In the latest example of property developers proving themselves the worst people to ever slither over the face of the planet, a new residential development threatens to destroy Peckham's Bussey Building, CLF Art Café and Rye Wax.
These beloved, banging and, most importantly, successful venues are all under threat from proposed luxury flats that will be a stuck directly on top of the entrance to the area. The flats would not only restrict access to the clubs, but would make noise complaints inevitable, essentially making it impossible for the venues to continue doing what they do so well, namely: putting on boss artists and events in genuinely independent spaces.
While we've all become inured to clubs closing down to make way for the type of penthouses Patrick Bateman would feel at home decapitating people in, it's worth pointing out that it isn't just the clubs at risk here. There are independent shops, churches and community spaces that would all be affected by these plans. It genuinely stands to reason that hundreds of people will be put out of work if these plans go ahead.
Perversely, these are the exact types of people the current Conservative government claims to be in support of, and the exact types of business that make a place desirable to live in—but perhaps trying to object to these plans by appealing to fairness and reason is futile. After all, those behind the scheme haven't exactly played by the rules. The business owners whose livelihoods are threatened by the development were initially made aware of the proposals mere weeks before the deadline. Since then, an outpouring of local opposition has forced the developers to "pause" the plans, but you can bet they won't be paused for long.
As a repentant former property journalist I can tell you this: no amount of petitions or protests will halt the march of gentrification as detailed in these proposals. But we have to try anyway, so in the spirit of King Canute, here are some of the people who make the area so great sharing their thoughts on why these flats shouldn't go ahead:
"Every time I do shows in London I always find time to visit Rye Wax, it's one of best places I've played in a while. I even went back after my gig to visit Rye Wax and performed again, and it was all ladies in the shop. I DJ'd for all ladies, now that's being the Lover! I hope these flats don't get developed, because that would be the end of my most fond memories."
"This is yet another example of London planners blindly prioritising commerce over culture. This city has become almost totally devoid of interesting, unique spaces that are community focused and culturally creative. This obsessive drive towards homogeneity is turning the city into a shell of its former self. I think if these types of policies continue to be pursued you can forget about London being a significant source of leading arts and culture over the coming decades."
"I've had a few really good nights in that building, it's a shame that it's being threatened in this way. It feels so un-London - it's friendly, simple, uncomplicated. It has its own soul and character. It sounds weird, right? I've played for a few different parties and in a few different rooms there but it always feels exactly the same and in a good way."
"What's mad for me is the rate of change. East London had fifteen years of chaos and fun before it got to the way it is today. Peckham hasn't even had a chance to go through any of that. I really respect what Tom [Steidl] has done with Rye Wax, it takes a lot to take a risk and be successful. And yet Rye's success may still not be enough to save it from gentrification. Ultimately, though, this isn't just about Rye Wax or Bussey– this is about the whole fabric of life around this area."
Rushmore, House of Trax
"In such a short space of time Rye Wax has provided a much needed hub to London's music scene on various levels and for all types of people involved with music. For this to be potentially taken away from us is just another blow in this on-going stream of lack of support from councils and authorities that do not recognise the importance of such places to our city and country's culture"
"There's a diverse range of businesses that will be affected by the proposed development so this particular case is about more than music, for sure. It affects a wide cross section of people in Peckham. On a personal level, the Bussey Building was one of the first venues I played in London, and Tom from Rye Wax was the first person to ever book me, back in 2006. The shop had a great variety of music, and the venues are enjoyed by thousands of people each weekend. So I'm against the current proposals to redevelop 133 Rye Lane into apartments and shops."
Nick Craddock, Gateway to Zen
"As a promoter, it's really important to have access to spaces like Bussey and Rye Wax, where the overheads aren't massive and they're generally just very supportive - it really opens things up to newer promoters or people who just want to throw one off events. There are precious few places like this in London and it would be a real shame if Rye Wax closed."
Chris Watson (Rye Wax Employee and One Half of FYI Chris)
"Rye Wax, when the vibe is right, is one of the best rooms to play to in the country, I fully believe that. The capacity and where it's situated mean it's usually only real music appreciators in the crowd."