One of the most constant complaints I get from people who live and work in and around Peckham is the need for a boost to the shopping and station area around Rye Lane.
I've been around long enough to remember when Rye Lane was a self-confident shopping ‘experience’ with lots of different sorts of shops- including M&S. Now, even the traders in the Rye Lane Traders Association are concerned that Rye Lane is not what it could be.
There's no reason that that should continue to be the case. Local people should be able to look forward to walking down to a great shopping area and people should want to come in from outside Peckham to shop for what it has to offer.
And then there's the station. Peckham Rye station is one of the gems of the old South East Railway. But right now that's hard to spot because the area around the station has become closed in and uninviting.
Again, there's no reason that should continue to be the case.
So I'm strongly in favour of the redevelopment around the station which can give the area a real boost.
But the redevelopment plans put forward by Network Rail have caused dismay and Southwark Council have rightly called for a rethink.
Nearly everyone agrees that redevelopment is needed around the station. But it’s harder to get agreement on what that redevelopment should include. It’s right that the Council has decided to take extra time to rethink the plans and consult the local community.
After further consultation the next steps will be the Council considering the granting of planning permission.
There are a number of key issues which should be addressed in the new plans which are brought forward.
*There's a real shortage of affordable housing in Southwark. More housing is a good idea but it must include homes which local people can afford to rent or buy.
* The new scheme must ‘open up’ the area in front of the station so it can be seen and admired in all its glory.
*But, at the same time, the lovely 1930s Art Deco buildings like 12-16 Blenheim Grove home of the Peckham Refreshment Rooms and the Sunday Painter must be kept - not torn down.
*The redevelopment should support the growing and dynamic arts scene in Peckham and ensure that local independent enterprises are not squeezed out by Starbucks and Costa. This can be done by a ‘lettings strategy’ which would give priority to local independents and ensure a mixture of uses including light industrial i.e. not only commercial or retail.
*The whole scheme must be financially viable - the sums must add up or we will end up with no redevelopment at all.
The Council, Network Rail and the local community are all working together now to get the right balance for Peckham. It’s a great opportunity. Let’s keep the best of the past - Peckham heritage and history, the best of today - the vibrancy of the local community and for tomorrow - get a development which is fit for a dynamic future for Peckham.