This is my response to the call by CoDesign team for views for the area around Peckham Rye Station
Eileen Conn, local resident and Peckham Vision Coordinator
I hope that the improvements around Peckham Rye station in the buildings and the public realm will help Peckham town centre to realise its potential as a good place:
* for people to start and run local businesses,
* to be a sustainable town centre socially, economically and environmentally;
* to shop, use services, understand our history, visit and enjoy leisure time;
* for people of a variety of different cultural and economic backgrounds to be, to live, to bring up families and to have fulfilled lives, and to nurture a shared feeling of neighbourhood community.
All my comments and suggestions below flow from my understanding of Peckham town centre as a long time resident for over 4 decades, and during that time having worked on a variety of citizens’ neighbourhood projects relating to Peckham town centre.
The new ‘square’
I would like a public discussion to test different approaches to achieving the much desired improvements to the station forecourt. The broad categories of different ways seem to be:
* demolishing the arcade, revealing the brick arches as the finished work; or
* demolishing the arcade and creating small new structures to the front of the arches for the new uses (the Weston Williamson plans were an example); or
* reconstructing the arcade to enable the station building to be seen from Rye Lane, to increase substantially the ground space for pedestrians in Rye Lane, and the forecourt space immediately outside the station building.
I have not myself formed a definitive view about which I prefer as there have not been adequate illustrations of what could be achieved through these different approaches. After the policy of creating a ‘square’ was agreed in 2008 there was no discussion in public about what it meant until the beginning of 2014. Assumptions were made that were never tested. We had always expected there to be a public discussion about this before the brief was designed, but the Council said in 2012 that would not happen. They then closed all discussions on it until Weston Williamson’s plans in January 2014 were presented. That stimulated other ideas coming forward to achieve the objectives, that I feel need a public discussion as well. It seemed that could have happened in the CoDesign process, but the months since that was agreed were not used for that. The process has been limited to relatively superficial aspects, and in much too confined a timetable. However, following and building on the current stage of the CoDesign process, I hope that a public discussion on these other ideas could be part of the imminent drafting of the design brief. This could be facilitated by providing a more realistic time for that drafting before the appointment of the architects.
I had expected that the CoDesign process would have arranged regular opportunities for individuals to come together and discuss their ideas with each other, and the CoDesign team, to refine them. These comments are offered without that opportunity. However I hope that enough time will be allocated to the designing of the brief and that such opportunities for local discussion can be arranged during that phase.
Whichever option is chosen for the changes in front of the station, it needs to:
* reduce pedestrian congestion;
* create shelter for pedestrians;
* consider relocating the bus stops;
* introduce biodiversity;
* have high quality public realm design and materials to link the new space with Blenheim Gv, Holly Gv, Rye Lane and the eastern arches. This should consider shared surfaces with Rye Lane.
The new forecourt space services & facilities
I would like the new space to be one where rail and bus travellers, shoppers and passers-by can sit in safety and comfort and just be, on their own or with friends or meeting visitors; and provide the following services (together with near-by surrounding spaces):
* refreshments appropriate for Peckham and for this hub for travellers and the town centre;
* newspapers, a postal letter box, internet delivery boxes;
* public well managed toilets;
* a cycle hub;
* automated cash facility (if not in the station building);
* a taxi hire facility, and taxi and private drop off and pick up close-by eg in Blenheim Grove or Holly Grove;
* clear and well designed directions signage;
* a town centre information facility.
There needs to be an agreement with the owners of the space as part of planning permission for the good management of the public realm on Network Rail land.
Any uses of the new space as a performance or events space should be the exception rather than the rule. Recently buskers have been playing in front of the station, and sometimes it has been too long, too repetitive and too loud. In the new relatively small space it could ruin the opportunity to rest, reflect and have conversations. The unbearable ‘music’ noise levels in Peckham Town Square during events are a worrying precedent.
The Council has agreed that there should be public toilets provided in this location.
* locations to investigate include:
– the recently restored 1930s toilets. The destroyed Ladies toilets could be rebuilt, and the toilets could be accessed via the north wing retail unit as part of their lease, and/or with public access through an entrance from the Station Way arch on the other side of the viaduct.
– one of the newly revealed arches could be managed as part of the lease to the adjoining shop or service business.
* ideas can be drawn from the way other towns are re-providing well managed public toilets.
* pay-toilets could be managed under a lease either for a retail unit or by a specialist toilet management company.
* there should be an overall town centre agreement for better use and well publicised availability of the toilets provided by businesses for their customers.
* the Council should use its licensing, planning and other powers to incorporate appropriate requirements for public toilets provision.
Holly Grove & Blenheim Grove buildings
* The two storey commercial buildings, adjoining the station land, fit very well in proportion to the listed station building and the nearby buildings on Rye Lane. I do not support more buildings there over two stories as they would crowd out the station building which the plan is to open out for Rye Lane. In addition, taller buildings would overshadow Rye Lane and, together with the existing buildings over two stories, would give it a narrow canyon feel and shut out so much more sky space.
* Moreover the two storey buildings are part of a significant cluster of Art Deco buildings. While they may not be of the highest architectural merit, they are part of Peckham’s town centre heritage and in the middle of the Conservation Area. Also, as a cluster, all 7 buildings surrounding the station, when restored, would provide another important attraction in the town centre.
* I would like them to remain and be restored and refurbished internally to make them fit for modern retail uses and town centre services.
* While 4 Holly Grove is not Art Deco it is of similar proportions and fits well in the buildings there and as a transition between the Rye Lane area and the Holly Grove Conservation Area. It provides excellent art gallery space which is an appropriate use for the transition between commercial and residential Conservation Areas. It could provide appropriate external wall and roof spaces for biodiverse greenery to be introduced.
Holly Grove public realm design and services
We need a drop off and pick up point for taxis and private cars for travellers by train. Holly Grove may be the right place. So this needs to be factored in to any reconstruction on the station site, as part of the public realm design for the area behind McDonalds and which would include the public realm links with Moncrieff Place.
Blenheim Grove public realm
* The redundant street furniture from the failed bollards traffic control measures over 12 years ago needs to be removed ASAP. The redesign of the public realm in front of the station needs to extend and include all the entrances to the station including part of Blenheim Grove at least up to the entrance to All Saints community hall and the entrance to Dovedale Court, probably up to at least Choumert Grove junction.
* Blenheim Grove is in a Conservation Area. It appears that unauthorised buildings and advertisements have been installed in the forecourts by some of the businesses. They are very unsightly. The Council needs to enforce the controls for the Conservation Area.
The station building
* Coordinated plans affecting the station building should be discussed publically before planning applications are submitted for the new opened space in front of the station, these include:
– a Conservation and restoration plan;
– the location of lifts to each platform;
– the options for the ground floor link between the front and Dovedale Court at the rear,
– the works needed to restore and extend the Victorian staircase to give access to the Old
Waiting Room as a multi purpose town centre venue run by a community business.
* for investigation and public discussion local ideas which suggest opening up a link between Dovedale Court and Blenheim Court via a glass plant filled structure in place of the current garage, and the linking of Blenheim Court to the adjacent arches in the Bellenden Road Business centre. This could create a useful east west pedestrian walk between Bellenden Road and Rye Lane.
* a pedestrian link at ground level between the front of the station and Dovedale Court which minimises change to the historic aspects of the station building and does not require the demolition of any of the commercial buildings surrounding the station.
* ways to ensure the arches remain within the price range of starts ups and independent businesses providing work spaces for artisan makers, cultural sector businesses and town centre retail, services and other facilities.
Access to the station
* there need to be lifts to all 4 platforms, and the lifts located so they do not interfere with the historic features of the station or require demolition of existing commercial premises.
* the position of the lifts and the new path through the station at ground level should not require travellers to have to go through the ticket barrier more than once.
These arches on the eastern part of Network Rail land (PNAAP 3) are scheduled in the PNAAP for opening up to the town centre in 2016-2020.
* The opening up of the eastern arches will probably be less problematic than the western ones, and the public discussion should be brought forward.
* The possibilities for this need to be discussed now as part of the deliberations for the redesign of the spaces and public realm across the road around the station.
* The THI contribution to the station square project requires good quality public realm design and materials. There needs to be a shared public space for the area in front of the station and across the road around the Art Deco building opposite which will be restored via the THI. So the two areas of public realm on either side of Rye Lane need to be designed together.
Peckham Vision has put forward ideas for creating two pathways opening up access to two green spaces right in the town centre, from Rye Lane to Consort Rd and beyond, between the Bussey Building and the Multi Storey Car Park. One is a high level path on the old coal line, a redundant rail track, and the other the green space between the Bussey Building and the rail embankment. I would like these ideas to be taken into public discussion during the development of the Council’s plans for the station forecourt, and in collaboration with Network Rail and Copeland Park. Details of suggestions as the basis for this can be found here: http://www.peckhamvision.org/wiki/Transforming_Central_Rye_Lane#An_Integrated_Plan_for_East_.26_West_Central_Rye_Lane and
* The redesign of the area in front of the station building needs to be in the context of an integrated, holistic plan and design statement for the public realm in between all the buildings. This should cover the area between Highshore Road and Bournemouth Road, and the adjoining areas of Blenheim, Holly and Elm Groves. I would expect any planning applications for the station area to be accompanied by a public realm, buildings and Conservation Area design statement which has been discussed in public before the planning application.
* There needs to be a review with local businesses and residents of the location of bus stops and the loading and parking arrangements. This should be in conjunction with the development of a holistic public realm statement for the central Rye Lane area between Bournemouth Road and Highshore Road, in the context of the town centre as a whole.
Integrated town planning
The new opened space in front of the station will be a core part of the town centre. So its design needs to take into account fully how it will function socially, physically, commercially and economically in relation to the area close by – notably Elm Grove, Holly Grove, Blenheim Grove, Rye Lane between Elm Grove, Cinema/Moncrieff Place, Bournemouth Road and the future potential developments in the eastern arches. We need to develop an overall holistic town centre plan for this central Rye Lane area for the day, evening and night time economies.
The CoDesign team have suggested that there should be some organised community-led governance arrangements for the square, such as a social enterprise. I agree that there should be new arrangements to enable the community – residents, businesses and other stakeholders – to play a real role in day to day town centre management matters. These include maintenance and design of the public realm, and uses of premises, including this area in front of the station. I agree that it would be very good to have Council agreement in principle, at this planning stage, of the collaborative stakeholder approach. However, I suggest it is too early to decide on an organisational form at this stage. What is the appropriate organisation needs careful discussion, with those who have an active interest in town centre management and functioning, to develop arrangements which dovetail with the development and emergence of other town centre collaboration arrangements.
Atlas of Aspirations draft – comments from Eileen Conn
The numbered points and headings in these comments follow those in the original draft circulated here: http://peckhamcodesign.org/stn-sq-ph-1/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/141028-Atlas-of-Aspiration2.pdf
The points with numbers don’t seem well clustered under the heading names.
Magical Place to Sit
1. Cleaner Streets
This also needs action to prevent the children playing in the forecourt from creating enormous amounts of rubbish each day by tearing up newspapers and anything like that left in the vicinity. It is strewn everywhere in heaps.
A group of town centre organisations, including Peckham Vision, has put in a proposal to the Council’s High St Challenge for a project to develop the town centre waste management strategy. This would address this aspiration and we hope there will be a positive response from the Council.
2. Take a Breath
I strongly support this aspiration which is attributed to me. But I am not familiar with some of the wording. Was it extracted or summarised from something I wrote or said?
6. typo in last two lines? It reads as if they don’t want to create another public space that feels safe. Shouldn’t it be ‘don’t want to create a public space that doesn’t feel safe?’ or ‘want to create a public space that feels safe?’
7. I’ll have a seat while kids play
One of the problems at the moment is the incompatibility of children without supervision running around in the accesses and exits at the station and in the way of the flow of people to and from the station. Children today are growing up without learning respect for and the meaning of shared public spaces, eg in restaurants and other public places like outside the station. It doesn’t seem appropriate to encourage this by mixing up children’s play space with this kind of relatively small public space. This is different from adults sitting for a while in the space and having their own children close by and not running wildly about.
9. Water feature.
There are no details given for this. Peckham town centre public realm is notoriously difficult to maintain and there is no guarantee that a water feature would be properly maintained.
Getting up to the Platforms
This heading seems inappropriate as most of the points are not about getting up to the platforms.
Lifts are essential. The key issue is their location and how that fits with developments in front of the station. Locations for lifts were proposed in the Network Rail plans last January, but none of that has been revealed in this CoDesign exercise. The locations in those plans required demolition of the buildings alongside the station on both sides. It appears that this matter was excluded from the CoDesign brief so no one was informed about the lifts location issues. This has prevented people giving their aspirations about how to integrate the lifts without avoidable destruction, and which is a key part of achieving a joined up design for the station developments.
11. Bike park
Is the current bike hub park used to full capacity? There are already problems with that anyway in its location bringing cyclists into the heavy pedestrian flow at rush hour times. The design of the new spaces in front of the station must look carefully at the design issues with that and avoid bringing more cycle parking into the places where there is heavy pedestrian flow. Locations at the back of the station for increasing cycle parking needs to be thoroughly considered.
13. A shared surface
This is a key aspiration to integrate the new spaces in front of the station with the town centre. They also need to link up with the historic cobbled area and Victorian brick rail viaduct walls around the art deco building opposite which will be restored in the THI (Townscape Heritage Initiative). The quality of the material used for the new spaces including going across Rye Lane to the area opposite need to be of high quality to meet the requirements of the THI funding contribution because of the historic setting.
These should also be linked to the redesign of the public realm at the junctions of Rye Lane with Holly Grove, Elm Grove and Blenheim Grove so that there is a coherent design plan for the public realm in that street area around the Network Rail land in central Rye Lane. This should be a part of a coherent public realm design plan for Rye Lane north to Highshore Road and south to Bournemouth Road, and how the design for that central Rye Lane area fits with a public realm design plan for the area north and south of that central area. It appears that the Council highway engineers are about to do routine work on the Blenheim Grove and Bournemouth Rd junctions to remove the long redundant rising bollards street furniture (welcome as it is long overdue) but at the same time remodel the surrounding public realm. This needs to be planned and designed so minimal work is done to avoid waste of public funds as it hopefully will all be improved as part of the station developments.
14. Dropping off friends
This is high on my list of aspirations. So many times needing to pick up or drop off visitors and nowhere to do it easily. Also there is a need to provide a place where arranged taxis can pick up people arriving by train. We need an authorised taxi phone number to make bookings to collect people arriving by train who are disabled or lots of luggage or children and also passengers late a night. (This might be a contract with the Council or Network Rail? – this happens in other stations and in hospitals.) The facility HAS to be at Peckham Rye station as a key hub for the whole area. None of the other stations can suffice as they have only half the rail services stopping there. Peckham Rye has them all.
16 Moving east and west
The same point about this key issue being excluded from the CoDesign exercise can be made about all the other planning issues that should have been part of the CoDesign, like lifts locations, Dovedale Court , link between station front and back, and conservation of the listed building.
17 Good paving
Agree but it needs to be wider than that and needs to be part of a well designed public realm plan to accompany the planning application.
A Space for Shared Identity
20. Community Café
Yes an excellent idea. It could be combined with the management of the public toilets and of a town centre information centre. This could be a community social business. An ideal place for these combined facilities would be the restored retail unit to the right of the ticket office. That perhaps could be combined also with an additional function such as an art gallery, or shop earning income.
22. Peckham Festival
There have been many Peckham Festivals over the years, and there will be again. They are not dependent on this space. In such a Festival the primary space for events should be the High Street town square. I don’t think it is suitable to see this opened up space as primarily for events.
24. Sign Post for Peckham.
I also mentioned this in a Commonplace map comment. There needs to be very carefully designed signage for the station as a professional design project involving sound research in what it is the community think should be signposted. The current information and design of it is very poor. It also needs to be well located with professional suggestions about its location. All these details should tap into the community knowledge and the design project should have carefully designed community engagement…
25 What’s going on?
Very important and linked also to the signpost #24. This is because the signposts need to be very clear where various venues are so it needs very careful design on how to link the place signposts with the ‘what is going on’ info. There should be an investigation of a digital facility to find venues and places. This would be co located with the town centre information facilities.
#27-30 There is no text to comment on for these numbers.
31. I don’t think we have to be the ‘best’ public toilet in London. It would be nice to be the best but the best is often the enemy of the good. We need to have a very good and pleasant and convenient facility for everyone to use. For older people, people with illnesses or disabilities, people with luggage and people with children, a decent public toilet can be crucial. It is an essential part of a good town centre. Combined with other public facilities like town centre information and a place for light refreshments it could become a social hub. This is likely to be a key ingredient of successful 21st centre town centres where the commercial economy provides retail and a variety of leisure facilities and activities. This cultural sector is becoming a core part of the local economy and needs to seen in an integrated way as a part of a new kind of local economy. The toilets provision is a crucial part of ensuring the night time economy functions well. Planning and licensing should take this into account and tie permissions to good enough toilets provision and management, throughout the town centre to supplement the public toilets provision.
32. Spending a penny
The Council needs to report on good and innovative practises now growing around the country as other town centres understand good public toilets are essential to a well functioning town centre. There are organisations now specialising in this across the country as well as town centre organisation groups actually doing it themselves and how they successfully provide for meeting the costs. We need this kind of information and a working group set up with volunteers from local business and other organisations to work with Council officers to devise an overall town public toilets plan. This would identify the options for the organisation and management of the station area public toilets, and how the costs should be met and how the toilet provision in the rest of the town centre can be improved, made accessible and supplement the public toilets. Peckham Vision with the Rye Lane Traders’ Association offered to assist with this when we presented the petition to the Council in September 2013. The Council has never responded.
A Green Future
33. Network of Green Spaces
Thinking about these possibilities, including the idea of the two new green paths, is essential at this stage so that they can be understood as potential in the design of the new space in front of the station. The design needs to avoid ruling them out inadvertently in the design of the new space.
34. Climbing plants & 35 Nature in the square
This idea of climbing plants in front of the station fits with the new high level green path on the other side of Rye Lane on the eastern side. The greenery could grow along the side of the rail bridge and into the square, and continue around the station at high level into the back, through Dovedale Court and link with the railway greenery along the rail track out of Peckham.
42. Keep high rise buildings out of immediate area
At the moment the Art Deco buildings on Network Rail land are perfect height and mass for the setting for the station. They are also a perfect complement to the other mixed heights of buildings in Rye Lane near by. Rye Lane is an unusually narrow shopping street which has lots of pedestrians. Putting taller buildings there would create a canyon effect because the street is so narrow. This would be a significant decrease in sky light for an immensely busy pedestrian place and unjustified in conservation and human needs terms.
43. Art Deco Quarter
There is definite potential to create a visible Art Deco quarter which would add to the town centre’s commercial attractions for visitors, along with the rooftop views from the multi storey car park and Bussey Building. The Art Deco quarter could still survive even with the demolition of the Arcade building.
44. Refurbishing the Art Deco arcade
The Art Deco arcade could be restructured – more than just refurbished – and may be able to achieve a lot of what the original simple idea of the square referred to, ie creating visible access to the station building from Rye Lane, removing the pedestrian congestion on Rye Lane and in the station forecourt, providing more appropriate retail and services close to the station, and creating a place ‘to be’. Since the presentation of Network Rail and the Council’s plans last January, which were rejected, a number of ideas have surfaced about how to achieve these highly desirable outcomes with the restructuring of the Arcade. It could still be part of the CoDesign process to see if there is real merit in these, which would enable survival of some part of the arcade as part of the Art Deco quarter. There are even now new ideas emerging to recreate the front of the arcade in modern transparent materials as part of the new development. Some way should be found to enable these ideas to be aired in a constructive fashion during the design of the detailed brief for the planning application. The CoDesign process would then be able to achieve a highly desirable outcome of genuinely enabling these different ideas to be aired and discussed, so that more people could feel that they would accept the option finally chosen
I was a prime mover for several years in promoting the idea of restoring the open space in front of the station. But, as public discussion, involving the Council and Network Rail between 2011 and 2014, of how that could be achieved, was blocked, there were no opportunities for a public discussion about a variety of approaches. So the innovative ideas about achieving much of what is wanted without total arcade demolition began to surface only after the issues came into the public arena after the rejection of the Network Rail / Council proposals last January. They have been aired only fitfully since then as we waited for the CoDesign process to start. More people have understood there may be compromise alternatives that they would like to understand better, but they have not yet had a proper airing. There is still time to do this. The High level brief which is to be drafted and agreed during November for the tender for the contract can set out the required outcomes for the development of:
• making the station building visible from Rye Lane,
• removing pedestrian congestion,
• providing appropriate retail and service facilities for station travellers,
• creating an attractive place to be,
• introducing appropriate biodiversity,
• and anything else judged essential.
That does not need at that stage to specify demolition of the arcade. Achieving the different possibilities could then be explored in collaboration with the appointed architects by mixed teams of keen local volunteers with relevant professional skills and keen lay local people, and presented to the public in late January to enable a decision to be taken at the end of January about the approach to take.
45. Retain 2 storey buildings on the corners of Rye Lane and Blenheim Grove and Holly Grove.
There are strong arguments for retaining these buildings as mentioned above in #42 – #44.
Peckham in the Dark
48. Hairdressers open all hours
The only real problem, with the hairdressers shops, is that they do not control the waste escaping from their shops or their children causing significant extra waste problems (from destroying huge numbers of newspapers every day) , and that their children have no adequate place to be while their adults are working. Both these problems need to be solved, and they would then be compatible with the new developments. The waste problem is a management matter that needs new enforceable agreements with the lease holders. If the council CPOs the properties then a management condition should be imposed by the council about allocating responsibility for ensuring the shops do not cause environmental problems. The care of the children may be resolved by creating some child care facilities on the second floor of the buildings there or near by. However the building on 2-8 Blenheim Grove would need to be vacated while the refurbishment was carried out and the arches on the other side of the viaduct were made into viable business premises for the new space in front of the station. So other kinds of uses may need to be considered also.
49. The Golden Mile
Guidance for the design of Rye Lane shop fronts should be developed along with the design plan for the public realm to achieve as much light as possible.
50. Fun in the dark
It is true that the night time economy is blossoming and is a significant part of the growing attractiveness of Peckham town centre. However there are negative sides to this which need to be addressed effectively. These include town centre issues such as the public toilets and the waste management. Another key aspect is the way to minimise the disruption to residents on the streets affected – mainly Blenheim, Holly and Elm Groves and Rye Lane itself. This needs to be taken into account in proposals to build more housing in that vicinity. The area may have already reached its limit for more housing in the town centre if there is not be an escalating serious conflict been businesses and local residents.
51. Small independent shops
The sentiments about the small independent shops I agree with. But I don’t agree that the square in particular is a testing ground for them. That point is more related to the existing old buildings which, having lower rent and more adaptability provide good settings for start ups and creative enterprises. The point is especially relevant as it was part of the case made against the plans presented last January for wholesale redevelopment of the station site, including Blenheim Grove and Dovedale Court.
Diverse Shopping Experience
52. Street Food
This is certainly an attractive option in central Rye Lane but not in the relatively small square. A much more appropriate place would be in the eastern arches when they are opened up opposite the station. This is scheduled in the PNAAP for 2016 – 2020. It should be brought forward now into planning and design focus so that it can follow soon after the station front development. Ideas like street food can then be incorporated into that planning. The developments behind the station should be rescheduled to follow the redesign and planning of the eastern arches, instead of preceding them. This shows why it could be significant to develop the public realm plans around the station front developments to incorporate the opening up of the arches opposite and the possible link with that of the creation of the two green paths.
55. We used to have an M&S
Nostalgia for previous eras is understandable but to think they can be retrieved is probably unrealistic. Internet shopping has fundamentally changed the nature of shopping. Peckham has however already adapted to these changes by not being so dependent, as a commercial centre on major corporate retail. It is arguable that the mixture of retail with independent stores and burgeoning leisure sector are strong assets for medium size urban town centre like Peckham. Changes will continue to happen in relation to demographic and market changes but we should be nurturing the changes which have already taken root especially the extent of independent local ownerships, and the growth of the leisure and cultural economy. For that we have to ensure that there is a substantial part of the local market continues to be open to start up and independent businesses, and which does not get swamped by major corporate chains.
57. Buses feed the businesses
Agree completely with this statement. However the locations of the bus stops need to be thoroughly reviewed. Outside the station and outside Sky City on the opposite side of Rye Lane are awful places for people in bus queues and also people trying to walk along the street. They are in the wrong places.
58. Improving shop fronts
An effective trade waste management process would transform the feel of the town centre for the better. In a similar way so would a gradual improvement in the design of shop fronts and better display of goods. There should be tailor made simple guidance for the design of both shop fronts and appropriate shop display, so that over time there would be a significant improvement. This guidance could be incorporated in a regular traders training programme which has had a very small early pilot this summer initiated by Peckham Vision in collaboration with Rye Lane Traders Association and Pecan. This approach needs to be supported and encouraged. An important aspect of shop fronts and displays is that there is a continuous turn over of shop uses so that change could be organic and gradual as shops change owners and uses. It just needs a well promoted culture with simple guidance to improve standards for displays and shop fronts. We should look out for initiatives for improving high streets which produce funds for small grants to encourage shop owners to venture along this route. This is especially important to try to do alongside the THI which will be in operation over the years 2015 – 2019. It will be important to show that all shops have a role to play in improving the ambience of the town centre.
Low thresholds into Business
59. Low Starter rents
Maintaining low starter rents is much more likely in old recycled premises as has been done around the station and the Copeland Park. This is another good reason for refurbishing and restoring the buildings on the Network Rail site instead of demolishing and building new.
61. Local integrated businesses [this idea of the local economy being an integrated eco system is a particular contribution that I have consistently made for several years and in the CoDesign process. It is unclear how you are deciding which points to attribute to named individuals. For example, I am mentioned in one or two, and Peckham Vision also in one or two. But there are a number which I have also contributed but are not attributed to me.]
The physical environment is also a crucial part of the urban ecology (or urban ecosystem) along with the interlinked social groups, businesses and creative communities you mention in this summary and needs to be added. Reusing the old buildings is tied up with the low rents for starter businesses. All these interacting factors and elements are how the local economy is an interactive live system which can be destroyed by developments which assume that buildings and locations can be rebuilt from scratch and the existing embryonic economy can be reproduced. This is no more possible than taking apart a plant and expecting to recreate it by joining the parts together again.
62. Bring the community together
We have a significant opportunity to build on what has been achieved through the CoDesign process to continue the work that local people have been doing for several years to bring people together across Peckham and across different interest groups. One way to help this would be to support the grouping that is emerging through the Weekly Editorials as it develops into an inclusive team of local people meeting together to develop the themes and the ideas that have been emerging over the last 8 weeks in particular. The focus for the next three or four months has to be the continuing CoDesign process for community engagement as the proposals for the station suite and the central Rye Lane area develop for the planning application. Out of that will emerge the natural and organic ways of developing it further to establish appropriate roots for beyond that process? It is essential though, if it is to take root, that the process is enabled to develop from within, and not be imposed on it from external agencies. This would complement significantly the work that we have been doing through Peckham Vision in the town centre for several years, and so we need to be closely involved alongside any such developments.
63. A new way of working
Is the template mentioned for the CoDesign process for the developments around the front of the station or the whole Gateway site, or more? Is it mainly about the way the community works together or about the way the Council does or doesn’t work with the community? These two are different: please see my paper here, which is about the relationship and way of working between local government, and the local community, and about how the community works within itself: http://goo.gl/kpbBro. It would be great if there could be a review of the way the Council does and doesn’t work with local community groups across the borough.
As for local organisations – they already have networked ways of working, though progress of course can still be made. For example, support to bring the T&RAs (which are mainly focussed on housing issues with the Council and social housing landlords) together with local groups (working on the built and green environment) would be welcomed. The latter local groups, focussing on the built and green environment, already are networked, and Peckham Vision has pioneered the use of networking to link together interests around the economy and built environment in the town centre. So any new initiatives, brought in from outside the local community, need to be introduced only in full awareness of and discussion with existing networks.
64. Dedicated business support.
There is certainly a need for such business support and that can utilise the positive work that has already been done by Peckham Vision and is currently doing with some town centre organisations.
65. More accessible information
This would be part of more dedicated business support and also part of a more developed information centre for the town centre as a whole.
66. Phasing of development
One way to achieve this aspiration, of reducing the disruption to the local businesses, would be to bring forward the development of plans to open up the eastern arches opposite the station (PNAAP site 3). It is scheduled to happen in 2016 – 2020. Discussion about the options for this should start now as it is probable that taking that forward would be less problematical than Dovedale Court. It would also fit much better with joined up planning of the public realm for the area of the new square and how it relates to the area around the Art Deco building on the eastern side of Rye Lane. PNAAP 3 is more suitable to town centre retail, street foods and markets, and a variety of other uses. Dovedale Court needs time to adjust itself more gradually to market shifts rather than planned redevelopment, and should be rescheduled to the phase after the eastern arches. They could still both happen within the 2016-2020 timescale. So for a variety of complementary reasons, ie rephasing, need for joined up design for the public realm and good for town centre commercially and economically, #66 in this form of expanded rescheduling and rephasing would be top of my list of ‘preferences’.
I agree with the comment about keeping the arcade. It’s a valuable asset and if refurbished would be attractive as well as providing reasonable rent units. I think the pavement could be slightly widened outside the station to help congestion, and the bus stop could be moved to either side of this. A drop off point on Holly Grove with a loop around the back of McDonald’s could be created. Keeping the character of Rye lane is important and the arcade and other art deco buildings should be protected.