Community engagement event hosted by the Scylla Road Community Steering Group in Nunhead Green, April 2022.
Scylla Road, Nunhead & Peckham, Southwark
Status: Agreement on site
Size: 12 homes (1, 2, 3 and 4-bedrooms)
On a neglected garage site we have developed a low energy design for 12 new homes between Nunhead Green and Peckham Rye on Scylla Road. After a long campaign by local people through Peckham Citizens, the Community Steering Group have worked hard to lead a design process in collaboration with architects at RCKa and have put together plans for a development that will foster community cohesion through a community garden, green pedestrian path and other creative amenities for residents and local people to enjoy.
Find more information about the designs for this project in our latest Annual Report.
In August 2022, despite political support and commitments over many years, London Borough of Southwark told us they no longer want to transfer the land for community-led housing. The Community Steering Group have written to the council leader and met with local Councillors and the Deputy Mayor for Housing requesting a review of this decision. We will keep the pressure on in 2023 and are working to make sure the project can continue after years of local people's hard work campaigning and leading a community-led design process. If you would like to get involved here, please get in touch via email: email@example.com.
Peckham Citizens Founding Assembly, March 2016.
This project started as a campaign back in 2016 and has been led by local people through a Community Steering Group ever since. It traces its origins back to 2015 when Peckham Citizens launched their 1,000 voices campaign, inviting the people of Peckham to discuss what they viewed as the key issues affecting their area. In March 2016, Peckham Citizens Founding Assembly took place with over 330 local people, and its campaign for CLT homes was launched. Since the official formation of the Community Steering Group, they have met over 50 times to discuss and work towards developing CLT homes in Southwark.
Years of local advocates canvassing support in the neighbourhood and lobbying with Southwark Council led to an in-principle offer of a piece of land from Southwark Council, a neglected garage site on Scylla Road that local people hoped to turn into a safer area for their neighbourhood with a pedestrian path and green space.
Community Steering Group site visit to Scylla Road, May 2022.
Community-led Design Process
We finished 2020 and started 2021 tentatively. While we had the exciting news of an in-principle offer of land from Southwark Council, we were in the middle of the pandemic and were not sure how to make this news public without being able to knock on our neighbours’ doors and speak with them face to face. We wanted to make sure the message about our site was a positive, community-owned one, that included anyone who wanted to be involved, and didn’t spark any negative reactions. How did we overcome this challenge? The short answer is we didn’t. We waited. And a small, core team continued to meet on Zoom in the meantime. This is important as it highlights the less glamorous, but essential work that those most committed members do. There are moments in the process of getting a CLT delivered that are a grind. This grind makes possible the moments of magic that we all enjoy so much.
As lockdown eased, our patience paid off. We went public about the site, with many friends and neighbours in support. Our steering group has since met regularly with the design team about the plans for the site and we have held our first big public engagement event in March 2022 to discuss our ideas with the wider community. We had over 50 people attend from all walks of life who managed to input into the design and ideas for the site, with some signing up to become new steering group members! Then, in July 2022, we had a second public engagement event where about 70 local community members had chance to give their feedback on revised plans.
Left: Community Steering Group meeting at Salvation Army in Nunhead Green, August 2021. Right: Community engagement event hosted by the Community Steering Group in Nunhead Green, July 2022.
After a successful planning pre-application meeting, the project was targeted for a planning submission in 2022. However, in August 2022, London Borough of Southwark told us they no longer want to transfer the land for community-led housing. This came as a disappointing shock to the Community Steering Group, which has been volunteering their time and energy for years to campaign, advocate and create this project, not to mention that valuable resources and funding has potentially been wasted if the project will not move forward. The Community Steering Group have written to the council leader and met with local Councillors and the Deputy Mayor for Housing requesting a review of this decision. In November 2022, the Community Steering Group had a Deputation at the Southwark Council Assembly Meeting to present about the project and garner support from local Councillors.
"We have families who don't meet the criteria for local social housing and are priced out of private rental, families where a parent is a professional nurse who can't afford to live locally, where would they find housing?" - Cynthia Morris, Scylla Road Community Steering Group
Cynthia, Calum Green and Polis Pantelidis shared the importance of this project and its history with the Council Assembly, and 15 other Community Steering Group members joined to cheer them on. We got a commitment from Councillor and Deputy Mayor for Housing Darren Merrill to meet and join us on a site visit to Citizens House to show him the potential of community-led affordable housing projects in the neighbouring borough of Lewisham.
We will keep the pressure on in 2023 and hope the project can continue after years of local people's hard work campaigning and leading a community-led design process.
"The community-led design process was really eye-opening. We had huge levels of engagement from the local community. The steering group went out of their way to engage members of the public and local residents to ensure that opinions were as inclusive and widely sought as possible... The recent decision from the council to halt supporting the project was truly astounding... the steering group had been engaging with the council officers but had received no indication whatsoever that there was an issue until this very last meeting. Truly unacceptable behaviour from a local body... We tick all the boxes for local involvement, truly affordable housing and diverse opinions and yet the council can see fit to disregard all of our efforts over the years." - Nicholas Kitson, Scylla Road Community Steering Group
"It was a pleasure working with the team on the community design process, we particularly enjoyed the site visits and talking through the technicalities. When it’s on paper it can go over your head but being on the land itself and talking through was helpful. The public engagement events were also fun and being there to explain things to people passing through Nunhead Green was good... More recently, the council has been very disrespectful, taking us for granted and wasting our time. I feel very used after all the hours I have put in." - Winnie Obese-Bempong, Scylla Road Community Steering Group
Cynthia, Calum and Polis from the Community Steering Group speaking at a Southwark Council Assembly Meeting, November 2022.