Cars parked on the pavement, music and dancing until way past midnight, and illegal use of former industrial spaces. Not a rave, but the churches that have taken over the print works on Southwell Road. Residents are understandably angry with worshippers but the real problem is that Lambeth Council is not enforcing its own planning policy.
The precedence for the establishment of ‘Places of Worship’ in former industrial spaces in Loughbourough Junction was established a long time ago when Lambeth council effectively abandoned it’s own planning policies by allowing or turning a blind eye to places of worship (mainly churches and mosques) on the industrial estate and parade of shops at the heart of our neighbourhood.
The employment and training centre in the former Green Man pub is a good achievement but what is the point if another part of the council is allowing local jobs to hemorrhage as former workplaces get converted into places of worship just over the road from the centre?
All boroughs have a Unitary Development Plan (UDP) that defines areas for residential, employment, development, etc. On a very simple level its what would prevent a nightclub being built in the middle of a residential street.
Here are some excerpts from Lambeth Council’s UDP;
“The area around Loughborough Junction is one of the most neglected and deprived corners of Brixton, with derelict shops, sites and buildings and problems of crime……. A coordinated approach is needed towards the re use of derelict sites, buildings, and enforcement against problem uses.”
“Brixton is …. part of a ‘Cultural Corridor’ that is emerging of cultural industries all the way from Stockwell through Brixton and Loughborough Junction, Camberwell, Peckham and Deptford. As the heart of the borough there is also pressure, and a shortage of space, for voluntary and community groups.”
“As a Transport Development Area, the Council will encourage generally higher density mixed-use development provided that this secures contributions to public transport and other transport objectives. Arts and crafts uses should be retained or relocated. The creative use of arches for employment or other uses compatible with residential uses is encouraged.”
The Places of Worship, by taking spaces put aside for employment uses, are removing local employment opportunities. As Lambeth’s UDP points out, these spaces could help to put Loughborough Junction on a ‘cultural corridor’ by providing artists studios and rehearsal spaces. They could also be incubator spaces for start up businesses, food co-ops, space for voluntary organisations or community facilities.
Lambeth Council, by allowing or not enforcing planning policies on Places of Worship, is ignoring it’s own advice, pitting residents against religion and making it more difficult for future improvements to take place. If they mean what they say in the UDP and want to see any sort of regeneration o community cohesion in Loughborough Junction they must enforce their policies.
We’ve just had local elections so here’s a message to the new intake of councilors. Please make your first priority tackling this issue or you will be presiding over the further degeneration of our neighbourhood.