Rumors abound today that two of South East London's most popular nightspots —Rye Lane's Bussey Building and Rye Wax— are set to close as a result of a proposed scheme to build "luxury flats" and retail units in the heart of Peckham.
In a story that's surfaced via FACT this afternoon, it's being alleged that the, "The introduction of residential units will likely prohibit the use of the alley and courtyard in front of Bussey Building and Rye Wax as an entrance and smoking area during clubnights." The news comes a few days after it was announced that Southwark council had rejected plans put forward by the Bold Tendencies group to convert Peckham's multi-story carpark into affordable artist's studios in favour of, yep, you guessed it, more luxury flats.
Given that Peckham, and Rye Lane in particular, has been besieged in recent years by the more obvious signifiers of encroaching gentrification —coffee shops, craft beer bars, cupcakes, tapas joints— it's perhaps not surprising that property developers want to push themselves onto the high street at the expensive of cultural and creatively minded ventures such as Rye Wax and the Bussey Building.
In a statement made to FACT, Tom Steidl of Rye Wax had the following to say:
"This development threatens everyone in the Copeland Park site, but particularly the music venues as the flats will be overlooking the outside areas used for night trade, and we all know what's going to happen there. It's totally ridiculous, the building couldn't be worse positioned for becoming residential. On top of that the whole site will face access issues that will threaten businesses and undermine what everyone has been working towards in the past couple of years. Literally hundreds of jobs in the area could be at risk.
"We need all the help we can get and we're limited on time as notices were not posted to the affected businesses, meaning we are already nearing the end of our complaints window. If you live in the area or just care about London's musical and cultural landscape not being whitewashed, please add yourself to the objections and be as detailed as possible about your feelings."
There's obviously far more to gentrification than the affectations outlined above, but council mandated decisions like these —decisions which incubate, if not outright create, spaces in which individuality and creativity are sidelined in favour of the homogeneity of modern London living— impact upon both the community and the wider world. We all know how precarious London nightlife already is, and now it looks like the problems spreading.
Anyone wishing to make a stand against the possibility of two vibrant, exciting, community minded clubs shutting their doors for the last time can make their voice heard here.