Old Waiting Room
Rye Lane & Station Action Group October 2009
extract from minutes: item 2.2 Use of the Old Billiard Hall/former Waiting Room
Lettice Drake and Paloma Gormley presented some ideas for using this historic space. They were responsible for the initiation, design and building of Frank’s Café, the temporary café on the roof Rye Lane’s multi story car park from July to September 2009. They worked with Southwark Council and Hannah Barry with a budget of only £4,500. Its success was overwhelming - attracting people from across London to visit it. The success of Frank’s Café highlights the role creative thinking can play in Peckham’s future. Their proposals included the following:
- Significance of the space: The old waiting room has exciting potential. The space, as with Frank’s Cafe, is unusual and offers a unique opportunity to do something spectacular. Right in the heart of Peckham, between two platforms linking it to the rest of London. Peckham Vision’s aims for the room to go back into public use as either a restaurant or community facility are encouraging. The proposal is an attempt to marry sustainable regeneration, conservation and a viable business proposal. The significance of the space, as a gateway to Peckham suggests a use that has its roots in, and represents the existing community, such as an African restaurant serving a simple menu of high quality and affordable food offering a sustainable approach
- Collaboration: The proposal would be to collaborate with a local chef or business. Running as a restaurant in the evenings and a café during the day, serving coffee and snacks to commuters through a hatch to platform 3, the space offers a viable business opportunity. There would also be the potential for the space to function as a venue, for community meetings, live music and events.
- Access: They would propose to work alongside the Peckham Society and Peckham Vision to raise funds to continue the conservation work in order to make the room and external stairway fit for public use, creating street level access to the Waiting room independent from the station.
- Design: The café and kitchen would be designed to be sensitive to the historic importance of the building and celebrate its heritage. The installation of the café and its kitchen would be reversible and non-invasive. Like Franks the design of the cafe would be informal, warm and welcoming. The space is so beautiful and full of character it would require minimal intervention to make it inhabitable. An open kitchen would retain the integrity of the single large space and add theatricality to the preparation and cooking of food. As with Frank’s, good design does not require large investment.
- Summary: This proposal would mean this magnificent and forgotten space would open its doors again in a manner that is truly public. It would change people’s perception of Peckham. The involvement of local people provides an opportunity for Network Rail and Southern Rail to continue their work with Community Rail Schemes, and to lead the way in supporting innovative, locally rooted development. This space deserves to be used and should play a key and active part in Peckham’s future.