peckham-playhouseIt’s been a while since the launch of my alternative future Peckham manifesto/semi-literate rumblings depending on ones perspective, but I have returned with my first “outlandish” idea regarding the future development of Peckham. Drum rolls please! Bated breath and all that: PECKHAM PLAYHOUSE! Yes I believe the various problems in Peckham will be vanquished in one go by the implementing of bourgeois activities such as going to the theatre. Alright not vanquished, probably won’t make a huge difference to social ills come to think of it and theatre is NOT purely a bourgeois pursuit but still I bring THEATRE TO PECKHAM!. I am aware and applaud the work of theatre Peckham located behind the Town Hall and soon to be relocated to the now sadly closed Livesey Museum on the old kent road. This new theatre would be to complement, the mainly youth focused Theatre Peckham. My proposal is to turn Number 3 Rye Lane, the old Jones and Higgins store (the clock tower) into a theatre/concert venue and obligatory café/bar that accompanies such venues. Jones and Higgins established the branch in 1867 and the store closed in 1980. The current building was rebuilt after being damaged in the second world. Since then it’s been a succession of rubbish night clubs, cloths shops and phone card booths. For the music concert venue think of a mini Brixton academy. This to me would be an appropriate use for an iconic building in Peckham. It’s important to introduce viable night time entertainment, thus preventing rye lane becoming a ghost town after dark. This would provide the usual “economic benefits”, jobs and perhaps the rejuvenation of rye lane at night, the more people out at night the safer people will feel (note I said feel, not that they’ll be any more or less safe, which of course is dependent on a number of other factors) I am aware plans for a “Cultural quarter” have been rumbling from some time now :

The cultural quarter
The huge space at Area 10, also known locally as the old Whitten Timber yard, will be redeveloped as an events and entertainment complex, thus completing the transformation of the town square into our cultural quarter.

Area 10
Area 10

If I recall correctly huge plans were drawn up with the obligatory Will Alsop muli-coloured blob images which lost out to Baylight properties’ Hudson Featherstone designed mundane scheme which in turn appears to have been dumped because of the costs of such a large scale scheme.


Hudson Architects’ scheme, which includes bars, cafes and a large venue incorporating performance and workshop spaces, is under consideration by the council, as is another scheme for Peckham Square by the London Bubble Theatre.



Above the Baylight scheme the “preferred developer” for the stalled project.

Above the Alsop designed Urban Catalyst scheme, I suspect it may have resembled something like the Chips scheme in Manchester or a mini Palestra on Blackfriars road in London.

Perhaps I’m wrong and this will go ahead, but I rather suspect it’s been scaled down to the Alsop/Camberwell college of Arts “Peckham Space” and “high lavatory” idea which itself was supposed to have been built by 2005/6 but is due November 2009:

The £340,000 arts project, announced this week, is located directly outside the library and will include a central wall around which art installations and performances can take place, a cafe, bookshop and a tower containing a public lavatory, which offers views of Peckham’s skyline.



I wonder what happened to this design?

In November 2009 Peckham Space will open a new state-of-the-art contemporary art space on Peckham Square, London SE15.

The scheme had to solve some complex issues regarding land ownership, underground services and budget constraints


What, you mean no Alsop Lavatory?

I look forward to when this opens, but we still won’t have a dedicated theatre. My advice to Southwark is, stop your obsession with Peckham square and start using Peckham’s neglected buildings for some of these schemes. If the Clock tower is not available for such a scheme (can’t think why that would be the case) I have two, yes two other possible sites:

Site One

The Civic centre, the long standing library that closed down when Peckham library opened. A Wonderful building, opened in 1966 (Perhaps overshadowed by that world cup malarkey) with the distinctive Adam Kossoski “History of the old Kent road” ceramic tile frieze, depicting scenes from Roman times right up to the 1960s. It is currently used as a church by The Everlasting Arms Ministries. The emphasis of a main theatre would actually be reviving some of it’s former uses as it served as a venue for numerous events since it’s inception.



Site Two

St Mary’s Church near Queens road Peckham, a stunning 1960s building by the architectural practice Potter and Hare. Still a functioning church but has problems with a leaking roof ( it’s a church after all) and under floor heating that’s apparently beyond church funds from the weekly collection to repair, hence why the Church wish to knock it down and start over. I think the parishioners should get a new church – on another site! Thus allowing restoration and reuse, They must be some kind of restoration schemes available for such a project surely?



So who’s with me A THEATRE FOR PECKHAM! I’ve even picked out the French Cafe Chairs that can go in the café/bar area!

cafe chairs



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