Somerleyton Road plans put local communities centre stage
Written by Future Brixton team
September 22, 2015
Categories: Somerleyton Road
With thanks to all the local people and community organisations that helped develop the Somerleyton Road scheme over the last seven years, we’re excited to announce that a planning application has now been submitted. This could see more than £100 million invested in a corner of Brixton town centre that is largely under-utilised.
An exhibition of the plans will be held at the Black Cultural Archives on 13, 14 and 17 October 2015, full details below.
Put simply, the Somerleyton Road project is about building more than 300 new, high quality homes to rent, but it’s also much more than this.
A children’s centre and nursery, extra care homes and community space will support activities for all ages. The outdoor spaces for playing, growing food, meeting neighbours and a street gym were all suggestions made by local people and encourage a healthy and strong community. Importantly local people will be involved in the running of the new development too.
With its existing heritage and central Brixton location, people strongly supported the idea for a new cultural facility on Somerleyton Road. Opposite the entrance to Brixton Village, between Carlton Mansions and Southwyck House, we plan to build an ambitious, fully accessible theatre with rehearsal rooms and creative workspace. Next door a chef school and training restaurant could help local young people capitalise on Brixton’s reputation for good food by learning the trade.
Cllr Jack Hopkins said, “Somerleyton Road is not just about a development providing homes and community facilities. It’s about making an investment in a community which will stand the test of time, come what may. Driven by communities for communities, I think it heralds a new way for local people, the Council and partners to work together – putting people above profit and keeping value in communities”
A bit of background
After the Brixton masterplan (2009) identified the potential of plot of largely council owned land on Somerleyton Road, Lambeth Council began to discuss possibilities with Ovalhouse theatre and Brixton Green.
Brixton Green, a community benefit society that had come together to promote local involvement in any redevelopment of the area, already believed that improvements to Somerleyton Road could reduce existing geographical and economic barriers. Ovalhouse, a highly respected and established radical theatre and pioneering youth arts organisation, was already looking to move from the Oval to bigger premises in Brixton.
In 2013 these three organisations formed a partnership and together we set about agreeing a shared vision with local residents and businesses. Since then, we’ve been listening to what local people want and exploring their ideas; looking at what communities will need in the future and bringing people together to make difficult decisions about priorities and funding.
What local people wanted
A different kind of regeneration
People wanted any development of the area to be designed with and for existing residents with profits benefiting the local community rather than going to private developers. Having Brixton Green part of the project team helped us talk directly with hundreds of local people so we think the proposals reflect the aspirations of local communities and how they can manage the long-term future of Somerleyton Road.
Build on strength of existing local heritage
We listened to concerns and ideas for Carlton Mansions and the Nuclear Dawn mural and asked architects to make sure new developments worked with them, celebrated and protected them where possible. Taking this on board, local architect Zac Monro has designed a sensitive refurbishment of the locally listed Carlton Mansions for use as new creative workspace. Foster Wilson Architects, have used the Nuclear Dawn mural as the centrepiece for a small public square around the entrance to the theatre.
Homes at a fair rent for local people
We’re proposing to build a genuinely mixed and diverse community with more than 300 new homes available to rent. This means homes will be a mixture of sizes from one bedroom flats, extra care units providing affordable homes for older people, to larger family sized homes. It also means a mixture of rents that goes beyond the council’s policy for affordable homes. We’ll build at least 121 homes at social (or council) rent levels and around 31 homes at below market rent for families in low pay, as well as secure market rent tenancies for those unable to buy.
The letting policy for the new homes is still to be agreed, although a number of the extra care homes are earmarked for residents moving out of Fitch Court and the people moving into the social rent homes will be taken from the 21,000 on the council housing waiting list.
Supporting jobs, training and enterprise
People wanted new jobs and training opportunities, particularly for young people, to be part of the new development. So, Ovalhouse will manage the newly refurbished Carlton Mansions. Above the theatre there will be two floors of creative workspace. Ovalhouse also have an extensive training programme to inspire young people with an interest in the theatre.
The chef training school could be a launch pad for local young people wanting to get into or start businesses within the hospitality and catering industry. Other opportunities are expected to come from the new businesses moving in.
Green spaces and places for activities and relaxation
In our densely populated urban area, people wanted greenery and public spaces. So, we’ve kept as many of the existing trees as possible and are adding new trees and other plants extensively. Private outdoor space is included in all new homes ranging from, balconies, terraces and rooftop gardens for some of the family homes on the upper floors, to indoor winter gardens for the extra care homes.
There would be five new public spaces – the theatre entrance (alongside the Nuclear Dawn mural), the yard, the street gym, community garden and Somerleyton Passage for a host of shared activities and events.
High quality buildings
The five architects working on different elements of the scheme met with local people throughout and have been careful to make sure their designs respond to what people wanted. Working together the architects have aimed to create a scheme that fits well within the surrounding neighbourhoods but also has a distinct personality.
To find out more
View the planning application visit the planning portal and use reference number 15/05282/RG3
A planning consultation exhibition will be held at the BCA for Somerleyton Road on the following dates and times
- Tues 13 Oct 5.30pm to 8pm
- Wed 14 Oct 12 noon to 2pm
- Sat 17 Oct 12 noon to 3pm
Visit the Somerleyton Road project pages.