A couple of stories from the South London Press

First story concerns the latest developments on the Mary Datchelor… er, development. And the news is: the developers and the Camberwell Working Party still can’t come to an agreement. The CWP say:

It’s in a conservation area and a development should play particular attention to the special characteristics of the site.

We feel it fails to respond to the challenges of the area. It’s a classic case of overdevelopment.

St George (the developer, not the saint) say:

We suggest this is a development which should be commended. This site is very suitable for such a development.

Actress Jenny Agutter says:

I would welcome the idea of a development and wish they would find a good architect to create an interesting and habitable building for the people who would move in there.

The second story is a little confusing as it seems to be missing some opening paragraphs. But it seems to concern the removal of community representatives from a Together Action Zone. I’m a little hazy on this issue but I did find this PDF from Southwark Council which says that the TAZ was supposed to be a joint council-community-police initiative to combat anti-social behaviour. Now it will just be a council-police initiative.

Councillor Ian Wingfield — who was in the TAZ as a community member, not a councillor, which confused me at first, said:

The whole thrust was meant to be more community involvement.

It’s a total slap in the face for residents and councillors.

This TAZ has brought the community together and we’ve seen real achievement getting to grips with street drinking.

Author: Peter

Long-time resident of Camberwell, author of this blog since July 2004.

14 thoughts on “A couple of stories from the South London Press”

  1. St George developments elsewhere have seen communities around them regenerate quite nicely. Look at Vauxhall down the road. I’m slowly coming ’round to the idea that regeneration without gentrification isn’t possible.

    Anyone out there able to tell me why the development in Camberwell would be a negative? I’m frankly thrilled to hear a major developer of upscale housing is interested given the general tones of headlines for the area.

  2. Tommy: as I understand it, there’s no opposition to the idea of a redevelopment in general, just that the plans submitted by St George try to cram too many apartments into the space, don’t preserve enough green space and just aren’t that attractive.

  3. St George are well known as the most rapacious developer in London, and their proposals for the MD site are completely in character: too big, too many flats, not enough affordable housing, demolishing an historic building, building over the gardens, etc, etc. Camberwell desperately needs the MD site to be developed, but not so desperately it would settle for such a poor scheme in its only Conservation Area.

    The St George site at Vauxhall is widely held as an example of how NOT to regenerate, ie, pile thousands of flats onto one site and sell most of them to overseas investors who then flood the local rental market. The upshot is the sort of soulless executive ghetto that you can see at most St George schemes.

    As you can tell I feel quite strongly about this. Big up Jenny Agutter!

  4. Fair enough — they did that in Vauxhall by changing the plans continuously throughout the phases and going back to the council with more and more units to squeeze into the development. However, one bargaining chip is often the requirement that they invest in improvements for the local area — so perhaps invest in improving local parks or god forbid, the leisure centre.

  5. Yes, the latest I heard with the Vauxhall site was that St George had applied to change the hotel block into flats as well. How predictable.

    On the MD site I think they are saying that the retention of the tennis courts is their big contribution to the community, so it’s unlikely there’d be anything else on offer, particularly if they are forced to reduce the size of the scheme.

  6. You are right re: St George — and this isn’t the first time they’ve switched and added more units.

    However, it does to me highlight the bigger question: can you truly have regeneration without gentrification? I know most on this website want to see Camberwell regenerate, but aren’t keen to see it gentrify. I’m increasingly wondering if one can happen without the other.

    A lot of chat here concerns bars and restaurants and the failure to have more choice of good places to go that can sustain a good business. If St George and others like them attract more consumer demand, that is one answer.

    I would hate to see Camberwell lose its diverse edge and wouldn’t want it to become Fulham, but can it really see positive change without gentrification?

  7. Tommy — interesting point — i’m not sure you can have one without a bit of the other. It is a particuarly interesting deabte at the moment — i think the planned tube will only exacerbate the situation — although Transport is bad in camberwell and a tube would bring much needed business it will also force up houseprices and bring in those househunters who are too scared or middle class to use the buses. Lets not forget that the reason a lot of people live in camberwell is preceisely because the lack of tube makes it an affordable place to live.

    On a compeltlely different point — is the planned meet up/drink for Sunday 7th still on? I think we seem to have a lot to debate!!

  8. And now another stumbling block for the long awaited Cross-River tram, which could be a huge step forward for transport (from South London News)

    A DIRE need for better transport in South London could be filled by the £455million Cross River Tram to Peckham and Brixton.

    But a hulking tram depot could sweep aside churches, businesses and new housing to blight the centre of Peckham. PAUL RHYS talks to people on an estate which would neighbour the depot and reports on the state of the plans.

    Retired school dinner lady Dorothy Payne says life used to be different on the Atwell Estate in Peckham.

    When she moved there 32 years ago, she and husband Tony, 68, were a stone’s throw from Peckham Rye, a bustling street still clinging to its former glories.

    In the 19th century, it was one of the top shopping destinations south of the river, and even in the 1970s boasted a range of top stores.

    Dorothy, 69, of Birch Close, says she has seen a steady decline ever since.

    Shops selling “mobile phones and yams” are of no interest to her, and the choking traffic — added to by the bus garage close by — has made her feel “besieged” on her estate.

    She loves the idea of being whisked away on a tram, but not with the payoff of having a giant depot built next to her home.

    She said: “When I moved here we had C&A and a Marks & Spencer. Now when you go down Rye Lane it’s a dis-grace — it stinks.

    “All you have is mobile phones and yams. There’s nowhere I could go if I wanted a nice coat. Now they want to plonk this depot there too.

    “I’m not against the tram, it would be nice to go out. But not the depot, not here.”

    Daughter Maxine Robb, 41, has lived with engineer husband Robert, 42, in Almond Close for 16 years, raising their two kids.

    She said: “The depot would be right opposite me. I’ll never be able to sell my house.

    “With all the noise it’ll be hell, 247.” Residents of Atwell, consisting of about 100 homes opposite the site on Bournemouth Road, last week challenged candidates in The Lane ward to say whether they supported the depot ahead of the local elections on Thursday.

    And on Friday the candidates unanimously responded that they wanted the tram, but with the depot placed elsewhere.

    The proposals had already hit one stumbling block, when an inspector from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister said in March that “misinformation” was at the heart of planning for the five-acre Copeland Industrial Park site, between Bournemouth Road and Peckham Rye.

    The land had been described as “derelict and vacant” in Southwark council’s long-term planning document, the Unitary Development Plan.

    But he said that description was “amazing” after witnessing the six African churches, 60 artists and several businesses who would be moved on if the depot went ahead.

    It is thought that as many as 500 jobs could be lost, and 40 flats being built by Wandle Housing Association might have to be torn down.

    Eileen Conn, 64, of Bellenden Residents’ Group, has campaigned for improvements in Peckham for 30 years and has organised a petition against the depot.

    She said: “We urge all the new councillors to ensure a proper examination is done of the available sites.

    “The inspector’s report showed that hasn’t been done.”

    Transport for London (TfL) is looking at the inspector’s report with the council to find a way forward.

    It is due to undertake consultation on the tram in the autumn.

    June Bradbury, 49, of Copeland Road, who wrote the letter to the candidates, said residents were not just concerned for themselves.

    She added: “The depot is not appropriate to a residential area, but this isn’t about, ‘not in my back yard’.

    “This would destroy Peckham. I’m very keen on the tram but the depot will mean people won’t want to live here.”

    London Mayor Ken Livingstone backs the Peckham depot after rejecting the option to build it north of the river in King’s Cross.

    Southwark regeneration officer Chris Horn said he thought the depot would create jobs.

    He added: “Any major transport centre in London will attract investment. This is a London-wide proposal that will affect hundreds of thousands of people.

    “They looked thoroughly at having the depot at King’s Cross but it wasn’t possible.

    “I can understand people in Bournemouth Road being worried about looking at a blank wall but there’s no reason it couldn’t be lined with business space.

    “If the prize is to get the tram running in and out of Peckham, it can only be a good thing.”

  9. I’m not surprised that residents in Peckham are wary of the depot — it’s not as if Southwark Council has an illustrious track record to be proud of concerning the regeneration of Elephant/Camberwell/Peckham/Walworth over the last 40 years — In fact the biggest crime they committed in my opinion was filling in the Surrey Canal in the early 70’s — surely, today this would of been the saving grace of an area that still remains underprivaliged to this very day…

  10. Southwark Council have always allowed property developers and their dubious architecture departments to brutalise the south london landscape for their own personal profit — you can tell by the number of single stand alone wildly different designs of social housing — It’s no real surprise that the best social housing are still the brick built LCC Buildings that were built from the 1920’s up until the mid 50’s — after which the Tories wanted housing built for profit and not social idealism…

  11. Slightly off topic — the petrol station at the top of Camberwell New Road has now been totally dismantled. Anybody heard anything about what might be going on there? I know the petrol station that was lower down the road, adjoining Medlar St, was turned into blocks of apartments, so maybe the same thing is planned?

    AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON is on TV on Saturday night is you fancy a butcher’s at Jenny in her prime.

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