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Peckham 2016: Foxtons in, clubs out?

By Amy Smith

Fridges filled with bottled water are officially coming to Peckham. Yes, Foxtons, those forerunners of gentrification, are opening on Rye Lane. Posters appeared on the hoarding at number 218-222 this week, the large yellow lettering screams ‘FREE’, but look closer and there’s a sneaky micro asterisk revealing their services are actually not free at all. A good introduction to the area.

This is not the first time the estate agents have tried to move into SE15 – Foxtons’ attempt last year to take over the JFS furniture building at 38-40 Rye Lane was foiled by a vigorous campaign from residents who successfully lobbied Southwark council. 

Meanwhile, just up the road, Canavan’s Peckham Pool Club is in danger. Because of a licensing oversight, it could join the slew of the city’s nightspots recently brought to their knees.

Canavan’s is one of those mythical places where a load of different people – we’re talking pool-playing teens to octogenarian karaoke lovers – actually, really come together and have a good time. When owner Ciaran Canavan took on the venue in 2011, he fitted in a Funktion-One soundsystem, squeezed out a few pool tables and attracted DJ Bradley Zero to launch respected, strictly vinyl night Rhythm Section. The 4am closing, an unpretentious vibe, cheap beer, the garden and those Sunday karaoke sessions established Canavan’s as a local treasure.


A photo posted by Rhythm Section (@rhythmsectionhq) on

Ciaran is only just recovering from last year’s campaign to halt the redevelopment of Christmas Yard, the salvage yard that backs onto the club. 

The late-night pool bar revealed this week that Southwark Council has caught up with a 13 year-old planning oversight that according to the owner revolves around the difference between a pool table and a snooker table. Ciaran explained in a Thump article:

‘The stupid thing is, the "use" of this club is a private members' snooker club. If I wanted to keep the doors open I'd have to get rid of my pool tables and put snooker ones in, because as far as the council are concerned, a snooker club has a different use than a pool one. They're tying me up every way.’

Basically, the club was granted a late licence 13 years ago allowing them to stay open until 4am. But a previous owner didn’t also apply for change-of-use with the council’s planning department. This oversight now threatens the venue with an 11.30pm closing time unless Ciaran can prove Canavan’s has been used as a late night venue for over ten years – and then gain a special dispensation. He is calling on people to share memories of the venue when it was Churchill’s or JFK’s on the Southwark Council website. It may have failed with Foxtons, but let's see if Peckham's people-power wins out. 

There's a march this weekend to protest club closures. We also spoke to experts about how to make drug-taking in clubs safer.

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