Responding to the Walworth Town Hall Consultation - January 2019
We would really encourage people to take part in the Walworth Town Hall Consultation that Southwark Council is running up to 21st January. The future of these buildings is really important to our area so please have your say.
Below is our guide to taking part.
1. Consultation Details. The consultation closes on January 21st and can be found at:
and the Online Survey itself is:
The bids can be seen at: http://walworthtownhall.com/consultation/
2. Walworth Society Position. We are suggesting that people go straight to point 5 in the Online Survey and make some of the following points.
Southwark Council should redevelop these buildings and keep them fully in public ownership. The buildings were given to the people of Southwark and Walworth and they should not be disposed of as is currently planned. We strongly object to offering a lease to a developer of as long as 250 years. If these two organisations are able to redevelop the Town Hall buildings for up to £20 million and then make a profit from them with a commercial development, why could not Southwark Council redevelop them for a similar amount and include a significant proportion of commercial usage. Southwark could then retain the other parts of the building for cultural usages. In this way, Southwark could develop a long-term commercial revenue stream from the buildings, develop cultural uses for them and retain them in full public ownership.
Neither of the bids matches the council's stated aim to create a "publicly accessible cultural hub". They are in essence commercial developments with some community access. They do not deliver a cultural destination on the Walworth Road that is attractive to visitors from across Southwark and that ordinary people will feel comfortable to enter and naturally spend time in.
If Southwark does continue with its current redevelopment proposals, the chosen bidder should be given clear and specific guidance by Southwark Council of what is required for a "publicly accessible cultural hub" in the buildings. In particular this should ensure that enough space is given over to the cultural offer that allows it to be of sufficient size to be significant and sustainable. We support the proposals of the Walworth Society for a Southwark Heritage & Culture Space which would consist of the former Newington Library, the Cuming Museum and the Reference Library (plus some ancillary space).
In any redevelopment with one of the current bidders, it is vital that i) if they dispose of the buildings, there are strong covenants that ensure the retention of the community/cultural uses for the site, ii) that public access is maintained for local people to large parts of the buildings and especially those that have been identified as "high heritage significance" and iii) in any commercial development, an agreed and appropriate amount of workspace is created that is sufficiently affordable and accessible to local (Walworth and Southwark) individuals and organisations (of whatever size).
Just in case it is of use, the full WS consultation response that we have submitted is:
...and our proposals for the Southwark Heritage & Culture Space are:
Walworth Town Hall Redevelopment. Notes and follow-up from the public meeting held Wednesday 12th December 7pm.
As part of the consultation on the future of the Walworth Town Hall, The Walworth Society held a joint public meeting with Southwark Council and some 35 local residents at which the two bidders both made presentations and took part in a Q&A; in addition Cllr Johnson Situ, Cabinet Member for Growth, Development and Planning, along with Southwark Council officers also took part in a Q&A about the proposals for the buildings.
The minutes of the meeting (many thanks to Shelagh Kavanagh) are below:
Also the video of the meeting can be seen at:
The link to the consultation (which closes on 21st January) is:
The Walworth Society will discuss its formal consultation response at our meeting on 3rd January. Our overall concerns are that, while there are a number of positive elements to the bids (such as their respect for the architectural heritage of the buildings, the jobs that will be created and the track record of both developers), we do not feel that the community access/uses that are proposed equate to the stated aim in the Southwark Council Plan (2018-2022) of making the Walworth Town Hall "a publicly accessible cultural hub".
Please do come along to our meeting on 3rd January to give us your thoughts on the bids and help us develop our response to the consultation. We will let everyone know about how we are planning to respond well in advance of the consultation closing on 21st January.
Our next meeting will be at 7pm on Thursday 3rd January 2019 (former Newington Library 155 Walworth Road SE17) when as noted we will include discussion of our formal response to the WTH redevelopment proposals.
The links to the consultation materials are:
1. Consultation on the bids:
2. The WTH website. For fuller details of the redevelopment see:
The two links to the two bids themselves are:
a. Castleforge Partners.
b. General Projects.