‘It’s going to end up looking like Shoreditch’: Peckham locals criticise plans for redevelopment

By Robert Firth, Local Democracy Reporter

Locals have hit back at plans to remove Peckham Arch, accusing the council of wanting to turn the area into Croydon.

Southwark council wants to redevelop Peckham Square, which may result in the 28-year-old arch being bulldozed.

The local authority has previously claimed up to 80 per cent of residents want the arch removed to make the area feel safer.

They said the arch is a “gateway” to the area and feared Peckham would lose its character if the structure was removed.

Joyce Lyne, who runs Ghana-inspired clothing boutique Tess Couture out of the arch, said the structure made the area unique.

The 34-year-old said: “I’m in favour of it being kept – it’s a gateway to Peckham. I don’t think there’s anywhere like it in South London. If you get rid of it you’re taking away something that makes Peckham unique. It’s going to end up looking like Shoreditch or Croydon.”

Grandad Dirk Larsen, who had come to enjoy the square with his granddaughter, said the arch was the best thing the area had to offer.

Grandad Dirk Larsen on his bike in front of Peckham Arch Picture: Robert Firth

The 71-year-old said: “I think it’s the nicest bit of Peckham. I think it’s a great shame they want to remove it. I like the arch – it creates a centre in Peckham. My granddaughter loves it.

“They’ve got this great place by chance – a centre where everyone can come to. The arch puts all the area in quotes. Otherwise it’s all a jumble of different elements. The only thing I think they’re missing is a bandstand and I think they could have had more stalls under the arch.”

In October 2021, Spheron Architects, the firm charged with redeveloping Peckham Square, released a concept design of the area without the arch.

Previous plans to demolish the arch and build flats on the square by Carl Turner architects were dropped after local opposition.

Ms Lyne said she feared removing the arch would accelerate the gentrification of the area.

She added: “When they do this they will put us out of business. Where do our customers go then? We are getting more customers coming from elsewhere in London because they can’t get the things we sell in Brixton or Dalston anymore. Peckham is one of the last standing culturally diverse parts of London.”

Councillor Helen Dennis said: “We commissioned architects to undertake an initial design study to reimagine the future of Peckham Square based on the views of local people and businesses. This has now been completed and we are reviewing the key issues raised and prioritising work that needs to be done.

“As a result of the study, we are now planning a phased approach to the square. A design team will now be appointed to develop detailed designs for phase one, which includes improvements to the square in the south east corner and the full restoration and extension of 91-93 Peckham High Street, part of a Georgian terrace within a conservation area setting.”

Pictured top: Peckham Arch seen from Peckham High Street (Picture: Robert Firth)




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