Regeneration in London takes many forms, but in Peckham it is people power that is helping to shape the future.
In 10 years, what was a working-class stronghold has become a mecca for young hipsters — and an unlikely alliance of long-term locals and new arrivals is making sure the area’s vibrant character isn’t swept away by wildfire development.
Whether it is saving a beloved local venue or reopening a long lost gem, putting wasteland to good use, or making sure that housebuilders do things right, the regeneration and undoubted gentrification of Peckham isn’t simply being bulldozed through.
“Gentrification is something which happens to a place,” explains Kirsty Austin, one of the campaigners working with Southwark council and a string of landowners to create a linear park running through the heart of Peckham.
“Our project ensures that local people are involved as an area improves, or it can be a very alienating process. In 20 years’ time I want people who live in Peckham to feel they’ve had a voice in how it has changed. We’re very pro-development; we are trying to create a dialogue.”
The seminal example of how Peckhamites make their feelings known is Peckham Levels, an arts centre operating from a multi-storey car park. In 2017 Southwark council suggested redeveloping the site and the adjacent PeckhamPlex cinema.
Locals, however, were not prepared to lose their iconic cinema with its £5 seats, or forgo a summer evening at Frank’s Café, the bar on the top floor of the Levels.
They deluged Southwark with objections, raised petitions, designed campaign T-shirts and tweeted their outrage. By the end of 2017 the council agreed to drop the idea and extend the leases of the businesses operating from the site.
Of course locals aren’t blocking all change. Last month the first of 279 homes at the area’s largest new housing scheme, Peckham Place, in Queens Road, went on sale… click link below to read full article.
Source: Evening Standard