Peckham’s history and heritage

The websites of both the Peckham Society and Peckham Vision are treasure troves of information about Peckham’s built heritage. For example, Peckham Society History pages contain research and articles on themes such as Peckham in 1878, Peckham Rye park and Peckham theatres.

Peckham Vision’s website also has also has an Historic Peckham area which has a collection of photos and film clips of the town centre. You can also access there pdfs of the information boards prepared by the Peckham Society and Peckham Vision when they were lobbying for the Rye Lane Peckham Conservation Area.

In addition there is a section showing the images created by Peckham Vision to highlight the Art Deco quarter which includes a number of landmark buildings within central Rye Lane in Peckham town centre.

Both organisations have given their permission for their websites to be referenced in these pages.

Rye Lane Peckham Conservation Area

For several decades the Peckham Society played an important role in highlighting the heritage value of individual buildings within Peckham. Eventually their work led to English Heritage (now the part called ‘Historic England’) undertaking an extensive Historical Area Assessment of Central Peckham, 2009 [pdf 7Mb].

In more recent years Peckham Vision has built on this work to raise awareness of how these historic buildings have played, and continue to play, a pivotal role in shaping the town centre. Peckham Vision worked closely with Southwark Council’s Design and Conservation Team to prepare the bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for the Townscape Heritage Initiative grant.

A further stage in the funding application was the adoption in November 2011 of the Rye Lane Peckham Conservation Area Appraisal [pdf 2Mb]. In April 2014 the Conservation Area Management Plan was approved. Here is the map showing the area in the town centre covered by the conservation area. There are adjacent conservation areas, to the east – and to the west.

The designation of a conservation area means the local planning authority recognises that the area is one of ‘special architectural or historic interest, the character of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance’.

The UK’s planning system requires planning permission to be sought for a range of works to homes and business premises. Where the property is in a conservation area there are additional situations where formal permission has to be granted.

All planning applications have to be made through national Planning Portal

– Applications are considered and decided by local planning authorities. For properties in Peckham this means Southwark Council. The Planning Portal has interactive images of homes and shops to help people identify what work needs planning permission as well as a list of common projects

– Southwark Council provide information about planning permission for business including shop-fronts and security shutters.

– Southwark Council provide information about permissions required by domestic properties in conservation areas.

Shop front design

The design of shopfronts within a town centre can make a significant impact on how a retail area is experienced by people who live and shop there. Shop-fronts include a number of elements:

– shop sign or ‘advert’ (as it’s known in planning terms);
– lighting above the sign;
– the arrangement of doors and windows;
– the materials used – timber, or powder coated resin; and
– security shutters.

For shop-fronts in older buildings there is widely accepted good-practice about what features of the building should be retained, repaired and restored. But’s it’s not about ‘one-size-fits-all’, it’s about understanding the age and architectural style of each building and using appropriate proportions and materials.

Southwark Council Planning Policy team will be drafting planning guidance about what is regarded as best practice in shop-front design for both contemporary and traditional properties in the spring 2017. It will be widely consulted on amongst both businesses and residents and if approved by councillors will be referred to as a material consideration in determining planning applications.

Maintaining heritage properties

The majority of the buildings with the Rye Lane Peckham Conservation Area pre-date 1919. It’s important for owners and lessees to understand how to maintain their properties to avoid long-term disrepair.

SPAB, the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, provide a technical advice line for one-to-one advice, and have produced a range of question and answer sheets on technical matters:

– Inappropriate cement renders;
– metal windows;
– repointing;
– lime wash; and
– rain penetration.

The Institute of Historic Building Conservation have online guidance called Caring for your home – a stitch in time, a step-by–step guide to looking building maintenance.