Wednesday, 27 April 2016

It will be interesting to see what variant of steroided suburb Berkeley are cooking up. I’ll bet it makes no place for industry, nor for most of the rest of the vibrant (and fast growing) existing economic and civic life of Peckham.

Berkeley's proposals for the Old Kent Road area. The exhibitions took place on Wednesday 20 April from 2pm to 8pm at the Unwin and Friary Estate Tenants’ and Residents’ Hall, Frensham Street, Off Peckham Park Road SE15 and Thursday 21 April from 2pm to 8pm at the Links Community Centre, 353 Rotherhithe New Road, SE16 3HF.

Some words from Mark Brearley, owner of Kaymet (tray factory) and Professor of Spatial Planning and Urban Design at London Metropolitan University:

My business, and the neighbouring businesses, just meters away from Berkeley’s land, have not received emails nor leaflets, even though I get the impression that Southwark Council have shared contacts with Berkeley. I guess they don’t count the economy as community.

Regardless of what Berkeley are cooking up, their approach makes a mockery of the planning system, shows their contempt for it, their un-interest in democratic process and civil rights. They are openly sharing their ideas for a residential led development on protected industrial land, running way ahead of the local planning authority’s process to decide on what type of land-use / development scenario will be appropriate for the area in future. That process has so far not even managed to set out issues and options, nor to consult on and engage in a dialogue about them. There have been no opportunities to make comments nor lodge representations about possible changes to planning policy that are likely to have brutal consequences for businesses in the area. Yet we hear rumours that Berkeley want to put in a planning application before Christmas. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Meanwhile the local planning authority are conspicuously failing to embrace an understanding of the economic dynamic of their area. They seem to have no intention of meeting the requirement placed on them by government to ensure that the accommodation needs of the economy in their area are properly planned for. Development rights were expropriated by central government in 1947 (the same year my business started in this part of London) and then they were handed over to local authorities. Southwark Council seems to have forgotten that when expropriated assets were handed to them they came with a responsibility to manage them fairly and without prejudice, indeed that was the very reason why they were expropriated. Now they seem content to disregard the interests of business communities who have little voice and do not get to vote, who are taxed but not represented. The Council seem to think it's fine also to parade the possibility of property expropriation as a way to push through the suburb building plans that they clearly are already wedded to. Businesses have not been kept informed about the process that is ongoing, indeed most (such as mine) have so far received no communication on the matter. Yet the Council state that they will tell us all what their preferred option for the future of the Old Kent Road is in just a few days time! They too should be ashamed of themselves, and their friends in City Hall.

None of this is good.

I urge you all to speak up for a more diverse and accommodating Old Kent Road.



The Godiva chocolate factory, loading on the street alongside Simonis metro station, Koekelberg, in the city of miracle mix, Brussels.

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