Effects of tram depot

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Until now the only information which TfL has released publicly about the depot plans has been in response to Freedom of Information requests during the UDP public inquiry last year. Through this we discovered the huge extent of the plans to demolish everything between the railway lines and down Rye Lane to Bournemouth Road and along to Consort Road near the railway bridge. This was known as the single-site plan, which has now been superseded by the split-site plan.

Single-site depot

Original Single-Site Depot Plans

The effects of the originally proposed single-site tram depot on Peckham town centre would be devastating. Hundreds of jobs, dozens of businesses, scores of artists, several churches, and dozens of new homes would all have to be demolished, and there would be 10 or more years of blight.

Inspector's Report

The Planning Inspector rejected the 'single-site' plan because of the devastating effects on Peckham town centre. Not only that, he said also that the decision to locate the depot in Peckham had been 'defective' because it was based on the 'mis-information' that the site was near derelict.

Click here to see some extracts of what the Inspector said about the impact of the single-site depot plan

Or click here to see the full report (pages 100 to 107 refer to the plan)

Or click here to see the Inspector's full report on the whole of the Unitary Development Plan (UDP): http://www.southwark.gov.uk/YourServices/planningandbuildingcontrol/planningpolicy/finalinspectors.html

Scale of the Depot Plan

After hearing what the Inspector said in the draft of his report, over 800 people signed a petition asking the Council to reject the plan to put the depot in Peckham.

Click here to see the petition and map showing the scale of the depot site in the town centre.

'Split-site' depot

New Split-Site Depot Plans

But in his final report, the Inspector recommended a 'split-site' depot, i.e. some in Peckham and some elsewhere, implying it would be much smaller and would have much less adverse effects. But comments since then from the Council and from TfL have indicated that they are still planning the ‘major’ tram depot in Peckham, which could take as much land as before in a different arrangement and could be just as devastating.

This is because the original plan took only part of the much larger site called 63P (now called 71P) on the UDP development map. This is very large and takes a huge chunk of the heart of the town centre, and spreads over two sections of the UDP Proposals Map. The boundary is the land between the railway lines on the east side of Rye lane, opposite the station, continuing south along the east side of Rye Lane, along Bournemouth Road, south along Copeland Road, along Brayards Road, and along Consort Road to the railway bridge.

These are the two sections of the Proposals Map:

The boundaries, size and arrangements for the 'split-site' depot which is now being considered are unknown. From what TfL have said informally it might take up a considerable part of the whole of site 63P which is being safeguarded in the UDP for the depot and is considerably bigger than the site earmarked for the single-site depot. TfL are still refusing to release any information to the public about this. They had a ‘consultation’ stall promoting the tram at the I Love Peckham festival on 12 August in Peckham town square. This did not even reveal that the plan is to locate the depot in Peckham, never mind any details about it! See http://www.willowbrookcentre.org.uk/htmldir/planningnews_files/crp-tramconsultationdebut.html

Freedom of Information request

Peckham Business Park, which owns and manages a major part of the land affected by this depot plan in the heart of Peckham, has now (August 2006) made a request under the Freedom of Information Act for information about the split-site depot plans. They say

our attempts to rationalise activities on the estate and invest in Peckham Town Centre are currently being blighted by the broad brush allocation of a very large area of land for a tram depot … These proposals not only affect our own livelihoods and those of numerous local businesses and local artists, and hundreds of employees, but also the amenities of many neighbouring residents…. We remain troubled … that the published UDP reports contain no meaningful information as to the scale, scope and extent of the proposed split site tram depot or its potential impact … It is our view that no meaningful decisions can be taken on the depot without this information being made publicly available

—Peckham Business Park

You can read the full letter here.

As a result of this Freedom of Information request, TfL released two new alternative depot plans showing that the new arrangements are hardly any different in size, and still constitute a major depot with all the maintenance facilities on this site. It still has devastating effects on the town centre, and sterilises a major strategic site from town centre use.

What happens next?

The Council will be consulting on the modified UDP from 1 September 2006 to 13 October 2006. The UDP has been modified to safeguard site 63P (now 71P) for the split-site tram depot. The public are entitled to make their objections known to this plan. Details on how to do this will be published by the Council before 1 September. Peckham Vision will be producing information and suggestions about the issues when the Council's information is available. If you wish to be kept up to date on this, contact Peckham Vision to be added to the mailing list - click here for contact details.

What did happen next?

Many people objected to the plan to designate the site 63P for the tram depot - click here for the forms of the objection. Peckham Vision took a deputation to the Nunhead & Peckham Rye Community Council and to the Peckham Community Council, to the Planning Committee, and to the Executive. All were persuaded that site 63P is a strategic site for the future of Peckham town centre, and that the process for identifying potential tram depot sites and comparing them has to be transparent (see also the Community Council Agreement, and letters from the Council's Executive to Transport for London, and TfL's reply).

But in spite of all this the Council designated the site for the tram depot..

But that is just one part of the long process of the search for sites for the tram depots. TfL need to find more than one site and there needs to be a comprehensive review of possible sites right across the whole tram network area from Camden to Brixton as well as into Southwark. In the meantime the Community Councils' Tram Working Group is examining in detail the tram route issues in Peckham, and the implications for Peckham that locating the tram depot in the middle of the town centre would have. This will be examined more deeply in the forthcoming consultations on the Peckham Area Action Plan (PAAP) when maybe at last there can be a proper discussion about the strategic role of this large area of Peckham town centre.