, and there will be others. The sketches and outlines that have been produced so far are available here:

  • Peckham Vision with CIP Ltd - mixed organic development, rehabilitated historic buildings integrated with new build, with linked squares and courtyards, providing a comfortable transition between the town centre in the west and housing to the east. Read more...
  • Benedict O'Looney, Architect - Copeland Industrial Park: potential for new public realm, mixed rehabilitation and new buildings. Read more...
  • Christoph Heinemann, Ulrike Sturm, Brandenburg University of Technology, Dept Urban Design/Prof. Heinz Nagler - Live-Work London, mixed use as a catalyst for revitalisation: student projects. Read more...
  • Jeffrey Gale, ECO-ARCHITECTURE and PLANNING,integral architecture & planning associates - Project proposal: an Intercultural Creativity & Conference Centre. Read more...
  • Other sketches - a collection of other images. Read more...

Vibrant Artists' Community

There are over 60 artists who have their studios in the Bussey building, and numbers continue to increase. They create a context from which cultural events are created and can naturally evolve, such as the series of art exhibitions over the last three years. Read more...

Radio Broadcast from the Bussey building

Saturday 19th July saw the first ever South City Radio broadcast from the Bussey Building. The broadcast programme, with a panel and a participating public audience had a lively debate on Peckham’s contribution to London’s cultural life, and the natural organic growth of the cultural life in that part of the town centre in and around the Bussey building. The event took place on the third floor in the international exhibition featuring potential alternative architectural visions of ‘Future Peckham’, in particular for the central Rye Lane area of Peckham town centre. The exhibitors were from Cottbus College Berlin, Jeffrey Gale Eco Architecture, and Peckham Vision. On the first floor was an exhibition of work from leading Peckham based artists, painters and photographers. Both exhibitions were curated by Alice White, from the Chronic Art Foundation based in the Bussey building. South City Radio is the new name for Radio Peckham, reflecting its success in having a much wider listening audience.

As Southwark Council begin (October 2008) consultation on the Peckham Area Action Plan, highlights of the broadcast are now available to Listen herein the South City Radio programme Primer Public Forum: The Future for Peckham.

Alice White

Alice ( practices as a painter from a studio in Peckham, located on the top floor of the historic Bussey Building, part of the site threatened by the proposed tram depot on the large industrial estate behind Rye Lane. Her studio is one of many on the site, now home to a thriving creative community, with great potential. “I’m the painter paparazzi”, says Alice White in Dulwich-On-View which “recognises and celebrates the eclectic nature of the life of Dulwich and the surrounding area, the breadth of people and livelihoods, the rude health of the Arts, and the buoyant sense of community, and subverts the tired old caricatures lazily ascribed to our South London home.” Read more...

The Hannah Barry Gallery

Main article: Hannah Barry Gallery
Visitors to the Hannah Barry Gallery in the Bussey building.

The Hannah Barry Gallery first found a home in the emerging Copeland Cultural Quarter in central Peckham in November 2007. The iconic historic Bussey Building, home to almost a hundred artists and small businesses, hosted a seated dinner for 115 guests to celebrate a year of exhibitions at 78 Lyndhurst Way and to thank the many people who had helped and encouraged the artists in their work. Inspired by the unusual conditions at 78 Lyndhurst Way, with its ten rooms and garden, the programme of monthly exhibitions at the house had exhibited monograph bodies of work within a group show. The subject of each show was chosen to encourage progress and experimentation to help young artists develop their ideas in reference to our time. The Hannah Barry Gallery was founded to continue and progress this kind of work. The first exhibition held in the Copeland Cultural Quarter (CCQ) was in Feburary 2008, in the Bussey building. The Gallery moved to its current permanent space in a warehouse next to the Bussey building within the CCQ after that. Read more...

Many Worlds

An Exhibition of New Work by Bobby Dowler

In February the first floor of the Bussey Building was used to show Many Worlds, a large exhibition of new work (sculpture, collage and drawing) by Bobby Dowler and the second of the year from the Hannah Barry Gallery (see photos).

Current and Future Exhibitions

Chronic Love Foundation (CLF) Art Cafe

The CLF Weekender 2007 attracted many people to the Chronic Love Foundation Art Cafe, and the roof was opened up, allowing people views across London. See here for a video clip.

The Chronic Love Foundation (CLF) with Southwark Council presents The I Love Peckham Festival Finale 2008, on 19th & 20th July 2008 – a two day celebratory journey through the cutting edge of globalistic groove, live music, food, art and life – numerous open air and covered stages across the heart of Peckham. The successful CLF 3 day Weekender in 2007, in the multi level Bussey Building, has been merged with the I Love Peckham Festival for 2008. This is after an invitation from Southwark Council to CLF to become the permanent hosts of the Festival Finale. This is a prelude to expanding it in 2009 to a 7 Day Festival. See here for the programme for 2008.

Main article: CLF Weekender 2007

In August 2007, over 2000 people flocked to the threatened Bussey Building, in the heart of Peckham, for three days of world class music, film, theatre, art and life. Over 150 artists performed on 3 levels, hosted by CLF Founders - Jazzheadchronic DJ Mickey Smith and LegendaryDrummer & Arranger Marque Gilmore the innamost. The first floor main stage offered an eclectic range of leading cutting edge musicians, DJs and bands ... The third floor art gallery saw Needle and Thread DJs perform beside art works by local up-and-coming artists (curated & hosted by Alice White), a Peckham Vision Exhibition, and a nightly short film festival. The sun baked roof, with panoramic views across London, was an oasis of cool ... Read more...

Several blogs mention the CLF. They are available here:

Community Social Enterprises

This section is in draft, and is currently under construction.