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Feasibility study: 1 year on

The launch of the Feasibility Study in June 2018 was a proud moment for the Friends of Peckham Coal Line. It was a huge accomplishment to have delivered a high-quality assessment of the opportunities and benefits that the Coal Line would deliver. Lots has been happening over the last year to take the plans to the next level. We have created a summary of what has been happening for you, the Coal Line supporters, to keep up to date with progress.

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Word from team PCL…

The launch of the Feasibility Study was a huge accomplishment to have delivered a high-quality assessment of the opportunities and benefits that the Peckham Coal Line would deliver.

In phasing the delivery of the project and prioritising some early wins, it looked possible to avoid spreading volunteer resources too thinly. However the tension between work/life commitments and moving the project forward has been even more acute this year.

Nevertheless there has been significant progress on the sites defined as being short-term (1 to 3 year) focuses. Hundreds of people got a taste of this as they walked the Peckham Coal Line in virtual reality as part of the Peckham Festival. And behind the scenes we have continued to build on our strong relationships with key stakeholders.

Still the most pressing site is the Stable Yard, near Consort Road. In 2017 the site was bought by developers and the PCL community rallied round to influence the proposals. The developers and landscape architects, Bluecroft and Spacehub, stepped up to the mark and the result was a design supported by the community that would synchronise with the wider aims and design of the Coal Line.

When the site changed ownership in 2019, we had to start again from scratch with the new developers, Picfare. Once again the community rallied to ensure that the new proposals didn’t water down our shared ambition for that site. The plans are once again with the Southwark planning department, following a series of meetings with Picfare to try and bring the designs more in line with the principles of the Coal Line. The landscaping conversations will continue, but you can view the current planning application.

We have learnt a few lessons along the way. The Peckham Coal Line is about steering change in the local neighbourhood. Finding ways to work with developers is one way of doing this (and with two of the PCL sites owned by developers it is important to find ways to do this productively). The last year has given us some insights about how to best work with them to further the project and to benefit the local area.

Key insights:
- build relationships early – this can prevent oppositional campaigns
- maintain a two-way dialogue, where each party is treated as equals
- there is a responsibility to challenge outside forces on behalf of a community – you can’t underestimate the power and influence of local experience

- openness and transparency is vital from all parties involved.

At the core of the Friends of Peckham Coal Line are a small community of dedicated volunteers. Each provide their time and energy around other commitments. PCL wouldn’t have been able to make the progress it has without their tireless support and enthusiasm. We have also been very fortunate to have continuing support and advice from Southwark Council, the GLA and Network Rail.

"We have been working with the Peckham Coal Line since the publication of the feasibility study last year. As well as successful grants from the Cleaner Greener Safer fund to help deliver the project we are working with the team to start preparatory work near Kirkwood Nature Reserve. The line of route is also in the local plan. This ambitious and exciting project has already benefited the local community. We are proud to be involved." Cllr Johnson Situ, Southwark Council

“Network Rail is continuing to work with the Peckham Coal line to help it with railway interfaces and acknowledges the keen interest by local businesses and residents” Logan Subramaniam, Network Rail

As we look out on the year ahead, we know there are things we can plan for and that there will be issues that crop up and blindside us. But we are prepared. We also know we can rely on the wider community to help recharge our batteries, share and refine excellent ideas, maintain momentum and deliver this project one phase at a time.

We need to start thinking about innovative ways for how to raise the money needed to support the delivery of the Coal Line. We will be submitting bids for grants and match funding from foundations, the GLA and Southwark, but this is a community project, so it’s important that we’re part of this too. We want your views about how you’d like to be involved in this process. We have posted a poll on our website and social media setting out some options about how we raise the first £1million.

A one page summary can be found here:

The map summary is below: