28 October 2009

Peckham Rye Station Developments

Attended the Rye Lane and Station Action Group (RLSAG) meeting this evening looking into the development of Peckham Rye Station and Peckham Town Centre. Rye Lane and the surrounding area isn't in Peckham Rye ward but it is an obvious 'high street' area for many of us who live locally.

The meeting started by looking into the potential for the station building. itself. This bore in mind that the station is listed and is of huge historic and architectural merit, that it needs to be made accessible and that there are some really exciting spaces within the building such as the Billiard Hall/Waiting Room that could be used by the community and which have also been subject to some restoration thanks to the Peckham Society, the Cleaner, Greener and Safer Neighbourhood Fund and other local residents.

Southern Rail gave an interesting presentation of the feasibility work they have done to make the station more accessible. They seemed sympathetic to the idea that the local community would like to do a lot more than just install a lift or two and that this is an opportunity to help bring the station building back to its former glory. However, realistically, it doesn't really seem that the money to do much of the possible work is available at the moment and we were left a bit unclear about how we might make things happen. Small amounts of money from the Community Council every now and again cannot deliver the work that is needed. In the meantime plans that might culminate in a cafe or restaurant in the Billiard Hall might be a long way away.

There were then a couple of presentations from Southwark's Planning team. This covered the area surrounding the station - central Rye Lane and the area between Rye Lane and Copeland Road. These were even more frustrating as we seem to have been presented with some wonderful ideas for creating, for example, a square in front of the station but without any real political will or economic resources to make this happen. I'm torn between accepting that we do need a big and well thought-out regeneration strategy for Peckham, yet feel that perhaps if we concentrated on smaller schemes or if the council would just firmly commit to use those buildings it does own for the benefit the community we would at least start to see improvements.

Again it seems like the Lib Dems running the council fail to get their property people talking to their community people! That Cllr Paul Noblet, the Executive Member for Regeneration, was invited to the meeting some time ago but didn't attend just seems to show that the council's priorities lie elsewhere and not in really delivering for people who live in and around Peckham.

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