This was the 4th meeting of the Peckham & Nunhead CAN. We had a good mix of people from across the Peckham & Nunhead localities including some that hadn’t previously been involved in a CAN meeting.
A survey of CAN members had established that the key issue people wanted to discuss was developing a community Vision for Peckham and Nunhead, that would influence the vision statements that Southwark’s planning staff are putting together for the New Southwark Plan.
We have tried to capture the issues raised in the conversations, and to provide links to the projects and resources discussed in the notes that follow below, but if you would like any further information please don’t hesitate to contact us, email@example.com
- Karis Morris-Brown – Beanstalk Charity
- Kay Nooney – Peckham Resident
- Esther Choutsedjem – Peckham Resident
- Tina Smith – Peckham Resident
- David McLean – SGTO
- Jeffrey Uzoukwu – Peckham Resident
- Debbie Mitchener – Garden Organic
- Ama Agyeman-Badu – Peckham Resident
- Gill Kelly – Community Council Development Officer: Peckham and Nunhead
We started the evening with introductions, followed by a brief update on the development of CANs from Ian Redding (as a number of attendees had not been to a CAN meeting before).
Ian then outlined the main subject for discussion at the meeting, explaining that this had been chosen by CAN members themselves: there would be an opportunity to discuss other issues of concern to people present a little later.
A VISION FOR PECKHAM AND NUNHEAD
Ian talked about the lack of opportunities for real engagement of local people in future planning for their area; explaining that The New Southwark Plan (NSP) currently being developed will lay foundations for developments through to 2033, and so vitally important for people to be involved in shaping what it proposes.
* 2 versions of NSP so far: The Options Version in Oct 2014 (which set out different perspectives on moving forward); Preferred Options version in late 2015 (which reflected the Council’s own proposed way forward – both have been subject to consultation.
* A further version now awaited, though delayed because Housing & Planning Act poses serious challenges especially around affordable housing: Southwark’s Cabinet will not consider next version until after 1st January 2017.
* A key aspect of the next phase of consultation is agreeing Area Visions which give an overview of the future development of an area.
* These are primarily written by officers to accompany the plans; rather than being visions developed with communities and incorporating their aspirations for the places in which they live and work.
* The terminology used can be misleading to the casual reader, talking about developments rather than about people or communities affected.
* However, these visions are important because planners and developers use them to justify the types of developments they put forward so they need to include clear, specific, and unequivocal statements.
* Most importantly for today’s session, they also offer a way in which most residents can engage, in language they understand, rather than that of the otherwise complex and technical world of planning.
* Camberwell was “ahead of the game” and have created their own community-led vision for their area which has the support of local councillors and planning officers, so it is anticipated it will feed into the NSP.
* Learning from their example, community networks concerned with planning and regeneration from across the whole borough have got together as the Southwark Planning Network, and are now seeking to encourage community-led visions for localities across the borough, that commonly focus on the 8 issues below:
o Affordable Housing
o (Inappropriate) Tall Buildings
o Conservation & Heritage
o Local Economy
o Existing Communities
o Green spaces/issues/ecology
o Community engagement
Conversations then followed with attendees expressing their views on what they’d particularly like to see in a Vision for Peckham. The main points are set out below, grouped under the 8 headings for ease of reference.
* There is a lot of pressure on space for housing, and undoubtedly we need it, but need it for local people too and not just those coming into area
* However, trying to squeeze it into small spaces in the Town Centre isn’t the answer, need to focus on outside of Centre.
* Frustrations of local people at seeing housing sites like Wooddene still undeveloped: what happened to those who lived there and were told they could return once new development finished?
* On all occasions with new developments it should be a requirement that at least a certain proportion of employees used are local.
(Inappropriate) Tall Buildings
* Tall buildings create claustrophobic environments that are not healthy for people
* Green spaces, public thoroughfares, clear connection points need to accompany any such buildings.
* Council seems to focus on Town Centres for tall buildings but these are often the least appropriate places to put them
Conservation & Heritage
* Rye Lane is busy and noisy and not a good environment for people to live in.
* Intensification of the Centre is not what’s wanted, it needs a joined-up townscape that presents a specific Peckham identity; and space for people to relax awhile rather than rush through.
* Coordinated street furniture, signage, sign-posting, etc. is one way; other ways include clear paths between places – and highlighting of buildings of importance to heritage. (could include specific signage for Peckham Conservation area as seen in other town centres, including maps)
* Peckham is, and always has been, a place of change – but want it to improve, build upon what’s good and adds to the area – and recognising staying the same as now isn’t a viable option
* Strong local economy needed and should be encouraged, keeping Rye Lane vibrant.
* Need a more mixed economy of shops, recognising different levels of affordability for local people, and what different communities aspire to.
* At same time need to strengthen local diverse businesses and help them be more fit for purpose in a London shopping street (example given that 70% of businesses
operating in Town Centre use personal bank accounts rather than beneficial business-related alternatives)
* Socio-economic factors that particularly affect Peckham include the large proportion of people who are transient and not likely to be in the area for more than a couple of years (as opposed to the smaller number that remain, who have lived here for most of their lives).
* (As per Affordable Housing comment) …. All new businesses, contractors, coming into area should be required to employ local people (including helping develop skills of local unemployed)
* Need joined-up approach on all types of transport in and through area.
* Currently there is conflict between traffic (and parking), pedestrians, cyclists, and public transport.
* Road traffic needs to be slowed down for public safety reasons, but also more consistent flow to reduce air pollution
* How much of Peckham traffic is local journeys and how much is people passing through? Are other routes more appropriate for heavy traffic?
* Should the town centre traffic exclusion area be extended? Should it exclude private cars entirely?
* Want it to continue to be a place for everyone – long term residents are not being catered for with new cafes, restaurants and bars – most not targeted at “host” community.
* Not enough focus on places for people:
o For young people around arts & culture, or to get involved in wider local activities
o And places for the student population to get together in better public locations
o And for older people to make their way around the Town Centre, be able to rest up and chat, etc.
* Linked into this, places where old & young can be sharing together and remove this perceived fear factor between generations: “Open Spaces Up!”
* Still concerns about literacy within some communities, and this has effect on them being able to engage (or be engaged with)
* Value green spaces and seek to join them together
* Consider the paths to be encouraged and the visual flows – as well as people’s safety.
* Rye Lane is often full of rubbish from the shops, other litter, and makes the place look untidy as well as risk the safety of pedestrians: looking at a joined-up townscape should include better provision to manage & contain this
* Communities must take more ownership and responsibility for their area, and work together on shared issues: remove the “us and them” barriers.
* Development and change must be encouraged from within communities, and not just solutions “imposed” upon them
* Local people need to understand the potential of their powers under the Localism Act, including the Right to Build; the Right to Manage; and the Right to Bid.
* Developers need to be encouraged to actively engage with communities affected by their proposals, and to work with then towards a solution so far as is possible
* Young people in particular never seem to be engaged in these discussions about the future of their area, yet they are a key part of that future: does SGTO Youth Forum offer an opportunity here?
OTHER ISSUES CONCERNING PEOPLE LOCALLY
Other matters that people wanted to raise are set out below; they could potentially be issues for future CAN meetings
As hosts for today’s meeting, David explained who SGTO are and what they do; and their significance within the borough given the huge proportion of the population that live in social housing. He was a little dismayed that one TRA represented at the meeting had not heard of SGTO (and will be talking further with them to build links). He also explained how many of the TRAs were now developing the roles they played and increasingly getting younger people involved in what they do. All agreed this was encouraging for helping TRAs to become stronger and more influential in future, especially if they are able to collaborate more and present a unified voice on matters on behalf of tenants, residents and leaseholders.
Growing concerns about the level of pollution in and around the area and especially on the roads that encircle Peckham Town Centre and cut across both Peckham and Nunhead. The potential of an integrated transport policy might help to reduce this, and especially if heavy lorries can be encouraged to only use certain routes.
However, it is going to continue to be a problem with the large number of planned developments in Southwark and the access that such lorries need to have; so better and more considerate road use is a potential big factor for some time to come.
Isolation of people
This is not just an issue affecting older people, but also vulnerable adults and others who require support from the “caring services” (which many felt did not deliver joined-up services focused on people and their needs). Increasing cross-generational work was identified as a possible way of addressing the issue; another was befriending services matching up people with those most isolated.
However, there is not enough information across communities to know who these individuals are and where they get support from now; of the support groups that exist in the community to help coordinate volunteers to help people; or of what might be available to help bring these people into social and other spaces to help break the isolation and help increase the sense of wellbeing.
One to come back to in future it was felt.
One initiative that SGTO have been helping to promote around estates was organic gardening, involving local people in working together cultivating plants for food on appropriate available land.
More information on this would be circulated to those who attended the meeting shortly.
It was good that everyone had time to chat after the session and exchange thoughts, views and ideas. We will try to ensure that future CAN sessions will allow for a further 30 minutes to chat and network afterwards: the feedback from attendees is that they find this invaluable.
If anyone would like more support in getting connected or developing ideas and initiatives please contact a member of our team: firstname.lastname@example.org