Dear Peckham Coal Line Community and supporters,
Thank you for your ongoing support and interest in the Peckham Coal Line. Over the past eight years we’ve achieved an enormous amount with your help and support. The project has now reached a natural evolutionary stage. This letter provides an update on what’s been going on recently and what’s next for the PCL.
In our last updates, we outlined plans to run an open tender process to appoint a partner to work with us on the development of the Bidwell Street section of the scheme. We were notified in 2020 that we had secured funding from the Greater London Authority (GLA) and Southwark Council to support the delivery of the reimagined Bidwell Street project. We were assured PCL would be the client for the work and responsible for awarding the contract. For 18 months we were then entangled in a protracted tendering process. We felt the goalposts moved constantly in terms of what criteria needed to be met, and it became clear that the public authorities' interests in the PCL had waned.
We had hoped delivery of the Bidwell Street site would follow the successful delivery of the Stable Yard (in conjunction with the developers) and the upgraded street design and entrance to Kirkwood Nature Reserve (delivered in partnership with Friends of Kirkwood Nature Reserve and Southwark Council). A consultant was appointed and agreed in principle by all parties, but following 18 months of meetings and discussions, it was clear that neither authority was committed to releasing funding to support the community vision for Bidwell Street. We reached the decision to break off the engagement with the GLA and Southwark Council for the Bidwell Street site. This was not a decision reached lightly. We are extremely disappointed that the investment earmarked for Bidwell Street has not been released to benefit the community.
Although the current trustees of the PCL will not be taking this section of the project forward, we hope that the next generation of trustees and leaders will feel inspired to take the project on and guide the future of the PCL. We also hope that the GLA and Southwark will reflect on and learn from their experience of working on Bidwell Street and try to adapt decision-making processes to work more effectively with community volunteer-led organisations. Life during and post-pandemic proved the critical need for access to green spaces and opportunities for active travel. These spaces will only be brought into community use through collaboration.
Over the past eight years we have worked closely with partners such as the GLA, Southwark, local landowners and developers, as well as other community groups and businesses in the local area. We have benefitted from the support of forward-thinking partners. Equally, we have felt frustrated at times. We have examined and laid out the lessons learnt in the Learning Hub. We hope our transparency will aid the future delivery of the PCL as well as other community-based projects.
As the feasibility project proved, this project offers huge benefits to all residents and businesses in the local area. The ambition of the Peckham Coal Line is not going away and is secured and written into the local plan. We hope that the project continues to receive widespread support. However, the current team of trustees, who have been with the project since the start, have got as far as we can. We are resigning from and closing the Community Interest Organisation (CIO) that has operated in the background to provide structure to the project.
As a consequence we are looking for the next team of dedicated, passionate people looking to love Peckham back. We hope you will consider if that is you.
Thank you all for your engagement in our walks, community salons, public events, fundraising and campaigns over the past eight years. You are the Coal Line and the vision and potential of the Peckham Coal Line will live on with you.
Nick, Louise, Anna Rose and Kirsty
Outgoing Trustees of the ‘Friends of Peckham Coal Line’