Letters to the editor: 23/03/17

(23 March, 2017)

Thanks given to Freedom Pass saviour who returned missing pass to owner in the post, and comments on regeneration in Bermondsey

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Bermondsey’s grotesque over-development

We learned last week that Grosvenor is planning to retain the large brick industrial building that fronts Clements Road in Bermondsey and to build several stories of housing on top of it towards the rear of the building.

Two years ago Grosvenor served residents on Clements Road and Webster Road with a notice removing residents’ rights to light. I’m not sure what the legals are surrounding this are but I think that if we have lived here for 19 years and one day then we have rights to light. If not, and we have not lived here for that period of time, we don’t have those rights. So as far as a judicial review of any planning applications/permissions are concerned, I’m not sure where I stand as a resident.

Bringing high-rise development to the site by Grosvenor will severely impact our quality of life and property values. Any high-rise development would not be in keeping with the historically low-rise nature of the site’s setting and severely affect the neighbourhood.

The historic viaduct that abuts the site and surrounding buildings date is about 150 years old, one of the oldest railway viaducts in the world, certainly in the UK. The structure carries the former London and Greenwich Railway line and consists of 851 semi-circular arches and 27 skew arches or road bridges.

It was built between 1834 and 1836, is London’s first ever railway, is the longest run of arches in the world, and is the earliest example of an entirely elevated railway line. Spa Road Railway Station, which opened in 1836, was the first rail ticketing office to open in London, and also abuts the site.

Part of the land comprises buildings that James Peek and George Hender Frean built for the Clements Road Peek Frean’s biscuit factory in 1866. Grosvenor realises that to demolish these would be a step too far and plans to retain the older buildings as part of its redevelopment plan.

Thus, given the historical setting, you can see why a high-rise modern mixed development is entirely inappropriate for the Biscuit Factory site. South East London has very few historical buildings left, many having been demolished, or bombed out of existence by the Luftwaffe during The Blitz. The area has always been low-rise, and there is nowhere quite like the Bermondsey and Rotherhithe district in terms of historical interest and value.

An open council planning meeting where local residents could come and make clear their thoughts about site took place some two or three years ago. This was in response to an outline planning application from Workspace for the Biscuit Factory site. Workspace said it planned to demolish the large industrial building fronting Clements Road and assured residents there and in Webster Road that the redevelopment would consist of “a row of townhouses a few stories high.” That seems to have been jettisoned for a new high-rise plan put forward by Grosvenor.

I also want to address transport issues. The roads around here are already busy and dangerous enough. There are countless schools in the area and thousands of  schoolchildren are to be seen everywhere either waiting for buses or walking to school; increased traffic to a large, mixed scheme on the biscuit site would thus pose a massive traffic and pollution risk to local youngsters, also a danger.

David Sands, Bermondsey

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Albion Street is a Cinderella Street

The regeneration and revitalisation of Albion Street is a welcomed initiative in what has been a “Cinderella Street”, with reference to Southwark News March 16, 2017 ‘Residents’ anger over high rise plan for school playground.’

As local Ward Councillors we welcome the addition of much needed new school places at Albion Primary School in a state of the art new building. The increased footfall will help support the local businesses and the local economy bringing more visitors to the area.

We also welcome the proposals for building new homes on the former Civic Centre site and the land released by Albion School for housing. We share the concerns of local residents about the level of truly affordable housing and have fought hard to secure new council homes and London Living Rent homes for key workers on the former Civic Centre site. Across both sites there will be 24 new London Living Rent homes and 39 new Council homes.

We will continue to fight the corner of local residents and businesses in Albion Street and look forward to seeing a vibrant high street where people can work and live.

Cllr Stephanie Cryan, Cllr Kath Whittam, Cllr Bill Williams – Labour Councillors for Rotherhithe Ward.

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Living in an open dustbin

All too often when walking around the borough one sees a hot spot of mess created by people inhaling nitrous oxide and just dumping the cylinders on the ground.

Why can’t they tidy up their own waste?

Apart from anything else it focuses attention on their, possibly illegal, inconsiderate activities. I for one don’t want to live in an open dustbin.

Or perhaps I am missing something and it is contemporary art.

Richard Kalmar, Bermondsey

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Freedom pass saviour

Last Friday morning (17 March) I could not find my Freedom Pass and realised I must have lost it while travelling on the No.12 bus

On Saturday morning, as I was about to leave the house to activate the oyster card I bought on Friday, I found in the morning’s post a carefully addressed padded envelope containing my pass, including some documents and cash I had tucked inside, together with a little (unsigned) note, saying it was found on Thursday around 8.15 pm on the 12 bus, only minutes after I got off the bus at Peckham Rye.

I would like to thank this wonderful person very much indeed for such a thoughtful, generous and caring deed. For me a great relief and blessing!

John Hazell, Peckham

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