A huge outpouring of frustration and shock from Peckham residents has met construction work on a much-loved green space, writes Charles Harrison…
The protestor-led Twitter account Peckham Green Save It has shared 183 interviews with local residents who were shocked to walk to the green near Sumner Road, only to find it boarded up ready for development.
The construction work, which started on 9th August, is one in a series of controversial infill projects by Southwark Council, as reported by the News last month.
While the site, located just north of Peckham High Street, is officially named the Flaxyard site, it has become known locally as Peckham Green.
One of the nearly 200 residents interviewed, Pastor Isaac, said in his video: “This is disastrous. I used to have my church right here. Is disheartening that our green space is going, and disappointing that the council is allowing this.
“It’s good to have new homes but not at the detriment of other people.”
"I used to have my church right behind here before. It is good to have a new home but not at the detriment of other people. For the unborn generation this is disastrous." Pastor Isaac.@lb_southwark builds private homes on public parks. pic.twitter.com/iPg5uFNLJV
— Peckham Green Save It ? (@peckham_green) September 11, 2021
Weekly protests against the development have been held on the site since May 2021.
Key to residents’ frustration is the sense that the development was not adequately communicated.
Many of those videoed by Peckham Green Save It stated that they had no idea that there was a development happening right on their front door.
Interviewee Elizabeth said: “It’s disgusting that we’ve not been told what’s going on. We’re always the last to know.”
"I think it's disgusting we've not been told anything what's been going on. And not only that, it's park space, kids play there. Why haven't we been told?" Elizabeth. @lb_southwark has a "moral duty" to build new homes on parks but not to tell locals they're doing it. pic.twitter.com/TYpY3PYgOJ
— Peckham Green Save It ? (@peckham_green) September 10, 2021
While a newsletter from council homes cabinet member Stephanie Cryan does explain the development, it only refers to it as the Flaxyard site – a name many residents are not familiar with.
Residents also expressed frustration that the last consultation on the development was in 2016 – five years before construction would actually take place.
But the council highlight the need to provide affordable housing – and, as reported by the News in July, the site was always intended for development.
Officially, it has been labelled the Flaxyard brownfield site since 1995.
In a newsletter earlier this week, council homes cabinet member Stephanie Cryan said: “There is a very real need for genuinely affordable housing in Peckham, with more than 270 households currently on the council’s waiting list in the Peckham ward.
“We have a moral duty to build more council homes.”
I'm proud we are delivering more council homes in the heart of Peckham and so I'm writing to residents and businesses in the area to set out the facts on Flaxyard. 96 council homes. No private sale flats. See my newsletter below and my thread here: https://t.co/9dZzEuB9Un pic.twitter.com/Mjvl2DfMsG
— Stephanie Cryan (@steviecryan) September 14, 2021
However, many residents have stated that they have always considered the site to be a park, as it has always played that role in the community – and therefore, it should not be built on.
Mr Schaffer said: “The people are so angry.
“Maybe it was labelled as brownfield in 1995 but times have changed.
“We’re in a climate crisis. We’re in a pandemic.
“We value our green spaces more than ever.”
Southwark Council have not yet responded to a request for comment on the interviews.