Peckham Festival: Peckham Vision Takes Up Shop at the Festival
As a resident in Peckham, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed as you witness the super-fast pace that things seem to be changing. Obviously, lots of it is very exciting; there are new independent eating spaces opening on a weekly basis and no shortage of arts and music events aimed at everyone in the community. That said, it begs the question, where is Peckham going and is it in a direction that’s best for everyone?
It can be easy to forget that Peckham might look very different in 2017 if not for the hard work of several long-standing community groups and faithful locals. One such local, Eileen Conn who runs Peckham Vision, local community group that has played a pivotal role in the development of Peckham; in particular the ongoing campaign to stop the demolition of the popular PeckhamPlex and Multi-Storey Car Park.
Alongside Corinne Turner and many volunteers passionate about their community, Peckham Vision has ensured that the voices of all local people are heard. I discovered when I spoke to Eileen just how easy it is to get involved and make a difference in your area and how you can become a part of Peckham’s rich heritage of community developers.
Can you tell us a bit about Peckham Vision?
Peckham Vision is a small local group, which has over 15 years taken an active close interest in planning, regeneration and related matters in Peckham town centre. We have developed an extensive communications system to about 12,000 locals within 2-3 miles of Peckham town centre through email, social media, local events and our community shop open two afternoons a week: Saturdays 2-5pm and Tuesdays 2-4pm, in Holdrons Arcade, 135A Rye Lane.
What would you like to say to people considering coming along to the Peckham Vision events during the festival?
This is a great opportunity to learn a bit about what has changed in Peckham Town centre over the last few years and the community role in that, and what we can see coming. It is the first time our studio in the Bussey Building has been open to visitors and it is open all three days of the Festival. We are exhibiting materials from the archives as well as current material to tell the story. And we have some possibly unexpected exhibits!
What are some of the strongest features of Peckham as an area and community, in your opinion?
The energetic colourful trading commercial centre with links to places all over the world, the numerous buses and train services linking us to all over London, being part of a lively human community and the open green spaces at Peckham Rye, Goose Green and the linear park to Burgess Park.
What are the biggest challenges facing Peckham in terms of development over the next 5 years?
These challenges include:The very large increase there will be in the numbers of residents close to the town centre and the extra demands on all local services and spaces, the disregard for the nature and character of Peckham Town Centre by developers, rises in prices for housing and workspaces taking them out of the range for most people. Of course this links in with the stresses and strains for us all arising from these challenges, and how we relate to each other sharing the same neighbourhood.
Is there anything residents can do to help with these challenges?
Yes! Become part of the local community fabric – get to know some neighbours personally. Also, look at local notice boards to find out what is going on and join in with something. Be prepared to ‘look up in Peckham’ and get to know the long history of the buildings we have inherited. And of course, join our volunteers and help us to keep going!
On a personal note, it can often feel overwhelming as new developments spring up everywhere and many can feel quite helpless, but there must be practical ways everyday residents can help?
Make email and social media links with your neighbours so you can all share information quickly and link directly with ones who are not digitally connected. Planning developments often take a long time to emerge so getting involved early is the best way to influence what happens. Come and talk to us at the Festival and after the Festival in our shop on every Saturday afternoon 2 – 5pm and Tuesday 2 – 4pm on how to do that.