An architect received a standing ovation last week as she successfully petitioned the council to enforce planning law to protect Peckham from over-development.
Michelle Male Shaw gave an impassioned deputation to a meeting of Southwark Council’s cabinet on how the unique micro-economy of Peckham needed to be protected from an influx of chain shops and luxury flats which could force out independent traders with sky-rocketing rents.
The Highshore Road resident and a supportive crowd of Peckham residents asked the council to use a piece of planning law called Article 4 to ensure permission would need to be sought from the council before anyone could take over a shop and change its use.
Southwark is already using this legislation to curb the amount of betting shops and fast food outlets in the borough and, thanks to Michelle’s campaign, has now agreed to use the same rule to help protect the whole borough’s shopping parades from an overabundance of estate agents and chain stores.
Cllr Mark Williams, Southwark’s cabinet member for regeneration and new homes, said: “We understand local concerns and want to promote healthy mixed high streets across the borough, including Rye Lane.
“We will use available planning powers to do this, and we will be making an Article 4 direction to help protect all shopping parades in Southwark.
“This will help prevent the proliferation of payday lenders and fast food shops, and also make sure that estates agents and other similar uses are in the appropriate places. This will mean any change of use will have to be applied for and considered by our planning committee,” he said.
Michelle, who started a petition when she found out there were five planning applications in for the area of Rye Lane near where she lives, thanked everyone for their support saying: “Whether it was signing the petition, liking our Facebook page, attending the meetings, spreading the news, listening to us on the radio, Tweeting, or putting our fliers in your shops – the weight of public opinion definitely helped – it all counts so much.”
From now on, developers will need to make an application to the council if they want to change a shop into something else like an estate agent or a takeaway and councillors will make a decision to keep a healthy variety of businesses across shopping areas.
Southwark Council and the News are taking part in a pilot scheme to make planning applications more accessible to local residents. To register and to search, comment and view information on planning applications, as well as get email alerts visit: www.southwark.gov.uk/planningregister You can also view current planning applications on Southwark Maps at http://www.southwark.gov.uk/info/200212/egovernment/1370/southwark_maps or by typing ‘Southwark Maps’ into a search engine.