Opponents of plans for a new scrapyard in West Norwood that would have major implications for Brixton and most of Lambeth rallied outside the proposed site this afternoon (27 May).
From local MP Helen Hayes and Lambeth councillors to primary pupils and pensioners, they spoke out against plans that would see a major increase in heavy lorry traffic across the whole borough and increase pollution.
Among the councillors present was Matthew Bennett, council cabinet member for planning, investment and new homes, who represents Gipsy Hill.
Addressing the protesters in Windsor Grove – the narrow cul de sac that is the only access to the site – Helen Hayes stressed that the final date for objections to the planning application for the site is Saturday – 29 May.
She said: ““Windsor Grove is a completely unacceptable location for a large metal recycling facility, which would bring more than 100 trucks a day down this narrow cul de sac.
“I have written to Lambeth council with all of the Labour ward councillors on behalf of local residents to object in the strongest possible terms.
“This application must be rejected.”
Local councillor (Knights Hill ward) Jane Pickard said: “This proposal still poses a threat to pollution and road safety in the roads round the site, despite Southwark Metals saying it would reduce tonnage.
“There would still be at least 53 heavy goods vehicle movements a day according to the company’s own estimates, which may be on the low side.
“That is too much for a residential area with fairly narrow streets, lined on both sides by parked cars, and used by hundreds of school children.
“In addition, there would be 103 vehicle movements by cars and vans.
“The council has declared a climate emergency and wants to reduce pollution, not increase it.
“Allowing this development to go ahead would be disastrous.”
Councillor Fred Cowell (Thurlow Park ward) said: “This application needs to be opposed.
“Speaking to planning officers, they have made it clear there are no safeguards against large lorries going through West Norwood – hour on hour of oversized vehicles polluting the area and congesting the streets.”
Rob Andrew of Norwood Action Group said: “In the face of fierce local opposition, this year-old application that Lambeth was set to refuse last August has been scaled down.
“Southwark Metals hope to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat by now saying daily vehicle movements would ‘only’ be about 150, and annual tonnage ‘only’ 25,000.
“This looks like it could win Lambeth over. We need your help, please object to Lambeth Council.
“If you were one of the 1,464 people who made an objection to Lambeth in the earlier round, it’s vital you do so again.
“Make clear that the lower figures are still an outrageous proposal.
“The plan impacts the entire borough, dragging most of the scrap carriers through the whole length of Lambeth. Everything about this planning application is plainly wrong.”
Deirdre Byrne, a resident of Norwood Road, West Norwood, for 15 years, said: “When will Lambeth council listen to local people? How many times do we have to object to this?
“If permission is given for Southwark Metals to open this site it just shows that Lambeth council, the councillors and the leader of the council are easily bought and local people mean absolutely nothing to them.
“I have lived on Norwood Road for 15 years and have endured constant road works, year after year.
“The congestion every single day. Seven bus routes up and down the road. Large HGVs using Norwood Road and Lancaster Avenue as a cut through to the South Circular to avoid the railway bridge at Tulse Hill – and that is 24 hours a day, seven days a week!
“Noise, pollution, dangerous roads for cyclists and pedestrians.
“Norwood Road is constantly being patched up with its never-ending potholes and dips in the road.
“Here’s an invitation to the CEO of Southwark Metals to come and sit in my lounge and listen and feel the floor and windows shaking as the trucks go by!
“Both Lambeth Council and Southwark Metals have to recognise there are people involved here – children, pensioners, families – trucks polluting where we live, work, shop, go to school and walk.
“If permission is given for this proposal, it shows that not one person in these organisations actually cares – unless it involves money and bricks!”
Melanie Defries, a local resident and parent, said: “It’s unbelievable that Southwark Metals are still trying to push through their plans to move their scrap metal recycling facility to West Norwood, a densely populated residential area.
“Apart from the risk of increased air pollution, there is a very real threat in terms of road safety.
“Lorries frequently crash against low bridges in West Norwood and Tulse Hill – in fact, only yesterday one crashed and tipped over onto the pavement.
“That could have killed someone.
“We should be reducing the volume of HGVs passing through West Norwood, not increasing it.
“What’s the point of extending the ULEZ (ultra-low emission zone) area if, at the same time, Lambeth are going to give the green light to plans like these?
“Enough is enough, it’s time we saw real evidence of local authorities taking air pollution and the climate crisis seriously.”