BY JACK LAWRENCE
Residents fear a town hall “mega office” building will overlook their homes – and say they have not been consulted enough about the office complex.
Furious Peckham families staged a meeting on Sunday, March 11 in Asylum Road to make their anger felt at Southwark council’s plans for Queens Road Day Centre.
They say they will be hemmed in and overshadowed by a 40ft-tall building, just yards from their windows, which will cut most of their natural light during the day and will be lit up at night.
The council intends to demolish the centre to make way for the new building and the residents, from pressure group SOS Peckham, were telling passers-by about the scheme.
The current building, a former day centre for the disabled, is no longer in use and town hall chiefs want the proposed new structure to become offices for staff dealing with the homeless and vulnerable children.
These services are currently located in six buildings across Southwark, many of which the council says are old and dated.
The council have gone through two consultation processes with the public, lasting about a month, and which ended on February 26.
Jeanne Hayes of SOS Peckham said: “There will be issues of noise from large, air source pumps on the roof and huge problems of overshadowing and enclosure of surrounding homes.
“This office intends to operate seven-days-a-week and late at night, so light pollution is also an issue. There are already parents worried sick about privacy as their children’s bedrooms will be overlooked.”
Resident Dermot Hayes said: “The council ousted the users of the Day Care Centre for people with severe learning disabilities that has been here for more than 30 years.
“They plan to tear it down and put in its place a badly-designed, towering mega office which will house six council departments.
“This will mean 600 staff and more than 1,000 service users a week coming into an already overcrowded area.”
Another resident, Becky Tear, said: “The local station, Queens Road Peckham, is already
dangerously overcrowded. It has one narrow platform and one staircase less than 2m wide, and one lift that is often not working, yet our councillors don’t seem to think this is a problem. There have already been several incidents of people being jostled and nearly falling onto the rails. I myself have had to grab a woman’s arm to stop her falling.
“With 600 extra staff coming in the opposite direction to get to work, it will get even more dangerous and is an accident waiting to happen.”
Councillor Fiona Colley, cabinet member for finance, modernisation and performance: “Our homelessness service and services for vulnerable children are currently located in six different buildings across the borough, many of which are old and dated. The new office at Queens Road would be an opportunity to provide much better accommodation for these vital front-line services in a well connected town centre location. The new office will reduce costs and free up sites for important uses like new council homes.
“Our plans for the new building have been discussed publicly for some time. In January we wrote to 1,625 residents who live within a 250m radius of the Queens Road site, asking for their views on our plans.
“We held a consultation meeting for residents in the direct vicinity and invited anyone with an interest to a public exhibition, and wrote to local stakeholders and community groups who have previously expressed an interest in planning locally. We also published all the consultation materials on our website for anyone who couldn’t make it along to the exhibition.
“We are now consulting on a second phase of plans. This is all before we submit a planning application, which local people will also be able to comment on.
“We know some local residents have some concerns regarding the new building overlooking their gardens and we have taken their views into account, revising the scheme to reduce the impact. We are listening to residents and continuing to work on the design.
“With regards to any impact on public transport, people coming to and from the new building in rush hour will generally be travelling against the main flow and so we do not anticipate this being an issue.
“Transport impact will be carefully considered at the planning application stage, but we believe our plans are in line with the Mayor’s strategy to maximise developments around transport hubs, and the council’s commitment to reduce car use and the pollution it creates.”
The council says they are reviewing comments received from the public and will be making amendments to the proposed design.
Further feedback sessions will be held after Easter in order to show the public the revised proposals. Anyone looking to support SOS Peckham can go to www.facebook.com/SOSPeckham or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Further details of the office complex plan are on www.southwark.gov.uk/qrconsultation
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