Transforming Central Rye Lane

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An Integrated Plan for East & West Central Rye Lane

A conceptual 'masterplan' idea for central Rye Lane has been developed since 2008 by Peckham Vision. This emerged from the campaign from 2005 to stop the Council's plan to demolish 5-6 acres for a tram depot. The plan idea shows Network Rail land east and west of Rye Lane, and the adjacent sites, and how they can link together in an integrated view of that central part of Rye Lane. The material below shows how these sites are nurturing the new cultural economy and also have the potential for two new green paths just seconds away from Rye Lane. The Peckham Vision mobile exhibition panels about central Rye Lane, (download pdf version), first displayed in the Old Waiting Room exhibition in August 2012, have now been revised and updated. There are now four new A1 display panels, which can be downloaded:

Peckham Vision Masterplan idea for an integrated approach to central Rye Lane

Central Rye Lane: An Integrated Whole

Peckham Vision 'hotspot' map for central Rye Lane creative & cultural enterprises

This panel (click here) shows the historic station at the centre of the area which is at the heart of Peckham’s growing reputation as a ‘hotspot’ for the creative and cultural industries. It is surrounded by five sites within a few minutes walk of each other and they have in common old and underused buildings suitable for a wide variety of creative and cultural enterprises. The panel shows the latest version of the community masterplan idea, and gives the latest news on the planning and development of each of the five sites. Each still has uncertainties in its future, and shows the continued need for concerted community action to monitor their planning and development.

Central Rye Lane: Peckham’s Cultural ‘Hotspot’

This panel, click here, shows a ‘hotspot’ map of the growing cluster of creative and cultural enterprises - an SSCI in the four quarters around Peckham Rye station. The low cost, adaptability and spirit of the old buildings has stimulated the self-regeneration process, as has the close proximity of the enterprises. This collection of buildings and spaces and people has created a significant habitat for this part of the local micro economy (see note below on SSCIs). This habitat enables myriad personal interactions in a creative physical and social environment. The map on the panel locates each cultural enterprise, and the panel shows a photo and text for each. Together the variety of leisure and entertainment facilities explains the growing 'hotspot' reputation of the central Rye Lane location.

The challenge is to ensure that future developments nurture the special characteristics of this central Rye Lane location which make it suitable for the emergence and sustainability of the creative and cultural sector. This is especially important for the approach to the development of the land around Peckham Rye station, now [2014/2015] undergoing further public consultation. This began with the Council's CoDesign 8 week exercise in September and October 2014. This has resulted in hundreds of local people signed up to the Council's Peckham CoDesign mail list for further involvement. Landolt & Brown Architects were appointed in February 2015. Unfortunately this contract is confined to the buildings and spaces in front of the station and at the end of Blenheim Grove. The rest of the Network Rail 'Gateway' site has been split into potentially 4 other planning applications, with no opportunity for public discussion or release of information. This has meant that there has been no possibility for any collaborative public discussion about the 'Gateway' site. See latest here for more info.. Planning permission was given for the new square and changes to the Blenheim Grove building in March 2016. Work will start in 2018.

Central Rye Lane: Two New Green Paths

two new green paths from Rye Lane

The Peckham Rye Station Gateway is a major site in the central Rye Lane area. The co-design consultation in 2014/15 for that site needed but hasn't yet included ideas and plans for the improvement of the public realm all around it. This panel, click here, shows ideas Peckham Vision has developed to bring new green paths into the heart of Rye Lane, and also potentially linking Peckham Rye station to Queen’s Road, Peckham station. This potential needs to be a consideration in the design of the public realm plans.
- Coal Line: a high level path on the disused historic Ricketts coal line could feature as a high level linear park stretching between Rye Lane and the existing green space of Kirkwood Road. The access from Rye Lane would be from the Victorian cobbled area around the 1930s building opposite the station and the proposed new public square. So the design of public realm outside the Station Gateway site needs to be seen as an integrated whole. The line would run between two majestic town centre buildings: the Bussey Building (saved from demolition for a tram depot) and the Peckham Multi Storey building (still under threat of demolition until October 2017. Its life now extended for 20 years until 2038)
- Bussey path: A new path could lead pedestrians from Rye Lane through a pleasant green walk into the Copeland Park at ground level. This path might in the medium term lead through a new pedestrian tunnel to link with the space between the rail lines, and then join with the high level path just before the Consort Road junction, and also lead through into Copeland Road.

The Coal Line: linking into wider walking & cycling networks

This panel, click here, shows how the high level Coal Line project from Rye Lane would help to fill in a missing link in existing cycle networks to the east and west of Peckham. It would create a 900m long, 7m high level linear park linking the existing green spaces of Holly Grove and Kirkwood Road. This new link would create a new east-west route enabling users to reach the Thames on a new route that would be mostly greenway, free from road vehicles. In the town centre, it would, together with the Bussey path, and the ideas to reuse the Peckham Multi Storey building instead of demolishing it, create an oasis of biodiversity and green space within seconds of the busy Rye Lane shopping street and Peckham Rye station, and create new pedestrian routes north and south to the east of Rye Lane. Here is a great account of how the Peckham Coal Line fits with the community vision for transforming central Rye Lane. The Peckham Coal Line became an independent project separate from Peckham Vision in late 2014.

'SSCI' a Site of Special Cultural Interest

Video of talk by Eileen Conn at Just Space Conference in July 2015 on The London Plan and Building other ways of thinking about London's economy.

Note from Eileen Conn, Peckham Vision Co-ordinator:
"Living day by day as part of the evolution of this area around the station for several years, I came up with the idea that this central Rye Lane area is what I have termed an 'SSCI' (Site of Special Cultural Interest). An SSCI is a bio-socio-economic eco-system, which is a conceptual idea inspired by biological SSSIs - Sites of Special Scientific Interest. An SSCI is then a significant habitat for human socio-economic activities. Like a biological SSSI, it is the interacting relationship between the physical environment and the living creatures and their interacting life activities which are important. In all of this, the physical buildings as they are, and the spaces in between, are significant for the human activities they enable." © Eileen Conn 2014

Further thoughts May 2015:
Living through the saga of the failed planning consultation for the development around Peckham Rye Station, it became apparent that it was not standard practise in such planning to take a snapshot of the site before development decisions. So attempts to discuss the issues arising from the plan to acquire vacant possession across the whole site, as a prelude to demolition or clearance of all non railway buildings, fell on barren ground. There was no comprehension that there was anything of value in that context, so no mechanism to assess whether there was a special nature of the social and economic life on the site.
There needs to be a requirement in defined circumstances for development sites, that potentially exhibit the nature of an SSCI for a report on what is there now - physically, socially and economically. In a similar way to the established Environmental Impact Assessment: “UNEP defines Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) as a tool used to identify the environmental, social and economic impacts of a project prior to decision-making. It aims to predict environmental impacts at an early stage in project planning and design, find ways and means to reduce adverse impacts, shape projects to suit the local environment and present the predictions and options to decision-makers.”
It appears that though the EIP is defined as covering social and economic impacts, it may in practice think only of those impacts arising from the disturbance for the ‘living physical environment’. Maybe the EIP could be a suitable mechanism for identifying an SSCI. But at the moment it appears not to be used like that as the full meaning in it of “environmental, social and economic” is lost, because the impact on the delicate living system of a human micro economy embedded in its symbiotic social and physical habitat is not recognised.
©Eileen Conn 2015.


Website information 2008 - March 2014

Peckham Vision 2013 Masterplan idea of the Copeland Cultural Quarter together with the Masterplan for the station.
UDP Development Sites 2006.

This conceptual 'masterplan' idea for central Rye Lane began to be developed since 2008 by Peckham Vision. It was stimulated by our work on the community campaigns for a review in parallel of the plans for demolition of the large Copeland Park+ site on the east of Rye Lane, and the need to clean up and improve Rye Lane and the area around the station to the west of Rye Lane. The map that emerged showed Network Rail land east and west of Rye Lane, and the adjacent sites, and how they potentially can link together in an integrated view of that central part of Rye Lane. This work is currently being developed further and this page will be revised more soon. The material below was produced up to March 2014.

East Central Rye Lane

The land and buildings between Rye Lane and Copeland Road are a thriving mixed area of artists' studios, art galleries, a variety of small businesses, retail and creative industry, housing, faith and other community uses. The area has the feel of an emerging Cultural Quarter. A major part of the land (including the Bussey building) is owned and operated by Copeland Industrial Park (CIP). Over the last few years since the campaign began to publicise its potential, the area and its immediate surroundings are now sometimes referred to as the Copeland Cultural Quarter(CCQ) and also as Copeland Park.

The draft Masterplan below shows the location and extent of the Copeland Cultural Quarter and indicates the kind of mixed organic development there could be on this site:

  • the gradual rehabilitation of the historic buildings integrated with new buildings,
  • creating linked squares and courtyards,
  • the Copeland Cultural Quarter providing a comfortable transition between the town centre in the west and housing to the east.

A number of ideas have over the years been produced for potential developments. They illustrate the variety of schemes that there may be, and there can be many others with different scales of new developments. Three sketches and outlines from the material are displayed below. Others can be seen on this Peckham Vision website through out the sections of An alternative vision for Rye Lane Central. Others are continuing to be developed. The most recent is an idea to create a Peckham Green Pathway from Rye Lane to Queen's Road station. This would use a redundant former rail track path and join up with a new path created between the Bussey building and the rail track. These are shown on the [map - in preparation].

Over the last six years, there have been interesting developments on the other side of the railway tracks - in the multi storey car park. The top three floors have been used for a very successful 3 month summer large sculpture exhibition 'Bold Tendencies' by the Hannah Barry Gallery (started when it was located on the Copeland Park site, now at 4 Holly Grove). In 2009 - 2013 this has been accompanied by the very successful pop-up Frank's Cafe. In addition , the independent cinema, embedded in the car park structure, is a lively cultural focus engaging a wide variety of the local population. The car park & cinema are designated for demolition & redevelopment in the Council's Peckham Area Action Plan (PNAAP) which is subject to further consultation on a number of aspects including the future of this building, following local objections heard at the Public Hearings in July 2013. The recent highly successful use (see here and here) has illustrated the potential for redesigning for 21st century uses the brutalist structure which has failed as a town centre car park. The Council has just consulted on this at the request of the Inspector and the Inspector's report is awaited.

West Central Rye Lane & station

This kind of plan, for the east side of central Rye Lane, complements and strengthens the similar vision for Peckham Rye station and the land behind it and in front, on the west side, and on the east side between the railway lines. This idea was originally developed in 2005/6 through the Rye Lane & Station Action Group, a partnership between local residents and the Council's Peckham Programme. This campaign was then taken up by the emerging Peckham Vision from 2006 as part of the campaign for an integrated central Rye Lane vision. Southwark Council agreed to find ways to push to open up the square in front of the station, and link it to Dovedale Court, the area between the railway lines behind the station. An illustration is displayed below of the space available for a new station square after removal of the buildings in front of the station. These more recent poorer quality buildings occupy the land of the original square in front of the mid Victorian station, which was listed in 2008. These ideas are spelt out in the Council's report Peckham Rye Station: The Case for Change(scroll to end of their pdf list).

This plan is now beginning to be implemented through major funding from the Council and London Mayor/ GLA and others. See here for the latest on the various aspects of station regeneration. Restoration of the historic Old Waiting Room previously known as the Old Billiard Hall in the station, to bring it back into use, is proceeding well. See here for the latest on this, and also Re-using old buildings

In Blenheim Grove, all alongside the station, there is already a thriving arts and cultural scene including the Sunday Painter studios and gallery, Peckham Print Studio, Peckham Refreshment Rooms, Muana Restaurant, Brick Brewery, Bar Story restaurant and the Sassoon Gallery with Peckham Springs, and the several studios and small artisan businesses in the Arches Studios at Blenheim Court.


This central area in and around Rye Lane has organically become the central hub of a growing arts and cultural scene in Peckham. Many of these ideas and activities were foreshadowed in Peckham Vision's draft masterplan from 2008, illustrated below by some images. These show that the ideas for the station and its surroundings on the west side of Rye Lane, and now endorsed by the Council, and the ideas for the Copeland Cultural Quarter, opposite on the east side of Rye Lane, fit exactly together. Moreover, the organic emergence of cultural enterprises in the Copeland Cultural Quarter, in Blenheim Grove, in the Cinema and the summer sculpture park and Frank's Cafe, occurring now, strengthens and enhances the business case set out in the Council's report for the transformation of Peckham Rye Station.

All this can be seen to be an integrated plan that could transform Central Rye Lane for the twenty first century, and potentially consolidate Peckham as a major cultural place in London. These ideas for central Rye Lane need to be widely understood for informed discussions in the final consultations on the Council's PNAAP (Peckham & Nunhead Area Action Plan). Some of these ideas for the separate sites were incorporated into the Council's consultation in February-April 2012 on the Preferred Options report,(see pages 88-92, esp. paras 5.2.17-19, & pages 134-139, 143, esp. p139). The way they all fit together as an integrated plan was acknowledged but further work needs to be done to ensure that the vision is articulated fully enough to influence the private property developers that are involved as well as the Council and Network Rail. Unfortunately Network Rail plans revealed at a public meeting on Sat 18th January 2014 threatened to destroy this integrated vision. The public response to the plans has been so overwhelmingly negative that the Council has agreed to begin the design process again involving the community very closely.

Masterplan of the Copeland Cultural Quarter together with the Masterplan for the station.

Copeland Courtyard - potential for new public realm, mixed rehabilitation and new buildings. Benedict O’Looney architect.
Intercultural Creativity & Conference Centre, view towards Copeland Courtyard. Jeffrey Gale Eco Architecture.
Copeland Cultural Quarter – aerial view potential for new public realm, mixed rehabilitation and new buildings. Benedict O’Looney architect.
A new vision for Peckham Rye station: removing the buildings in front of the station and replacing them with a public square and improved facilities for local businesses.