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Open letter to Southwark Council

Following the discovery that one of the sites of the Peckham Coal Line has been resolute new developers, an open letter that has been sent to Southwark Council (on the 2nd May) encouraging them to view the new development plans with the best interests of the local area and the development of thePeckham Coal Line at their heart. As yet there has been no formal response from Southwark Council.

Dear Councillor Johnson,

We remain pleased that you and your predecessors have been long-standing and vocal supporters of the Peckham Coal Line project, as demonstrated by the inclusion of the Coal Line in Southwark’s Local Plan. As such, we wanted to draw your attention to a development along the route of the Coal Line and ask for your help in ensuring the opportunity is grasped to successfully deliver the first phase of the project.

Southwark has received a planning application from Picfare Homes to redevelop the area just off Consort Road, which we refer to as the Stable Yard. As Southwark councillors and officers know, the Stable Yard is a key section of the Coal Line connection and one that residents recognise will help to better connect the communities between Queens Road and Rye Lane.

As a project, we have always been clear that we do not oppose development. We actively support development that will bring prosperity to the local community. Achieving this from the redevelopment in the Stable Yard will rely on close relationships between your officers, the Coal Line team and Picfare.

We are especially focused on ensuring that in delivering homes and commercial space, Southwark does all it can to use the planning framework to support Picfare in:

i) adopting a design ethos and aesthetic that reflects local heritage and mirrors the industrial history of the site, whilst also maintaining open, ground-level spaces for people to traverse through. We believe the designs developed with the former landowner (Bluecroft) last year achieved this, and, following a recent discussion with Picfare, the latest designs do go some way towards achieving this. But we would feel more assured that this would not be vulnerable to later changes if it were considered as part of any planning approval;

ii) engaging the local community and residents in the choices around the aesthetic, materials and planting of the development. We have asked Picfare to set out their community engagement plans to us, but we expect the council will also want to make enquires too;

iii) honouring the delivery of a key section of the Peckham Coal Line project. As such, and given your visible backing of the Feasibility Study we published last year, you may wish to join us in seeking clarity from Picfare about:

a. whether the development will include highly visible, sustainable wayfinding for the Coal Line (e.g. totem poles, permanent planters, signage), and

b. what strategy they have to ensure that the commercial units can support local enterprise and businesses, by providing affordable work spaces. We would like Picfare to agree to work with the council and other local hubs like Copeland Park and Peckham Levels to consider this matter; and

c. what timescales they are working to, and when / how the community and local business leaders will be involved.‘How’ development is delivered is just as important to community-based projects like ours as whether development happens at all. We therefore support the council in bringing to bear the full weight and influence of its planning powers.

This email/letter represents the views of the Friends of Peckham Coal Line and in no way speaks for others or replaces consultation. In preparation for the upcoming statutory public consultation we are writing to you and to our community of supporters and key stakeholders in parallel. We are calling on you all to emphasise the points above. We will be publishing a copy of this correspondance on our website.

If you would like to discuss any of the points raised, please do not hesitate to request a meeting or phone call.