Since declaring a Climate Emergency two years ago the Council has frequently stated its desire to engage with residents and community groups, to hear their ideas for tackling the environmental problems we face and to work together with people to create ’a cleaner, greener, safer’ Southwark.
In practice, however, very little has been achieved during these two years. There has been plenty of greenwashing but hardly any meaningful action. It’s true that the Council’s intended approach to engagement with the public on the issue, planned for April to June 2020, was dealt a severe blow by the rapid spread of Covid-19; instead of face-to-face consultation, residents and businesses had to be invited to air their views via an online portal. Inevitably the restricted contact meant that most of the comments received were contributed by people used to engaging with the Council, while the average person remained out of reach and in the dark.Read more
Southwark Green Party welcomed the declaration of a Climate Emergency by the London Borough of Southwark in March 2019 but councillors and council officers are not acting in a way that responds to the gravity of that declaration.
We call for action that recognises the emergency.
Southwark Green Party members have responded as individuals to the draft climate strategy, and some are also members of the council’s Partnership Steering Group (established in March 2020) and have contributed detailed comments on policy through that process. This response will not duplicate that work, but rather highlights some key failings of the draft strategy and these nine points that define how we would approach the task.Read more
With so many fewer cars on the streets during lockdown, air pollution has fallen by up to 50% and people have been walking and cycling to local shops and parks, as well as to work.
But now, as lockdown eases, cars are returning to the streets. If Southwark doesn’t act to provide more space for pedestrians and cyclists, all Southwark residents will suffer.
- Many people will not be able to travel safely to work. The majority of residents don’t have access to a private car and there will be reduced capacity on public transport for months to come.
- More people will choose to drive, creating gridlock - causing delays for those who do need to use motorised transport, including delays to buses.
- Increased air pollution means more heart disease, asthma and strokes, as well as exacerbating the impact of coronavirus.
It's a question of social justice: 60% of Southwark residents do not have access to a car. With limited capacity on public transport, they need safe ways to walk and cycle. Workers in health care, retail and construction who can’t work from home are more likely to be on lower incomes and most in need of safer ways to commute.
If Southwark Council doesn’t act quickly, there’s a real risk that as people avoid public transport, Southwark will become a corridor of choking gridlock, from the southern suburbs to the river.
Meanwhile, people still need extra space on pavements for daily exercise, recreation and essential tasks while keeping a safe distance from each other.
But the last few months have shown that rapid changes are possible.
Photo (above, and top): the Low Traffic neighbourhood around Van Gogh Walk, LambethRead more
We're very concerned to learn of a planning application made by Southwark Council for permission to chop down four mature poplar trees and eight ash and maple trees in Bessemer Grange Nature Garden (also known as Nairne Grove Nature Garden).
This small, biodiverse garden is used by pupils from Bessemer Grange Primary, as well as for Forest School community activities. The school's catchment area includes three large council estates - Champion Hill, Denmark Hill and Dog Kennel Hill. Many of the pupils live in flats without gardens. For them, the chance to learn about nature in a woodland setting is rare and highly valued.
This photo from the school's website shows a Year 1 class in the garden.
The trees are covered by Tree Protection Orders and the garden is listed as a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation by Southwark Council, as well as being in a 'Critical Drainage Area'.
Southwark Green Party objects to the proposal by Dolphin Living for the old Hunnex site at 35-39 Parkhouse Street, in Camberwell, just south of Burgess Park. This is for a 6-10 storey building with 100 flats.
This is one of several applications for tall buildings around the perimeter of Burgess Park, risking permanent destruction of the habitat and character of the park. (We have previously objected to the earlier Burgess Business Park proposal.) It is important not to set a precedent by approving this application.
Our key objections to this application are:
1) the buildings are too tall, in breach of Southwark Council policy
Protect our trees – and plant many more
Most of us feel a deep sense of loss when trees we're used to seeing every day are felled. Unfortunately, that's an experience all too familiar in Southwark, where many trees have come down over the past decade. The council's own figures show a net loss of around 1,400 street trees between 2013 and 2017 alone.
Southwark Transport Plan Annual Monitoring Report, 2016/17, p.45
Southwark Green Party has long campaigned to protect trees and green spaces. We welcomed the chance to reply to Southwark Council's recent consultation on its vision and objectives for tree management. The consultation has now closed, but you can read the draft Tree Management Policy on the council's consultation hub.Read more
View of St George's Church from Burgess Park
We have objected to the 10-storey development proposed for Burgess Business Park in Camberwell primarily because it is too tall, and will overshadow Burgess Park, harming the new wildlife area and the enjoyment of the park by local people. Burgess Park is both ecologically important and a vital breathing space for people living in densely built up areas of Southwark along the Walworth Road and Old Kent Road. This is only one of several schemes planned for Parkhouse Street. If passed, this development would set a precedent for other inappropriately tall buildings along the boundary of the park.Read more
The Movement Plan approved by Southwark Council in 2019 (download here) claims to be a bold vision to change how we get around the borough over the next 20 years. How does it measure up in the light of Southwark Council’s declaration of a climate emergency at the end of March 2019?
Let’s start with the good news. We’re told that 77% of Southwark people who were surveyed support reducing traffic. And there’s an exciting sounding policy to introduce street closures to reallocate space for people. But as we read on, what sounded like a commitment to deliver more healthy streets turns out to be a commitment to ‘explore’ acting – is this code for commissioning more studies from consultants? In fact the whole document falls down on a lack of detailed commitments and deadlines.
Will the Movement Plan really help us to walk and cycle more?
Many more people would like to cycle if only it felt safe, rather than having to jostle with drivers cutting through residential areas.. Similarly, many people hop on the bus for a short journey because the alternative – perhaps a noisy, polluted, grubby street with a pavement that’s a bit too narrow for comfort – just isn’t appealing. Imagine how different it would be if you positively chose to walk those ten minutes because it gave you a chance to go through a small park, pick up groceries or walk side by side, chatting with friends. (This is called, in the jargon, ‘suppressed demand’ for walking and cycling).Read more
In March 2019, Southwark Council passed a motion to ‘do all it can to make the borough carbon neutral by 2030’. Transport is the biggest single source of carbon emissions in our borough, so we need real leadership on transport to change the way we get around and deliver goods.
Here are some proposals from Southwark Green Party for the kind of interventions we will need to meet the target of going climate neutral by 2030.
1. Green our streets
Southwark's own reports show that the borough has lost 1,000 street trees in the last ten years.Read more
Southwark Green Party submitted today its objections to the Canada Water Masterplan. Despite further changes made by the developers in response to mounting local opposition, the vast majority of our serious concerns remain unaddressed, and we continue to support the wider community campaign opposing the planning application.
See our detailed feedback, and email response template:Read more