At 10.21 p.m. on 10 October the two central Peckham conservation areas were designated by the Southwark Planning Committee.
I arrived at Tooley Street* for the meeting at 7.30 p.m. and sat in the back of the committee room, working, as the hours dragged on. At 10.15 p.m. a controversial student housing project at the Elephant and Castle was deferred and a huge posse of planning agents, clients and consultants departed from the room leaving me completely alone amongst a sea of chairs.
I was asked up to the front by the chair, Councillor Nick Dolezal. Despite Councillor Nick Stanton awkwardly wondering why the Peckham Conservation Area was not timed to coincide with the Peckham Area Action Plan – which was quickly knocked down by the council officers – there was unanimity in the Planning Committee. All voted and the two proposed conservation areas were passed in a swift five minutes.
Phew! We got there, finally, after eight years of our campaigning, the firm support of English Heritage, and, I think, a final push from inside by Councillor Fiona Colley. What a relief! Now on to the National Lottery (Heritage Fund) Townscape Heritage Initiative Bid (THI) bid for central Peckham – we will be bidding for as much as 1 to 2 Million pounds to fix up some of the key buildings in the town centre..
*The offices at 160 Tooley Street, SE1 are the headquarters of Southwark Council. Southwark Town Hall is in the process of being sold.
As far as the Peckham Society is concerned, the granting of the two new central Peckham conservation areas is something that we have worked toward since 2004. Not only will they prevent inappropriate alterations and demolitions of property but they will encourage businesses and shops to come to central Peckham to improve our commercial centre. We have to thank Benedict O’Looney and our heritage members on our committee and the local ward councillors for making this possible.