NOTE: Spaces in the Bussey Building are available for hire from Copeland Park - see copelandpark.com for more
The Bussey Building, and the large Copeland quarter site, was saved in 2009 from demolition for a tram depot following the campaign which gave birth in 2006 to Peckham Vision. This became a resident-led community consortium taking action to develop the potential of Peckham town centre for the benefit of all. After the threat of demolition was lifted in 2009, CLF Art Café went on to develop further facilities for arts and culture in the Bussey Building. See a Peckham Vision blog on how we described this in 2010.
Current Uses & Hirings
The Bussey Building is the flagship building to the overall Copeland Park site, an industrial estate transformed into a creative community led by small businesses. The Bussey Building is a huge 19th century factory building which has been used for creative endeavours since the late 1990s when the top floors were used for art studios. In 2007, the CLF Art Cafe moved into the Bussey Building and has grown in popularity since to become one of South East London most loved late night venues. The CLF Art Cafe also uses its space for various other entertainment purposes including theatre, music, markets and workshops.
More recently, the Bussey Building and greater Copeland Park site has seen a vast influx of new tenants coming from the leisure, entertainment and creative arts sector. Other uses in the Bussey Building now include a roof top cinema and roof top bar overlooking the panorama of North and South London. The managers of this cinema and bar, Roof Top Film Club, have also set up a co-working space known as The Office Club on the third floor of the Bussey Building. Fitness spaces joined the site in early 2014 with Yogarise and Victor's Lab using spaces within the Bussey Building and The Yard, a cross-fit gym taking a surrounding warehouse A Taewkondo school, run by a national champion, joined later in 2014 welcoming younger visitors onto the site through children classes.
Currently all units inside the Bussey Building are occupied. There are over 60 small studio spaces occupied by businesses and freelancers basing themselves at Copeland Park during the working week. The uses of these studios vary from traditional painters and carpenters to textiles and ceramics to desk based studios for architecture, graphic design and photography. The site still retains its cultural diversity accommodating several West African Churches and a Mosque in the Bussey Building and the greater Copeland Park site, as well as African food cuisine and tailors. One of Bussey Building's most recent changes is the relocation of the Peckham Vision studio to a new space to host community meetings, discussions and workshops.
Outside of the Bussey Building are many large warehouse spaces used as bars, restaurants, a bike shop, music recording and rehearsal studios, galleries and African churches. Copeland Park also owns the Holdron's Building on Rye Lane which is occupied by Khan's Bargain Store as well as Holdron's Arcade. Holdron's Arcade, managed by Copeland Park, is made up of around 15 small retail premises collectively selling food, books, clothes, records, home-ware and jewellery among other things. There is also a small gallery space at the rear which is perfect for new exhibitors and solo shows.
The Bussey Building is a Victorian reinforced concrete industrial structure, brick-clad with most of its decorative features on the side facing the railway tracks. It originally acted as advertising for Bussey and Co, the well-known sporting goods manufacturers. George Bussey was an eminent Victorian industrialist and entrepreneur. The factory made cricket bats from its own willow farm in Suffolk. There are magnificent views of central London from the three roofs. The factory was, when it was built, one of Peckham’s tallest buildings.
Known as the Bussey Building, in Copeland Park (CP), it is tucked away behind Bournemouth Road and Rye Lane. The Park hosts many small creative businesses, some 60 artists, faith groups, and cultural arts and exhibition spaces. CP is part of the large 6 acre site which was designated by the Council and TfL in 2007 for demolition for the Cross River Tram depot. TfL were in 2008 finally advised by their experts that this was the wrong site for the tram depot; they identified a different site elsewhere. The threat of demolition was finally lifted in 2009.
Peckham Vision always argued that this was a strategic site in the heart of the town centre, and could have a different future. The mix of historic buildings and other spaces provide significant potential for innovative development for new modern uses providing vibrant life to the town centre. The Bussey Building is probably the last really big early 20th century industrial building in Peckham of which there were once quite a few. It was probably used for wartime production during the first and presumably the second world wars. The basement was used as an air raid shelter during the Second World War.
Benedict O’Looney, local architect and historian, supported the campaign: “This building needs preserving as a marker of Peckham's once impressive industrial past. There are just a few of these industrial buildings left in the area, and this is an important example. It is a very solid well made building capable of a long life with modern rehabilitation, as part of a creative development of the overall site.”
This building and the rest of the Copeland site have since 2009 demonstrated year by year how accurate the local vision was about its potential future if the threat from the Council was lifted. The natural development of it under the management of the owners Copeland Park as a Cultural Quarter continues apace - see Copeland Park.
Planning status of the Bussey Building and Copeland Park
The future of the Bussey Building, and the Copeland Park site, which was designated in the Unitary Development Plan in 2007 for demolition for the tram depot, has been safeguarded as a direct result of Peckham Vision's campaigns since 2005 about the future of the Copeland site:
- first, the Bussey Building was brought within the boundary of the new Peckham Rye Lane Conservation Area when that was designated in 2011 though local campaigning by Peckham Vision and the Peckham Society;
- second, there are specific provisions in the PNAAP approved in 2014, safeguarding the Bussey building as a result of local representations at the PNAAP public hearings in 2013. See these extracts:
"The Bussey should be retained as part of the redevelopment of this site. The building is identified on our local list. The continued use of the Bussey Building by creative and artistic enterprises will be supported and encouraged." "Mixed-use development should be centred around the retention of the historic Bussey Building (identified on our local list) and should include new public realm improvements to provide space for new residents, workers and visitors. Part of the site lies within the Rye Lane Peckham conservation area, and development on this site should conserve and enhance its heritage setting. In the past few years a number of creative industries have appeared on the site and in the Bussey building. There is opportunity to build on this and create a new cultural and creative quarter for Peckham to attract visitors from outside the area." (from pages 174 - 176 PNAAP Part 2, Appendix B: Southwark Plan proposals sites.)
All this shows the real possibilities open to local people to influence planning policy. But generally, what is needed to be effective is for local people to collaborate with each other, to have tenacity and not to give up even when there seems to be failure, as when we failed in 2007 to stop the site from being designated for the tram depot and therefore destruction. Our continued publicity of the cultural and enterprise opportunities eventually by 2009 made it impossible for TfL and the Council to go on insisting the site was derelict and that the tram depot would therefore be a beneficial development. But to get the right policy statements we had to keep the campaign going until the last step in a long marathon - this was early 2014 which was the consultation on the Inspector's recommendations. The Peckham Planning Network has directly grown out of that long marathon, in the hope that we can develop a strong community process in Peckham to develop our local capacity to be more effective together.
PNAAP key statements about COPELAND PARK & BUSSEY BUILDING
- November 2014: PNAAP approved version: Copeland Park & Bussey Building Part 2, Appendix B: Southwark Plan proposals sites details, pages 174 - 176
Bussey Building, 133 Rye Lane, SE15 4ST
There are two entrances:
- 133 Rye Lane for the CLF Art Cafe - opposite Blenheim Grove: walk through the passageway to the ornate front door in the small courtyard at the end of the passage, and follow the signs to the first floor.
- 133 Copeland Road - at the other end of the site, the entrance to the whole site and the car park (by arrangement) is on Copeland Road between the junctions with Bournemouth Road and Consort Rd railway bridge.
From the campaign archives
- how to find the entrance to the Bussey building
- summer roof top party 2011 and here
- Making Peckham Soap Opera 1-13 July 2012 Royal Court
Photos of the Bussey Building
Inside the Bussey Building. Nick Woodford
Window on London. Nick Woodford
Stairs. Nick Woodford
Side of Bussey Building. Nick Woodford
Photos of events & businesses
Other pages which show some of the 2007/12 uses of the Bussey Building.
- the bouncing bussey 4 April 2012: "One of Peckham’s little treasures is this huge warehouse hidden down an alley. Like most places in Peckham, you don’t tend to walk down dark alleys unless you know what to expect the other side. The beauty of this..."
From the campaign to save the site
- Bussey Building - view from courtyard square, from south and of London from roof
- Bussey Building - looking north from the roof
- Bussey Building - potential for new public realm, mixed rehabilitation and new buildings
- Bussey Building - "one of Peckham's best kept secrets" - Southwark News 10th April 2008
- Bussey Building - "This old cricket bat factory is amazing and in my opinion should be listed." - a visitor's pictures
- George Bussey brief history
- All Things Bussey - some historical artefacts