The site of the planned electricity sub- station in unit 315 in the new-ish Railton Road shops on Station Square is the scene of much activity.
Currently the floor of the unit is being excavated and, presumably, strong foundations laid. The explanation has always been that the larger vacant shop units – numbers 319-327 Railton Road, as well as the unit under the bridge– cannot be rented out until upgraded electricity power supply is available.
“Finished by early summer”
A notice by The Arch Company on the neighbouring shop unit that has been temporarily commandeered as a site office states that
“we expect the works to be completed by early summer 2021 with new tenants moving in soon afterwards. We’ve had a high level of interest from potential tenants all of whom are small independent operators”.
Of course we all hope that this prediction comes true. The more cynical ones among us might wonder which “small independent operators” would find the funding and the appetite for risk that would justify taking on such retail units at any time, let alone in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. But we must try to stop being so cynical, yes?
Changing shopping habits?
Indeed, it may be that we are at the beginning of the revolution in shopping habits that some commentators have predicted.There’s a theory that people who previously commuted into town for their work will instead be working partly or entirely closer to home, and will therefore need more shops locally rather than in the City or the West End. That could herald a brighter future for retailers and hospitality venues in places like Herne Hill.
Full story with more detailed background in the forthcoming issue of Herne Hill Magazine.
This is a National Grid project, stretching over several years and representing an investment of over £1 billion.
Phase 1 was a seven-year, £1 billion programme, to build 32km of tunnels and two new substations across North London.
Now Phase 2, “London Power Tunnels 2” relates to south London and will see the replacement of existing electricity cables in South London which are coming towards the end of their useful life, the majority of which are buried beneath the road network.
It involves building a new network of cable tunnels, 32.5km in length, between Wimbledon (via Lambeth and Old Kent Road) and Crayford. The local stretch of this long tunnel runs deep under Coldharbour Lane. The Bengeworth Road tunnelling project is designed to connect the substations and other installations on the Bengeworth Road site to this main cross-London tunnel. The operations on the Bengeworth Road site are the responsibility of UK Power Networks, who are infrastructure operators: they own and maintain electricity cables and lines across London, the South East and East of England.
To upgrade the connections between the UK Power Networks installations at Bengeworth and the main National Grid, their contractors need to tunnel down to build a shaft at Bengeworth Road to connect to the main tunnel under Coldharbour Lane. Tunnelling works are due to start in the second half of 2021, and once complete (likely in 2022), a new substation and headhouse (to access the shaft for maintenance purposes) will be installed on the site in 2023 and 2024.
Bengeworth Road is the access route to (and also the name of) a large industrial site occupied by UK Power Networks. It is squeezed between the side of King’s College Hospital , the residential streets east of Cambria Road, and Southwell Street. It borders on the railway line, which separates it from Ruskin Park. See map below.
The residents’ concerns about the impact of this major project include the impact of noise and disruption during the tunnelling and the building of new, taller infrastructures that might permanently dominate their sightlines and deprive them of light. Meetings have been held with residents and attended by our MP Helen Hayes and representatives of Lambeth Council. Consultations are ongoing.
It seems clear that the project cannot be stopped, so the issues are about mitigation.
Planning Permission in the usual way is not required because the project is classified as a Permitted Development – a legal category which seems to have some ambiguous rules and different interpretations. But there may still be ways to challenge certain aspects of the plans, and local planning experts are examining these at the moment. The Loughborough Junction Action Group and the Herne Hill Society are involved in the consultations and the campaign.
All the documents relating to the formal application for Permitted Development can be found on Lambeth’s planning website by keying in reference 20/04417/LDCP or clicking here.
We’ve just heard from one of our Councillors, Becca Thackray, about a new initiative to collect, reclaim or recycle (ha ha) abandoned bikes.
Next week a team will be going out to tag abandoned bikes in the borough. Residents are given two weeks to move the bikes and if they have not been moved, they are collected by the Street Care team. The bikes will then be offered to upCYCLE, who will use them to teach young residents bike maintenance skills. Those that are beyond saving will be taken for recycling.
If we are aware of any abandoned bikes in our ward, we are asked to let the team know by emailing email@example.com with the location and a description by 5pm 2 February and the bikes will be added to the list.
The bikes that have been reported to date can be found on this map.
Lambeth Heritage Festival continues and on Saturday 19 September at 19:00 we can Zoom in for a new talk about Denmark Hill.
Many from London’s well-to-do merchant class began to leave town at the end of the 18th century and make their home in what were then the rural outskirts.
Denmark Hill was an especially favoured location. In this talk and virtual walk, Ian McInnes (Chair of the Dulwich Society) and Laurence Marsh (Fawnbrake neighbour and Vice-chair of the Herne Hill Society) look at the houses, now long gone, that were built on the Lambeth (i.e. north) side of the road – and the varied stories of some of their residents over 150 years.
This Herne Hill Society online-only event is hosted by Lambeth Archives.
The local police, based at Brixton Police Station, are helpfully asking HH residents to complete a simple questionnaire.
This is their request and a link to the short questionnaire:
“I have created a quick online survey/questionnaire to gather feedback from the local community on issues in the Herne Hill area.
“This is separate to the official ward panel but I think would be useful to discuss at the meetings as the plan is to send it out to a wider catchment of people so we can get a better overview of how Herne Hill residents are feeling.
“Therefore, please feel free to pass on the link below to any other residents of Herne Hill – it should take no longer than 5-10 minutes to complete.
The next Local History in Lock-down talk will be this Thursday 18th June at 6.45 p.m. and will be given by Jon Newman.
Before and After Windrush, a history of the Black community in Lambeth, looks at the very different experiences of Lambeth’s two Black communities: the well-documented story of the community that came to live in the borough after the voyage of the Windrush in 1948; and the much less understood history of Black people who were living in Lambeth in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The log-in details for the talk are here, or in full: https://zoom.us/j/91540334790
If required: Meeting ID: 915 4033 4790. Password: 176800
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, people used to go to work on the train, as many readers will have heard. And because they often travelled at the same times each day, trains got unpleasantly crowded. So, inevitably, did some of the stations.
Aspiring City Thameslink passengers at Herne Hill will have felt this pain.
But it was often much worse at Denmark Hill Station. No, it’s not in Herne Hill but for many commuters and other rail travellers wanting to touch down somewhere other than Victoria, or the City, Denmark Hill offered wider options, including the London Overground heading towards Clapham Junction and all points beyond, or north-east to via Peckham to Canada Water, Whitechapel, Shoreditch, Hoxton en route to Highbury & Islington. True, if you lived more towards the Brixton or Tulse Hill side of Herne Hill, it would have been something of a trek, but for those of us close to the Camberwell frontier, a brisk walk alongside or through Ruskin Park would get us there pleasantly. If you’re more central, the 68 bus may be the solution.
More important in some ways, Denmark Hill is a destination for visitors from other points in London and the South-East. Every day, King’s College Hospital draws in thousands of staff members, out-patients and visitors. The simultaneous arrival of several train loads of alighting passengers is the main cause of the congestion.
The station was redesigned and upgraded to ensure accessibility in a programme that concluded in 2013. But contrary to the hopes of many local residents and station users, the redesign left it with only one entrance/exit.
Meanwhile the number of passengers using Denmark Hill went up from 3.7 million in 2011-12 to 5.63 million in 2014-15. Much of this increase was down to the introduction of the London Overground services in December 2013.
This surge in traffic meant that the station was operating in unsafe conditions – because its only ex it, accessed up quite long staircases, could present a lethal bottleneck if the station ever had to be rapidly evacuated. Traffic numbers have grown further – at least before the pandemic. Last year (2018-19) the figures suggest that entries and exits totalled some 6.9 million.
Herne Hill station, by comparison, had 2.9 million entries/exits and we know how unpleasant conditions could be at rush hour. As a benchmark, Clapham Junction was running at 29.5 million – but of course it is vastly bigger station, indeed one of the busiest in Europe, some say.
Pressure grew from local groups for the obvious remedy at Denmark Hill – opening a second entrance/exit on Windsor Walk, the quiet street that leads from Champion Park down past the Phoenix pub then, with a sharp right turn, runs just to the north of the platforms and alongside the station to join Grove Lane.
Various groups including the Herne Hill Society and the Dulwich Society lent their support to the Camberwell Societywhose committee initiated and from 2016 onwards have led a persistent and well-informed campaign, building a positive working relationship with Network Rail and Southwark’s planning team over several years.
It now seems to have been a success. A planning application (No 20/AP/0745, for planning addicts, or link here) has been made to Southwark Council for the construction of a new entrance to Denmark Hill Station on Windsor Walk. Listed Building Consent was granted last month, and the rest of the process seems on track for overall approval.
So if Herne Hillians feels like going to work again on the train, Denmark Hill might in due course be an attractive option. Covid–19 permitting, the new entrance is planned to be open by April 2021. It will have 4 gates plus 2 wide gates and will connect up with the existing modern footbridge. The current one-way system will be dispensed with. Platforms 2,3 and 4 will have extra canopies at the east to encourage people to use that end of the platforms.
New pedestrian access
Separately, Southwark Council has been awarded £1.5m by the GLA’s Good Growth Fund. One slice of this funding will be used to create better pedestrian connections between Denmark Hill station and the hospitals and town centre. Our friends at the Camberwell Society think that the walk route to the hospitals and Camberwell will go through the Maudsley campus. There is going to be a new ward block on Windsor Walk called Douglas Bennet House, just opposite where the new station entrance will be. The plan is for this to have a walk-through route to the Maudsley garden and thence to the main road.