Clearance works are nearly complete on the site of the former coach garage situated behind Coldharbour Lane (between Gresham Road and Valentia Place), revealing this lovely unbroken vista of the Victorian railway arches that slice across town.
The 1996 book, A History Of Brixton (Alan Piper), reports that things didn;t go too smoothly during construction, with 19 newly built arches collapsing in Brixton when the centering was removed!
The site is being cleared to make way for an over-sized private development of three housing blocks, which will tower up to eight stories high in this small wedge of land.
As is the custom, there will be no social/council housing provided in this extensive private development, with only a vague promise of an unspecified amount of so-called “affordable” housing being included. (See: Affordable housing does not mean what you think it means -Guardian, Feb 2014).
A poster on the Brixton forum went along to the planning meeting for this development, where it was duly approved by all present. He noted:
The only dissenting voice was Cllr Diana Morris, who used to be chair of planning before Clair Wilcox took over the role.
Diana Morris said something like “I just don’t think this development is right. It does not fit in at all with the terrace of shops at the front, and it seems to be squeezing just too much into the site.”
She did of course vote to approve so it was 8:0 in favour. Presumably councillors no longer feel able to make a token voting objection – as some lawyer somewhere would argue this is not “a planning matter.”
She could of course have added that it was yet another central Birxton employment site going to residential – but the developers here are making a huge deal about a potential 130 jobs being created in the ground floor units (and the arches – which they deem wiil be put into use by Network Rail, who are not actually party to the scheme).
By the way there is a condition on the scheme that the new private road to service the flats will be gated – until 50% of the railway arches are occupied, at which time it will become an public right of way.
Squatters briefly occupied the site last year, leaving behind a salient message on the Gresham Road access gate:
Above is an illustration of the proposed development, complete with gated access. Read more here.